Just back - 2 weeks in Puerto Viejo and Osa!!

Old Jul 31st, 2009, 02:13 PM
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Just back - 2 weeks in Puerto Viejo and Osa!!

Well, after much planning and more great advice from Fodorites, we set off for 2 weeks in CR. This was our second trip and we wanted to see the Caribbean coast too. So our 10-night itinerary looked like this:

- fly to San Jose and overnight at Hotel Don Carlos
- rent a car and drive to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, spend 3 nights
- back up closer to airport, overnight in Guapiles
- catch last flight to Puerto Jimenez, spend 4 nights at Bosque del Cabo
- fly back to Alajuela, overnight at Las Orquideas, then early flight home next am

Our flight from Dulles was uneventful and put us into Atlanta with plenty of time to grab dinner and board the plane for San Jose. BTW there's a very good sushi place in the Atlanta airport, and it's a nice change from the usual traveling day bad food. When we got on the plane, there was a young couple, and another couple from CR with a young child, playing musical seats trying to sit together. My husband and I sat between them all and tried to help. The gentleman from CR was very appreciative and got to sit with his wife and daughter behind us. After we got into the San Jose airport and were waiting to get our bags, I struck up a conversation with him and asked how much we could expect to pay for a taxi into San Jose to the Hotel Don Carlos. (We had booked our first overnight there since our rental car would be delivered early and we could easily get on Highway 32 for the Caribbean coast. Great advice, by the way!! It turned out to be a great starting point and the highway was easy to find!!) Anyway, the gentleman from CR offers to give us a ride from the airport to downtown San Jose! Now, my first thought was "thanks, but no", but then he says he has two cars coming to pick him up and he has plenty of room. He is the Mayor of Limon and out front there are 2 government cars waiting for him. So we get in one SUV with him and his wife and driver, and his young daughter goes home with other family members. There's a Michael Jackson video playing on the DVD and we talk about his recent death. His wife is younger than him, and me and my husband, and she tells her husband something in Spanish, and he laughs. He then tells us that his wife doesn't remember MJ as a black man, only as a white woman, and we all crack up!!! What an interesting start to our trip. These people took us all the way into downtown at almost midnight, a good bit out of their way I'm sure, and didn't accept a dime from us. There generosity was inspiring. They even invited us to call them and come for dinner, but unfortunately we couldn't fit it into our plans. When we arrived at Don Carlos, everything was dark and we checked in and went to bed. Not terribly comfortable, and I think they were rope beds, so every creak I'm sure woke up the entire hotel. Breakfast the next morning was nice - eggs, gallo pinto, fresh juice, and toast.

Our rental car was delivered at 10 the next morning from Solid - they continue to be very good and reliable, except with their airport delivery (more on that later). So we're off to Puerto Viejo!!

We set out on the highway, and soon the road turns mountanous and the landscape gets lush and we enter the Baurilio Carillo National Park. The size of these round ferns on the roadside are so huge and I try to take pictures but it's a big blur as my husband seems to be in a hurry to get there. I think he's just getting used to the car, and thankfully soon he starts to calm down and we settle into a groove.....we're finally here and on our way. The scenery is cool getting up into the mountains, and after an hour we see the sign for Casa Rio Blanco, where we'll be staying on our way back up. We make a mental note and keep driving down into Limon. All along the road are little stands selling these red things that look like red peppers or red apples and we later find out they're water apples. The banana industry is everywhere here and soon we drive past tons of freight yards, tractor trailer depots and container yards. Everything is pretty industrial and not very scenic. But the containers and tractor trailers are colorful so I take pictures of that, and the interesting cemetery in the center of town. Then we turn south and soon the ocean appears and we're almost in Puerto Viejo. As we come into it, you can already see the islands influence - things look different here than our previous trip. Some people are wearing dreads with crocheted Jamaican hats, and palm tree bases are painted in island colors. We come into Puerto Viejo and miss the turn off for Banana Azul completely, which is fine, because we head all the way past town, past Playa Cocles, and keep driving for a few miles. When we stopped to ask directions at Miss Ellen Brown's, we just turned the car off and had lunch/dinner, our first and one of the best. Highly recommend it here, plus Miss Ellen herself came out and talked with us. She told us to enjoy ourselves, but be smart about locking things up, especially in our car. Things didn't used to be this way, she said, but it is now. I wanted to say things have been like that all my life in the Northeast, but I didn't. For the record, we didn't have one problem here after a few nights stay, and I lugged a huge backpack with obvious camera equipment and big lenses with me everywhere.

