Jo's Trip Report

Old Jul 13th, 2004, 03:07 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Two more questions for you! With the rain in mind, and the disposition of a teenager, does he really need long pants? I have bought those zipper ones (rather than heavy jeans) but I know he will never wear them again! I can still take them back..what would your family say??? Also, has outgrown his hiking boots, but I think he needs them for the mud; if he gets sneakers soaked first day, then they will be wet..right??? Thanks, Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2004, 08:59 AM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Trevorjoyce, I was thinking the same thing about the rain and mud. We are going in Aug. None of us have hiking boots and I don't plan on buying them because we really don't hike a lot. We have good sturdy sneakers we are plannin on bringing. I was just thinking we could all bring an extra pair of old sneakers in case the first pair get really wet. I suppose we could also dry them in a clothes dryer. It seems like people don't have any trouble finding inexcpensive laundromats. Jo, what did your family do?
Jo, we are staying at La Colina in MA,
Arenal Paraiso, Poas Volcano Lodge, and Las Orquideas Inn in Alajuela.

Kwoo is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2004, 09:24 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
FYI - I would take the zipper pants for the horseback ride in particular. The guys on our trip wore their tevas on most hikes which I wouldn't have wanted to do - but they're guys!! My sneakers only got soaked when I went horseback riding in the rain. I also bought a pair of water shoes ($5) at Value City (they have at Kmart, Target, etc) for rafting so I could throw those away afterwards. The a/c helps to dry things but sneakers do take awhile. None of us had hiking boots. Take a lot of ziplocs for damp clothes!
sclubb is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2004, 04:25 PM
  #44  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think the best solution to the pants/shorts and shoe thing is certainly going to vary depending upon your family and its preferences. Of course, that won't keep me from telling you my family's experience and my opinions!

First of all, the hiking we did, though a good workout for me, probably was not what a true hiker would call challenging. If you're doing just the regular touristy hikes in the more developed areas like we were, I don't think you really need any real special hiking shoes or clothing. Sure, you're in the rainforest, and it's muddy, it may go uphill and downhill, but it wasn't as if we were climbing up cliffs or anything where slipping could be a life or death concern. Essentially, we were just walking along muddy paths with rainforest all around us.

Dh did buy zip-off pants at my suggestion. He didn't wear them at all. I can see that they'd be great to own if you hike on a regular basis. If I had to do it again, though, I wouldn't have suggested that he buy them just for CR. After all, worst case, you can always roll up pants if you get hot! Another problem I can see for boys is that, once the bottoms are zipped off, the remaining shorts are shorter than the "in" style of shorts (at least around here). So, depending on the age and fashion-consciousness of the boy, he may not be interested in wearing the zip-offs in the shorts version. I did buy my son a pair of light weight cargo pants at Old Navy. He usually wears the heavy weight (almost like canvas) cargos, so I just bought the same style in a more summery weight cotton. He actually didn't end up wearing them in CR because he only wore shorts, but I know they'll be fine for wearing at home here in Mass., so they won't go to waste.

My husband did buy several synthetic quick-drying shirts that worked out great. Rather than the hiking variety, he bought some Adidas soccer shirts at Galyan's--I think they're nylon. He actually loved them. Said they were like wearing nothing, were very cool in the heat, they did dry quickly, and are a style that wouldn't look weird around home.

To be perfectly honest, not being a lover of synthetics, I wore cotton almost all the time, including dungaree capris. No, they didn't dry quickly but, personally, I think cotton is more comfortable than synthetics and I have no regrets.

Okay, now for shoes. With the rain we encountered, yes, sneakers got really wet, muddy, and smelly, and did not dry. I think two of my kids ended up throwing a pair each away because they smelled absolutely awful. I had had them bring old sneakers, knowing they might get completely wrecked. For once, the fact that none of us really keeps up with throwing old stuff away came in handy. My son actually ended up without any dry sneakers after soaking through 2 pairs and ended up wearing cheap Walmart water shoes on our last day of "hiking." He was fine in the water shoes.

