Friday, December 29, 2006

At Last--My Trip Report

Our trip. In 10 words or less. Ha. That is ummm, not possible.

So, here goes.

Click here to see all pics.

First of all, I want to say that I bought this book previous to the trip, called Costa Rica 2007, made by Fodor’s. This book was awesome. Everywhere it told us to go in the book was incredible and I would not have seen as many obscure places without it. Thumbs up to this book.

Day One
This day pretty much consisted of travel. We flew out of Detroit at 6:05 a.m. and into Houston and had a flight that left 39 minutes later for San Jose. So, once we landed in Houston, we pretty much had to run the airport to get to our next flight. Out of breath, got there and boarded the flight just in time.

On a side note, I must say that I adored Continental Airlines. They had vegetarian meals, free headphones, free food and drinks, luggage available immediately upon landing……..Flights were turbulence free and fast, AND on one of them they showed The Devil Wears Prada, which I had not seen yet, and loved. We had 4 flights on this trip and they all went well, so another thumbs up to this airlines.

Once we landed in San Jose, we got our luggage and headed to the Payless counter. We also exchanged half our money for Colons, the official money of Costa Rica. Once we did all the paperwork for our rental SUV, we were taken via shuttle to the vehicle. Picked that up, and we were off!!!! I quickly peeled off my sweatshirt to wear my black tank which was underneath. It was about 80 degrees when we got there, I would guess. We would soon find out that the road system in this country is horrible. There are literally almost NO signs on the road, or at least, they are very limited. We drove to San Ramon, where we needed to make a turn *someplace* to the road heading to our hotel. Umm, no signs and no idea. We drove around, asking for help several times, and finally figured it out. We were about ready to give up and stay in San Ramon it was so frustrating.

Drove up the mountain to our hotel, called Lands in Love. Wow. Another revelation. The roads are SOOO curvy. We literally did not drive in a straight line for more than a half block the entire way to our hotel, which was about 30 miles away, at least. Finally got there, and drove about a mile down a horrible dirt road to our hotel. Got to the front reception and exhausted, got out of the car It was about dusk by this time, and I was ready to relax. The hotel itself was gorgeous. The place is run by a group of younger people from Israel, so they speak English, Spanish and Hebrew. There is also a pet hotel there, and they only serve vegetarian food in their gourmet restaurant. We unpacked, then took a quick nap and headed to the restaurant and eat. After that, headed straight to bed to pass out and plan our next day.

Day Two
We got up early and began the drive to Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. The drive there was pretty long, and there was a really long dirt, pot filled road to get to the park itself. At the start, we stopped at a little stand on the road to buy fresh fruit and pops. Total bill? $1.75. This was for two pops, and fresh fruit. Things were for sure cheaper in the country.

Once we got to the entrance of the park, we realized that the only real way to see it was by boat. Kurt has not been in a boat since the day I met him. He hates water and boats, umm, no. To my HUGE surprise, he says, “let’s go!” I about died. The guy had life jackets, so Kurt wore one, which is good since he can’t swim. The boat was small, a rowboat like thing with two seats and a motor. We had a guide, who took us on a three hour tour of the river. It was awesome. We saw a ton of animals that day, including many, many birds, a 2-toed sloth (which is the most rare version of the sloth), crocodiles, howler monkeys (one of the 4 kinds of monkeys in Costa Rica), iguanas, lizards, and more. After the ride, we stopped and had lunch outside the resort at a nice place overlooking the river. Had Costa Rican food, mine was shrimp with rice. Yum. Oh, another kewl thing? Their Coke is in GLASS bottles! I love Coke in glass bottles. So classic. Once we got back to the resort, we went hiking on one of their trails, which was really nice. Very shady. The hike back to our room was all uphill though, and we were really tired by the time we got back after a long day. We had dinner again at the resort.