Puerto Viejo really reminds me of Negril Jamaica. I'd heard it looks somewhat island-y and Jamaican-y, but it really reminds me of the West End of Negril. Cool little bars and restaurants lining the dirt road, bright colors everywhere, people on bikes, little boutique hotels and hostals behind gates with funky little handmade signs. Occasionally there was a fancier sign and you knew the place was more expensive. But in PV town, the feel was definitely cool and Jamaican. After lunch/dinner, we headed back up to Puerto Viejo and to Banana Azul. We arrive and the guy behind the desk says "you must be Lori" (seriously) and I said "you must be David" and we start to feel right at home. Ya gotta love the casualness of a place like this - the customer service of the Ritz, in the tropics. What an awesome place. We chat with the hotel people and then meet Colin, one of the owners, and he gives us the Owner's Tour (no extra charge!) of the grounds, then up to our room. We're in the Howler Suite, and it's closest to the beach and upstairs above the kitchen area. It's got a great wraparound porch with comfy chairs - the same porch runs the length of the hotel and is shared with other guests, but there are bamboo screens dividing each porch and they're very private and beautiful. The hotel is only steps to the beach, and has a new pool and jacuzzi. It's got a real laid-back vibe, and the gardens on the property are pretty amazing. I talked with Richard, the master gardener, a few times about his plantings. He's alot of fun to talk to if you like gardening. The beach here is amazing as well - very secluded and great surf. The property and beach look across at the town of Puerto Viejo, but it's only a 5 minute drive, so it's close if you want to go into town for dinner. The first night, since we were still full from our late lunch at Miss Ellen Browns, we had a few drinks and a piece of mango cheesecake and went to bed early.

I hope I'm not rambling, but this may be the longest trip report I've ever written and I've just started. I'll stop here and pick up later.....
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 02:57 PM
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Nice report. We loved our overnight at Casa Rio Blanco. In fact, it was one of our favorite places on our trip. Herbie and Annette were great.

Looking forward to more.

MY
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 03:35 PM
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You're not rambling at all - love all of the details! Keep them coming. Sounds like a nice start to your trip. Excited to read the rest!
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 04:30 PM
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Yay! Another rambler like me. ;-) Great report so far. More detail makes it more interesting (and easier for me to picture myself there ) and of course since you just got back from two of my favorite areas AND favorite lodges I'm excited to hear about your experiences.
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 05:43 PM
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OMG, am so happy to read this, haven't seen many reports from BdC lately and DH and I will be there in 3 weeks and cannot wait -- tell us everything!!
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 10:58 PM
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Day 2 - So our second day in Puerto Viejo we wake up to clouds and rain. This became pretty common during our stay this time, but I must say it didn't bother us a bit. Other than making it harder to dry your clothes and hair, it really didn't stop us from doing a whole lot. We head downstairs for breakfast - eggs to order with gallo pinto, fresh fruit and Molla juice (blackberry). We hang out for while to see what the weather will do, but it rains, then suns, then rains, then suns. I wandered the grounds taking so many pictures of the beautiful plants and flowers. These little stingless honeybees are everywhere pollinating the flowers and I'm chasing them down to try and get some clear shots of them hovering next to the flowers. I wander out to the beach, down the lane, and everywhere because there's so much to see. When the sun comes out you can really get some amazing pictures of raindrops on flowers and plants. On one of the big ferns, they shimmer like diamonds. My husband has dedicated himself to writing in a journal, and I'm actually impressed that he's 2 days into it and still going. So he's writing and I'm shooting, and it's a pretty good day so far.

