Category Archives: Costa Rica 2009

Day 3 – Puerto Viejo to Puerto Moin

We had a nice night of rest then woke up around 10 or 11 am so as to make the 12 pm check-out time for the hotel (yeah, turns out we needed 30 extra minutes. whatev). we packed our crap and bounced out of the lotus garden only to sit in the car for five minutes with the ac on then walk across the street to an Indian restaurant (bugh, but good food) and have lunch while we perused the guidebook to decide what our next moves were going to be. I had shawarma (a sandwich consisting of pita bread, roast chicken, ensalada, and some kind of tzatziki sauce). lauren had freaky falafel (same pita bread and tzatiziki ensalada but who knows what the hell the fried green falafel is). both were damn good though and we washed it all down with water, alpina to be exact, which is owned by The Coca Cola company which runs the world apparently.

Lunch ended and we hopped in the whip and cruised out of puerto viejo on our way to puerto limon, which is about an hour or so north of puerto viejo. Lauren stopped to get some replacement colones at a bank in town then went to a supermercado and bought local coconut cookies which were a bit tough but enjoyable enough. The trip to limon was decent albeit somewhat routine.  Lauren took some videos as we drove. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank about halfway along, figuring it might be the only one for a good distance (it was). I went inside to use el bano and lauren stayed with the car. unbeknownst to either of us, we were both getting laughed at by costa ricans simultaneously. I for asking where the bathroom was in my best spanish and lauren for not being able to drive a manual car and move the piece out of the way of the pump.

ol rental carAfter that we continued on to limon/moin which has horribly narrow/ windy roads, lots of wild perros, and even more unsavory locals (JK! not really . . .there’s piles of basura and I’m sure doodoo in the street). Lauren spoke on the phone to francesca, the wife of this dude named modesto who runs a tour guide business for tortuguero (our intended destination) out of moin. They chatted and decided for us to stay the night at a hotel called Mar Azul in Puerto Moin. During one of the phone calls, the service was lost and the call cut short. We figured, oh well we’ll talk to her as soon as we get to moin. somehow we found moin and the hotel but kept driving past it into the wilderness on the dirt road that led into moin. We thought maybe we could drive ourselves all the way to tortuguero and avoid the canal tour. We drove about 25 miles past puerto moin, over coconuts, mud pits, and open beaches ( I said it, we drove ONTO the beach).

Me after murderin some coconutsAt one of the beaches we stopped for a little rest and exploration. I tried to knock down a coconut from a palm tree with a smaller coconut I found on the ground (as i had done the previous night in puerto viejo but with rocks). That endeavor being flighty, lauren and I worked together to concoct a way to wrangle one of the elusive coconuts from a palm tree. We found a washed up piece of driftwood, a forgotten bit of plastic tie, another fallen branch, and a machete and collaborated our materials and brains until we finally pulled down a whomping mo fo of a coconut, or so we thought. I went to work on that thing with my machete on the beach. Lauren took some pictures as I mangled the nut. I was able to hack it open and lauren and I sat staring at the open ocean and sipping on fresh coconut milk then we ate the innards of the coconut. The water and rind were both delicious and even more so because we murdered that shiz together on the beach.

Lauren learned how to drive a manual four wheel drive suv offroad next and, surprise, she DIDN’T stall the first time. Impressive I must say. It started raining so I took over the wheel of the Suzuki monster. We busted through the costa rican jungle at about 100 or so kilometers an hour in the down pour back to hotel Mar Azul. As soon as we got there we parked and dragged ourselves up to the bar in search of a room for the night. The matron of the hotel didn’t speak english but a really cool bar patron from nicaragua named Fausto did and he helped us make our reservation. I bought him a beer to thank him, then lauren and I sat down for dinner.

bar and restaurant at mar azule in moinAs reggae music wafted through the open-air bar, Fausto intermittently bought Lauren and I beers (Imperial and Pilsner) as well as gallo pinto (beans and rice). We both ordered arroz con pollo for dinner, which consisted of a plate of fried chicken and rice, ensalada, and papas fritas. Pretty good food. As we finished the meal with a cacique and coca cola Fausto literally gave the shirt off his back to another quite drunk and quite cold local. We bid farewell, thanked everyone for their kidness, then retired to our room. It had a fully functioning bathroom so we both showered then bedded down for the night

. . . except the bed was dirty as hell and caused both of our allergies to flare uncontrollably. lauren’s pillow smelled of feces so we both put down camping gear (sleeping bags, pads, sacks, etc.) and slept peacefully on that.

YouTube yum!