I have terribe, high-maintenance feet, wear prescription orthotics, etc., but I know that my kids seem to be comfortable in just about any shoes that fit. If you or your kids don't have old shoes around and don't want to wear sandals, and you have easy-to-please feet, I'd recommend getting a cheap pair of sneakers at Payless or somewhere similar that could thrown away if necessary. Another option is the shoes my husband bought. They were on sale for like $10 at Payless and are water/land shoes that were much more substantial than regular water shoes. They had laces and sneaker-like soles, but dried much more quickly than sneakers. He wore them for one day of hiking and they worked out great.

Re Teva-type sandals, I found that the mud got between the sandals and the soles of my feet, so my feet really slid around in the sandals, making them feel really unsupportive. This was uncomfortable for me but, again, I have really stupid feet. Mine were actually Nike brand, but similar to Tevas.

I'm embarrassed to say I forget who it was, but someone on this forum was raving about her Chaco sandals. When we returned, I tried some on at REI and loved them! For those of you who don't know about them, they are somewhat Teva-like, but seem to hold your foot much more securely in place. Our guide on the whitewater rafting trip was wearing them. There's expensive (like $90), but if they're something you'd wear at home, you might want to consider them for CR. I actually ordered a pair (they didn't have the size/color combo I liked in the store) when I was at REI.

I probably told you all way more than you wanted to read, but hopefully it was of some help.

And, I agree with Sclubb--bring lots of ziplocs! We used them to keep dry things dry and wet things separate. We also used large garbage bags for dirty wet clothes.

Happy packing!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2004, 04:34 PM
  #45  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Okay, it's me again--the one who doesn't know when to shut up!

But, after I posted my last post, I realized that I could really sum things up as follows:

I worried way too much before our vacation about what clothes and shoes we needed. Given the places we visited and the things we did, the wet shoe problem was the only thing out of the ordinary.

Otherwise, we pretty much all wore what we would have worn on any vacation in a hot climate.

Again, if you're serious adventurers in the real wilds of CR, you'd have to approach things differently, but for our vacation, normal summer clothes were basically what we wore and that worked!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2004, 07:47 PM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks,Jo, I think I may take the pants back that I bought son/husband...I know they will not wear them again...esp son, who, as you know likes longer shorts! Actually, I think I will reinvest the $ in a bathing suit he liked & I didn't buy. He plans to wear his bathing suites, which are like long shorts, most of the time. Used to do it at camp when he didn't feel like changing. I'm going to buy extra sneakers for them..I have hiking boots already. One more question...we have saved time at end for either 1 or 2 day Pacuare trip. I have had back/neck problems but am in fairly good shape. Is it very strenuous? Two day trip breaks it up and has nice lodging, but is expensive. Any thoughts? Was it nice even in the rain? Thanks again..we are all pretty neurotic! Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2004, 04:45 AM
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Joyce,

If I were you, I'd definitely return the zip-offs. I think the bathing suit thing is a good idea. Of course, it took years for my son to understand why wearing his bathing suit all day as if it were a pair of shorts (without underwear) and then wearing it again the next day (without it having been washed) was different than wearing the same pair of regular shorts twice without washing! LOL!

Regarding white water rafting. The day we rafted was grey with on and off drizzle (unlike the pouring ATV day). To be honest, I don't remember thinking how gorgeous the river and environs looked--probably because of the lousy weather. I'm sure it would've looked beautiful on a bright, sunny day. As far as the rafting itself went, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed it in an all-day downpour, but the weather we had didn't make the actual rafting any less enjoyable. I believe our guide mentioned that we might have seen more wildlife on a good weather day because the animals don't like being out in the rain either.

I talked to our guide a bit about the 2-day trip. From what she told me, they raft the same total distance--they just break it up with the overnight stay. I believe that it works the same way with all of the companies, although I'm sure their actual accommodations may differ a bit. Personally, I'm glad we did the one-day, but then we're not campers. (As if you haven't already figured out that we like our creature comforts at night!) For us, I don't think an overnight along the river bank would have really added anything to the trip. I wouldn't hesitate to stay in rustic accommodations out in the rainforest if I thought I would get to see/experience something I wouldn't otherwise. I'm sure someone out there can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure we'd have experienced anything additional with the sleepover, other than possibly to gain more of a sense of camaraderie (sp?) with the guides and other rafters.