I forgot to mention the welcome basket of goodies that Banana Azul puts in their guest rooms at the beginning of your stay - with a mini bottle of wine, fresh fruit, and two rolls of homemade chocolate from the area. I thought that was a very nice little touch!

Around noon we decide to ride down to Manzanillo and check that out. By now it's POURING rain, but Maxi's is there at the end of the road and seems to be hopping. There's a produce truck out front where locals are buying stuff out the back. People are playing dominoes in the bar, and we settle in at the bar. We never even made it to the second floor which we later learn is full of tourists. The whole time we were there, we thought the little bar on the first floor was all of it, with just about 5 tables. We order cold Imperials, Camarones del Diablo and fresh fried snapper. It was awesome! There are alot of friendly locals who willingly let me take their photo.

We hung around Maxi's for a couple hours then head back up the road. We stopped at a little market in Playa Chiquita that sells textiles and items from around the world, and we strike up a conversation with the owner who tells us about her yoga classes, and a girl who's chatting with her from Argentina. She turns out to be an aspiring filmmaker, but she's traveling around the world trying to find out the real truth of things so she can bring authenticity to her films. We ask her about Puerto Viejo and she tells us her idea on the melting pot that it seems to be. It's an interesting place to be sure. We give her a lift back up to her hotel and head back to Puerto Viejo. At that point, the sun started to peek back out and we decided to park and walk around a bit. We stopped at the liquor store on the corner, and my hubby bought a bottle of Flor de Cana for later. From there we walked straight back off the road toward the beach and came across the coolest little Jamaican soda where we stopped and I took plenty of pictures. Out comes this handsome guy named Christian - who was jammin to Bob Marley music and we start talking. He tells us he's "old school" when it comes to music though he's gotta be in his 20s. Between the music, the sun and good conversation, it's shaping up to be a good afternoon. I order a Ginger Iced Tea and Christian goes to make it, then comes out and explains what's in it. It's more like a slushie, made from Jamaican rose and ginger, and it's great, so refreshing. There are so many things I see that I want to photograph, and one of them is Christian himself. He's dressed in this cool blue dashiki kind of shirt with cowry beads around his neck, great dreadlocks, and the cutest smile. It's one of my favorite pics of the whole trip! We stay here for a while then keep walking further down to the beach. The street turns to sand, and at the end, we find a whole row of brightly painted buildings with tin roofs, a scuba shop, and plenty of people hanging out and enjoying the day. We decide to head back to Banana Azul to hit the beach ourselves.

The beach at Banana Azul is practically deserted except for about 6 other people the entire length of the beach. The sun comes out and we head into the surf, where the waves were easily 6-8 ft. It's just beautiful, and after about an hour, we head back to the room. When we get back to the room and are on the porch, my husband and I notice this bird that keeps flying in and out of the tree that's about 10 feet away from the edge of our porch. It keeps flying into this bromeliad that's attached itself to the tree. After a while, we see three little mouths pop up as she flys in to feed them. How cute. I get out the monster lens I brought and was actually able to get a few decent shots (after only about a hundred)!! But how funny is that - that here in PV, where we spend the afternoon jamming to Bob Marley and relaxing to this reggae vibe - we come back and find "three little birds, beside my doorstep".........little gifts!! Dinner tonight was here - chicken cordon bleu with squash and mashed potatoes - delicious! We sleep really well tonight, not too humid and the fan and mosquito netting keep critters from biting.