YouTube painted trees. These are just for decoration

YouTube Crappy houses outside limon

YouTube Driving beachside from puerto viejo to puerto moin

YouTube Driving on the beach near moin. This is the only way to get to the next town other than by boat or plane.

YouTube On the phone while driving on the beach. Driving on the beach was legal but being on the phone was not.

YouTube Stopped for a snack yo!

Day 2 – A day in Puerto Viejo – Caribbean Costa Rica at its best

The next day I actually got some internet and tried to resolve my illstreet issues for an hour and then got lunch at a Caribbean food restaurant.  We went to the internet café in town after lunch to finish up illstreet stuff and the internet was AWFUL.  I spent about 3 hours there!

salsa bravoFor the rest of the day we just walked around hiking in the jungle and on the beach. Puerto Viejo is actually the home of the an awesome surf break called Salsa Bravo (Wild Sause).  We went for a sunset swim in playa cochles, a few km hike away to get all the jungle dirt off of us and then stayed damp the rest of the night because the humidity is so high.

On the walk back, we went to a cabina place with a restaurant and tried a local liquor made from sugar cane.  It’s called cacique and it is a guaro liquor. We walked the rest of the way back to change clothes and went to dinner down the street at Loco natural.  There was two belgian girls playing music and supposedly one of them was famous in Belgum. I got a ginger/pineapple something or other drink and fish in a thai peanut cinnamon sauce to eat.  Lauren had a guaro sour to drink and chicken in a tandoorin curry sauce.  Both were awesome.

johnnys bar and clubAfter dinner we walked through the darkened streets of puerto viejo, past a pretty alright place called johnny’s, then past some dude “slinging.”  We couldn’t find anything that looked better than johnny’s so we went back there. We drank imperial ON the beach . . . literally.  The patio table and chairs were on the sand, so close to the water that the waves were crashing at our feet.  Lauren’s chair sunk in the sand and she fell over which made a little Tico kid laugh at her and then he tried to convince us to photograph his bait he was fishing with.  There was a huge bonfire that was continuously fed by our awesome rasta waiter who clanked beer bottles to the beat of the music playing as he brought them to the patrons. We both had to pee so we ventured into the interior of the bar/dance floor; peed in a trippy bathroom then danced for a song or two. After that we needed a breather so we stepped back outside and sat at a table next to a tree laden with lit candles for ambient lighting – cool.

voodoooooWe made friends with a dude visiting from Mexico and then some other girl and a nicaraguan guy named Miguel.  Miguel tried (being the key word) to chill and converse with the two of us. However, we couldn’t quite bridge the language barrier.  We also did some tarot readings and lauren found out she’s the devil, go figure. We eventually walked back to our room and as lauren was blacked out again she lost the rest of the colones that she had on her. Hope whatever tico or tica found them used them at least.

YouTube some gibberish about costa-ree-ree-ca after playing a trick on lauren

Day 1 – Arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica and driving to Puerto Viejo

YouTube Landing in CR!!!

So we got to Costa Rica on June, 17th 2009.  We flew into San Jose, scooped our packs and rolled out through customs with ease.  We found the shuttle to Alamo and picked up our car.  I rented a local cell phone from Alamo for about the same price as the place that screwed me and I don’t have to worry about their sketchy delivery process.  We decided we’d head straight for Puerto Viejo.  It was about 3 hours or so from San Jose.  Puerto Viejo was pretty much the only place we knew much about.  The guy I bought my boat from told us about a place called the lotus garden.  They had food and a room, so we called to reserve a spot.  We have since learned not to reserve rooms if you want the best rate.I got sleepy along the way so we got some energy drinks called max malta from a gas station.

all you can eat sushiWe arrived in Puerto Viejo around 9:30 local time and chilled and got some dinner. I had some pretty bangin all you can eat sushi and Lauren had tilapia with lemon and honey.  After dinner we got a room called Hiro and dropped off our stuff so we could check out a couple local bars and sample the local beers, imperial and pilsen.  I prefer Pilsen and Lauren prefers Imperial.  Then we each got a Long Island Iced Tea and stumbled back to the hotel.

and the quest continues

Costa Rica WILL happen, but not until tomorrow for Lauren or I. To make a moderate length story short Lauren arrived at the airport this morning with only 15 minutes to check-in, pass through security, and run to the gate to board the plane. Needless to say, she was too late for any of this to be accomplished. However, her tardiness proved to be fortunate given that she was bumped to a seat just shy of first-class on my flight leaving tomorrow. So, one problem with this voyage resolved (we fly together and Lauren avoids wandering into any unsavory alleys alone in Costa Rica) but as of today yet another one created: NO CELL PHONE!

