Steffi arrives - Happy 40th Birthday!

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Where I stayed
Hotel Jaguar - $43 triple, ensuite, pool, good

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Early morning yet again...this time to get to the airport on time to meet Steffi and pick up the rental car.

The airport of San Juan is only about 12kms away but traffic is terrible at rush hour so it takes around 40 minutes to get from the centre to there (although very cheaply on the bus $750 colones for 2 = $1.25 Dollars).

As it goes with perfect German synchronicity, Steffi just arrived and came out of the customs area when we walked out of the bus, so no waiting for anyone! After all the hugs and kisses we went to Europcar to pick up the rented 4x4...and check all the contractual clauses, problems with the car, avoid extra charges, etc. The worse part was that the internet page where we rented it (holidaycars.co.uk) instructed Europcar that we wanted a Toyota Yaris instead of a 4x4...no idea how they confuse those 2 cars. Luckily our printed copy stated 4x4 and given it was low season we managed to get an upgrade (see pic).

The next challenge was trying to get out of San Jose. It seems Costa Rica is the same as other South and Central American countries...they just don't like to indicate directions! So it took us well over an hour to find our way only to get to the centre of San Jose and start from scratch...there we found a sign to "Limon" where we wanted to go...

Our destination was towards the Atlantic - Caribbean coast and specifically to the Cahuita National Park. It only takes about 4 hours, even though it is just 195 kms, but the roads and traffic are not adequate for any type of speeding (80kms per hour is the limit in most roads).

Being low season we could decide on many of the different hotels and cabins along the Cahuita coast, and we end up in the Jaguar, especially because of the good price ($45 for a large triple) and because it had a good swimming pool and the beach was just 50 metres across a dirt road.

However all over the place there was a feeling that "low life" were waiting for tourists to leave their bags without guard. There was a 24 hour rasta guard with a machete and a rifle walking around our hotel, there was an attempt to break into our car (we can see the sign of a metal bar but they didnt break the window....) and some Dutch guests had some of their stuff stolen when they left their door open.

This caused a bit of a psychologic problem with Steffi (probably a mix of jet lag with the clash of a new culture) who kept seeing people looking into the room at night...he didnt sleep much!! Apparently the guard did look in (whether he was checking to see if everything was OK or if it was to commit a crime we dont know...).

In any case we all enjoyed a relaxing long dinner at a seaside restaurant owned by Italian Marco (Marco en las olas). The fish dishes were just fantastic. This was the end of Steffi's 40th birthday celebration. Vero and myself prepared a little surprise for him before dinner, with a couple of candles on beer bottles, and a piņata (a paper mache decoration which hangs from the roof and is full of sweets. The birthday boy has to hit it with his eyes blind folded until it breaks and the sweets fall down....)
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