Day 3 - We wake to a pretty good day. It's a bit overcast and we head downstairs to homemade pancakes that we smelled cooking since we woke up, and they were delicious. Banana Azul puts out a fresh fruit bar each morning with fresh juice, coffee, and their breakfasts have been great so far! We talk about what we want to do today, and around 10 we decide to head to town to the animal rescue place. Richard, the gardener, was telling me about it the day before, and said it was worth checking out. I must admit I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing being too cheesy or touristy, and my husband was an anthropologist in a former life, so I was hoping it would live up to his recommendation, and I must say it really did! This place was a real highlight of our visit. It's called the Jaguar Rescue Center and it's located in Playa Chiquita. It is run by a husband and wife from Barcelona who worked for many years at their zoo. They rescue abused, orphaned, and/or confiscated animals. The reptile cases were impressive and clean, and they were obviously very knowledgable about the animals. At the time, they had a Margay cat who was snoozing, who'd been confiscated from someone trying to domesticate it. They also had about 8 or 9 baby howlers, some with horrible stories of where they came from. Encar, the owner, showed us everything and carefully explained their purpose there. They care for the animals and release them when they're old enough to sustain themselves. The howler monkeys were adorable and we got to stay inside with them for a while while they climbed over us from head to toe checking us out and playing. It was pretty incredible and I thought it was a really worthwhile trip. Even my hubby got into it and I could tell he really enjoyed it! We spent about 2 hours total and gave them a nice donation. After that, it was back to the pool for a swim, more photos and a little rum before dinner. Dinner tonight was beef tenderloin with potatoes, carrots and chiote squash - yum!!

I'll stop here and recharge my batteries........more later.
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 06:39 AM
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I'm a rambler myself, so ramble on ! Enjoying your report, really like the swapping seats/car ride to SJ with the Mayor of Limon tale.
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 06:42 AM
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super detail PV also reminds me of Negril...
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 09:24 AM
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We're on the 5th day into our trip. Last night at Banana Azul was restful for me, but for some reason, my husband got eaten alive by mosquitos in the middle of the night. We were under netting and had a fan right on us (full speed) so he came back to bed reeking of DEET spray so strong I'm sure he has permanent DNA damage. We get up early and head down for breakfast - scrambled egg burritos with warm homemade salsa! After packing and saying our goodbyes, we head out for Guapiles.

Looking back, I have to say I really loved Puerto Viejo and Banana Azul. It has a very different vibe here than I've experienced in other parts of CR, and it's so unique. The staff at Banana Azul are warm, delightful, and excellent in customer service. People we met in PV town seemed a bit more reserved, but were all friendly when we drew them out. Further down in Manzanillo, it seemed a little more relaxed and just as beautiful. But overall, we will definitely return here to check out Cahuita Nat'l Park and head into the BriBri region.

We take our time heading north to Limon then on to Guapiles. The roads here are much better than we experienced on our first trip down the Pacific coast, especially here where it's flat. We arrive in Guapiles around lunchtime and decide to eat at Los Lagos, this place we saw on our way down when we stopped for gas. It's just down the road from the Total gas station on the corner of Rte 32 on your way into the town of Guapiles. It's a funny lunch by day/disco by night kind of place, but the pond surrounding it is pretty cool, and we see an amazing array of large and small birds on the water and nesting in the trees. Definitely worth a visit. We order the casada and I set out taking pictures. We're treated to a montage of American 80's videos projected onto the giant movie screen overlooking the dance floor and we're the only gringos there. But everyone is nice and friendly and lunch is delicious. As we're leaving, we see one of those advertising trucks with the giant speakers advertising something in Spanish. These always crack me up and I think of what would happen if you try to do this in the US. Really, the only difference between this and an ice cream truck is the music, but I still think there must be a law against it. The thing that I always find refreshing in Costa Rica is the absence of certain restrictions - the lack of warning/liability signs, these kind of advertising trucks etc. I know there are two signs to that coin but personally, I like it.

