A Taste of Splendor

DSC03228As part of my travel writing career, I’m forced to endure touring facilities like the Westin Golf Resort in Playa Conchal on the Pacific shores of Costa Rica. Tough duty, but somebody’s got to do it!

My daughter accompanied me, and became a second photographer in the process, when we were shuttled around the property by Kevin, a tall, friendly young man who treated us to the royal tour.

Kevin, our tour guide, on the left

The rooms were very nice, but was honestly the pool and the poolside services that sold me. Who hasn’t dreamed of swimming up to the bar, sitting on a stool firmly planted in the water and ordering a fruity drink – preferably with an umbrella on it. Of course, I’m a sucker for a pool, and the more luxurious the better.

Just one of the five pools onsite


The fabulous Reserva Conchal Golf Course, inaugurated in 1996 and designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones II, brings a strong golfing contingent, but there’s truly something for everyone, with an entrance to Playa Conchal – a beach famous for its white sand, rocky tide pools and snorkeling opportunities. You can also ride a banana boat – which I highly recommend.

Golf surrounded by Costa Rica’s beauty

There are facilities and activities for family excursions, romantic getaways and even business conferences:  pampering at the Spa, shopping at a small retail center, or eating at 7 different cuisine themed restaurants plus a barbeque pit – there’s something for everyone.

Playa Conchal – a few steps from the resort

Shuttles will take you anywhere you want to go on the property, although the spacious grounds allow for a comfortable walk or even a workout run, if desired.

Our shuttle around the resort

As an all-inclusive resort, this place will truly lend your life a bit of splendor, if you can afford the stay – which prohibitively expensive for me but might be just right for your budget. Check it out online!

If you forgot your flip flops, they got ‘ya covered.
One of the rooms – not even the fanciest!
Outdoor bathtub in the top of the line rooms




A Little Bit Tico


Well, I finally made it to Costa Rica! The people and their ways are called “tico” and I’ve been here just long enough to have a tiny bit of it rub off on me. It fits! I love this little beach town we landed in – Brasilito.


My daughter, Vanessa, is along for the ride – for the first two weeks anyway – and adding a ton of fun to my initial in-country experiences, just like she did when we went to the Philippines last year.


After flying Southwest Airlines and landing in the northern city of Liberia around 10:30 pm, we discovered the airport has no ATM! Luckily, they take US dollars or we would have been in trouble. All over SE Asia, I had become used to grabbing some local money in the airports.


A restless, uncomfortable and ridiculously expensive overnight stay in a very basic “airport” hotel in the middle of nowhere, was replaced in the morning by a shuttle ride through lush, green country roads and finally being greeted by Marcello at Hotel Brasilito, directly across from a mile-long stretch of sand.



We have had four fabulous days in this little town – strolling the beach, seeing a whaleDSC03143 slapping its tail just beyond the beach, riding a banana boat, spending a few hours playing with the underwater GoPro, visiting nearby ritzy Playa Flamingo, and touring the fantastic Westin Golf Resort (the next post detailing that will blow you away) and tasting the local cuisine – trying a total of six different restaurants. But perhaps the greatest undertaking was learning the true meaning of “Pura Vida”, the national motto which means literally “the pure life.”

Relaxing was the goal for this portion of our trip and boy, did we succeed. Just take a look at the lady in the hammock. Next up Monteverde – monkeys, sloths, aerial canopy walkways and zip-lining – oh, my!






A Call to Adventure

As I traveled around SE Asia for eight months, and even before I left, I was frequently complimented on my bravery for going solo and asked how I was managing to do it. Whether or not I was rich was the number one question (to which I answered a resounding “No”) followed by questions around logistics and finally some form of “I wish I was a brave as you.”

In my fifth month, I began to realize that some people just needed a little push to get out of their everyday grind and into a more exciting life and then decided I was the gal to do the pushing.

Final cover Hug a Pink Elephant

Hug a Pink Elephant! Click here to purchase

I spent two months writing a book, holed up in the little town of Melaka, Malaysia, pouring my heart out and trying to capture as many of the ways a person could pump up their life as possible. The product of that endeavor is Hug a Pink Elephant: Simple Ways to Add Adventure to Your Life.

I filled the book with some exercises, many stories of adventures of all kinds (some of my own and some of my friends’), quotes and action plans. I worked hard at making it light-hearted, a fun read and inspiring.

I hope if any of you are looking for a way to put more adventure into your lives, you’ll give my pink elephant a try!

The Anticipation of the Next Trip

Jungle-top zipline in Costa Rica

I’m in the throes of planning my next big international trip and I’m having a hard time getting used to it being in another region of the world. As many of you know, I completed an eight-month sojourn in Asia recently, but the next is to Central America, with a possible slide south if life sends me that direction before coming back to the States.

I had gotten used to the flavors, pace, heat and humidity of SE Asia, so much that I feel a kinship of sorts with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. These places I could easily return to with joy.  As I look forward to the experiences I’m about to have in Latin America, I can’t help wondering if I’ll feel as “at home” there as I did across the Pacific.

Into this journey, I bring a Spanish-speaking history. My Pops was stationed in Venezuela while serving in the Navy and my mother and I went along. I was only twenty months old, so I spoke fluent Spanish before I spoke English. Do you think I’ve retained that ability? No way. I was a stubborn child at four and refused to be different than the other American kids when we returned to the States. However, to this day when I try to communicate in Spanish, words will magically appear that I didn’t know were there, so cross your fingers for me.

I’m studying my books on Costa Rica (the jumping off point), Panama and Ecuador. I’m planning on Nicaragua, Peru and many other countries as well. I find the process of reading the guidebooks – nearly always Lonely Planet – a bit overwhelming but fascinating and hugely fun. So I’ll continue on with the hope of being thoroughly educated when I hit the ground!

One month to go! Join me on my adventure!