Day Three
This day, we went on one of my favorite hikes of the trip at the La Selva Biological Station. We got there and were the only two for the afternoon hike, so again, like yesterday, lots of one on one interaction with the guide. We saw a ton of wildlife on this hike as well, such as peccaries, agouti, toads, the red poison dart frog, toucans, woodpecker, iguana, snakes, and many other birds. Before this hike, we stopped at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens near the Poas Volcano. While there, we saw many frogs, tons of hummingbirds, butterflies galore, and 5 gorgeous, huge waterfalls. While on the way back from La Paz, we saw a group of coatis playing on the side of the road. So freaking cute. Ate lunch in La Tigra that night, and had more shrimp and rice, and a yummy banana dessert was split for dessert.

Day Four
This day we drove to Manuel Antonio National Park. On the way there, we stopped in Quepos for lunch and walked the downtown area. So cute. Had black bean nachos which were some of the best I have ever had. Another gorgeous hike. This park was right on the ocean, and the highlight of this walk were the capuchin monkeys. There were about 6 of them, jumping from tree to tree and playing, right next to the water. I loved them. We also saw lizards, a lizard that walked on water, three toed sloth, a boa snake, crabs, and many birds. After this hike, we stopped in Jaco and walked the downtown there. While there, I went in my first Costa Rican grocery store and furniture store. We had dinner at a place at the foot of the mountain on the way back to our resort.

Day Five
Today we went to the Arenal Volcano area. Our first stop was the Tabacon Hot Springs, which we had a couples massage. It was outside, which was pretty kewl. The spa was one of the nicest I have been in. Next, we headed to the volcano to a hike towards the base. Beautiful hike. It went through rain forest and then to an area that was all dried lava. We got really close to the volcano, which was kewl in comparison to Hawaii, where they don’t let you get close at all. The Costa Ricans apparently do not value human safety as much as the US, but that’s fine with me. Let me hike at my own risk, thank you very much. We had lunch that day at a cute cafĂ© in downtown La Fortuna, and went on a hike that night in a rainforest with a guide. The hike could have been better. We were with a group of people from Israel who would NOT SHUT UP. Why go on a night hike that requires silence to see things if you are going to talk loudly? Kurt about wanted to shoot them. We did see some kewl things though like two rare frogs, sloths, bats, a bullfrog, a huge snail, and various birds. Had dinner at our hotel that night.

Day Six
This day, we decided to check out of our hotel and drive to the other side of the country. So, we drove to Tamarindo. On the way there, Kurt was pulled over around Nicoya for speeding. He was going about 26 over. The ticket? Only $10! I would not believe it. In the US, that is essentially reckless driving. I guess that’s why ticket prices are higher in the US, because Kurt just continued to speed, LOL. When we got to the little beach town (which is known to locals as “Tamagringo” because of the amount of Americans who are moving to the area), we ate lunch at a little place that had an amazing view of the ocean. Lunch was yummy, and then we picked a hotel to stay at downtown called Hotel Zullymar, which we had for two nights. This day was really relaxing. After getting a room, we took a walk through the stores of the downtown, then stopped at a local bar for some drinks. We had two drinks each and were SO DRUNK. This place made the strongest drinks that did not taste like it I have ever had. Yum. After watching local potheads dance to Spanish techno music, we headed to a spa in Tamarindo for one of the best massages I have ever had in my life. And the cheapest! After that, we went to dinner at a very good sushi place off the main strip and had great miso soup and various sushi rolls we split between the two of us. Stopped in a casino downtown, which had all of one blackjack table and a few other tables, maybe 10 slot machines. Played a few hands and left.

