A Travellerspoint blog

Delightful idleness

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Monday, travelled aalllllll day long (sauna-bus, ferry, smelly-bus, dusty-bus) to get to Santa Teresa in the late afternoon, where we checked in at the aptly named Casa Zen, situated 200m from the beach. It's been a tough couple of days, lying around on the beach, bumming, reading and trying our feet at surfing, swinging on hammocks, eating delicious mangos and trying out local restaurants. I think we landed in heaven and finally captured the true meaning of Pura Vida. We talked to many travellers who stopped in for a few days and have been here for the last 3 or 6 months, sometimes even years. We had planned to stay only 3 nights but in the end have spent 5 nights here. With the rainy season settling in on the Pacific coast, it is technically low season for tourists, which makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

After a few days of pleasant idleness, we decided it was time for a little adventure and set off to see the Montezuma waterfalls on an ATV. The drive there (and back) was half the fun of the whole day, as we both felt like we had rented a kids toy and nobody was there to tell us we were not allowed to ride it on the street. It was a bumpy pot-hole filled and dusty ride, but so much fun! We hiked up to the waterfalls, at times wondering if we shouldn't have brought some rock climbing gear with us, and were delighted to hop into one of the basins, complete with tarzan rope, to cool off. We then decided that we were up for the challenge presented before us: jump down the 40 foot waterfall into another basin. The idea seemed delightful, until we had to stand upon the launch rock and stare down the waterfall. Ouf! Not as easy to summon up the courage to jump as it may seem. However, after some rumination, we both ordered our legs to propel us and just went for it. The jumping part was nice, but the contact with the water was absolutely brutal, worse than we expected. We got out of it somewhat bruised and battered, but with our egos intact.

After a more than enjoyable stay in Santa Teresa, it is now time to move along on our trip and head down south along the coast.large__DSC6980.jpglarge_DSC_0416.jpglarge_DSC_0518.jpg

Posted by margeg 20:09 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

Flowers and fears


After a very early bedtime, hoping to sleep off a cold I'd been cultivating for the last few days, I woke up sicker than ever… boohoo. Unfortunately this meant that our plans to hike up to a pristine waterfall just outside of Santa Elena had, well, fallen through. Determined to take advantage of the day nonetheless, we recalled reading about an orchid garden in the city and decided that admiring beautiful flowers was the best way to cheer a sick travelling girl up (and yes, it absolutely worked). We learned many things about the flowers, most importantly that even though orchids can attach themselves and grow directly on trees, they are not parasites as they only require sunlight and water to grow. We also saw the world's tiniest orchid, barely visible to the naked eye, measuring about 2mm.

In the afternoon, we had booked a zip lining tour, and no amount of sick was going to stop that from taking place. We set off as a group of 6, with 4 other travellers from Quebec, and we all had pretty high pre-zip jitters and excitement. Trying as best as possible to channel our fearless inner adolescents, we zipped and zipped through the magnificent could forest of Monteverde. The views were breathtaking and the feeling was exhilarating. Then came the best zip of them all: super(wo)man. This time tied up at our backs, in full superman position and not holding onto anything, we sped through the clouds, amazed at the sheer beauty of the forest and high on the velocity but also completely terrified (see screeching sounds below). But this was only a baby rush compared to what was coming next: the tarzan rope. The rest of the group went before us and hearing them yell out in terror did little to comfort us, but we are brave and were not going to chicken out. What happened next is a feeling too difficult to describe. A short moment of total free-fall followed by a full swing in the forest sent a rush of adrenaline through out bodies and minds like we'd never experienced before. We were completely blown away, intoxicated by both pure fear and blissful euphoria, which lasted well after we'd safely touched the ground. It was one of the most intense, if not the most intense, experiences of our lives.

It's been a rigorous and adventurous week and we can't wait to chill out on the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Starting tomorrow!

Posted by margeg 23:53 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Chasin' Waterfalls!

A few days ago, when we went to visit Volcan Poas, it was raining. Hard. We thought about waiting out the rain and then stubbornly decided that we weren`t afraid of the rain and that we were way more hard-core than waiting it out, like the others..pshh. Our attempt at hard-core-ness (if you can call it that) ended less hardcore than it did just plain foolish. We were cold and wet, and there was little to be seen and few photos to be taken. After our first failed attempt at being tougher than the rest, we decided to redeem ourselves with a 7km hike to La Catarata Rio Fortuna.Thats 7km uphill by the way. We made it, and it was worth it. Hard-core-ness reinstated! We enjoyed a delicious mango at the base of the waterfall, had an unpleasant experience with a less than alive monkey (were not ready to talk about it yet), relaxed for a little while and headed back. We returned to the small town of La Fortuna in the afternoon, grabbed a quick bit to eat at a local soda (disappointing), and headed out for our second adventure of the day: a hike up Volcan Arenal. Unfortunately the day was cloudy and so it was difficult to see the volcano in its entirety (well, actually, it was not possible to see much of it at all) but the hike was with a guide who was informative, and besides, you can`t go to La Fortuna and not hike up the volcano. After such a long day of hiking, our muscles were starting to complain. Luckily for us, the tour ended with a 3 hour break at Baldi Hot Springs which was a delightful and well deserved gift to our muscles and ourselves. An hour into our hot springs experience, we, and our muscles, had relaxed and were ready for some proper rest. We slept like babies.

The next day we were on our way to Monteverde! We arrived, found a nice, cheap hostel, ate at the soda just up the street (which happens to be owned by the mother of the woman who owns the hostel we are staying at and was much better than our last soda experience) and arranged activities for tomorrow. In the process of doing this we were once again reminded of the hospitality and kindness of Costa Rican people. We realized that our initial plans might be compromised but the lack of public transportation on Sundays. In an effort to help us not pay ridiculous amounts for a taxi, the keeper of the hostel we are staying at called around and arranged for 5 other people in the area to go to the same place we were going to, to share a taxi with us. We heard her calling cab companies and arranging a fair price for us in the afternoon. WE LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

Later we took a tour of the Don Juan coffee plantation, met Don Juan himself, learned about the production process of coffee and finally tasted some delicious coffee. I don`t ever take my coffee black, but for the sake of experiencing good coffee for what it is, I did, and I couldn`t get enough!

After some groceries and some dinner, we`re finally ready for bed and a big day tomorrow!

Stay tuned!

Pura Vida

Posted by gfied 20:58 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (2)


Journey to La Fortuna

After a night spent amongst Costa Rican creepy crawlers, we toured the town of Sarchí, famous for its abundance of wooden crafts, and set off for a full day of bus rides towards the touristy town La Fortuna. As we'd so quickly come to expect, everyone was extremely friendly and helpful on every leg of our journey: we were always greated with generous smiles, kind advice and precise and accurate directions. The latter comes in quite handy as Costa Ricans do not seem to believe in street names, which are nowhere to be found. Places, at least in the small towns we've visited so far, are described in terms of their relative location, for example "100m west and 175m south of the market".

As we entered our final bus ride, and had our first true encounter with other tourists, we spent the first few minutes of the trip standing up as the bus was full. A kind man, after offering to hold our bags on his laps (thanks, but no thanks) and then insisting we take his seat, finally just got up out of his seat and stood there, so I sat down. As we stopped at a town further along our route, many people got off the bus, and two adjacent seats became available. Before we even had a chance to spot them, a man was calling out to us, strongly encouraging us to sit down and suggesting we store our bags above our heads (which we did not). When we got off the bus during one of the stops, one of the tourists ran up to us in a panic, asking if by any chance we'd seen a man walk out with his red back pack that he'd stored above his head… oh crap. This was a much needed reality check for us, because although we were quite careful, we had let our guard down a little. People here have been extremely kind, but of course every town in every country has its share of bad people and tourists are such easy preys.

We got off at La Fortuna, swarmed by tour guides and such, which was another reality check : we've now entered touristland.


Posted by margeg 11:00 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

Volcan Poás


WOW Costa Ricans are some seriously friendly and helpful people.

This morning while looking for a bus to take us to see Poas, we oriented ourselves at a signless bus terminal and after about 5 seconds of blank stares and turning around in circles, a man having his morning coffee called after us and all but took us by the hand to where we needed to wait.
We spent the day hiking around Poas and getting drenched head to toe and in the evening had some supper and caught the bus to Sarchi. No more familiar with the bus station in the evening, helpful locals helped us orient ourselves. 45 minutes later the people on the bus told us where to get off, so we got off. We barely had time to put on our packs when we heard: "are you lost?" The kind man directed us straight to the taxi stand where we caught a cab to the hostel we are at now, about to lie down for sleep... with the "bugs of may" (read 1 inch red beetles).

Posted by gfied 19:26 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

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