Costa Rica Trip Report 7/31/06-8/14/06

Old Aug 16th, 2006, 07:56 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Costa Rica Trip Report 7/31/06-8/14/06

Just got back on Monday from a lovely two-week vacation in Costa Rica (Arenal, Monteverde, Papagayo Gulf, and Tortuguero). Thought Iíd contribute a report since everyone here was so helpful in the planning and execution of our trip. (Warning: Itís extremely long and wordy so Iíll break it up.) It was just my 15-year-old son and me (40-something mom) and we had the most wonderful time. Although son is the active type and Iím somewhat active, we also like our moments of solitude, so we didnít have to fill every waking moment with an activity.

I donít care for flying in ďpaperĒ planes, so our transfers between cities were by shuttle and taxi-boat-taxi to Monteverde. I normally rent cars, but decided Iíd let someone else do the driving after hearing about the condition of Costa Rican roads during the green season. Surprisingly, they were just fine -- not including the road in and out of Monteverde, of course, but even that wasnít as bad as I thought it would be.

We didnít buy any special clothes or shoes. I did buy for us a couple of those Ex-Officio hats treated with insect repellent and sunscreen, which were great. Our daily uniform was shorts or capris and t-shirts. Neither my son nor I cares for the feel of those quick-dry wick-away shirts, so we brought plenty of cotton tees, which we would just change if we got too sweaty. We didnít have the luggage weight limit since we werenít flying, but whatís a couple more tees? Our footwear was tennis shoes, slippers, reef shoes, and my Crocs. My slippers were such they could be worn to the pool as well as to dinner and I think I spent most of my days in them.

We were very diligent about using insect repellent, so we werenít bitten once. I had some half-bottles of Off! Skintastic (Deet) repellent lying around the house, so I poured them into a fern spray bottle, which gave great all-over coverage with its fine spray. The bottle was just about finished by the time we got to Tortuguero, where we needed it most, but each of us also had a one oz. bottle of Cutter Advanced, which doesnít contain Deet, but something called Picaridin, which was very effective. It was in a tiny bottle that fit in a pocket. We each ended up using about 2/3 of a bottle during our three-day stay in Tortuguero. I also had one of those tiny sonic insect repellers on a keychain as well as one that you plug into an outlet, about the size of your palm, around $10 at Walgreenís, probably less at a big discount store. I kept the keychain between the beds and plugged the other one in a center outlet and our rooms were virtually bug-free.

We also liked using the spray sunscreen, less bothersome than the lotion. We used Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock SPF 45 and it really was cooling. For the sake of completeness, we also used the Fruit of the Earth Aloe Mist 100% Pure Gel continuous spray after sunning and showering, so we never felt the burn. Iím glad I heard about the new security measures before leaving Costa Rica as I would have hated to part with this stuff, so they and the rest of our toiletries went into our checked luggage on the flight home. The new regulations were not in effect when we left for Costa Rica.

I bought a couple handheld fans, two for $5, at our local Walgreenís and they were the best $5 I ever spent. They were absolute godsends in Tortuguero and other areas as well, where many times there was no breeze whatsoever.

For the ladies only: Per the advice of previous posts, I brought more than enough assorted feminine paper products, which I stored in a plastic bag and kept in the bathroom with my other toiletries. Upon returning to my just-cleaned room one day, I noticed half the bag was gone, leaving me with barely enough (argh). I must stress that absolutely nothing else was missing. So you might consider squirreling those away in your luggage.

I was expecting rain, rain, and more rain. What we got was sun, sun, and very little rain. We didnít have to crack our umbrellas open once. The few hard rains I heard were in the wee morning hours. Showers during the day (when we were out, that is) were few and far between and were very light and very short. What a lovely surprise, although we probably wouldnít have minded a few more refreshing showers.

