Monteverde, Day 9 in Costa Rica

Photo taken with cell phone through a birding telescope c2018 Michael Bade “Female Purple Throated Mountain Gem”

We had a wonderful day today with our bird guide in the cloud forest. A cloud forest we learned, differs from a rain forest in that it is in a high elevation rather than low, and gets it’s moisture from low shrouding clouds. Our guide Arian Mendez has been guiding for 25 years and knew every bird song, every bird name in Latin, English, Spanish and German as well as being able to spot them when to the naked eye they looked like so many leaves in a tree. He had a powerful scope on a tripod from which we could see the birds right up close. A cell phone camera pointed in at the eye piece gave almost as good and sometimes better images than I could get on my expensive Sony camera with it’s 600mm lens.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to upload my photos until I return but I did get some incredible shots and video of really beautiful birds.

Two days ago we did the zip lines which were invented here and have the longest zip lines in the Southern Hemisphere. While it was a good bit of fun it didn’t really bring you in touch with nature. Flying over the trees at 50 miles an hour you aren’t focused on much but your heart and trying to hang on for dear life.

The food here is good. Canada’s are what we are mostly eating and they range around 3300 to 4000 colones $6 to 7.50 per plate. It’s a mountain of food though and most are really delicious.

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Our Lucky Find Day 5 under $50 a night.

First of all the temperatures so far have been really wonderful. Like nice days in Seattle and down to 68 or so in the night. In the main city of San Jose its a lot like other cities with all the stores and cars and banks and such.  I have never seen so many McDonalds in my life.  Also Pizza Hut and Subway but McDonalds is like Starbucks here.  On every corner.  Thankfully as soon as we left the city we haven’t seen one since.

Our choices for transportation to La Fortuna where the volcano and hot springs are were: $140 for a taxi, $100 for a small van shared, or a local bus for $4.86 for the two of us.  We took the bus and it was very pleasant. A 4 hour trip with two bathroom stops.

The main food here that is inexpensive is Casado which is a plate with rice, bean, plantain, salad and a choice of beef, fish or chicken. The cost ranges from $3.60 (2000 colones) to $8.20 (4500 calzones) depending on if its a tourist place or local place.

Of course you can get a hamburger or pizza anywhere there are tourists.

We paid to spend an evening in a hot springs pool garden with dinner but also found where the locals go which is a thermal river coming off the volcano (where all the hot springs get their water from any way probably. It was free and very natural with jungle all around.

We also went to a place called The Observatory where they monitor for eruptions. It is a wonderful garden area over 100 acres with walking paths and hot springs and a expensive hotel. We just went in for the afternoon and had a wonderful time seeing all kinds of wonderful birds.

Today we took a van, then a boat then a van from La Fortuna to Monteverde the van ride was amazing.  We went up and down dirt roads that a goat would be challenged on in beautiful hillsides through small villages.

We didn’t know what to expect as I booked a room last minute through Airbnb. It turns out we are the first guests in a lovely little cabin Ive attached photos.

Day 4 in CR La Fortuna

Today we went to the waterfall just out of town. It cost $15 each to visit and would be really fun to swim around but it was pouring rain really pouring. So we hiked down and saw it, hung around and hiked back up the 1200 feet or so. Found out you could not pay and hike around a different way but the paid way is really nice and well maintained with a butterfly garden and restaurant and really nice stairway that is artistic. So we then headed back to the free hot springs river and soaked for 2 hours in the rain and it was lovely! Now eating dinner at the highest rated restaurants of its type Tiquicia. See the photo.

Very reasonable price for a tourist area. 3300 colones. Under $6 US. Wonderful taste and a lot of food.

Day 3 La Fortuna Costa Rica

Water water everywhere! We spent an hour at this beautiful clean river watching the youth leap in and do back flips. Then to another river that has hot spring water flowing and is free to anyone who wants to soak. We got talked into spending the evening at an official Hot Springs resort with meal included so after 4 hours of bathing I felt quite relaxed…. slept like a baby….