We head up to the turn off for Casa Rio Blanco and drive up the really bumpy road. We ended up going way past it, since they have the front gate closed and we don't even notice it. After we flag someone down and ask, they tell us to turn around and go back. I knock on the door and try the handle - it's locked. The front gate is closed. I had emailed Annette to confirm we were coming - maybe they forgot! But then I notice the pull handle to the side of the front door and I give it a pull. The last thing I expected to hear were beautiful windchimes!! How funny......they rigged a rope through the trees and attached it to windchimes. I love it. We hear Annette's welcome and soon her smiling face behind the gate she opens for us to drive in. This is a cool little place. She welcomes us in and gets out her guest registration form and tacks it to the wall for us to fill out. She apologizes for the "noise" on the road - a church up the road is having a gathering today. Noise? What noise? All I hear is the river behind us and the chickens milling around the back. She shows us to our cabin, which is really cool. It's like camp. Four large wooden screened cabins among beautiful gardens. It's perfect. Clean, comfy king size bed, and a hot water shower! We haven't had hot water since we arrived. Banana Azul's shower works off solar panels and with the absence of sun, well let's just say our showers have been cool, at best! These hot water showers come with instructions - something else that wouldn't be allowed in the States. They can leave you feeling tingly on occasion since electricity and water shouldn't ever be too close together. But we've never had any problems with them! There's only one other family next door to us but we don't see them yet. We change and head out to hike down to the river. Annette had given us directions on the trail - there's one way down. Turn left to get to the river, turn right to go to the swimming hole. We head down and find the trail to be a little dicey. It's slippery and really buggy. Apparently they haven't gotten as much rain as usual yet, so the mosquitos are biting. The trail also sort of trails off when you get to the river and we really have to be careful along the slippery river rocks. We didn't see any critters or boas, so we head back up after an hour or so. After a hot shower, we go up to the common area and talk with Annette for awhile before dinner. She had picked a beautiful arrangement of anthurium flowers that, in the light of the beautiful paper lanterns above the dining table, made the most beautiful still life. I had brought along my monopod and was glad to have it tonight since the light was so low it was hard to get a good shot without flash. But I got some good ones, while my hubby chatted with Annette. We had arranged dinner ahead of time, since we weren't sure how far it would be to the town or eating places, and for $12, she made us curried chicken, grilled tortillas, steamed carrots and broccoli and rice and beans. Add a very good bottle of red wine to that, and it was a great evening. It was starting to really rain now, and we sat enjoying our dinner, to the night sounds all around us, the rain and the river. Finally, we head back to our cabin, and fall into bed. A few minutes later the family next door returned from their dinner in town and as we're drifting off to sleep, we hear guitar music on their front porch. So I get up and peek out the screens trying to hear what is being played. Then he starts playing this beautiful song. Wow, he's really good and it sounds familiar. Then his wife starts singing, and then the kids join in harmonizing with her. It's absolutely beautiful. (I have to tell you, just writing this now gives me chills because it was definitely one of those great little moments in life!) I recognize the song - it's Phil Collins' "You'll be in my heart" - and they keep singing. Now, it may be the wine, it may be the time of the month, it may be a combination of everything. But my husband and I just stood there, looking out in the dark, with the rain, tucked into a tiny little corner of Costa Rica jungle, and listened to the most beautiful thing I think I've ever heard. And my husband looks at me and says "little gifts". Wow.

