Looking back on 2020

To say 2020 has been an interesting year is quite the understatement.

2020 has know it’s fair share of highs and lows for me. Not only has it been the first time in my life I’ve lived through a global pandemic, it also was the year our second child was born. Both are guaranteeing quite some impact on our lives, but the combination threw in a few curveballs of itself.

All is still well, and I’ve been successful in shielding myself and my family from the brunt of what last year threw at us, so I’m not the one to complain here.

With all the restrictions in place, my year in numbers also isn’t the most remarkable (which in itself is remarkable). Also, I’m not even going to bother with the counting of our photos, as it is well below 2000 on our DSLR’s. Uneventful is the word that comes to mind.


  • Holidays: 3 times, one week each
  • Family: +1
  • House: nearly done
  • Ceiling lamps installed: 2 more to go
  • Life: quite boring, but still good!

Looking back on 2019

Even though we’re only halfway through November, it is time to look back at 2019 and see that it was not like any of the previous ones.

The avid reader might’ve noticed the distinct lack of photos and holiday posts on this blog, which is the result of us getting our new house and moving in. This meant that we had to focus on something else altogether and that also meant sacrificing on the travels and hobbies.

We are all but settled as of this month, and 2020 might actually hold new journeys and even blog posts!

Day 1: Getting there

This year is going to be different as we are not just the two of us anymore, but we are travelling as a family now. This means packing is quite interesting as you need more stuff than you might think at first.

We did prepare for this however, so packing on our travel day could be kept to a minimum as the majority of the hard work has been done the day before. This meant we had an easy start of the day, and were able to collectively leave our house at the right time to get to the airport. Yes, we are going by plane!

Our flight was a little delayed, but we made it through without much effort, and we finally boarded OR699 to PDL, which would take about 4 hours. The flight was great! We all were on our best behaviour, and despite not sleeping at all, our neighbours hardly noticed us. That was awesome!

After negotiating the line at the rental desk, we finally were able to get to our car with the rented children’s seat, and were off to our destination for the day: Quinta de Santana. That’s only a 20 minute drive away, but as night crept in on us as it was nearing 7PM we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant and basically turned in for the night.

We anticipated a little drama, but none was to be had today and we felt great about that. So proud to be able to do it this way!

Securing the web one site at a time

As security becomes an increasingly important matter, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and only serve this site through HTTPS!
The encryption is done with a certificate from Let’s Encrypt, and I’m forcing all requests to this site to HTTPS, thus making the internet a little bit more secure. 🙂


Finally done!

Finally, after a grueling long haul, in which we sifted through a staggering 13K photo’s we took in New Zealand, I can claim victory.

The numbers:

10842 pictures survived the cut, totalling 220GB. About 11%, or 1229, were deemed good enough to be showcased in a photobook. 387 panorama’s were created, with roughly 4000 pictures as a basis. These panorama’s are another 41GB big!

In total, 2167 pictures have been manually edited by me in over 9 months time. Auch. No prizes for speed will be awarded there!

Used tools:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Hugin

Day 7: To Arenal

Being the only guest in a lodge certainly has its advantages, as breakfast is served whenever we feel like it. Today, it was around 07:30.
Right after this, we embarked on a small boat for yet another boat safari on the river system.

Caño Negro is a swampy area right next to a lagune which almost completely drains during the dry season. Right now, we are in the wet season and the entire area is flooded with about one metre of water.
This naturally attracts many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians, and that is the main reason why we’re there.

The guide took us around the area in about two hours, along rivers, small waterways and on the lagune. The amount of birds in this area is simply staggering! Hundreds of cormorants, Anhinga’s, Egrets, Herons and Kingfishers have passed our lenses, many of which played nice and posed for us.
Many cayman also call this place home, as do quite a lot of Jesus Christ Lizards and Green Iguana. It is a marvellous place!

The only downside of it is, that it sits in the middle of a 50km dirt road, of the worst kind imaginable. The drive there is quite an adventure, but with our new and trusty 4×4 Rav4, everything is fine!

From Caño Negro to La Fortuna (the village right next to the Arenal volcano) is about 120kms and the drive is great! The first 30km is dirt road, but after that everything is tarred and just fine. It is not Dutch quality, but we managed just great. After about 100 km the majestic volcano is visible as it stands way taller than anything around it.

We booked a frog watching tour through the hotel garden the moment we arrived, and have seen around 10 species of frogs! Including the very Costa Rican Red Eyes Frog. Great frog, and very picturesque at that.

Tomorrow we’ll walk the Arenal National Park, to get some more scenic views of the grand mountain.


Day 12: (Not) walking the Alpine Crossing

Our only full day at Tongariro National Park, and the forecast is basically rain with lots of wind.
Not so great for a 10 hour walk.

We are staying in a place called The Park Traveller’s Lodge, nearly situated in a town called National Park. As you would’ve guessed: the town is very near to the starting point of the walks in Tongariro NP. It also has a train station, aptly called National Park.

The shuttle to the starting point for the Alpine Crossing is from the Lodge and also collects us at the other end of the walk. They only ferry passengers to and from the track on days they think are good days. Unfortunately, today is not deemed a good day.
I would definitely agree with that, as I personally do not like to walk in the rain with gusts up to 75km/h at an altitude of over 1750 metres. The wind chill factor would help to make it feel below freezing. Not very nice indeed.

So, after a few weeks of preparation on our side, especially by Kirsten, the weather has proven to be to much and prevented us from going at all. On the plus side, if we were to go today when there wouldn’t be as much wind, the views would be terrible anyway as the cloud cover sits neatly well below the top of the mountains. In fact, there is about 500 metres of cloud to to the top.

Today, we decided to do small walks instead of the large walk. Which meant we hiked through low alpine fields, a small forest and much more in high winds, horizontal rain and through the clouds. The views of the waterfalls were good though, and we petty much appreciated not walking for ten hours straight through this weather.
Maybe next time.

Tomorrow, we are leaving Tongariro NP for Wellington and the preparations of leaving the North Island.
Let’s see what the capitol of this country has to offer!