The people of Costa Rica are beautiful and kind. It really helps to learn a bit of Spanish. I wouldnít say Iím fluent in Spanish, but Iím pretty close. English is widely spoken, but I found that the Ticos really open up to you if you could converse with them. I know, duh, but what I mean is Ė well, take me, for instance, I donít think Iím going to divulge everything about myself to a perfect stranger (a ten page report doesnít count!), but whenever I would speak with Ticos, once they realized I spoke Spanish, I would suddenly get their whole life story, details about family, work, likes, dislikes, etc., and they would have questions for me. They are very friendly and forthcoming. I sat up front with the driver on the way to Monteverde, and by the time we arrived, I knew his entire life story from sad childhood to successful adulthood (he is now a partner in one of the taxi-boat-taxi companies). It was very moving.

Anyway, here we go . . .

SFO-SJO:
Not off to a good start. Our San Francisco-Dallas flight was delayed two hours, meaning we would miss our early evening connection to San Jose, so American re-routed us to Miami. We spent the night there, then took the morning flight to San Jose and arrived at 12:30 p.m. Good thing I bought travel insurance as I am now on the hook for our no-show hotel night in San Jose and our no-show morning Interbus transfer to Arenal.

Upon arriving in San Jose, I wanted to get back on track, and wanting to get to Arenal ASAP, I opted for an airport taxi, setting me (ahem, the travel insurance company) back $100 plus $10 tip. I know I had read a post regarding the winding road to Arenal (similar to the road to Hana), but forgot about it until we were actually on it. Being prone to motion sickness, when necessary, I usually take one Dramamine Light or one Bonine, but I didnít prior to this jaunt. Both contain 25 mg Meclazine as opposed to the 50 in regular Dramamine, so Iím able to function and not feel drowsy. I started to get a tiny bit queasy, so I just did what the Sea-Bands do and placed my thumb on my wrist, maybe an inch below the bend of my hand, and pressed very hard. Something to do with an acupressure point, and it actually helped.

Next stop, Arenal . . .
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 08:08 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ARENAL:
Upon arrival in Fortuna, I figured we were close to our hotel, not realizing the Lost Iguana is at the end of the line, so to speak, its frontage road being right next to Lake Arenal where you board the boats to Monteverde. Good thing I had all my hotel phone numbers with me as the driver didnít know where the hotel was, so he called over there and got directions. When you see the Lost Iguana entrance sign, you still have to drive up another road surrounded by greenery and past a pasture to get to the reception building.

Once in reception, we were greeted by the nice folks there with the most delicious mixed fruit juice. (I ended up ordering it with rum during my dinners there.) The resort consists of various buildings on hilly terrain. We were golf-carted to our room. After the stress of the previous 30 or so hours, you can imagine my delight walking into our room and seeing Arenal Volcano framed in the big picture window, my first Costa Rica Zen moment. Now this was a standard room, mind you. Every single room has a volcano view. It was a beautiful room with all natural wood furnishings and a nice size bathroom with huge walk-in shower. It also had a small refrigerator, coffeemaker and coffee, and safe. There were two rocking chairs on the porch, where we just sat for a bit admiring the volcano and all the lush greenery in our ďbackyardĒ. It really is a beautiful property.

Clouds hid the summit of the volcano most of our four days there. I got one picture with just a few wispy clouds at the top and you can see it almost in its entirety. I left the curtains open every night, but did not see any lava. We were probably on the ďwrongĒ side. I didnít cry too much over that as we have been to Volcano National Park on the Big Island. We sure heard Arenal, though. It rumbled quite a few times during our stay.

Not having a car and not wanting to spend a fortune on cabs, we ate our dinners at the hotel and they were perfectly fine. We are not serious foodies and we donít need complicated sauces and such (in fact, the simpler, the better), so we were more than happy with the grilled fish and meats accompanied by rice or potatoes (in various ways) and vegetables. One night during dinner, two brothers (identical twins, in fact) played acoustic guitar so sweetly and beautifully, not one off note. My son said he saw one of the twins in the kitchen with a chefís hat on -- a multi-tasker. Breakfast is included in the room price and is delicious and plentiful (eggs, gallo pinto, breakfast meats, cheeses, breads, potatoes, cereal, juice, fresh fruit, coffee). I already miss my daily morning coffee with scalded milk.