The next morning we get up early since we have to get on the road by 8 to make it to San Jose so we can return the rental car and make it to the airport for our flight out to the Osa at 11:30. We finish packing and head up for a quick bite. There's only time for coffee and toast and Annette is rushing us because it's been raining hard all night and the road to San Jose might be closed with mudslides. On top of that, a previous guest took her only map showing directions to the airport, so she has to explain the route to us quickly. She tell us if we have to detour it will only take us about 10 miles out of the way. It's still raining when we leave and I realize I still have the room key in my hand so I get out of the car and run back to give it to her. The Von Trapp family from last night is there and I thank them profusely for their "gift" of singing, but I don't ever think they'll realize the true extent of it. Annette rushes out and says "You're still here!" and I return the key and say a final goodbye. As it turns out, we hit the highway and it's fine, though a little hairy coming back up the mountain in the fog with tractor trailers, buses and cars flying at you from all directions. The road is not closed and we make it all the way back to San Jose with no problem. Once there though, traffic stops to a standstill as we approach the highway. It was then as we're sitting waiting in traffic to head to the airport, that I start to have this panicked feeling. I'm wondering about our flight out on Nature Air. The map I have shows the airport in one direction on the map, and traffic seems to be heading in another direction. It was then that I realized that Juan Santamaria and Pavas were two different airports. Yikes. What a mistake to make! Why I never thought of this sooner or thought to ask about it here, I'll never know. So after some tense words in the car with my husband, we get out and ask. It turns out the bridge getting on the highway is out because of the rain, so traffic is being detoured. This nice guys tells us in Spanish to follow the detour, and hopefully it is going toward the airport as well. The detour turns out to lead us closer to the airport, and we finally get on the highway at around 10. Now all we have to do is return the rental car and get a ride to Pavas. We've rented with Solid a second time this year and would recommend them. (If you get lost trying to find their drop off location though, be sure and ask for "SO-lid" and not "SAH-lid", as I apparently did and it cost us another few minutes. Now the clock is ticking. The driver who's taking us to Pavas pulls up in a van and we get in. Now I mentioned earlier that I would highly recommend SOlid Rental Car, but the only complaint I have is that they shouldn't send you to the airport with a driver who's never been there before. After about 40 minutes (it's about 10:45) we're getting closer to the airport. We can see it actually, but our driver went down the wrong street into a completely different neighborhood, and cannot access the airport from here. We find out it's his first time to THIS airport, and I think he's embarrassed. I'm just concerned because it's now almost 11, and our flight leaves at 11:30. After finally asking for directions, we get to Pavas in the nic of time and board our flight to the Osa. Finally, we're on our way to BdC!!! Woo-hoo!
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Excellent report wasigan. Looking forward to the rest!
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 05:41 PM
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Oops - almost forgot to talk about a sad and disturbing part of our trip before we got to Guapiles. About 30 miles outside Puerto Viejo, we see a yellow crossing sign with what I assume is a sloth, so I ask DH to stop for a pic of the "sloth crossing". There's a little roadside soda there that looks like it serves a good lunch, but then I see this monkey out of the corner of my eye. A spider monkey is chained to a dog collar and on a tether line. She sees me and heads over quickly - I get the feeling she's been domesticated for awhile. The tether doesn't reach the fence where I'm at, and just when she gets close, the chain yanks her head back and she's pulled back. This is heartbreaking. My husband sits in the car in disbelief and watches as I snap off pictures. I'm not sure if someone is going to come out and tell me to go away, but nobody comes. The monkey tries to get close again, and again. Finally she comes over and flops down on her belly, in submission, as if to say she's giving up. This is so hard to watch and exactly why I think some rescue groups are doing a good thing. It's no different in the states, just a different animal, though usually not an endangered one. When we got home, we emailed the pics to Encar at the rescue center in Puerto Viejo with a note of explanation. I hope they can do something to help the poor thing.
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 07:01 PM
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Fun to read about Puerto Viejo; I know hip loves it over there. We just got our first taste of the Carib side on our most recent trip - it's really amazing how different it is from the rest of CR!
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 08:13 PM
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That is so sad wasigan. Well, your photos and e-mail to the rescue center may help because after all, it is illegal to take any animal out of the wild in Costa Rica so it seems viable they could confiscate it.

I'm planning on heading back to Banana Azul next trip so thanks for the tip on the rescue center, I wasn't aware that was there.
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 09:09 PM
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Casa Rio Blanco was such a treat: the rain, the river sounds. Magical. We loved the place. Someone we met later on in our trip called the showers, suicide showers!!

Enjoying your report.

MY
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Old Aug 1st, 2009, 10:56 PM
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The suicide showers are fairly common I guess, from what I was told. They have them at Banana Azul as well.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 07:39 AM
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Our flight to Puerto Jimenez and the Osa was great, as usual. I love touching down in Drake Bay, coming in over the water! Then it's on to PJ. This is our first flight with Nature Air - they fly out of Pavas and I love small airports so it's hard to beat. Plus they have 3 levels of flight fares and we took the cheapest (Locos) for $60 one way. One thing that was funny at the airport, was when the girl from Nature Air asked hubby and I to each step on the scale with our backpacks! Can you imagine if the TSA did that here? "I'm sorry but you're overweight, so you'll be paying an extra $100!" Well, we were 17 lbs overweight so we're in it for $25! So much for the Loco fare.

