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Jun/Jul 2009 trip - Pacuare, Dominical, Osa, Tortuguero

Jun/Jul 2009 trip - Pacuare, Dominical, Osa, Tortuguero

Old Jul 14th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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Jun/Jul 2009 trip - Pacuare, Dominical, Osa, Tortuguero

Thanks to everyone who helped with planning another Costa Rica trip to remember! Special thanks for tips on Tortuguero and Dominical, 2 new areas traveled, as well as rafting on the Pacuare.

Itinerary (as revised the day of flight cancellation):
6/20-21 - 2 nights, Hotel Villa Bonita in Alejuela – Rafting the Pacuare
6/22-24 - 3 nights, Shelter from the Storm – Dominical/Uvita
6/25-7/1 - 7 nights, Bosque del Cabo – Puerto Jimenez/Osa Peninsula
7/2 - 1 night, Orquideas Inn – Alejuela
7/3-4 - 2 nights, Turtle Beach Lodge – Tortuguero

New things purchased and loved:
Marmot Precip rain jacket on sale (I’m sure I can also find use for this in Seattle)
Keens - style “Whisper” to replace my old “Venice”
Headlamp

Most memorable:
Meeting up with Fodorites (to be mentioned later), old friends and new friends.

June 19th – I was ready to depart for my 9:40am flight out with a 5:30am pick up the next day for Tortuguero when I got a call my flight had been cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. Probably not a good idea to book anything set in stone for the day after an Int’l departure, as I realize now.  I spent a good part of the day rearranging my trip (sending out e-mails with change requests, waiting to confirmations). I added a day to the end of my trip, moved Tortuguero to the end and Pacuare to the front, made a couple Nature air flight changes and was good to go.

I tapped my foot most of the evening while staring at my packed bags.

June 20th – Early morning flight this time, 7:40am departure and layover in Dallas. So much for sleep on first flight. Two accompanied children were in the row ahead and one had a sort of tourette type of yell he’d do every few minutes while playing his video game. Funny. I fell asleep at my gate in Dallas and woke up to find they had changed the gate. I boogied quickly over to another gate to be last on in final boarding call. Whew! Arrived at SJO with no problems and was met by a driver for Hotel Villa Bonita.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 11:58 AM
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Hip, I've been waiting for this, don't stop now!!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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Hi, hip - I can't wait to hear the rest. We did Tortuguero and rafting for the first time this trip too. Can't wait to hear what you thought!
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 09:13 PM
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Sorry guys, that was really a pathetic attempt for the beginning of a trip report! I promise more tomorrow, just got my internet back up and running at home and work can be so demanding! ;-)
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 03:55 AM
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Can't you tell work you have more important things to do?
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 05:51 AM
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Don't tease us, hip! We want to hear the rest! Welcome back!
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Work, shmerk. So overrated. ;-)

Thanks j, I'll keep plugging along...

The area is growing around Hotel Villa Bonita. There’s a new AM/PM sort of thing a couple of blocks away and a Chinese Restaurant (not sure if it’s new) a couple doors down. HVB has also done some remodeling and everything is very nice, tidy and comfortable there. The outdoor areas make a nice place to visit with Humberto, Carmen or other travelers. I was pretty tired so after relaxing a bit in the courtyard I retired to my room on the 2nd floor. Nice and clean, and I never hesitate recommending the place as you can’t beat the price and convenience and wonderful owners, but do note that it’s just off a fairly busy street and it can be quite noisy during the night.