The following morning, we did the Sky Tram/Sky Trek (their shuttle picked us up). The tram ride up was just beautiful and the guide was very informative about its history and other factoids. I was at first a bit leery about doing the zip lines, but just decided to go for it. None of our group (about 12 of us) opted out after the two trial lines, which are very close to the ground, but seeing the first actual line was breathtaking, as in choking! All I can say is Iím so glad I did this. It ended up being the great kind of breathtaking. It was exhilarating. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. Itís very secure, the guides are great, and if you forget to slow down, they will slow you down and stop you on the other side with a rope contraption. The last (and longest) line gave a birdís eye view of the lake and volcano and was another Zen moment. Actually, that was the second to last line, then you walk down a circular stairway within the tower and take a short zip line down to the ground, during which their staff takes your picture. We didnít buy them as my face was hidden. My sonís looked okay, but since my camera has a video feature, I was able to video him zip lining and arriving on the platform.

From there, we took Sky Tramís shuttle to Tabacon and had lunch and spent the rest of the day at the hot springs until about 7:00 PM (full day pass). There were quite a few people there, but there are so many pools of various sizes and temperatures that when you find one you like, donít worry, there will be room for you. Many of them were too hot for me (son could tolerate the very hot ones) so I stayed mostly in the pool with the tables and chairs, the one just below the main cool pool with the swim-up bar. We had it to ourselves a lot of the time. When I wanted to cool off, I just sat under the waterfall made by the cool pool water flowing into my pool. The paths are lined with plants and flowers and trees and itís lush and colorful. You may want to consider bringing your own towel as there is a towel deposit and all those darn towels look alike (dark beige in color). God forbid you lose yours. At least your own will stand out. Our cab ride back to Lost Iguana cost $11.

The next day, we had an early morning ATV tour with Fourtrax. This was really fun and included stops at a La Fortuna Falls viewing area, a butterfly farm, and a nice swimming hole complete with crystalline water, waterfall, and Tarzan swing. I didnít go in and I heard the water was icy. We passed plantations and fields, and the last part before we returned, we went to a secluded area with a nice, long, winding road and just flew at top speed. I was expecting rain and mud, but instead, it was very sunny, hot, and dusty. By the time it was over, dust was just everywhere Ė hair, clothes, backpacks Ė how did it get in my bra?! Upon returning to the hotel, we took showers, and then the plan was a brief nap and then the hanging bridges. Instead, we woke up at dusk. Oh well, scratch the hanging bridges.

We checked out of the Lost Iguana the following morning and took a short ride down the hill to the boat launch at Lake Arenal. It was a lovely and smooth ride across the lake, the morning overcast, but the temperature just right.

On to Monteverde . . .
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 08:16 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
MONTEVERDE:
Yup, that road is everything itís cracked up to be, but really not as bad as I expected. Again, I was expecting potholes and mud and much bouncing around, but itís really just a very gravelly road and the driver drives very slowly, so itís Ė oh, tedious. The views are nice, though, more greenery and farmland.

We checked into the Hotel El Establo. The desk person said the hotel offered laundry service at $10 for so many pounds of laundry, I forget the weight now, but it was definitely by weight, not by piece. I knew we didnít quite need that yet, so I said no thanks. We settled in, and then took a nice downhill walk (maybe about 20 minutes) into town, where we grabbed a bite and also had some wonderful ice cream. We then took a $2 cab ride back up the hill. Son went to the Internet room while I sat in my rocking chair on the porch and read. The hotel is high on a hill and you can actually see the Pacific Ocean from certain points. Our deluxe room wasnít in the highest area, but we did have a nice view of the town and lake and had a lovely green lawn off the balcony. We were just a few steps from the pool (the only hotel with a pool in Monteverde), but we didnít swim. The early mornings and nights were rather cool, actually, and we even wore our sweatshirts, the only time we used them during this trip. Remember, Monteverde is 5000+ feet above sea level. Again, breakfast was included and was also plentiful.

