Category Archives: Costa Rica

Nesting turtles at Playa Grande

The experience of watching a turtle nest her eggs was incredible. The turtle releases many different hormones that allows her body to focus all her energy on giving birth to 45-100 eggs. Only 1 in 1000 eggs will survive. She gives birth every 3-4 years. In her abdomen, there is a cut, when she is done laying eggs and returns to sea, she picks up the chemical environment of the beach, and biologically knows to return to this beach. These turtles can travel as far as California to Ecuador. There are up to eight turtle sightings a night, during the nesting season. The land is protected for these special turtles who are diminishing every day. I said a little prayer and hope some of her babies make it.  

The driver said if you wait until after Monday, there will no longer be traffic in Tamarindo. The lodging demand is so high here that our hostel charges $25 a night for sleeping in the common space in a hammock. There is no relief from mosquitoes in that space. I am paying the most I have ever paid for a hostel, $50 a night and tomorrow $40 a night. The front desk attendant said Oct-Nov are experienced seasonal travelers and Nov-Jan are young people who want to party. I can attest to that, coming back from turtle watching, everyone who is staying in the dorm rooms were playing beer pong.  
As a side note, I am completely happy I stayed in the town of El Castillo, which was rustic, like a Napa farmhouse instead of in the La Fortuna, the neighboring town. La Fortuna makes me think of what a apocalyptic Detroit might look like, depressing, flat and dogs rummaging through the trash left on the street for food.    

Spring break in Tamarindo

I overheard a conversation, “should I wear dark shorts or light shorts?” Reply: dark shorts are dressier. Then continuing, you should untuck that shirt, it will be more flattering.  
I thought when I booked a few days at this beach it would be a few rest days. I was wrong, maybe all these people walking around in bikinis wanted to see the endangered turtles too. There are so many people here, it makes me think all America students came here for their spring break.  

No surfing or water sports for me either. I’m sick, with a cold, a headache, slight fever. It’s ok though, I did have the opportunity to walk in the water and sand. Now our Costa Rican vacation is complete and I head back to SF on Monday.  

Volcan Arenal

Cerro Chato trailHappy new year!

Climbing down the trail, I looked like a big dirt ball. You know when you sometimes say, go play in the dirt, that’s exactly what I did today. We hiked this very strenuous trail to the volcano’s dormant partner, ending with a lake on its summit. The hike was only 5 miles, but with one mile of elevation up. It took us about 3 hours roundtrip. The trail was very muddy and much of it had eroded away. I scrambled a lot, using hands, trees and all my muscles to push myself up and down. I slipped several times on the mud but made it without breaking or bruising anything. I just looked incredibly dirty. Today was my favorite day of our Costa Rican trip. I loved walking all the trails at the Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal. We saw some waterfalls and lovely green pastures. If you have the opportunity to stay here, you should book it at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. 


Pura vida

My Gore-tex jacket is not very useful here. It would have been better to have my lightweight rain jacket. The rain is warm and it rains heavily for a few minutes often throughout the day. It doesn’t taper off, just completely stops. Then sometime later it rains heavily again and repeats.  
I don’t think we will have a good view of the volcano today. It is cloudy and overcast but a good slower hike day to this fast paced vacation. I have been to the airport 13 times in less than three weeks. Some say it’s better to visit a country slowly at leisure, but when I have limited time, I often want to see as much as I can. I might never return. There are so many other countries in the world to visit and experience. 


Lake Arenal

I surprisingly enjoyed mashing the falafels into the bowl with my fists. The chef asked me in Spanish, why mine were falling apart and if I had put flour in them? I said I did and she added another spoonful of flour and took my bowl away from me. She used her hands and mashed them some more then gave it back to me, satisfied they were better.
Tonight we are staying at a hostel that is slightly different. It has 22 acres of land, much of which we explored this afternoon. We walked to the highest point on the main road and saw grand views of lake Arenal and the volcano.  
I wasn’t excited about staying here when we arrived. Disheartened that it is 30 mins from the volcano and 45 mins from the main town but I warmed up to the place after we prepped dinner with other guests. Tomorrow we visit the volcano then Jan. 1 travel to the beach/coast to see endangered leatherback turtles and maybe my first surf lesson.   


Hiking in the clouds

I saw the biggest pig ever today. I am told, these pigs are not for consumption so they are allowed to grow large. Rosita and the less friendly, Roberto are four years old. Their waste is used on the farm for fuel. The pigs digest food, which turns into waste.  The waste is filtered to methane gas to fuel thr farm. The goats waste is used as compost to enrich the soil. Each coffee bean is hand picked, one bushel is approximately $1.90 which is minimum wage. I loved the sustainability of this farm and how part is used to help it grow. The coffee beans are planted side by side with citrus fruits since certain ants will feed on the fruits and not on the coffee beans.  
I saw another sloth again but it just looked like a big brown fuzz ball in a tree.  
Photos: hiking in Monteverde Cloud Forest preserve and the coffee farm.  
Monteverde has been a success.  I enjoyed the ziplining, night hike, the cloud forst hike was ok but expensive admission and the coffee farm tour was educational.  Tomorrow to Lake Fortuna and Arenal volcano.