We get to PJ and are met right on time by Carlos from BdC. I recognize him immediately from their new video as the "Laughing Falcon" guy and he says he's been getting that alot lately! We stop in town to pick up a few employees and we're off. We arrive and are greeted by Gerly, and lunch is waiting for us. Ahhhhhh, this is nice. They take our bags to our cabina - we're in Tucan this time - and we wash up and enjoy lunch. It's delicious - I think I had a salad and it hit the spot. It's so nice seeing everyone again. We catch up on things - Gerly left PJ and had a little girl and now is back, Phil and Kim's kids are here and we meet Ben, their little guy. We meet Phillip, the resident Naturalist, who we didn't get to meet last time, and talk science. What a character - love his dry Brit wit! After lunch we settle in a bit, then hit a few trails - the Creek Trail, to the Trogan Trail, to the Golfo Dulce Trail and back through the Tropical Garden. We come upon a group of Spider monkeys high up who are carrying on to beat the band. They are screaming at us, so we watch a short while and then go on, but we still here them for a long time! The Tropical Garden is as beautiful as I remember, but I don't remember the Palmhenge and the orb in the middle, but it's really cool.

We decide to relax, shower and go for a drink before dinner. At the bar, we meet a nice couple from NY who seem a bit shellshocked with all the wildlife, but are really good-natured about it. There are only 5 of us as dinner - us, the couple from NY and a single Biology teacher from Chicago, who's well-traveled and interesting. We all enjoy dinner and conversation is a lot of fun. We talk about what critters have visited in their cabinas - we hear about a rat that made it's way in, a few palmetto bugs and large roaches, nothing too bad. We talk about our experiences with scorpions in Belize and the teacher shares a similar story, and we're thankful we've never encountered any here. We say goodnight and head down to settle in for the night. As I'm getting ready for bed, I look up and see something sandwiched in between the louvers on the door going out to the outdoor shower. The light and dark brown of the tropical hardwood doors makes it hard to distinguish, but I see him there. I'm SO glad I hadn't taken out my contacts yet!! It's a scorpion alright, and I almost lose my dinner. I yell for DH and he sees him too, and I have to leave the room as he "takes care" of him. I do manage to take a few pictures though, as proof of the irony of tonight's dinner conversation. Some people have a thing with spiders (me), or snakes (don't bother me), but scorpions are like spiders but worse! So then I move into reconnaisance mode with my flashlight in hand and inspect the rest of the cabina. I only find a few roaches, not bad at all. We light a few of the tealights they have and fall asleep with them burning, tucked under our netting, and hearing the waves down below.

The next morning, we talk with Phillip at breakfast about our visitor and show the pictures. He tells us exactly what to expect if you get stung, and it actually made me feel better. The actuality of it was much better than the horror of what I was imagining. In his dry wit he says "for the first 10 seconds, you'll experience INTENse pain, followed by 20 minutes of absolute THROBbing and mild discomfort, and then that's it!" Good to know for next time!!?

I have to say, the few critters we've had in our cabinas at BdC have been very mild and give you a very wide berth. It's usually just the first night and that's it - maybe because a cabina may be unoccupied for a few days or longer in between guests. So get your flashlight or a headlamp, even better, and do a nightly sweep. Check under your dark suitcase with a stick, check the door tracks and louvers, and under the toilet seats, and if it's clear, you can rest easy!!

Our second day at BdC, and it's beautiful out. We aren't in a rush this time to check out all the trails. Instead, I grab my camera and head out the front drive and hubby stays behind and writes in his journal. I see so much in just a few minutes - I hear howlers to my left closer to the water, then see spider monkeys in the big bamboo near the mango tree. I spot an agouti in the mango grove, then go a little further to the pond. Here there are hundreds of beautiful dragonflies with light blue eyes. I snap off a few hundred shots and get a few nice ones. I'm in my element, just walking and taking it all in. It's lunchtime, then time for a nap. We decide to take Phillip's night hike tonight at 6, but when it comes time, it's pouring at 5:45 and continues on until way past dinner. So we have a drink at the bar instead and then dinner. Still only the 5 of us for dinner, and some interesting conversation. The couple from NY went hiking on the Golfo Dulce Trail and discovered the hazards of fewer hikers in a slower time of year - spider webs! Apparently the point person got the brunt of it, but they were both covered in bug spray and spider webs by the time they reached the Gulf!