The following morning, after breakfast, we went on a guided hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. As is mentioned frequently on this board, it really is better to have a guide as you will most likely see more with one than without. He explained all about first and secondary forest, all the various flora and fauna, and the various insects and birds we saw. We also saw some monkeys, an agouti, and a coati. We went across one hanging bridge, so Iím glad I didnít totally miss that experience. At the Hummingbird Gallery, I finally got some great pictures of the very colorful birds after I got them to sit still long enough (LOL). Unfortunately, we didnít see the elusive quetzal, but certainly not for lack of trying. Our guide said they could sometimes be found feeding on the avocado trees at Stellaís, so we stopped there on the way back to the hotel, which was really nice of him as it wasnít part of the plan. He tried very hard to find one for us, walking here and there and everywhere, which I really appreciated, but alas, no quetzal. Oh well, next time.

After being dropped off at the hotel, we washed up, changed shoes, and took a five minute walk downhill to Johnnyís Pizzeria for our main meal. We each had a salad, a delicious pasta dish, and tres leches cake. We then walked around some more and returned to the hotel, where we just took it easy.

The following morning, Interbus picked us up and we took the last of the gravel road out of Monteverde and onto the Pan American Highway. The farther we got from Monteverde, the hotter it got. The ride, however, was beautiful, through small towns and lusher greenery. The driver pointed out the chain of three volcanoes in Guanacaste. It was a bit disconcerting seeing a Subway and McDonaldís in Liberia. Sure didnít miss them.

On to the Papagayo Gulf . . .
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 10:08 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,429
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report so far...
I am going to CR in Nov. and can't wait.
Reading this has made me even more excited.
MarthaT is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 01:27 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks and lucky you. I can't say enough nice things about this place. I will add the rest now.

PAPAGAYO GULF:
This was our beach and R&R time Ė well, I wouldnít exactly call the trip thus far all that taxing, so letís say this was our extreme R&R time. We checked into the Fiesta Premier Resort, one of several all-inclusive resorts in this area. Itís quite spread-out, again on hilly terrain, but you just pick up the phone to call for a car and they come for you and take you wherever you want to go in the resort. I was determined to walk off all that unlimited food, but it was just so darn hot. Walking is my exercise of choice at home, but even when I stepped out at 7:00 one morning, it was already hot and the air was still. I suppose I could have used the treadmill at the air-conditioned gym, but I decided to just treat myself to these five days of total rest. I earned it!

We were on the ďotherĒ side of the resort, closer to the spa/adult pool. However, during the day, we would take a much quicker and easier short cut through the beach to get to the main area with the buffet restaurant, main pool with swim-up bar, snack bar, etc. The buffet had many dishes available and different themed nights Ė Mexican, French, etc. Ė so there was plenty of variety. We could also opt for ďlighterĒ fare at the spa restaurant (breakfast and lunch), which we did a few times, but not enough carbs there! The spa restaurant did, however, have a great smoothie bar with all sorts of different fruit concoctions. I miss the ice-cold fresh watermelon juice dispensers. There are also two full-service restaurants: international and Italian. You get two tickets (reservations) for a weekís stay, but since we were there only four nights, we only got one ticket, which we used at the international restaurant. It was like eating at a nice steakhouse, the food eclectic and nicely presented. We split a roasted cheese appetizer. I had delicious garlic and macadamia nut soup and the mahi mahi entrée with a martini and some wine. Son had Caesar salad and steak. Enough guests had ordered the baked Alaska, so we saw the fire show enough times, so I had blackberry tart instead and he had chocolate mousse for dessert. All national liquor is included, too, but you can purchase a different color bracelet if you want top shelf.

There were a lot of included activities offered: salsa dancing, aerobics, yoga classes, kayaking and snorkeling, etc. There were also nightly shows sort of Broadway in nature, but we only caught the show our last night there because it was called Costa Rica, Pura Vida and showed the dances of the various regions of Costa Rica; very well done. The performers actually worked at the resort during the day. After the show, the theater became a dance club.