Okay, to answer your last question is going to mean some true confessions here. I am 50, would probably be described by kind people as "chubby." Not obese, but certainly not trim. I do try to walk or exercycle fairly regularly, but I'm certainly not in the shape I should be in. And, the biggie that I hate to admit is that I smoke--too much and for too many years. Despite all of these shortcomings, I didn't find the rafting to be too strenuous at all. Honestly, it was easier than I thought it would be. Now, there are 5 of us, so my son and husband were in the front, the girls were next, and I was in a 3rd "row" by myself. From what we can figure, I had the easiest time of it. I don't know if this is "officially" the case, but it seemed as though dh and ds had to move the most water and that it got progressively easier for those behind. The guide was the one who positioned us and, I assume, she put the seemingly strongest two in front and weak old mom in the back on purpose! For me, the uphill portions of our hikes were much more strenuous (both on the legs and the lungs) than the rafting.

The only problem I can see if you have some back/neck problems is that, when going over rapids, there were some points where it felt as though we were going up over waves and then sort of slamming back down into the water--slamming is probably too strong of a word, but I can't think of a better one. It wasn't a horrible, jarring feeling, but we definitely went up and then hit back down.

We were all sore the next day and each had a bruise or two here or there. The biggest problem I had was with my hip. You have to put your foot in sort of a funny position in order to anchor it into the boat (so you stay in! LOL!), so it's sort of twisted at an unnatural angle. I felt this in my hip the next day.

The hip thing certainly would never keep me from whitewater rafting again. I loved it!

One last note about rafting. We did pay them the $25 to have them take pictures. They arrived in the mail the other day. I was a bit disapointed in that they aren't zoomed in as close as I'd hoped. However, they are great and the funny thing is that it looks like we were fighting some pretty strong rapids! You know when you look at those pictures of people rafting and think, "Wow! They must be experts--that water looks wild." Well, that's kind of how our pictures look (don't laugh, but the pictures make us look like pros!), but it wasn't scary when we were doing it! It was very, very exciting, but not really frightening.

One last note as long as you're in the process of trying to decide what to buy/bring. Probably the best purchase I made prior to the trip was a new backpack. Prior to that, we had one of the LL Bean bookpacks that we would use when our activities called for more than Mom's pocketbook. Dh was complaining (and he is not a complainer--I am, obviously, the neurotic one in our family)that we needed a new one, the old one was too slippery, etc. I thought he was full of it, but the poor guy doesn't ask for much, so at the last (and I do mean last) minute, I ordered LL Bean's Crawford Notch backpack for around $50. Wow! What a difference! It wasn't slippery, it stays on your shoulder great (even if slung over only one shoulder), it's much more well balanced or something than the old one because, even fully loaded, it felt quite comfortable. Since you already have hiking shoes, you may already have a decent backpack but, if you don't, I highly recommend the one we got, though the one drawback is that it is not waterproof--thank goodness for Ziploc bags!

Jo
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2004, 04:58 AM
  #48  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Joyce, I just noticed your questions about cameras on another thread. I bought a disposable waterproof camera and was really glad we brought it. We brought it whitewater rafting and I took a few pictures of the family individually, but obviously couldn't get all of us and the raft in the pictures as the company's photographer could. I also brought it to the hot springs and got some decent shots there. I am kicking, and I mean kicking hard, myself for not bringing it on the ATV trip. I had the digital in a ziploc in the backpack on that trip, but was afraid to try to use it in the rain.

In between uses, we kept the digital in a ziploc with dessicant. When we were hiking in MA park and it wasn't raining (miracle of miracles for us!), I didn't bring the dessicant. We have what would have been two great pictures of the kids there, but the picture came out all foggy looking--I assume because there must've been moisture in/on the lense.

So, if I were you, I'd bring the digital and also a disposable waterproof. In my experience, the quality of pictures from the waterproof cameras isn't great, but they at least "capture the moment."
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2004, 11:19 AM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jo, thanks for all your helpful info. I was wondering about sneakers, too. We don;t have hiking boots and I don't want to buy them. I have a pair of really sturdy sneakers that I am bringing and I think I might bring an old pair, also. I'll tell my family to pack an extra pair of sneakers. And if they don't have it, they can go to Payless, like you suggest. I want to be prepared but yet pack as light as possible, too.