The next day, we have breakfast, then decide to hit the Titi Trail. We see a troop of squirrel monkeys - the only ones we've seen on this trip so far, and they are so high up it's tough to get any shots. I get out my big lens and it helps a little but by this time, they are on the move. Then the bites start and the swatting, and I realize I'm standing on top of a leaf cutter nest that spans the entire side of this hill I'm on. Yikes! We head on and see a few toucans, and butterflies. Then we come upon the tangled vines I remember from last time. They're pretty amazing. Not too much activity on the trail today until we get to the end, when we hear something and stop. But so does the sound. We're standing about 6 feet from where the sound came from and stare into the woods trying to see whatever it is. Then it explodes and takes off chasing something that I don't think ever stands a chance of getting away. We never did see what it was but it was a thrill to watch!!

On our way back up the drive, we're almost at the mango grove, and my husband says he sees a troop of spider monkeys. They are everywhere - right above Kim and Phil's house, and I look down to see them all just standing there watching the monkeys too. There must be 30 of them - all heading in to feed on these small little banana like pods. Wow - we just watch and take it all in. I'm so excited because I'm able to get some really close shots with a great background! After about a half-hour they start heading toward the mango tree. My husband says something like "this is gonna be interesting..." but before I can even respond, the mango tree explodes with screeches and screams and then we see there's a group of white-faced capuchins already dining there. About 10 of the spider monkeys had already made their way into the tree, and now they look like they've been shot out a cannon!! One by one, they fly back out of the tree, like a giant clown car, swinging and screaming. It's a monkey turf war, and just incredible to watch! The capuchin alpha male isn't content to chase them out of the mango tree though, he chases them into the next neighborhood a few trees away. This is just awesome to watch, and it's definitely the highlight of our day!! The whole thing lasts about an hour, and then we start heading back.

Dinner tonight is exciting with our story of the turf war, and there's a new family joining us as well. A husband and wife and their 3 kids from Illinois. They look tired after a long day of traveling, but I'm struck by how well-behaved the kids are. The kids are 10 and 11 (two are twins) and seem excited about the monkey story. We love dinner, and dessert is even better - a homemade chocolate chip cookie with ice cream. Yum! It's off to bed and we sleep really well........
wasigan is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Love reading your report! Glad you made the plane, sure many before you have not noticed Pavas is in a different location. Good for you to report those people with the pet monkey, hope more people will do that in the hopes of getting it to stop.

I'm with you on the scorpions, hate 'em! I can take snakes and even spiders but scorpions just freak me out. That said the 2 we had at Casa miramar I'd not have even noticed, I think it was hipvirgochick that spotted both of them, both very small. Love that mango tree by Kim & Phil's house, almost seems to be a monkey troop there. In fact we were commenting we'd never seen so many spider monkeys before, they seemed to just have a population explosion this year.

Mmmm, choc-chip cookie with ice cream, sounds like Miguel was the chef!?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 08:29 AM
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Yes, Tully, Miguel was the chef! Food was delicious the whole time and the desserts were little bits of heaven. Phillip said there were so many spider monkeys because of the abundance of mangos this year. I'm glad we got to see so many of them - we only saw 1 or 2 last time!

PICS LINK: I finally got my photos organized and posted - so you can see what I've been talking about so far (including the scorpion!).......here's the link

http://nomad.smugmug.com/Travel/831691
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Amazing photos! I'm going to BdC for the first time in February. My only concern was a snake in the room; now I have worry about scorpions too!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 01:49 PM
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I'm LOVING this report! Thanks for the taking the time. And great photos too. I gotta get to PV and Banana Azul -- you're making me rethink next year's trip...
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