I was kicking myself while here because we were down to the last of our clean clothes (we each had a little over one weekís worth, then the plan was to launder them for the second week). Now I donít know what made me think a place like this would have a self-service laundry. It didnít, of course, and they charged for laundry by the piece! (Remember the laundry offer in Monteverde?) I asked if I could be charged by the pound. The answer was no. I asked where the nearest Laundromat was. In Liberia, an $80 round trip cab ride away. So we had to ďrationĒ our clothing and wash some of our underwear as the prices were $1.50 for one piece of underwear, $2 each tee shirt, $2.50 each pair of shorts. I tried to get away with calling my capris shorts, but no, they were considered pants, so they were $4 each. We had to have a few things washed because I knew we would change our clothes at least twice a day in Tortuguero, so my total for 14 various pieces (underwear, shirts, shorts, capris) was, with tax, almost $40! Keep that in mind if your itinerary is similar to mine. Get the laundry done in Monteverde!

We did a lot of swimming in the gulf and in the adult pool, which was never crowded (practically empty, in fact). Because we were in a sheltered gulf, the water was very calm and great for swimming. We rented jet-skis and had a blast because we went quite a ways out and were the only two way out there. Even though the water was calm, at full speed, I was bouncing. At the time I rented the jet skis, the person helping me mentioned a two-hour guided jet ski tour that covered the gulf and a bit of the ocean and included some caves and possible dolphin sightings. I told her we would take it, thinking it was available right then, but the next available tour was the next day, so we just opted to rent that day.

It was a very enjoyable and relaxing and unstructured five-day break (if you donít include hand washing underwear). We were able to pay our airport tax at the resort (Tuesdays and Thursdays only), which was nice, one less line to stand in at the airport.

BRIEF STOP IN SAN JOSE:
Interbus came for us at 2:30 PM. We got back on the Pan American Highway and headed for San Jose. After about two hours of driving, I was just thinking how smoothly all our transfers had been up to that point when all of a sudden, we stopped behind a line of cars. I couldnít see what the obstacle way up there was (donít know if it was an accident or what) as the line was long and then curved to who-knows-where. Our driver got out of the line, turned around, took another turn-off, and we took another route to San Jose that was slower, but with much less traffic. However, it put us on a mountain road with no guardrails at dusk, then at night. What an adventure! I got to hand it to that driver he did a great job.

We arrived at the Best Western Irazu not too far behind schedule. We were still able to get a good nightís sleep before our 6:00 AM pick-up the following day. I know our hotel wasnít the best choice, but I just wanted an inexpensive first and last night hotel near the airport with free airport shuttle, and I also chose it for this one interim night so we could store one of our bags there while in Tortuguero, which has a 25 lb. per person luggage limit, although I donít think it was enforced as I saw many guests definitely exceeding that weight limit. We sure didnít need two suitcases for three days, though.

Next stop, Tortuguero . . .


sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 01:30 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
TORTUGUERO:
Tortuguero was a must for our itinerary because itís turtle egg-laying season now (July through September) and I was so looking forward to witnessing that. There are many lodges in the area that offer all-inclusive packages (round trip transportation by bus and/or plane, all meals, and activities). I went with Pachira Lodge and our bus came for us promptly at 6:00 AM. We had a great bi-lingual guide who would impart information a few sentences at a time in Spanish, then in English, back and forth. The bus carried mostly tourists from Spain and a handful of Americans (us included). I understand many Spaniards travel to Costa Rica around this time. Then during the dry season, itís mostly Americans and Canadians.

The route took us through Braulio Carrillo National Park to our first stop, Guapiles, where we ate a full breakfast (included with the package) at one of the hotels there. We then had a stop at a banana processing plant before proceeding to Siquirres, where we boarded boats heading for the Tortuguero area, which is accessible only by boat.

We were on the river for about 1-Ĺ hours (we had a short bathroom and refreshment stop) before arriving at the lodge. Upon arrival, we were given a welcome glass of fresh juice, and then assigned our rooms (keys already in the door). Lunch was all ready to be served. Now this is very important. Once you drop your bags in your room, before going to lunch, go immediately to the boot area and pick your boots for the hike the next day before the pickins get real slim. Once you find a pair your size or close to it, take them back to your room. We waited until after lunch to do this and ended up with pairs
too big. The next size lower was way too small. I ended up wearing two pairs of socks and still had plenty of room. Son didnít do much better, but at least his socks were thicker.