June 21st – Rafting the Pacuare: I got up EARLY so I could take a taxi ($5) to Hampton Suites for my 5:30am pick up with Rios Tropicales. I chose to stay close to SJO because I knew I’d be one of the first to be picked up and wanted to drive around the city to check out hotels and such. Otherwise, Don Carlos in San Jose is a good place to stay for tours. Our guide to the river was sweet and as most guides a workaholic, working as a guide on the weekends and Hewlitt-Packard during the week. The buses were super comfy and plush! I got to see Gran de Oro and Hotel Bergerac, 2 places I had wanted to check out, as well as some others. They looked very nice, although not in super convenient locations if you want to walk to the central market, museum, zoo, etc. The drive was a really pretty one as we went through Turrialba (missed shillmac’s property) and stopped for a good breakfast. I met a nice newlywed couple right off the bat and we hit it off so spent the rest of the day together. Once we arrived at the river we formed a team of 6. The newlyweds, three 30ish strapping young men ;-), and myself plus the guide, Alonzo. The first couple of rapids were “practice” rapids and our guide was hilarious reprimanding us on how we needed to count and get our rhythm together or we would be making him look bad. LOL! After that, our strokes were on time and together and every time we made it over a rapid we’d bonk our helmets with our oars 3 times and yell. It was a hoot! We learned commands like “get down”, “to the right”, “to the left”, etc., which are meant to be taken seriously and done quickly! Alonzo tried to dump me a couple times, but I’m pretty quick to rebalance myself (good reflexes) so he was impressed. Ha! We lost a couple people on two different rapids and also got stuck surfboarding while trying to pick up one of them, but it was all fun and a great experience. The river was absolutely gorgeous (understand why it’s one of the top 5 rivers in the world for rafting) and warm. We also passed the Pacuare Lodge, Rios Tropicales Lodge and a couple of others and they all looked like great places to stay if you just want to chill on the river for a night. The overnight trip does not offer anymore time on the river. It’s just the same as the day trip but split into two parts. I’ve rafted a few times before, but this was one of the best days ever! I wanted to do it all over again as soon as it was over! I realized later that the reason it seems so easy, even with the Class IV rapids, is because of the guides. They are top notch and they know what the heck they are doing. (Don’t forget to tip your guides!) They are able to set up the raft just right for each rapid and they really know the river, hence allowing the newbies to make it through the Class IV’s. If we were all left on our own there would be a lot of people to save! We also all changed positions during the day so everyone had time to be in front, middle and back and it was great to experience all different perspectives. Oh, forgot about lunch…it was great and we all had time to visit a bit and look at the pictures that were taken on the trip. I’ll post a few of them when I get photos up. They sell a CD of the trip that also includes a ton of CR pics for $40. This seems really expensive to me and why do I want with a zillion pics? I just wanted the ones of MY raft. After I talked to the photographer she agreed to sell for $10, which I thought reasonable. There are some great shots!

Sorry, I didn't intend to ramble on so about the rafting, but it was simply AWESOME! Will do again, for sure.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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We loved our rafting with Rios Tropicales too. I'm putting the Pacuare on our must-do list for our next trip. It sounds wonderful!
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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Hip & vgirl - PLEASE DO ramble on about your rafting trips. I love, love reading about the rafting part of any CR itinerary as well as the entire trip report. What a great idea to ask them for photos of just your boat - must try that here someday. I went rafting about a month ago on the Merced River and they were charging all kinds of prices for pictures; if you wanted pictures of your boat (and others) of all the rapids, it will set you back $59! So $40 in CR seems like a steal to me.

Okay, I must wait until you post the rest of your trip report. As I posted on vgirl's trip report, installments drive me crazy! ;-)
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 03:04 PM
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hip, you did better than we did; ours started out at $40, but we got it for $30, and we thought we got a deal - lol.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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E -- Sorry for the installments...I'm just clearly not that organized!

V -- Hope you got some good ones. I especially like the ones where we're seemingly under water. ;-)

Re: the discount, I had to go from $40, to $30, to $20 to $10. I went up to her to tell her I wasn’t going to buy the DVD, but wanted to know if she had change to use for tips. She asked why I wasn’t going to buy the DVD and so I had to explain how it was too expensive and I only wanted my own pics. I had a feeling she wouldn’t actually filter through them to send only mine, and I was right, I got the whole DVD. That wasn’t my intention, but a nice surprise when I got home and it was already there. I’d say there were at least 30 just of us.

