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Friday, February 26, 2010

Costa Rica Chapter 3 - Arenal / La Fortuna

We had a horseback riding trip around the lake from Monteverde to La Fortuna. Our car was driven to our destination, and as a first time rider, I did well, though I figured very quickly that it wasn't easy for me to take pictures while riding a horse. This is one of the gorgeous landscapes we have witnessed. Costa Rica's country side is absolutely gorgeous.
At the end of our horse-ride trip, we took a boat that brought us to the other side of the lake and this short distance traveled revealed the grandeur of the Arenal Volcano.
We stayed in two different hotels in La Fortuna. The first night was very calm, we went to bed pretty early and I woke up around 530, got out of the cabin, set and literally waited for the daybreak. Right after the dawn, a horse started running towards me, came close to the cabin and passed right in front of me, still running. It was a magical moment. It reminded me the dream scene in Blade Runner. I went in, grabbed my camera and shot the following two pics...
The following pictures are from the second hotel we stayed in. The view was awesome, our neighbors were fascinating. Dave and Gabby were absolutely genial and fabulous. Full of stories, and an impeccable way of telling them!
Next week, I will post the last chapter of Costa Rica.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Costa Rica Chapter 2 - Monteverde Rain Forest

Today, it's all about the wild life of the rain forest in Monteverde...
On a rainy morning, we woke up with these white-headed capuchins.

We took a Canope tour and did the zip lines after breakfast and than we started exploring the rain forest.

I heard the quetzals in the forest and I went towards their voices, and with a very long lens, despite the fact that I was shooting against day light, I was able to get a shot of this female one.  Unfortunately I was a little to late to have better shots...

A coati following his friends.  

More pictures are coming by Friday :o)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Costa Rica Chapter 1 - Playa Negra Part 2

Playa Negra Part 2 is filled with pictures taken at sunset in this gorgeous Pacific Coast beach.

Here is Joe trying to catch a wave.
Ed, one of the part-time residents of Playa Negra and an avid surfer, with his daughter Ryder.
Jen Fontaine, with a big smile before the "big night" when her cuz Joe will pop the question to his girlfriend Jen Castle.
After a nice walk on the beach under the stars, Joe asked Jen to marry him. Then there were many many shots of tequila. I'm telling you, these girls can drink. And one of the many kisses of the night :o)
There wasn't only kisses and romance that night, we also shot pool. Here's Joe making the shot.
And here is the restaurant's charming young chef Kevin in action kicking both Joe's and my butts in pool.
The day after, we woke up in the morning and Joe saw this little guy, which was cat-nip for photographers and I took so many pictures, it was ridiculous. Here are two of those.
I can't remember his name now, but the owner of the Café Playa Negra caught this big one and shared it at night with his employees.
The last sunset we had at Playa Negra was absolutely gorgeous. We all watched it at the beach and I had the opportunity to "play" with the "contre-jour".
The following photograph and especially the smile on Joe's face could totally sum-up this lovely trip!
Here are the pictures of that lovely day's sunset show!
Yeah, Pura Vida indeed.
Thank you for all your comments, emails, love and support.
More to come in the next few days.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Costa Rica Chapter 1 - Playa Negra Part 1

I thought a lot about how I should approach this little story about the two-week trip we took to Costa Rica and I decided to share it with you chronologically.  I will try to share as many pictures as possible without exaggerating.
Today it is a whopping 29 pictures! Here we go!

Let's start with Jennifer at the San Jose airport, listening to live classical guitar (you can see the guitar player in the back) while waiting for Joe and Jen's plane to land.
The following is the beach right in front of our hotel in Playa Negra, conveniently called Hotel Playa Negra. The locals come and watch the sunset there almost every night. It is an absolutely gorgeous place and one of the greatest surf beaches.
Joe's friend Patrick opened this wonderful resort-like hotel restaurant in Playa Negra. His food was one of many high points of our trip. Check out this link for more info.
This is our little cabin.
And this is how we do it...
On the menu... An incredibly delicious garlic sauteed calamari (I had at least one bowl every day), a lovely crisp national beer (I stopped counting how much I drank of it after the first few).
I took so many animal pictures during this trip, it felt as if I was on assignment from Animal Planet (hint). This cutie pie was right next to the road with a couple of his friends, when we stopped to take some pictures, they took away slowly. Nobody likes paparazzi, you know... I like this one I took with a long lens while he was eating.
Playa Negra of the Pacific Coast (there is also one in Atlantic Coast) is absolutely gorgeous. It reminded me of the south of Turkey. It is not very developped and that is a great thing. One afternoon, I took the 4x4 and had some fun on the dirt roads and I stopped to take the following pics.
OK, now... You remember this guy from the teaser blog two weeks ago?
Well, he was ridiculous. He yelled at Jennifer Castle because she talked to him in Spanish (he only speaks English, you see, and by choice!), then, because of the attention he got from Jennifer Fontaine, I have a feeling that he fell in love with her...

First he tried to touch her...
Then he tried to undress her!
After seeing him on the teaser blog, my cousin named him Abdulkerim. Although we were in Costa Rica, for some reason, I think it fits.
A few more pictures from the Hotel Playa Negra and its surroundings...
Geckos are everywhere and they are so cute :o)
A dove was building her nest right by our cabin's door...
We went to Tamarindo, a touristic town north of Playa Negra for banking purposes and to fill up the gas tank... We stopped by at a restaurant for "lunch".
After enjoying the chilled tequila shots and the cold beer, the photographer in me kicked in again and I snapped these shots...
And, of course, the beautiful couple in love... Now that it is out in the open, congrats go to Jennifer Castle and Joe Mills who got engaged in Costa Rica.
Although dogs were not allowed in Hotel Playa Negra, they were allowed in the beach and they never bothered asking the permission of the owner if they could come in and use the hotel's amenities such as...

...or the grass area around the pool...
Playa Negra takes its name from the black volcanic sand... The figures the waves paint on the beach are beautiful.
Free as a bird...
Happy as a surfing dude...
Costa Rica es Pura Vida!

To be continued!