Now I had heard that guestrooms at many of these lodges, although each has its own bathroom, are actually two or four guestrooms housed under one roof with the walls separating the rooms not quite reaching the ceiling, thus affording each room little privacy. I also heard some of them do not have hot water. Our room at Pachira was actually a standalone cabin, a good size with a single and double bed and plenty of space to store your gear and still have room to walk around. No windows; just screens covered with either curtains or blinds. No A/C; just a ceiling fan. No TV or phone in the guestrooms, but there is a recreation room with a TV and board games. The cabin also had a covered porch with rocking chairs and an umbrella stand with two umbrellas with your room number on them (so if you brought them to lunch, say, you could easily pick them out of the communal umbrella stand). The bathroom was small, but the shower area was a good size. Knowing this whole area is very eco-conscious, I was expecting lukewarm water at a trickle (although hot water showers are advertised). I must say this was the best shower of our entire stay. First and foremost, the showerhead was high up (taller than my sonís 6í) and had a shower massage that worked very well and water just gushed out of it. Although hot showers were totally unnecessary during our stay, itís always nice to ease into a cold shower, donít you think? What a great shower to have three (yes, three) times a day; not as a luxury, but as a necessity. The cold water was so refreshing in that intense, humid heat even though you would start to sweat again once you toweled off. You know, the whole time we were there we didnít even think to go swimming in the pool. I guess our brains were fried!

After lunch, we purchased tickets for the nighttime turtle tour. A bit later, we took the boat to Tortuguero town, which is very tiny and consists of some shops (grocery, ice cream, souvenirs), a school, a few residences, the conservation museum, and access to the beach. We walked around a bit and went to the beach, which is not a swimming beach as the water is very rough and there are sharks. It doesnít take long to walk from one end of the town to the other.

We returned to the lodge, had dinner, and then waited for our tour time, which was the later tour (there are two: 7:00 to 9:00 and 10:00 to midnight). We were told to wear dark colors. No bright white, yellow, or similar colors. We just stayed in the room and rested a bit since we were going to be out late.

We were very lucky during the turtle tour as we got to see three sites. The guides are very careful, using only red light and not their bright lights. At the first site, we followed (staying well behind) two turtles as they made their way slowly back into the ocean. At the second site, the turtle had just finished laying her eggs and was in the process of using her flippers to bury them. Eureka at the third site. We actually watched the turtle lay her eggs. What a glorious sight. There was an errant egg (not belonging to this turtle) well outside her nest and our guide picked it up and passed it around. It looked and felt just like a ping-pong ball, round and white in color. There was quite a bit of waiting around and walking involved, but on level ground except when walking in sand. It was not difficult, but boy was it hot and steamy. Like I said, that handheld fan was a godsend. What an exciting evening.

I donít know why I bothered setting my alarm clock. The howler monkeys started howling at dawn and would not let up. How those booming sounds come out of a little monkey I just donít understand. After breakfast, we boarded the boat again, headed for Tortuguero National Park (I paid $7 per person admission), and took a couple hour guided hike. Here was where the boots provided by the lodge were really necessary as we slogged through mud and water that sometimes went well above the ankles (the boots were about mid-calf). Also, we encountered logs we had to climb over or climb on and jump off of. Because of that, you would be wise to wear clothing youíre not too attached to as you will be splashed with mud. I did the laundry yesterday and the pants my son and I wore on that hike are still showing a few mud spots (after washing). Thatís some pretty stubborn mud. The hike was very informative. We saw monkeys, various insects (spiders, Army ants, biting ants, termites, a termite nest), a poison dart frog, some sleeping bats, a woodpecker, and we were told not to grab any branches or leaves as you never know what youíre grabbing. The guide also said that snakes were plentiful in the area, so stay behind him and stay on the path. He was also very good at identifying the various plants.

We returned to the lodge, had lunch, and then a bit later, took a boat ride along the canals to spot the various wildlife. The guides had eagle eyes. They would stop the boat and point out iguanas that were so well camouflaged with their surroundings, thereís no way I wouldíve spotted them alone. We saw more iguanas, monkeys, different species of birds, different species of the heliconia flower, and the guides knew so much about each and every thing. Their knowledge was very impressive. It was a lovely outing.

