New Year’s Tea

The New Year is always a reason for change. It’s always a reason to do something differently than you’ve done before. It’s a time when people hold to ages-old traditions, and make efforts to start new ones. It’s a time to look back on the past, and look towards the future.

And frankly, it’s a darn good reason to make a little trip out to Banff to see old friends.

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The trip home

Well, Monkey, we’re home now. I know it doesn’t seem like it to you, because you’ve lived in three different homes since you were born. But this house, the one in Calgary (where we’re currently adjusting to serious sub-zero temperatures and drying out) is a home we hope you’ll come to know and love.

It’s not Costa Rica. It’s not always warm. It’s not filled with the sounds of parakeets, or tropical rainstorms, or filled with Spanish-speaking voices. This is the Great White North. It’s chilly for most of the year, leaves are seen for only five months, and the only monkeys you’ll see are at the zoo. It’s going to be an adjustment for you, and for Mommy and I, too.

It was a long road to get here.

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Visiting Villa Blanca

Alex’s birthday was yesterday (she just turned 29, in case you’re keeping track … ‘cuz we’re not), and as tradition holds, she got to choose where we went to celebrate.  

Well, at least it’s a tradition we’re going to try to restart and keep going, anyway.  

She did some reasearch and chose a place up in the cloud forest called Villa Blanca. The pictures we saw online of the place looked nice, but as we’ve found a few times — the pictures often look better than the real thing.  

It was nice to find an exception to the rule.  

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Weekend at Tabacon

When Alex and I first came to Costa Rica 3.5 years ago, we went on a little packaged tour. The tour included a two-night (possible three-night — Alex and I are struggling to remember which it was) stay in the Arenal area. Our first afternoon/night included a hike around the south side of the active Arenal volcano, and dinner and a splash at the Tabacon Hot Springs.

At the time we’d been there, it was highly magical. We’d seen lava (in the form of red-hot tumbling rocks) rolling down the side of the mountain, the clouds of steam rolling through the trees illuminated by the carefully-placed lights. It was something to behold.

Ever since then, Alex had wanted to go back. Rack up Surprise Weekend in Costa Rica #3.

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A revenge-free Montezuma

Mother’s Day in Costa Rica doth not come in May, like we’re used to in North America. Here, it’s 15 August. This is the day (so I’ve read) that the Virgin Mary ascended to Heaven, and given that this is a very Roman Catholic-centric society, Christian Holy Days are holidays. That means El Dí ­a de la Madre takes on extra importance here. Down here, it really is a religion.

Which is good for me, believe it or not. You see, back in May, I royally screwed up and really blew Alex’s first Mother’s Day by doing … well, nothing. At least nothing of note. Not exactly a wise thing to do on a mother’s first Mother’s Day. I had some serious sucking making up to do.

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Weekend in Punta Leona

I had promised Alex that the second weekend we were in Costa Rica would be spent away from our apartment. I just had to find the right place to go. So I spent a fair bit of time working out the location, time to get to the location (because any estimates of travel time here are usually way off once you leave the #1), cost, and whether or not they had massages.

Yes, that is a consideration in her (and hence my) world.

In the end, I decided on Punta Leona. This would be our first surprise weekend in Costa Rica, and it would seem the first surprise weekend in — we fear — two years! Turned out to be not too bad.

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Back in Costa Rica

Years ago, I used to think business travel was glamourous. You got to go to far-flung places, see different things, and engage in activities you just don’t do at home. Then I started going on business trips. I learned fast that the enjoyment is only so deep.

Worst experience was [[Live from Cincinnati|Cincinnati in 2000]]. Second, and only because I was utterly exhausted by the end (the trip itself was very helpful) was [[Je suis en Paris!|Paris in 2006]]. (As I learned, when you travel to Europe, you end up with 18-20 hour days, because you’re trying to stay sync’d with the home office.)

But today hasn’t exactly been a slice, either. And just because I’m currently in Costa Rica doesn’t mean I’m sitting on a beach.

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On my way home

Well, the wedding’s done, Tamara and Dan are wed, and pretty much everyone is pooped. The bridal party was out late the night before, the groom’s group was fairly tired, and I’m just beat from all the running around. My feet are killing me.

It wasn’t the shortest wedding I’ve been to, but it was definitely more expedient than most of the ones I’ve seen. That said, it was still a lovely ceremony.

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Back in Vegas

It’s been nearly a dozen years since I was last (and first) in Las Vegas. (See [[Road Trip of the Southwest United States, Mesa Verde Cave Dwellings, Grand Canyon, and Arrival in Las Vegas]].) It’s been a long time, and this city has changed a lot since I was here last. And not all for the good, I should say.

If you’ve watched CSI, you’ve seen a stylised version of Las Vegas. And it ain’t the one that’s here. This is half gambling, half drunken idiots, half shopping, half selling sex, with some shows tossed in for fun.

Yes, I know that adds up to well more than 100%. But this is a city of excesses.

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