You went to the beach at Manuel Antonion NP, right? Do they have a snack bar there? Just wondering if we need to bring water bottles to MA.
Thanks.
Kwoo is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2004, 03:16 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are such a great help! I am over 50 (despite having a 15 yr old)..am not too chubby but I wouldn't say I'm a super athlete! I hope I have the nerve to do a canopy trip and I think at least 1 day rafting. FYI the big co. (adventure naturales, rios tropicales) have what looks like a nice lodging...but they should with the price! You do see the same. I think maybe with all the rain they've been having I should go for the 1 day and base it on the weather. The 2 day absolutely has to be scheduled ahead. One day we could do last min. with so many companies or we could even do Sarapiqui. Tonight we are trying on all the old sneakers and hopefully my son can still fit in some of my old ones. I have 2 pairs of hiking boots now (his tight ones & mine) although I don't hike often...bought originally for 2 big Natl.Park vacations out West. I started using ziplocks when my son first went off to cub scout camp and I didn't want him losing clothes! Now we always use them for socks & underwear on trips and it's so handy. Just heard about a bug repellant that you spray on clothes ahead of time and lasts a few wks (don't know about rain, though) Seems very rainy there now. We plan to do the mangrove tour in MA but hadn't thought about ATV tour. Thanks again, Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2004, 08:07 PM
  #51  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We only walked across one of the beaches inside the park, and I don't believe those have facilities. Just outside the park there is a convenience store, but I'm not sure about snack bars at that beach. I thought someone once said there was one, but I don't remember. Sorry!

One of my daughters was really nervous about the canopy tour. She does not like heights, but I wouldn't say she has a major phobia about them. She had a blast. The pictures just came today and she sure looks as though she had fun. But, I know it's not for everyone. By the way, I noticed in the pictures that everyone but me is wearing water shoes on the canopy tour, which was our final activity before we returned to Alajuela! I guess they had already gone through 2 pairs of sneakers by then!

For me, the 1-day rafting trip was perfect. I don't regret not doing the 2-day, but as I'm sure you know, others have loved it.

Regarding the ATV tour, it was probably my kids' and husband's favorite thing we did. I really enjoyed it and would do it over again, but it wasn't my favorite of the activities we did. However, at least in our case, we really didn't see much that we hadn't seen on the other tours and driving around in the car. Lots of oil palms primarily. But, again, the rain was probably a factor. Given that we don't have ATVs at home, it was just a new experience for us. I have heard that some ATV tour places in the U.S. put devices on the ATVs to limit the speed, but I don't think they did in CR. So, it was fun going fast on them and didn't seem dangerous at all because we were on fairly wide dirt roads (without cars), not climbing up crazy rocky hills or anything. Dh and ds both ride motorcycles at home, so you wouldn't think the ATVs would be any big deal for them, but they were! I'm glad you're doing the mangrove tour--definitely worth it! After we did it, ds admitted that he totally was not looking forward to it, but he thought it was great.

I hope you both have great weather, but you'll have fun even if you don't! I really didn't mind the rain too much in CR, but it's been raining here at home this entire week and there's no end in sight--rain is predicted here through the middle of next week. I am now getting sick of it because we don't have a bunch of fun things to do here in the rain like we did in CR!

If you think of any more questions, don't hesitate to ask!

jo
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2004, 08:52 AM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jo, you've been a great source of info.
I have another question. Do you or anyone else think it is necessary to book tours in advance? WE are going in August. I haven't booked anything yet because I assume since it is green season that it won't be necessary. I'd rather not if we don't have to. We have
ideas of what tours we would like to do but haven't pinned it down yet nor on what days. We prefer to decide, for instance, the evening before what we want to do the following day.
Thanks.
Kwoo is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2004, 12:13 PM
  #53  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kwoo--First of all, I'm glad to help, though I often find it hard because we're all so different in what really matters to us.