Back to the lodge for a little rest and dinner. I forgot to add that all the meals were very filling. There was always a good variety of dishes at each meal served with fresh fruit juice and coffee, dessert with lunch and dinner. The breakfasts always consisted of fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, a breakfast meat, gallo pinto, bread, and pancakes and syrup.

Oh, on our first and last days there, a huge spider (literally the size of my outstretched hand) made it into our room and hung out on one of the walls. It was the same kind of spider both times. I guess it was immune to the sonic repellers. I know they donít kill the wildlife over there, so the first day, after I reported it, the manager came to the room with a broom, but ended up picking the spider up with two laminated cards and bringing it outside. Our last night, the same (?) spider showed up. I went to the front desk to report it and she called the ďbug patrolĒ guy. I waited outside for him, and when we entered the room, my son was standing there watching this spectacle on the wall. He said the spider had pounced on a moth, and sure enough there was the spider with a moth in its clutches. The bug patrol guy took off his cap, put the cap over both, grabbed them, and left with them.

All in all, a lovely rustic stay in Tortuguero. Quite frankly, we saw the most wildlife in this area. Our last day in Tortuguero was also when we heard the most rain. It came down in deluges in the very early hours of the morning, sounding like thousands and thousands of pebbles hitting our roof. Once we got up and showered and left for breakfast, rain no more. We always seemed to be just missing it.

We all boarded the boat once more for the return trip to Siquirres. The food servers and manager on duty came out to see us off, such a nice gesture. That was another thing I noticed about Ticos, how they respect one another and treat each other equally. Our guides would always introduce the bus driver or boat captain and say, ďPlease be sure to thank our driver/captain for the great job he did.Ē Iíll never forget after the show at Premier Fiesta, the MC introduced the entire cast of dancers individually, saying, ďThis is (full name), who also works in the restaurant during the day, and this is (full name), who also works in the bar.Ē He introduced the choreographer and the lighting man, and then he said, ďAnd donít forget to thank (full names) for serving you your drinks tonight,Ē which of course got the most applause.

On the boat ride to Siquirres, the boat slowed and our guide asked for silence. We then crept by a sandbar in the distance with two crocodiles slithering around on it. I noticed the head of a third one slowly going down into the murky water. I was sitting on the side closest to the water, so I instinctively moved toward the middle of the boat, pushing my son a bit out of his seat next to me. Who knew where the underwater croc would pop up? I wanted to keep my left arm, thank you. What an exciting way to end our Tortuguero stay.

We boarded the bus and took off after getting a fond farewell from our lead guide of the past three days. We stopped in Guapiles for lunch (again included), and made our way to San Jose without mishap, although we did slow down once when passing a car accident site involving three heavily damaged cars. The drive through Braulio Carrillo was especially beautiful as the valleys were heavy with clouds and you could see the trees through the clouds.

SAN JOSE AND HOME
We arrived in San Jose, checked in once again at the Irazu, claimed our stored bag, and got settled into our room. It was now the day before our trip home and the only souvenir I bought up to this point was one tee shirt for myself, the one that says PURA VIDA, each letter a colorful animal, bird or insect. It was about 4:00 PM on a Sunday. I thought Iíd end up doing all my shopping at the airport (UGH), but I called downstairs to see if anyplace was open. The person at the front desk told me to take a cab to Multi Plaza, which is open until 8:00 PM. This is a huge mall, has every kind of shop at all price levels, but I was just interested in souvenirs for family and friends, so I didnít check the entire place out. I passed a tee shirt kiosk that was liquidating its stock, everything 40% off. I bought a bunch of high quality tee shirts with nice Costa Rica designs on them (volcanoes, frogs, rainforests, Imperial beer) for about $8 each . I then went to Auto Tienda (similar to our Target or Wal Mart). A very nice employee there made suggestions for coffee I should buy, squeezing the bags so I could smell their rich aroma. She wasnít steering me to only the expensive stuff. In fact, she highly suggested Café Leyenda, which was on sale. All the prices were listed, in fact, and there were some good deals. I bought coffee, candy, hats, caps, magnets, mini bottles of Britt coffee liquor (which I wrapped very well in clothing in my luggage; no full-sized bottles, though), and a couple more shirts, everything the exact same items I saw the next day at the airport costing much more, even when taking into account their so-called ďdealsĒ of buy five, get one free. We grabbed a bite at the food court, and then headed back to the hotel. I called American Airlines and was informed the new security measures were still in effect, so I packed accordingly.