Everyone crashed hard on the bus home. Even the guide. I had to be dropped off at Hampton Suites and was sort of embarrassed that people thought I stayed there, but oh well. No trees around, cement, American style chain hotel. Not pretty. Got a taxi and 5 minutes later back to HVB. I took advantage of the free internet there because it would be one of the only chances I had. Since I was pretty pooped my dinner consisted of Arroz con Pollo from the AM/PM. Not recommended. Thank goodness for the tropical yogurt drink and Imperial.  Enjoyed the courtyard but still, was anxious to get out of the city. There was only one person staying there that I saw and he seemed rude. Humberto and Carmen, on the other hand, are just the sweetest people you ever could meet. Humberto’s eyes just lit up when I told him about the Pacuare, as he used to be a guide on that river and would love to get back to it. Read. Watched Iron Chef and went to bed.

June 22nd – Yay! Today’s the day I get to meet up with my friend Pasha. Had to leave too early so grabbed some toast and off I went in the taxi to Pavas. The driver was so nice and we practiced our Spanglish together.  There seem to be some pretty nice neighborhoods around Pavas, nicely painted, no bars, nice size. I love airports. It’s fun listening to all the first time travelers scared of the little planes. My flight got into Palmar Sure about 30 minutes earlier than I thought, so had a little time to wait at the airport for Pasha to pick me up. The airport here is about as big as a hot dog stand and the bathroom is about as scary as an outhouse at a campground. Pasha was right on time and even though I had only seen pics of her I spotted the tall, thin, tan blonde one right away. ;-) She had rented a Suzuki Jimmy a couple days earlier, which is much needed in the Dominical/Uvita area if you actually want to go anywhere. Once we were on the road, we started up a good chat about what she’d been up to since she got there 3 nights before. The main stretch of road is nice and paved and a bit windy. Every turn looks the same until you get used to the landmarks. Ocean on one side, hills on the other. We headed back to drop off my baggage and get checked in. Donna and Darryl were waiting to greet us. Pasha moved over to Arriba Las Rocas from the Monkey House (Darryl offered the place thinking we might want to be closer together) and I stayed at Baja Las Rocas which is just below. When Darryl found out it was our first time meeting each other, but that we were on vacation together, the whole idea seemed very weird to him. LOL! Oh, and note that whenever/wherever I say ‘the road wasn’t that bad’, Pasha was doing all the driving so it might have seemed a bit worse for her! The road up to SFTS indeed requires a 4 x 4, is a bit steep and windy in places, but definitely worth the effort! What a prime spot they have overlooking the hills and Pacific. I’ll start with Baja Las Rocas, my room. It’s perfect size for a couple, or in my case, me. Beautiful shades of turquoise and terracotta’s are the base colors for the room and patio area. All sorts of art, little treasures and accents, wonderful kitchenette stocked with nice dishware, really beautiful woodwork and furniture and French doors to the patio. From the bedroom and patio there is a great view over the hills and Pacific you can just set and soak in the serenity. In addition, there was a huge welcoming basket with coffee, pineapple, bath spongy, milk, cookies, bread, etc. That was a nice surprise. 
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 07:19 PM
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Don't forget I am here reading also hipvirgochick.

Loving it so far...so keep it up.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 12:16 PM
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Hi Percy! We sure did miss you...next time for sure! ;-) Hope you're doing well.

BTW -- tully and Pasha are one in the same, in case you didn't know already.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 02:57 PM
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You better go on before shillmac gets on here and tells about what really happened
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Hi hipvirgochick

Enjoying your report.

How come tully and Pasha are the same ? is the FBI after her !!

I am going away late next month..for a month..but enough of that for now..lets have more of your report
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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Hey hip -- can you tell me if you like your new headlamp? As you know, I got one for our last trip. I like it okay, but it's not terribly bright/strong. Think I need something stronger. Just wondering if you can recommend the one you have. Thanks!
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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It may be a day or two before I get a chance to chime in with my dos colones. I'll offer to be last and do 'clean up"! LOL!

Nice report, hip. Enjoying it. You say it all so well! And reminds me I need to e-mail Humberto. Didn't get to see him this time, although Jim did.
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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shillmac, you need to chime in and tell us about all the birds you saw. tully is making up entertaining names for them!
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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She's gonna be a birder yet.
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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who cooks for you?!?!

And what was the scary old lady in her nightgown one?

hip...we're waiting here, slacker
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