Lolita the Beach Pig

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We had an outing today to a very unique beach – Playa Avellanas, known world-wide for its surfing. We took the bus ($12) from Tamarindo, which had space for surfboards on top.

Our destination was Lola’s, named for the owner’s pet pig (really!). Sadly, Lola passed away a few years ago, so the matriarch of the place is her daughter, Lolita.  She has her own pen with a palm tree and beachfront view.

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Lola’s has beautiful Nicaraguan wooden tables set amid the palm trees, with a few hammocks thrown in. Get there early to snag a spot, and they let you stay the day, while waiters bring whatever you like.  I had the ahi tuna poke – fresh from local waters – delicious.

We all settled in for a relaxing day of reading, walking the beach, and swimming. Frank decided to fish and found a little surf shack down the beach, where they sold him octopus for bait.  And I even got a massage – $20 for half hour.  (The picture below was my view after the massage – I was so relaxed, I could just look straight up through the trees to the blue sky!)

We can tell why Lolita the Pig has a smile on her face!


Happy Birthday Frank!

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One of the reasons we came on this trip was to celebrate Frank’s birthday!

We had a family party last week in Annapolis – with Lobster Night at Eastport Yacht Club. John, Valerie, Cece, Sam, and Olive spent the night, so we had lots of fun visiting, doing treasure hunts, and playing Cranium (the Volpe Family’s favorite game!).

We continued the celebrations this week with a special dinner at Panga’s, a beautiful waterfront restaurant directly on the beach in Tamarindo. It is situated along the estuary (the same one with the crocodile signs!), and was a stunning sight as the sun went down.

They specialize in a very unique filet mignon – they serve it rare, along with a 500-degree volcanic rock.  You can cook your meat to your preferred temperature yourself, along with onion rings.  Just stick them on the rock and hear them sizzle.

A very special evening under the trees and stars – Buon Compleanno Francesco!

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Pura Vida!

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As I said, Tamarindo definitely has a laid-back surfer vibe – and we are settling in quite nicely!


We started the week gung-ho with a major (for me) 4-mile walk to the neighboring playa (beach) and back, catching beautiful views and scrambling over volcanic rock formations.

At this point, I should tell you a little about our hosts. I mentioned before that Larry and Frank are friends from way back.  Larry recently retired, so he and his wife, Candy, are spending the winter down here.  And they are in super shape. Their normal vacations (without us) are to hike across Spain or to travel by dugout canoe with only a back-pack to their tent hotel in Nepal.  So a little 4-mile walk across volcanic boulders is just the day’s warm-up.

But as the week has gone on, we all have mellowed a bit – I’m sure they realized I couldn’t keep up with them and are too nice to say!! But now, everyone seems pretty happy to just enjoying “pura vida” (the good life) here in Tamarindo.  We go to the beach, maybe a little shopping, read by the pool, and then – my favorite – end the evening with sunset dinner on the beach.

There are a number of beach restaurants, from casual to elegant, with their tables and chairs right on the sand. They specialize in freshly caught tuna and mahi mahi, plantains in all forms, anything coconut, and pitchers of sangria.

A roving mariachi band usually wanders by and says “Hola!” (partly because I am a sucker for this and always buy a song) – and at sunset, tourists on horseback canter down the beach.  Pura Vida indeed!


Bula Bula

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We are having a super fun time in Costa Rica. Our home base for the week is Tamarindo, a surfer town on the Pacific.  It reminds me of Breckenridge, Colorado, but with surfers instead of skiers.  There is a little downtown lined with shops, lots of beach-side restaurants, and a laid-back vibe.  And lots and lots of surfers!


But today, we decided to be more adventurous and visit a place called Bula Bula (we think means “Happy Happy”). The trick with Bula Bula is that it is located on Playa Grande, which sits across the estuary from Tamarindo – an estuary that is filled with crocodiles!  It actually is possible to walk across at low tide, but they don’t recommend it, and little putt-putt boats line up to ferry people across.


We walked down the beach, past the signs that warned of crocodiles, to the edge of the estuary. We selected a captain, Davide, to take us up the estuary and waded out to our boat.


We wound around and around, heading deeper into the mangroves, where we spotted herons, local birds, and jumping fish.


Finally, we landed at the dock for Bula Bula and arranged with Davide to return in 3 hours.

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Bula Bula is a cute and very remote hotel – this whole area is protected because it is a turtle nesting ground so very out of the way. We had a terrific lunch at “The Great Waltini” restaurant and then explored the beach on THIS side of the estuary and lounged around by the pool.

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A very relaxing afternoon – and happily (or not) – no cocodrilos in sight.

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Costa Rica!

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The Two Fools are back on the road!

This time, we are venturing South – way South – to Central America!  Our friends, Larry and Candy, have decamped for the winter to Costa Rica and have invited us to visit them.  We were ready for a new avventura so happily said “si”!

Larry is one of Frank’s best friends – such good friends, in fact, that the two of them visited Costa Rica themselves back in the day when they were bachelors. Little did they know that they would be back however many years later with amazing and beautiful wives in tow!


Our destination is Tamarindo, a beach town on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. We flew into San Jose – the biggest city – and booked a local flight on Nature Air.  At the ticket counter, the agent made each of us step on a scale (thankfully no one else could see the results – whew!).

Our plane was bigger than I thought – at least a dozen people, and off we went.  We flew over mountain ranges, a volcano, and jungles before descending into an expanse of brown fields.  No beach in sight.  Hmm . . .

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At last we landed in the middle of one of these fields, with a longhorn cow looking at us thoughtfully. Everyone hopped out onto the grass, and two teen-agers ran out and started pulling luggage out of the nose of the plane.  Where were we?


It turns out the Tamarindo Airport is really an airstrip a few miles from the ocean – in the middle of a field. We were relieved to see Candy and Larry waving at us from the chain linked fence.  (We had assured them we could get a taxi from the airport ourselves – after all, we were world travelers.  Thankfully, they knew better.)  They herded us into the “terminal,” which is an open-air pavilion with a few benches and introduced us to their friend, a local who has a car and agreed to pick us up.


Our adventure has begun!