One month away...nerves are kicking in!

Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:51 AM
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One month away...nerves are kicking in!

In just a month my husband and I will be boarding a plane destined for Costa Rica! With the help of this board we have decided upon a 9-day itinerary that has us staying at Lost Iguana in Arenal and Hotel Mango Moon in MA. Bug spray, light towels, water shoes, and sunscreen have been bought but now I'm feeling some nerves kicking in. The past three nights I've had dreams about giant male iguanas chasing me and alligators jumping out from beneath my kayack! (yes, I'm a bit new to adventure travel, and my husband is thinking I'm crazy!)

I don't speak Spanish and am wondering if anyone has a book or website you can recommend where I may be able to take my own "crash course" in the language. I really want to make an effort to speak some Spanish or at least order, greet,'s really important to me and I have about 1-2 hours per day that I would be willing to spend learning until I leave in a month. I have already purchased a phrasebook by Lonely Planet but am wondering what others have done to prepare for this trip. It's really important to me to at least try to make an attempt to speak a little bit of the language while traveling there.

One other thing that is making me nervous is the kayacking trip we have planned in the Cano Negro Reserve for our first day there. Has anyone done this tour? It's a full-day, I believe through Sunset Tours and we booked with Ralph at GaiaLink Tours. Is it a gentle river? Any safety concerns?

Thanks in advance for all of your help. We will be sure to post a review when we return and photos from our trip. I do have nerves about it a bit but am sure I will find the peace and excitement that everyone speaks of on this board.

Thank you, have a great day! Christina
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 07:11 AM
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As per the Spanish- we usually travel with "gringos" and some tips are in order. Be good natured. I find that hotel staff, etc. become frustrated when people who cannot speak Spanish become irate at not being understood. English is spoken by some but not all.
That phrase book is prob. a great idea. Pointing at the word is just as effective! Just be good natured and open. When I was in Russia I would point to words I couldn't pronounce and apologized for not being able to communicate- they were more than willing to help. I know that not understanding the language is frustrating but people are just less helpful in general when you curse at them. And trust me, those are words in English they know!
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 08:57 AM
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The Costa Rica Spanish Phrasebook is an excellent choice to take along on your trip.

Other things I have done, since I need to hear the pronounciations!

I purchased Barron's "Getting by in Spanish" for tourists. This was a great help to me although it is not Latin American Spanish, it does help with sounding the vowels, etc. Mine is a 2 tape program and a workbook.

Have a great trip!!
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Don't be nervous at all, Costa Rica is wonderful and you will have a great time. As for the wildlife, you will probably only be bothered by bugs and spiders. We didn't find the language to be a problem at all since most people we came in contact with spoke english especially the people at the stores. They are very good with pricing in dollars since they are very accustomed to tourists.

The Lost Iguana is right next to the Hanging Bridges so you should try to make a trip there. Have a great time and enjoy the beauty...eve
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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Don't be nervous - it sounds like a great trip you have planned.

As to Spanish, my husband found that tapes/CDs that you can listen to in the car were the most effective for him. He listened to them on his commute to and from work for a few weeks and by the time of our first trip to CR had a pretty good handle on everyday phrases and could even engage in some very simple conversations. It was always appreciated by the Ticos!
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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Have a great time! I was nervous before our trip too. I won't even tell you what I was nervous about because I don't want to add that to your list!

The rainforests and cloud forests are beautiful. I even miss the insects, they were so varied and interesting and some even beautiful! They minded their own business and didn't bother us. I only got 1 mosquito bite.

We went to Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. Stayed at the Lost Iguana. I hhave a very long trip report with title "We're Alive! costa Rica Trip Report June 2005: Monkeys, insects...." It's long but I have titles in all caps if you want to search down for the info on ARENAL and on the LOST IGUANA RESORT, ARENAL.

Oh, we loved the Hanging Bridges, you can walk there up-hill in about 10 minutes from the lost iguana or you can drive there in 5 minutes. We drove.

Are you renting a car? Without a car lost iguana is a little isolating...about a 15 minute drive into town. With a car it's great to have that extra privacy!

We loved our luxury suite with lava rock shower on the first floor of the lost iguana! We were just there in June and there was a volcano lava view every night.

The iguanas don't chase you, I promise! Their protection seems to be holding very still and trying to blend with their jungle surroundings!

We didn't get on the water, no kayaks or rafting on this trip. My family loved zip-lines and canyon waterfall repelling. all in my trip report.

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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Knowing some Spanish is definitely not required, but it will definitely enrich your experience. Check out this series of 8 cds by Michel Thomas. (Amazon link:

We just got these ourselves at the recommendation of Neta at La Finca Que Ama. I have a limited knowledge of Spanish and so far these cds are really helping.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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I found that I could ask questions in spanish, but couldn't understand the answers. I think much of Costa Rica has a colocial, (sp?) type of spanish that even people who are fluent in spanish can't always understand. It does help to try to speak some. At least it will bring a smile, if not a long ramble of stuff I couldn't possibly understand.

Costa Rica is reasonably safe. Don't worry. You will have so much fun. I bet you will look forward to you second trip soon.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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The Rio frio is a calm river. you won't have any trouble. Every place that I have been kayaking in C R has used the sit on top type and they are very stable. I had never been kayaking until just a few years ago and now I go at every opportunity. I have even been trying to get my hubby to buy me one.

Don't know of any alligator attacks. The iguanas will leave you alone too.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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Many, many thanks to all of you! I will be sure to post a full report upon our return. Thank you for all the reassuring words and great tips. I spent some time with the phrase book today and sought out some of the CD's, think I will pick those up tomorrow. This is such a wonderful resource, thank you.
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