Never knowing how the airport crowds and security will be in this post 9/11 world, I always arrive about two hours before my flight just in case. It didnít take long to get checked in, no long line at American. The ticket agent said we could take liquids to the gate, but we would have to consume them before boarding. However, when going through security, they were taking bottles from passengers who were holding them in their hands. My son had a bottle in each of his outer backpack pockets. Apparently they didnít even notice them because they werenít confiscated. We ended up drinking them at the gate.

Once we boarded, about six agents were on the jet way hand-inspecting all the carry-ons. It did not, however, delay the flight. Unlike my outbound flight, our inbound flights were smooth sailing and problem-free and we arrived home safe and sound with wonderful, rewarding memories of this beautiful country and its people.

FINALLY, THE END
I hope this wasnít too much of a snoozer. I loved reliving my trip and it just somehow made its way onto the screen. I am happy to answer any questions you may have if I am able. Again, thanks to this board for all your valuable assistance.

Pura vida.
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 04:36 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What an enjoyable read! Thank you, sfgrace; so glad you and your son had such a great time!
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 04:49 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank YOU. I think I got the bulk of my information from your posts!
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 07:25 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 20,310
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank You
Enjoyed your report verymuch.

Like I said ,once you see the turtles laying their eggs , you remember it for always.

Sounds like you had a great time

Percy
Percy is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 07:42 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That's for sure--watching the turtles you realize that you are witnessing something that nature has decreed for eons. It was an awe inspiring experience. It's a little hard to convey to someone who hasn't seen it. . .
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2006, 11:05 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Indeed. Percy, your name was on a lot of the posts I read, too. After a while, I figured out who all the CR experts are! Thanks.
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 12:49 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your report! Arenal sounds more interesting the more I read about it!
Thank you for describing the Lost Iguana.
It sounds like a good hotel choice for Arenal. This is very helpul as I begin to plan our second trip to Costa Rica!
seversol is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 02:43 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 20,310
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sfgrace

If any of my reports were helpful to you it is because I have stood on shillmac's shoulder.

Glad that you had such a great time.

Percy
Percy is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 03:47 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Phooey, Percy. . .you stand alone! And arrange weather like no other. . .
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 05:45 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, seversol, happy to help. The reviews of Lost Iguana are mixed on tripadvisor.com, but I was very happy with our stay there, even though it is a bit remote.

Percy and shillmac, you two are the bomb.
sfgrace is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2006, 07:19 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 20,310
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will take credit where it is due and Yes, Shillmac ,everytime you asked for good weather in Costa Rica.... I ordered you the best ..BUT

I could not hold a candle to you about Costa Rica....maybe a match stick !!! maybe !???

I know , I know ,and I love you too.!!

Good Night
Percy
Percy is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 09:37 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
bookmarking
rpowell is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 10:21 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,851
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sf, thanks for posting this wonderful report. I don't know how I missed it the first time! We haven't been to Tortuguero yet, so all the details you provided were really helpful! Glad you enjoyed the Lost Iguana - it's our favorite.
volcanogirl is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Iraq08
Mexico & Central America
3
Aug 13th, 2009 06:45 AM
TessC
Mexico & Central America
17
Aug 24th, 2006 05:21 PM
meliss35
Mexico & Central America
7
Aug 23rd, 2006 08:30 PM
SBROWNELL
Mexico & Central America
10
Aug 15th, 2006 06:28 PM
jlh370
Mexico & Central America
27
May 20th, 2005 08:31 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -