I hate packing and seriously dislike airports with their "hurry up and wait" line ups, paper work and bureaucratic silliness that seems to be different with every airport AND airline. (Seriously, what DO they do with all those declarations and "immigration" papers? Would anyone notice if I just made up an occupation and faked my the passport number rather than dig it out of my bag up in the overhead compartment?). However, it gets me to the places I love to visit and discover how other people live. The world is an amazing place and I'm eager to learn all about it.
Some folks seem surprised that we're going to Costa Rica since we've been before but that's like saying "I've been to Canada" when you've seen some of one province. Costa Rica is MUCH smaller than Canada but there is so much diversity and so many things to see, enjoy and experience.
The flight was happily uneventful considering an impending snow storm threatened to delay everything. De-icing didn't take long and only made us 10 minutes late getting into Miami. Of course, our connecting flight was WAY on the other side of the huge terminal so we booted it and took the sky train. It was already boarding but the attendant kindly allowed us to get some food since American Airlines doesn't feed you and we were starving. I AM impressed they didn't lose our luggage though since they only had 40 minutes.
By the time I'd exchanged money, Mike already had the bags and we were on our way, found a taxi and checked into the hotel. We quickly changed as we were not appropriately dressed for 29 degrees and went to check out San Jose. Within minutes I'd found a street vendor selling green mangos. YUM! We checked out the downtown, central park and only got a little lost. There are people everywhere. Some just standing, sitting, chatting, on a Friday afternoon. Crossing streets is adventure and we've gone back to our trick of finding a group of locals to cross with. We've got to get used to honking horns meaning "do you want a ride?" or a friendly "watch out, I'm coming". It's not rude and obnoxious like it is at home.
By 4 pm we're exhausted as we've been up since 2am so we headed back to the hotel to grab a shower and sit for a bit. Figuring out the cost of things is a little difficult since there are about 440 colones to a dollar so I sat down and figured out what most of the bills are worth. Good thing I brought my hippy dippy calculator. A 10,000 colones bill might only be worth about $22 but the convenience store guy still didn't want to take it for a couple of drinks. Although I considered just going to bed, it was a little early so we ventured out again to find food. We bypassed all the chains and looked for a diner type place with no English on the menu. We ended up with an awesome meal complete with a "fresca" which was more like a smoothie, and ice cream with papaya for dessert. I even got to use some Spanish. It was a long, but great day. I'm hoping 8 pm's not too early to go to bed. After all, it's 9 at home?
Saturday, February 25
3 years ago I wanted to see the Poas volcano but the roads to it had been devastated by an earthquake. So, here we've got another chance along with a few other stops we arranged. First stop was the Drako coffee finca (farm)where we learned more interesting facts about my favourite beverage. The lighter roast is the best quality as well as the smallest bean which is produced by the oldest plants. We tried all kinds of coffees but I guess I don't have gourmet taste as I still like a medium/dark roast better.
We enjoyed a nice breakfast of ....arroz y friejoles (rice and beans of course!) I love the stuff. They put a bit of cilantro in it and other spices that make it just delicious. Mike didn't care for it so I ate his too. :)
Then came the drive up, and up and slowly my body reminded me that it doesn't like altitude. 4 extra strength tylenol later and the headache is under control and I'm ready for some hiking. Lucky for us the sun decided to come out and burn off the mist and rain so we'll actually get to see something. 2 km with a good hill is generally an easy hike but not at 2,600 metres. Thankfully it's nice and cool up there (cold for a Tico) and the views were amazing. We learned about the agriculture on the side of volcanos. The climate is perfect for strawberries and flowers but the ash and gasses emitted by the volcano make the rain acidic so they're covered in plastic greenhouses.
Back in the van for a crazy ride down (I would NOT want to drive here!} and a stop at the La Paz waterfall park. Where Poas is a cloud forest, La Paz is a rain forest. In the butterfly observatory we had to walk carefully to avoid hurting any as they're flying about everywhere. The aviary is home to some gorgeous birds including the toucan that sat on Mike's arm. The hummingbird garden was swarming with them and some were a little disconcerted by the tiny creatures buzzing close to our heads. The monkey house, snake serpentarium, frog and cat exhibits are interesting as well. After a delicious buffet lunch which included fresh salsa, guacamole and refried beans, we set off on a hike to the waterfalls. We got distracted by a man with a cart and oxen who offered us a ride which, of course, was accepted. By this time it started really raining (appropriate in the rain forest) so we donned rain ponchos and kept going. The gorgeous waterfalls set in the jungle were worth it.
We arrived back at the hotel about 5:30 to discover we're supposed to meet our group at 6pm. Mike got a quick shower and we're off again to join them for dinner. This group consists of several English,a Spaniard, Germans, a few Ozzies and one Swiss as well as several Canadians. Looks like a good group!