It was a picture-perfect day in El Castillo. The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. One of the locals said there are roughly 30 days a year as beautiful as one, and we felt blessed to be there for one of them. Best of all, the glorious Arenal Volcano was in full view. I'm so happy we were able to see it clearly before we left the rain forest. It was spectacular.
There was one last stop we needed to make in El Castillo before we left town: the Butterfly Conservatory. Andi and I promised Tory a visit to this exhibit during our time here and the beautiful weather on this day made it the ideal time to see the butterflies in action.
As seemed to be the theme of our time in the rain forest, we were fortunate enough to have the entire place to ourselves. A tour guide at the Butterfly Conservatory walked us through four butterfly habitats and filled our ears with information about the native Costa Rican butterflies. Who knew butterflies were so interesting!
A symbol of Costa Rica, this butterfly has a beautiful iridescent blue color inside its wings.
This one is known as the "invisible butterfly" due to its see-through wings.
After the butterflies exhibits, we toured through the frog habitat to see some of Costa Rica's famous red-eyed tree frogs and poison dart frogs up close and personal. This little guy sneaked his way into one of the butterfly habitats and was eating the exhibits for lunch!
After the Butterfly Conservatory, we hopped in the car and began the four-hour drive to Playa Piertra on the Pacific coastline. This is where we'll spend the last three days of our Costa Rican vacation. Our descent from the rain forest during the daylight hours went smoothly. We saw amazing views of the volcano as we looped around Lake Arenal, and no one seemed as car sick as our drive into the rain forest.
The landscape and the temperature changed dramatically as we neared the Tamarindo area. It was a pleasant 22 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) in El Castillo that morning, and a steamy 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) at our new digs by the beach. No longer was everything damp and musty; our new environment is hot and dusty. It seems impossible to move from two such extremes in a matter of hours, but we did just that!
We're staying about an hour north of Tamarino in a private gated community called Villas Estival on Piertra Beach. It's a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house with a kitchen, living room, pool and beach access. The ocean view is spectacular! We can walk 50 steps from our patio door to the beach.
The alluring sound of ocean waves crashing against the sand can be heard throughout our entire house. I truly enjoyed our time in the rain forest, but I really missed the sun. I can already see spending three days at the beach won't be enough time to soak it all in. It's pure heaven here.
As soon as we settled into our new house, Andi, Tory, Aden and I walked down to the beach to catch the sunset. Janie decided to stay back at the house to watch from one of the over-sized lounge beds on the patio.
Dressing Tory and Aden (well, mostly Aden) in regular clothes for a walk along the beach was a big mistake. In a matter of seconds, Aden was dripping wet from head-to-toe from barreling straight into the ocean waves. This kid loves the ocean as much as his dada. Aden has no fear of the water and squeals with laughter every time a wave crashes over him. "Here comes 'nother one!" he shouts with elation.
Our family of four walked along the beach until the sun went down, then we headed back to the house for dinner. Janie offered to stay back with the kids and feed them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while Andi and I drove to nearby Flamingo Beach for a grocery run and dinner just the two of us. We'd be silly to pass up the offer for a date night, so Andi and I did just that. We stopped by The Shack for mahi mahi tacos (for him) and veggie stir-fry (for me), and picked up grocery essentials at a nearby market to get us through meals the next few days at the beach.
I'm looking forward to relaxing by the ocean for our last few days in Costa Rica. Pura Vida.