Re the advanced booking, that's a tough question. In general, I'd say no, you don't have to book ahead, although we booked everything but the canopy tour ahead. I am a compulsive planner-aheader, so I just feel better knowing most things are in place when we leave home. I think I mentinoned before that when I tried to book the white water rafting several months ahead, they were already full on the date we needed.

There seem to be enough reputable white water rafting companies that if one was full, though, you could probably book with another one. For some reason, though, my gut tells me that this may be the one activity that may be wise to book in advance. Hopefully, someone with more experience than I have will chime in here. You may want to start a new thread asking that question so people will be more likely to see it.

I booked the mangrove tour ahead, but there was only one other person on the boat with use and there was certainly room for more, so that obviously wasn't fully booked.

If you're flexible and aren't too set on any one thing on any one date, I'd think you'll probably be fine waiting til you're there, but try starting a separate thread and see what people say.

Good luck!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 16th, 2004, 03:22 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, Jo, for a great report and good information! I, too, am sorry about your experience at Arenal Paraiso since I have recommended it as well! But I am sure, as you mentioned, the rain made matters worse! When we booked our December trip there last year, it was one of the few places that still had a room available in the Arenal area, so we felt lucky to have it and our experiece was good. I laughed when you coughed up the true confessions! I, too, don't fly without Xanax. It is the only time I ever take it, but boy does it ever help! Doesn't put me to sleep (unless I want to doze), but sure calms that anxious feeling and fear of flying (problem just fear of not being in control, control freak that I am!). I'm a nervous wreck without! Again, thanks for your report. Enjoyed every word!
shillmac is offline  
Old Jul 16th, 2004, 07:01 PM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome back Shillmac! I leave tomorrow morning. The anticipation is driving me mad. I too have my bottle of xanax ready to go . It's too funny how we all take that stuff to fly! You've got to wonder what percent of passengers on the average flight is on some type of tranquelizer?!
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Old Jul 16th, 2004, 07:04 PM
  #56  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, Shillmac, and don't worry about the hotel recommendation at all.

Dh contends that I am still a nervous wreck even with the Xanax--well, sometimes he uses stronger words. But, it's sure an improvement over flying without it! I think the control thing is a big piece of it for me. Between a tendency to get motion sick, the control thing, and a touch of claustrophobia, I was not meant for flying! I think the control thing gets me the minute I walk into the airport because I know my life is no longer my own! I have to do whatever they tell me to do and then some guy I can't even see is going to keep me in a closed-in space way up in the air and, hopefully, not let me crash to the ground!

This is a bit OT, but I have another true confession. The only time I take the Xanax is when I fly. I am on quite a bit of other medication, however, that I have for a medical condition--it's all boring stuff that doesn't alter one's emotional state. One morning at 5 a.m., I didn't have my old lady reading glasses on and was taking my meds before work--I opened bottle after bottle, collected the pills in my hand and then downed them with water. It then occurred to me that my usual little pink pill looked whiter than usual. Sure enough, when I got my glasses and checked, I had accidentally taken a Xanax leftover from a recent trip. What a lovely, relaxing day I had at work! I'm a high school counselor, so work can be a bit hectic at times. Not that day! Nothing bothered me--just floated through the day stress-free! My co-workers couldn't stop laughing over the new me!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2004, 05:51 AM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
LOL! Never thought about Xanax to get me through a day with 5th graders! One more year before retirement. . .hopefully I will make it through without sedatives! Aren't we all a bunch of nuts!
shillmac is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2004, 06:31 AM
  #58  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
LOL! But never as nutty as those parents!

(Now, don't anyone take offense--I'm a parent, too!)
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2004, 07:10 AM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We're thinking about booking a 10 day tour of CostaRica through Costa Rica Expeditions. Has anyone had any experience with them, good or bad?
trenthome is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2004, 07:22 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 734
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jo - thanks for the excellent, detailed trip report. I read with special interest your bad experience at the Arenal Paraiso. My husband and I had a similar bad experience at the Arenal Observatory Lodge - very disappointing! It makes me wonder if this area has a problem keeping up with the steady influx of tourists.?

Molly2 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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