Costa Rica

Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
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Monday, September 27, 2004

Chapter 6

Well we arrived here yesterday afternoon and the first thing we noticed as our plane taxied to the gate was that everyone was wearing t-shirts. Yes! we are back in the land of warm weather. We booked into a backpackers place near the centre of the city and sat in the lovely garden with a swimming pool for the rest of the evening still wearing a t-shirt!!!
Now today (Tuesday) it's not just raining but thunder storming! It's chucking it down, good job this place has free internet. Hence why you all have a brief update now of what is going on during our day.... planing where to go next Pacific coast or Carribean. Mmmmm tough call!
Tropical Rain !!!!!!!!!!!!
So we eventually made a decision and left the very next day (hoping to escape the rain)and decided on the Pacific side first. We headed towards the Nicoya Penisula and broke the bus journey up by staying one night in Libera.
The next morning we took the very busy and crowded bus to El Coco. Because it was off season the town was very quiet.
The beaches were pretty despite the dark volcanic sand.
We hadn't been diving since our time with the Hammerheads in the Galapagos Islands (some 3 months ago) so we couldn't wait to get back in the water. We dived a few times with a company who was only a week old. With all new equipment and home made cake after each dive it was great! The dive site themselves we OK but didn't make it into our top 5. That's what comes with being spoilt we guess!!!

We did meet some great fun people while in El Coco. Roland was buying a holiday home and had travelled from his home town in Canada to see how it was progressing. We were fortunate enough to go and visit it with him one day. We could see the attraction of escaping the Canadian winters, the place will be amazing when it is finished and so near the beach too. Property development is huge business in Costa Rica with lots of people investing. Costa Rica is also widely known for its business and property scams on a huge scale. There are even full page adverts in all the papers advising people and future investors of this - it's a big problem. Even their government is corrupt allegedly!!!
El Coco beach ( Pacific Coast )
It was in El Coco that we met a great Dutch couple, Ursula and Duc. They had hired a huge 4x4 jeep for their 6 week vacation. It has to be said at this point that many of the roads in CR are terrible with a capital T. Craters, pot holes huge cracks in the roads it's a nightmare. So a 4x4 is the way to go.
So this jeep had enough room for all 4 backpacks and stuff that one buys along the way so we travelled south for the next few days with them.
Our first stop was down on the tip of the peninsula to Montezuma. Again because CR is in low season it was very quiet so with no diving to be had and put that together with the fact that the sun struggled to shine but just stayed cloudy or chucked it down with rain we moved on after 2 nights!!

We took the ferry back to the main land, headed south and stopped in a lovely hotel just outside the Manuel Antonio National Park near Quepos. This we made our home for the next 3 nights. It was right on the beach but surrounded by trees where loads of Cappuchine monkeys, Iguanas and huge stick insects hung out.
Green Iguana Sloth ( Manuel Antonio Park ) Banana tree
During the day we went for walks in the beautiful national park. There we encountered our first ever sloth. Well we had seen them before in a zoo and some 40 feet up a tree sleeping but this time it was different. This 3 finger sloth was climbing down the tree very very slowly and not at all bothered by the fact that we were at face height with it. The photo above shows how close we got. No need for the zoom this time.
It climbed down the tree transferred to the next one and climbed back up. It was amazing.
We carried on along the rest of the trail and came across some white faced Cappuchin monkeys. These are really cheeky and become very interested in what you may have in your back pack hoping you will give them some goodies. This we are not allowed to do as it encourages them not to look for their own food which in turn makes them become aggressive and also the fact that their digestive systems cannot deal with the chemicals and pesticides we have in/on our food.
The trail took us along quiet golden sandy beaches and bays, this is a beautiful national park.

After a few days with Ursula and Duc it was time for them to return back to Holland. They had been here 6 weeks after all! So we said our farewells and it was back to travelling on the bus for us :-( It was time to head over to the Carribean side of Costa Rica.
Our first stop was on the coast of Chuita. Ohhh how this side was soooo different to the Pacific side. The sun shone all day for a start and it was "hut, hut, hut" as the Carribeans say. It was very very laid back. We stayed in a cabina right on the beach with hammocks strung up outside our door. We soon got into the Carribean laid back attitude. Everything is done in Costa Rican time which translates to "whenever you feel like it"
The Carribean food was delicious with fresh fish cooked in all kinds of sauces and spices and all really cheap too.
There was great snorkeling to be done in the sea which was 31 degrees!! Just like a bath.
We stayed for a few days then headed along the coast again to Manzanillo where the Carribean chilled out theme continued. We stayed in a lovely guest house owned by a great family. Their 4 year old daughter, Nathally was a cutie (as you can see in the photo) and loved us making paper hats and boats and telling the story ending with the boat changing into a t-shirt. You can see us wearing them too!

The whole area of Manzanillo is protected by a Rufuge. Which by all accounts is one step down from a national park. There was great snorkeling to be done just off the shore with heaps of pretty soft coral and abundant fish life. We were really excited to be going diving if the snorkeling had anything to go by. Oh but how we were disappointed. Yes there were some pretty colourful coral and rock formations but where were all the fish? But for a Spanish Dancer jellyfish type thing, Moray eels and an Octopus the actual fish life was very sadly lacking. Looking at all the fresh fish on offer in all the restaurant menus we are guessing that most of the marine life had been eaten. :-/
Needless to say we discontinued diving after a few times and kept to the snorkeling which was much more rewarding with regards to fish life and free.

On one of our days we took a hike to the woods which included some very beautiful rocky beaches. As we got deeper into the forest we came across some Toucans and a Hawk. Then as I (Caroline) stepped down along the path, there just 4 inches from my leg was a black and yellow stripped SNAKE.
And after saying "**** a snake" (I'll let you fill in the stars)! I quickly stepped back. In doing so it lunged for my left calf but thankfully missed biting me by a couple of inches. Did my heart start pumping or what?
We watched from a safe distance as it crossed the path and slithered away. I elected Martin as the head of our 2 person hike after that!!!
Later that same day we made a visit to the Refuge Headquarters. With our pigeon Spanish and the help of some colour pens and a white board we were able to describe/draw the beastie. "It was most probably poisonous" was the rangers answer. Great!! Not only have I been charged at twice by the same Elelphant in Sri Lanker I have now nearly been bitten by a poisonous snake in Coata Rica now all I need to meet is a Great White Shark while diving!!! Well, we are off to Australia for their summer!!!

So our 3 weeks in Coata Rica was finally coming to an end. No more 'rice and beans' (which happens to accompany every meal) for us. We headed back to the centre and the capital, San Jose where we took our next flight to L.A.
This time we will be meeting up and staying with some dear fellow travellers we first met in Fiji on our first trip round the world.
We are looking forward to experiencing the true L.A style not as the usual tourist.
So stayed tuned friends and for the last time in a Spanish speaking country.....

Adios Amigos xx
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