The phone I have attempted repeatedly to rent over the past week and a half is a no go. Why, you might ask? Horrible customer service. The company I have been “working” with on this necessary endeavor, for lack of a better word, sucks. My emails went unanswered for days on end and any progress I made in reserving the phone was erased by the incompetence and general lack of business etiquette of the company’s employees. Taking a direct quote from a phone conversation I had earlier today with one of these gremlins, “We rent hundreds of phones each month. They’re gone. You’re out of luck. You’re renting a car, just rent a phone from them.” Fine, push your problem off on me, I’ll push my problem with you off on a bad review you can find here (in case you should ever need to rent an international cell phone).

Moving on, given that this phone is vital for me to continue running Illstreet while in Costa Rica I called the car rental company to see what could be done . . . and I called . . . and I called. Each time new issues arose and one persisted, that being what the junk are these people saying?! Dealing with an American company whose customer service sector is riddled with an incomprehensible mosh posh of international dialects is no bueno. On top of that, first I’m told I can’t rent a phone through the company. Then I’m informed that I can but that I need to speak with a representative from the local office in Costa Rica. Excuse me, but I’m not all that interested in paying six dollars a minute to be on the line with CENTRAL AMERICA. I inquired from the rep if it would be possible for him to make the call: “No, we can’t do that.” After that I landed on the line with an office located in India and an agent reiterating that he can not place the call to Costa Rica which is understandable, who would want to call India from America or Costa Rica from anywhere apparently. I’m left with the option of hoping that a phone will be available to rent at the local car rental office in Costa Rica. Wish me luck.

Despite all of this I remain optimistic about this adventure, albeit exasperated with waiting on hold listening to mediocre melodies that sound like midi ringtones crafted by a fourteen year old in a basement somewhere. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. I DO have lots of awesome camping gear to play with and a mad cool pack I picked up from Appalachian Outfitters in Greenville, SC though. I suggest stopping by there if you’re in need of good conversation and even better gear. More to come seeing as how anything could happen.

Two days before the big trip!

Only two days left until I’m off to Costa Rica with Lauren to backpack for 2 weeks. Things are starting to shape up a bit better.

ol laurenThere has however been a slight change. Lauren will be going to Costa Rica on the 16th and I won’t be arriving until the 17th. She’s staying about 5 minutes from the airport in San Jose. I’m guessing she’s just going to hang out and stay relatively close to the airport. I really wish I was going but travelocity is AWFUL. This is definitely the first and last time I will use them for ANYTHING. Good luck getting someone who isn’t an Indian named Tom. I spent 4 hours navigating their maze of automated phone lines and worthless customer support. I may have found a way to get a credit back but a lot of good that does us NOW.

Anyhow, some of you might be wondering how illstreet is going to run while I’m trekking around the hillsides and remote beaches of Costa Rica. Well fortunately, most of Costa Rica has relatively decent TDMA cell service. You can’t do a pay as you go plan or get a temporary phone number in Costa Rica because their systems are overloaded. GSM lines won’t have any space for new numbers for three years!

So as a result I’ve had to rent a TDMA phone from So far they’ve been relatively slow with communication and they haven’t been particularly accommodating but you can get unlimited minutes for about $13 a day. Additionally, they deliver the phone to the airport. I’m a little concerned about the delivery process but hopefully it will be smooth. Additionally, I purchased a phone matrix system and 1-800 number for illstreet that will forward to my cell phone for $.23 a minute in CR. This purchase was probably WELL overdue and I’m pretty psyched to see how it works.

So now you’re probably like well yeah, you can talk to people but how are you going to find your away smart guy? Ha! I’ve got that covered too. We have a 4 wheel drive SUV reserved (with rental insurance of course) so we will be driving the long distances between regions and then we will explore on foot for a couple days. Costa Rica is only a few hundred miles long and a couple hundred wide. For offroad, I downloaded an awesome and FREE TOPO map for my Garmin from Thanks to that dude!

For routing and getting out of San Jose, I bought a map from NAVSAT off ebay. They’re the only company authorized by Garmin for mapping CR. I did however find this and there is a torrent seeded on piratebay as well.

Hopefully tomorrow I can post a little something about all the gear I bought. I have tons to write about still so keep up with the blog! We’re going to see volcanoes, sea turtles, monkeys, rain forests, cloud forests, beaches, awesome surf breaks, awesome wind surfing/kiteboarding areas, etc. Also, I haven’t even written about everything that has changed in the states for me! I just moved into an absolutely massive house on the marsh with a three car garage and awesome dock (plenty of room for a nice home office and my cars). I’m right on the 14th hole of the club’s golf course so I’ll be taking up golf I spose. I also bought a ski boat 🙂 Anyhow, stay tuned for details!