Day Seven
Got up this morning, put on beachwear and headed to the beach for a really long walk. We walked the Tamarindo Beach, then took a small boat to the Playa Grande beach, which was peaceful and almost deserted. We saw an eel in the water there, and many little hermit crabs and water snakes. It was really hot, so we went back to the hotel and changed and headed toward another awesome hike at the Nosara Biological Reserve. This drive was the worst of the trip. About 10 miles of pure dirt road hell. Once we got there though, we had an awesome time. The hike was one of the scariest hikes of my life. Every step you took was another 10 snake holes. And this time, I am NOT exaggerating. We scared ourselves a lot during this walk. We saw a howler monkey near the start of the hike, as well as snakes, huge spiders, a monkey skull, crabs everywhere, and birds. Had dinner that night at a yummy place where I had tuna wasabi that was caught that day in the ocean. Then, we went on a turtle tour. We had to be there at 1130 p.m. at the national park. This was the kewlest experience ever. The national park this was at only allows 15 people on the protected beach at once, and only 30 per night, so this really was a once in a lifetime kinda thing. The leatherback turtles, which was endangered, come to shore once every 4 years or so, to dig holes and pay 60-100 eggs, cover them with dirt, and leave. The turtle was huge, at least 4-5 feet long…..We got to see almost this whole experience. When we were there the hole was about done, and the turtle started laying eggs. We saw all of this by the light of a special flashlight used that does not bother the turtle. The turtle laid 63 eggs and covered it’s hole. It was incredible. Only bummer was we could not take pics. Got back to our hotel at 2:00 a.m.

Day 8
This day we drove back across to another part of the country, and got a room in Jaco. We liked the town the first time we drove through. Stopped at this Burger King on the side of the road to eat because it intrigued us. It was basically a semi truck turned into a Burger King. Very strange. Kurt trying to order my special order in Spanish was even more funny. We went on a Crocodile tour that day which was really fun. We saw a ton of birds, prob the most of the trip. Also iguanas, lizards and of course, crocodiles galore. The waters were infested, with about 25 crocs per square meter. The guides named some of the crocs in the river. When they saw “Osama” swimming, they pulled up to shore and one guide got out of the boat! He grabbed some fish from a bucket and Osama came out of the water. He carefully fed the croc. It was freaky. Kurt got to reach over the side of the boat and touch the croc. It was beyond kewl. Had dinner that night at an awesome place called The Fish Taco Bar. Had tuna tacos. They were heavenly. Walked the downtown and then it started to rain. It was pretty late at this point, so we headed to our room to crash and watch TV before bed.

Day 9
Stopped at the Carana Biological Reserve in Tarcoles. It was a really nice hike, but we did not see too much wildlife. We did see a really kewl black and green spotted poisonous frog, a green macaw and got really close to a coati who basically walked out of the woods right next to us and was not scared at all. It was cute. Saw lots of pretty butterflies too. Then, we drove to San Jose for our last Costa Rican night. The downtown there is INSANE. It may have been busier than usual because it was Xmas eve, but wow. Narrow streets and SOO many people. We could barely drive, or walk once we were walking. Checked into the Aurola Holiday Inn downtown and then shopped. It was crazy. Had churros from a street vendor. They are too die for. Then had dinner at an Italian place in downtown San Jose. After that, went to this casino that is notoriously known for its prostitutes hanging around. Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. How odd. Anyway, played blackjack for a few hours and watched the scenery. I think I was literally the only female in the entire casino. No kidding. Except for the excessive amount of prostitutes walking around the men leering over them. What a hilarious experience. I have never witnessed anything like it. Oh, we got massages before dinner that night at a local salon too.

Day 10
Turned in our car, and went to the airport. Flew home, arriving home around midnight. :(.

Overall, this trip was the best I have ever been on. Besides the fact that the weather was awesome (between 70-90 every day, no matter where one was, it was filled with wildlife and nature, and the views while driving were incredible. We can't wait to go back.


PeachesAmy said...

Hey! I've been MIA for a while... your trip sounds amazing... I've been wanting to Costa Rica for a while... but I think another trip to Hawaii will be first. Welcome back to the real world!

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the detailed update, the trip sounded awesome!

MissThang said...

See...if I had gone with you, I would have had to take naps here and there becuase you people would have worn me out!!

Sounds like a fabulous time and your pics are gorgeous :)

Lisa said...

Awesome update Lori and the pictures are fantastic!!

Please don't forget us when National Geographic discovers our very own Lori-Anne Haskell!!

Charlene said...

WOW it sounds like a amazing trip!! Love all the details and the pictures freaking rock!!

worldvoyage said...

only $10US? Did you expect more? This is 3rd world country. Did you stay overnight at Tabacon Resort or Peace lodge? I've stayed at both resorts. Prices keep going up in the last few years.
Speeding ticket will go up too.

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