Costa Rica 2016, Mar 26- April 7 – Pura Vida!

General comments:

Pura vida!!   A common saying/response meaning great or awesome!

There is no military in Costa Rica – a very peaceful nation.

Costa Rica has a rich diversity of plants and animals with a lot of protected land.

The money:  about 530 colones per US dollar

Our itinerary! 

We flew into San Jose and then made our way to Tortuguero for a couple of nights. 

Then back to San Jose and on to the Arenal volcano area for 2 nights. 

On to the Monteverde cloud forest

Finally on to Manuel Antonio National Park

Places and Activities

Flight to the capitol San Juan:  First class!  Note this gets you into the United lounge since we were on an international destination.  The first class ticket cost was within range of economy so why not?  Mom is enjoying the benefits of the lounge.


Gate 1 travel was right there to meet us after the flight.  San Juan is quite a large city.  We noted some very nice homes in the hills as we flew into the city.  We took a walk in a very large park with a small lake near the hotel with LOTS of families as it was a weekend.  We walked by the art museum on the way to the park and noted some interesting art sculptures outside.  We had an excellent meal for dinner with a cabernet wine, plantain (like a fried banana) with topping and eggplant with tomato sauce and basil.  Excellent!!

Tortuguero:  This is in the rain forest on the Caribbean side (a hot, steamy place!)   We met our very informative guide (Ricardo) and others in our group (16 for this part of the trip).  The bus ride took us “over the mountains and through the woods” (the cloud forest and we were indeed enveloped in fog) to the other side.  On the way they pointed out the confluence of 2 rivers.  The yellow one is due to run off from a volcano.



Then we loaded on a river boat like this as it is the only way to get there!


There are waterways or “canals” that run parallel to the ocean.

Tortuguero is named for the tortoises that lay their eggs on the beaches every season (not happening during this time of year…). This area is a very hot and humid rain forest.  We were very lucky as we only experienced one huge downpour during one of our meals but otherwise it was mostly dry.  We took a tour of the town that does not have roads or vehicles as the only access is by boat.  The homes are built on stilts presumably due to flooding at times?  We checked out the beach but on the Caribbean side the beach sand is quite dark and the ocean is dangerous.

The town of Tortuguero from the river

New contruction – note the path and house are built above the ground.

The town church

For sale – waterfront property with satellite dish included.  Anyone interested?

Our lodge front poarch.  The lodging was clean and comfortable but “basic” – certainly wasn’t a TV or air conditioning!  We had a powerful fan above and a cross breeze though.  There was a lot of racket from insects and other creatures which contributed to the ambiance of the place!


Other comments about Tortuguero:  We noted a very confused deer of all things around the lodges as we checked in and walked to our place!  We went on a great river tour while we were here – see the animal section below.  They had a WONDERFUL swimming pool that felt great at the end of the day along with a bar serving mango margaritas among other things!

Arenal Volcano: 

On the way:  There were lots of coffee, sugarcane and banana plantations along the way.  We also saw some plantains which are like giant bananas.  Sarchi:  We stopped at a location known for oxcarts.  These were very colorful and were commonly used for transport in the past.

We also stopped at a town called Zarcero.  There was a great park there with a topiary garden.






And of course the inevitable church at the central square….



And a nice tile mural wall at the playground…




A beautiful drive through the hills….


Nice home in the hills!


Our last stop was at an elementary school.  What fun!  The kids put on a show and we each had a child to show us around the school.  Oh, and I was bit by one of those stinging ants on the lawn outside of the school. All and all a very fun stop (except for the ant)!




This little boy was my “host” 







And this boy was Mom’s

Arenal Volcano Area

This is our new front porch with a view of the volcano


The next day we went on another river tour (see the animal section).  Afterwards we went for a very relaxing evening at the hot springs.



Hiking up to an old lava flow the next day



View from part way up the volcano

You really need to know where to evacuate when you are near a volcano!



Travel by bus to the Monteverde Cloud forest area.  Note the use of wind power.



Monteverde Cloud Forest

What a beautiful place up in the mountains!  Despite the cloud forest name we lucked into very nice weather.  The view from our hotel room: