Tag Archives: costa rica

Note on conditions in Costa Rica

Here are some general notes we took about costa rica:

very clean hotels/restaurants/etc. even though most are open-air (esp. the bars and restaurants – even the bar in Puerto Viejo which had a sand floor was extremely clean).

paper napkins and toilet paper are thin. at the hotel la pradera that we stayed at in La Fortuna there was actually a toilet paper dispenser which released one sheet of paper at a time. pretty nifty and novel for us.

paper towels generally aren’t used in bathrooms etc. with towels being used and cleaned and reused again. the object in these measures being sustainability of the environment.

silverware in restaurants often comes in a small clean plastic bag though packaged plastic silverware is rarely offered.

restaurants and hotels can appear closed because of how dark they are but they are indeed open for business, only the lights aren’t being used unless its absolutely necessary again in the interest of sustainability but as this creates a more cozy and relaxed ambience patrons don’t mind. Some shop owners will turn on the lights and a/c when you walk in the door. I noticed this was a common practice in Mexico as well.

air conditioning is also optional, although much more necessary in regions with warmer climates, such as the carribean coast, than in more northern regions, such as monteverde.

Costa Ricans take pride in their establishments and their service so it’s been easy to come to expect the best here.

Day 11 Montezuma to Dominical

Okay so it’s been a while since we’ve been back and I want to get the rest of my stuff online so I’m just going to hook it up right quick yo.  On day 11, we left Montezuma by boat and went back to Jaco (hell on earth).  The car, miraculously was still there and not broken into.  We hopped in and peaced out.  This was a really cool trip down the west coast.  Here are pics and vids:

This is my favorite video:




Day 10 Stranded in Paradise (Montezuma)

121 [Desktop Resolution]The loud rambling racket of dump trucks traveling along the dirt road beside Hotel Lucy woke us up around 10 am. We had decided to sleep in and skip breakfast with our new friends in lieu of our previous night’s activities; however the sounds of the seaside town just beyond our open window motivated us to get moving. The conditions of the rooms we had rented in Jaco and now, in Montezuma, had caused Lauren’s right eye to develop a mild case of conjunctivitis (small bugs and dirty bed linens infesting your r.e.m. cycles will do that I guess) thus a decision was made between the both of us to get the hell out of there.  We packed our belongings and quite literally hiked into town becoming sweatier and more haggard looking with each step we took.

Our intention was to purchase tickets for the next boat taxi out of Montezuma149 [Desktop Resolution] and then grab something to eat while we waited for it to come to shore so you can imagine our dismal dismay when the friendly amigo across the counter of the taxi kiosk informed us that the taxi for that day had already left at 9am. So glad we “slept” in. Faced with the proposition of sticking it out in Montezuma for another night, which after all wasn’t a bad village to hang out in so it wasn’t a bad proposition, we trudged down the main road keeping an eye out for an upgraded hotel to post up in. A sign advertising falafel enticed us to patronize an organic foods/vegan restaurant where the drinks and the air-conditioning were without a doubt the best things on the menu. Lauren ordered some kind of blackberry concoction while I opted for a lemonade with cilantro in it (hers was better ugh). We tried the veggie burgers at this place but they didn’t have ish on the ones we ferociously devoured in Monteverde. Though the food wasn’t really all that satisfactory the décor of the restaurant was so Lauren and I sat for about half an hour letting our meal digest while quietly conversing. We both agreed that the Costa Rican practice of employing the natural world’s beauty as decoration enough was supreme above the American mass-produced doo dads that hang on the walls of establishments such as Crapplebees and Ruby Doucheday. Some people just know what’s up and local flowers and artwork ARE what’s up. The time came for us to make moves, at least to our next destination: the Ylang-Ylang resort.

126 [Desktop Resolution]The walk was easy as we were hella motivated by the remembered images of the ocean front oasis that we’d seen the previous day on walkabout.  As we approached paradise our steps quickened, the acceleration having something to do with the overloaded and mucho heavy packs we had straddling our backs and the central -American sunbeams beating down overhead. By this point Lauren was as good as broke so I foot the bill for a night of relaxation and restoration in one of the resorts bungalows which were “tent like” outdoor dwellings each with two twin beds or one king-size bed, running water, electricity, a fan, a mini-fridge, a porch, and a lighted pathway. There were well-kept community bathrooms for the bungalows which were as close to an outhouse as I’d ever prefer to get. After paying for the room we were told by the most gracious clerk that our tent had to be given a good once over by the housekeepers and that we could wait at the pool or in the hotel restaurant if we so chose. I was burning up and Lauren was rapidly melting into a pool of sweat on the ground so we dashed on over to the cool crystal waters hidden124 [Desktop Resolution] in an alcove to the right of the reception desk. Two hammocks, an invigorating swim, and a bat in the bath”cave” err room. Later our room was ready and we were definitely ready for it. We got down to business immediately, i.e. we napped out for about two or three hours then woke up and toyed with the free Wi-Fi for a while. Lauren sat on the porch and made a pseudo-effort at reading for her summer school course but gave up quickly and opted to shower instead (the better of the two I think).

176 [Desktop Resolution]The girls we met the day before kept talking about a waterfall about 20 or so minutes in the jungle out past the Hotel Lucy and with a couple of hours to kill before dinner would be served at the restaurant  I thought it’d make an interesting trip. Lauren got herself together as did I and we took off with a burst of energy onto the beach, through the town, and into the jungle. We walked for about ten or fifteen minutes before reaching the first of two waterfalls, the second of which the girls must have been referring to. We clamored up the large rocks making up the fall and dipped our hands in the water the whole time enjoying the rushing sound of the cataract in motion. Lauren and I each chose a rock to perch on for a few moments while we took in the scene around us. Neither of us could help the feeling of euphoria beginning to wash over us. It was a culmination of having spent nearly two weeks in Costa Rica and being part of, if only temporarily, such a serene and primitive environment. I took some pictures and as it was beginning to get dark we both decided it would be best to forgo the second waterfall and head back to the resort for dinner. The walk back was peaceful and slow, both of us taking the time to really see, hear, and feel what was all around us. A mural was painted on the side of a sports enclosure, one of the late Michael Jackson’s songs was blaring from inside a bar, and people were riding ATV’s up and down the dirt roads weaving in and out of the throngs of pedestrians and occasional stray dogs.

We stopped at a convenient store in the middle of town and picked up some 193 [Desktop Resolution]essentials: bottled water and chewing gum. I don’t know, when you’re hanging out unexpectedly in Montezuma all day and night what would you consider essential? Then, we sat. We picked out a stoop in front of a closed post office (I think, that detail is kinda fuzzy) and just sat there watching trucks and cars drive past on the main road of the town and people-watching. We talked off and on about this or that, but mostly we just observed. There were drunks with dogs and drunks with trucks and drunks with bracelets and earrings to sell but more so there were just people, same as us, hanging out not causing any harm. We damn near missed dinner because of all this looking and sitting, and because walking around in the heat and dirt will make you lose your appetite. We heaved ourselves up off the corner though and made our way back to the resort’s restaurant. And there we were seated at a white-clothed table, drinking wine, and covered in dirt sweat and sand. Nice. Lauren ordered a dish called the “Mermaid’s Purse” which consisted of a thin crepe filled with shrimp, potatoes, and beets all sautéed in a savory red wine sauce and tied up 186 [Desktop Resolution]with some kind of sea grass so it looked like a little pouch. I had a seafood linguine of shrimp, scallops, and other various sea creatures served in a buttery sauce. We took down the wine and some of our food but were enjoying the atmosphere too much to worry about our hunger pangs. So, we asked the waiter if we could have our meals packed up as leftovers then took the food back to our bungalow and stored it there in the mini fridge.

After brainstorming for a little while about what our next (and last) activity of the day should be we came to the conclusion that it would be best to walk down on the beach and light a fire, not a big one relax. Lauren grabbed her I-pod and portable speakers and I rolled up a small fleece blanket and tucked it under my arm and then we were off. Shoes were unnecessary. Our soles felt pebbles, and dried palm fronds, and the cool sinking of the pressure of human bodies upon amassed sand grains. We were shadows drifting down an abandoned beach lit purely by celestial light. Eventually, we slowed to a stop amidst a small grove of trees we deemed a suitable place to build a fire. I put the blanket down flat upon a portion of the clearing close to a fallen tree trunk then gathered some firewood. Lauren sat cross-legged on the blanket 194 [Desktop Resolution]tinkering with her iPod before choosing to play Iron and Wine.  After a few unsuccessful solo attempts at brandishing a beach bonfire (humidified driftwood is NOT easily susceptible to flame) Lauren pitched in and some more brainstorming went down and, ta-da, just like that man made fire. <-woman too, duh-> Lauren returned to her spot on the patch of fleece and I joined her. Though the lifespan of the fire was short both of us continued to lie on the blanket, our eyes fixed on the tree branches and leaves hanging directly over us and the navy blue sky beyond. The rich green leaves grouped together in bunches began to take on different shapes in both of our minds and we discussed them as children discuss the possibilities of existence in passing clouds. We might have hung out on the darkened beach for an hour or so before growing tired, putting out the glowing embers of the fire, and packing up our things for the trek back. Along the way we paused and looked out over the churning onyx ocean contrasted only by the white crests and caps of the waves. It had all been a surreal lullaby which nudged us along back to our tent and, along with the nocturnal chatter of insects, sung us to sleep.