Day 2 Costa Rica Travel to Fortuna

We relaxed this morning and had the hotel get us an Uber to the modern spacious downtown bus station 7-10 serving among other destinations La Fortuna.  The Uber driver had no change so we payed about $7.50 for the taxi instead of about $5 so no big deal.  The biggest surprise was that the bus tickets to La Fortuna which is a 4 hour bus ride cost only $4.75 each ( 2445 colones).  It is a beautiful trip but straight up and down mountain sides, with hair pin turns and breathtaking views all the way. Sit on the left side going up to La Fortuna and on the right coming back for the best views.  Fortunately the bus stopped twice for a bathroom break as my traveling partner Lisa was not feeling well and the Imodium could have worked better than it did. But she made it, trooper that she is. In Fortuna we rented an Alamo car, $7 a day plus any insurance you want from $11.50 to $56 extra a day depending on the coverage you have or your credit card has.

Our airbnb is just out of town so having the car is nice. It is definitely walkable but we want the freedom to come and go and explore at our own pace being older travelers now. The room here is lovely, and the town reminds me of a Cambodian tourist town only on a miniature scale. There are plenty of places to eat simply or elegantly. There seem to be more tourists than locals here at the moment.

One Month in Costa Rica

I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica and this month got the chance. I’m writing this in case someone is interested in the basics of travel here and costs.  My wife and I are used to staying in mid price hotels and eating locally and traveling locally so this is not about the kind of travel where you stay at a hotel resort that could be anywhere and is owned by a big chain.

We are about really enjoying a country, the food, the experience, the people, the sights and we really love beaches.

Our flight took us from the states to San Jose which is the main airport and is at a very pleasant latitude of 1300 meters or so which makes the temperatures in the 80’s but it feels much cooler because of nice breezes. Even coming from Seattle we had to add cloths to be out at night.

Our hotel Colors Oasis is on the edge of the city in a quiet neighborhood and only 15 minutes from the airport and about 20 from the heart of downtown. A taxi cost $28 and the hotel arranged to have the driver waiting with our name on a sign so we could relax and know we would get to the right hotel without any negotiation or fuss.

Colors is very pleasant, has a nice pool, a great staff and a good bar and restaurant. It is gay friendly but not for children.  I love all the outdoor spaces to relax in this climate and Colors has lots of places to relax and read a book or have a drink.

There is a bus stop right outside the door and on our first day we took a bus to downtown.  The cost is c310 or roughly $0.30 cents US.  A taxi is about $6 each way.  Going was easy as the end of the line is downtown and everyone gets off.

It’s a typical downtown but with many parks, a big walking pedestrian only street, museums, and statues and a McDonalds on every other corner… really.   We spent half a day roaming around and that was enough for us. We went back to where we got off the bus, asked around and were invited onto a bus who said he would take us.  But about half way home he told us to get off and wait for another bus to get us where we were going. We didn’t expect this and started asking people waiting which bus to take. Finally a young woman helped us and told us that most buses go to Loma  which she said was far away and scary.  But our bus would come in about 20 minutes. Since a bus to Loma came by every few minutes it saved me a lot of asking bus drivers if they were going our way.  In the end a bus came that I wouldn’t have bothered to ask because it was painted yellow like a school bus. But it was ours. So we boarded with our Angel helper who helped us get off at the right stop.

Back at colors we swam in the warm pool, had a drink and ate delicious mangos we bought downtown. End of Day 1.

 

My last Cambodian video …. for a while at least.

After 4 years in Cambodia producing videos highlighting the problems and how MCC and it’s partners are meeting some of the needs here, I part with both mixed feelings. Of course I am pleased with all the ways I see our organizations helping Cambodians but I also have many questions.  This video is about those questions.  Let me know what you think.  Thanks to MCC and my Cambodian friends and colleagues for 4 extremely interesting years.