Day 7 – La fortuna to Monteverde

We woke up around 7:30 am, had breakfast (I had cereal, toast, coffee, juice, yogurt and Lauren had LOTS of fresh fruit, toast, and coffee; after breakfast we worked seperately – Lauren on her classwork/test, I on illstreet stuff; packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel around 2:30pm; went into town, bank (money-currency exchange via atm pretty cool – all over cr).  We needed gas but it was our first time and we couldn’t understand anything the guy was saying in spanish.  We scooped some lunch at a cool mexican place called las brasitas – good reasonable portions of mexican food – I had a fruity sangria drink and She had beer – waiter thought it was funny.  We stopped at a supermarkado on the way out of la fortuna for beer (which you can buy individual cans of for so many colones a piece. Also you can buy liquour at the grocery store.  We got local rum, bought more cookies and other essentials. The drive was interesting and VERY bumpy; went from paved streets back to unpaved dirt and gravel/rock roads except unlike the carribean roads these were uphill and I mean UPHILL! lauren practiced manual for a little while on these roads; made it to monteverde and checked out a really nice hotel, didn’t stay there b/c ol’ Lauren couldn’t afford it so we stayed at Hotel Bosque instead and made arrangements for an early morning zip line canopy tour and rainforest hike (little cabin like room w/ high school kids all around us); drank rum and coke, made some collect calls, had a fiesta with a “toxic” tarantula, ate pizza for dinner at a restaurant within walking distance – good wine, great pizza; came back and went to sleep to be ready for next day.




Day 6 – La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal

158 [Desktop Resolution]Though the alarm clock on Lauren’s watch was set for 7:30 am I woke up inexplicably early (maybe due to the excitement about the prospect of viewing a Volcano spew lava) about an hour before the alarm would start blaring. Well, not blaring, it’s just a littly itty bitty digital watch. I grabbed my computer and headed for the pool to soak up some of the free wireless internet provided by the hotel. As I caught up on work, Lauren slept in, that is if sleeping until 7:15 am qualifies as sleeping late.

She met me at the pool, an assigned Victorian english novel in hand, and we both were productive until Lauren’s need for coffee became more pronounced than her need for scholarship. Breakfast was a great pick-me-up for the both of us. Coffee, juice, and cold and hot water were laid out in ample supply on a table in the dining area of the, once more, open-air restaurant (typically restaurants and bars in Costa Rica are open-air given that the weather is awesome most of the time and doesn’t need to be altered with any man-made climate controls). We both had a steaming hot cup of cafe negro with sugar and ate a typical Costa Rican breakfast of rice and beans, eggs, a tortilla, some rubbery but appetizing local queso, and fruit.

106 [Desktop Resolution]After eating, Lauren waited anxiously for a german woman who was staying at the hotel to finish up with the public computer in the hotel’s reception office so that she could take an on-line test for her summer school class. As soon as the german finished up with the computadora Lauren was off and I headed back to the pool to continue working. About an hour or so later I came by the office to consult Lauren on our plans for the day. Would we take a tour to the volcano, drive through the rainforest on atv’s, or act like stereotypical tourists and take pictures of everything and anything while buying as many cheap souvenirs as possible? We both went for option A with an added bonus, a guided tour of the Volcano and surrounding rainforest along with a trip to the Baldi hot springs resort AND dinner all for $65 a person (badass, I know). The tour left from the hotel at 3:35 pm so of course we made arrangements to join in about an hour before.

142 [Desktop Resolution]Lauren discovered that her online test wasn’t due for another three days and I was so impressed with how much work I had gotten done that we concluded we should reserve our room for another night and enjoy our tour all the while knowing we would be working again the next morning. No problem, you’ll find that with enough Costa Rican coffee working it’s way through your system you can do just about anything. Lauren and I hurried to get ready for the tour, decking ourselves out in hiking gear galore (light weight hiking shants i.e. pants that convert to shorts, sweat wicking shirts, bug spray, camera’s, etc.) Upon discovering that we were hungry at about 3 pm we tried to make an MRE rendition of pad thai as fast as possible on our quaint little porch and then gobbled it with no extra time to spare.

130 [Desktop Resolution]We walked up to the office, where we were supposed to be waiting for the tour bus about ten minutes prior, but luckily it was just pulling in as we arrived. We both thought ourselves lucky to have “timed it just right” until one of the guides for the tour popped out of the bus and asked us to change our shoes (we both were wearing Chaco’s made for hiking but apparently not sufficient for the treacherous trails surrounding Vulcan Arenal). Dammit, we thought, of course we couldn’t be on time for any one thing. Hiking shoes and breathable socks on foot, we climbed aboard the tour bus/van filled to capacity with other curious tourists, and drove for about twenty minutes to the trailhead as Jorge the tour guide with Canoa Adventures discussed the logistics of the tour with everyone in both english and spanish translations.

The tour bus/van stopped and parked at the opening to the trail which doubled as a observation point for the volcano. All of us tourists bustled out and started snapping pictures of the scene as fast as our fascinated and eager little fingers could. We then split off into two english-speaking and one spanish-speaking groups. Lauren and I aligned ourselves in the guide Bernado’s group alongside three other members and commenced on our informative yet somewhat slow tour of the secondary rain forest. Within maybe 20 or so paces we were introduced to a plant which, upon any type of touch, closes in on itself to ward off predators.

YouTube crazy ol plant

165 [Desktop Resolution]We continued on, hiking over muddy and rocky hills, learning about indigenous flora and fauna such as The crested one (an indigenous bird related to the turkey) and Heliconia (a bright red and serpantine like flower). Although our goal was of catching a glimpse of spider and howler monkeys along with Tucans and other such novel birds was futile, we did get to swing on a hella cool tarzan vine. The rain forest tour ended a little before we would have preferred it to but cold bottles of water and the promise of viewing hot lava sliding down the side of the Arenal volcano were enough to quelch any of our desires to push the rain forest tour any further.

Once all of the groups had concluded their tour we once again piled into the tour bus and drove for about 15 minutes to the Volcano observation point or what was better known as a bridge leading to the observation point. Lauren and I situated ourselves near the bridge which provided a pass for vehicles over a river that rushed over a small and 188 [Desktop Resolution]crumbling dam. I manipulated my tri-pod with camera attached to a position which was adequate for taking pictures of the volcano and, hopefully, flowing red hot lava. A communion of maybe thirty to forty people crowded around the river and bridge all harboring the same hopes as Lauren and I and making excited, half-drunk, and loud outcries at any sighting of molten rock and earth. The Volcano ralphed maybe four or five times in a period of 30 minutes to the appreciation of all of it’s viewers, the act of which might have been reminiscent of ancient villagers praising fire gods sitting atop the giant outgrowth. Lauren and I, as expected, were the last to realize that our tour group was leaving, requiring the tour guides to come and find us personally amidst the crowd. From the observation “deck” we traveled to the Baldi hot springs resort where we ate a pre-paid dinner of sufficient if not absolutely scrumptuous platos tipicos served as a buffet. The best part of the meal had to have been the almost sickly sweet fruit juice and cake soaked in sweet milk. After filling up, Lauren and I headed to the changing rooms, rented a locker to store our belongings in safely, and were off to explore the various naturally hot water pools that made up the resort. Our first stop was at a larger pool of a comfortably warm bath-water like temperature that had a wetbar built into the middle of it. We both ordered “last calls” which were the strongest of the ludicrously priced mixed drinks ($10 each regardless of how much liquor and/or junk was in them) and drank them as we chatted up two surfer girls from the states who were just embarking on their two-week journey through Costa Rica. Given that our first drinks were a little mild we buttered  up the bar tender, kind of, into making us stronger drinks for the same price. He readily obliged, handed us two drinks which were markedly more clear (coca cola was in the drinks, with the first being much darker than the second), then  accepted our payment and tip.

026The second pool we visited was MUCH warmer than the first given that it was 150 degrees (it was scalding to be more exact). Lauren and I decided to vacate the nearly boiling water, coming to the realization that extreme temperatures and alcohol consumption don’t mix so well. We wandered to the third, and final, pool of luke warm water, waterfalls, and ,wah-bam, water slides. There were two options for slides to choose from, one enclosed slide which was “crazy but a lot of fun” according to one pool patron and another slide which resembled a jungle gym slide experiencing a roid rage (steep, fast, and confusedly switching between ups and downs). The first slide we went down was the tube which allowed for any body of matter traveling down it to reach a speed of around 45 kilometers per h011our. I went down first with Lauren following me, both of us sustaining some minor injury (mine being a good knock to the groin and her’s being a  good knock to the noggin – we both went airborne inside the tube). I went down the same slide a second time hoping Lauren would be able to capture a video but she sucks at working the camera.

She went down the other slide twice and I got a vid of it.  Lauren made a nice little comment in the youtube video so definitely check it.  We hung out under some steaming hot waterfalls and then got dressed and went back to hotel.  We were both pretty worn out so we went to sleep early after showering.

YouTube Lauren on the slide