A Travellerspoint blog

Parque Nacional de Tortugero

sunny 28 °C
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Hello again!

Some more about the pura vida in Costa Rica. So, the second weekend we went to the NP of Tortugero which is situated at the Carrabian Coast, northeast of San Jose. It can only be reached by boat, as there are no roads hence no cars. We left very early in the morning, 2 hours by bus, than half an hour by taxi and another 2 hours by boat. The boattrip was lovely. Las canales de Tortugero are called the little Amazone, and I understand now why that is. The climate in Tortugero is very warm and oh so humid. Drying clothes outside is almost impossible there.

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During the boattrip, we already could enjoy some wildlife, alligators, tucans, howler monkeys and many more. Even more than in Manuel Antonio, arriving here was like arriving in paradise. It is so nice to stay in a little village where there are no cars, hence no pollution, where people are relaxed and where there is no stress. I was thinking this could be a good place to come and spend the rest of your life after having retired. Our cabiñas were lovely, they were almost at the beach and had a lovely patio with a few tables to relax or eat. For lunch, we went to a little soda where the food was very tasty. I had fish with, surprise surprise, arroz y frijoles, plátanos and some vegetables. Vincent had scampis and they looked and smelled so good!
In the afternoon, we took our first guided tour. We went walking on the beach, looking for a turtle nest and we found one. It was so cool, there was more than a hundred babyturtles crawling there way to the ocean. We could even pick them up and put them in the ocean, it was a nice experience. In the evening, we took another tour but that one was really bad. There was far too many tourists, at least eighty or so, standing in groups around a turtle laying eggs. It was a nice experience to watch a big turtle laying eggs though, it drops one at least every two seconds or so and then after it has finished, it covers up the hole again. After about three months the little ones come out and crowl to the ocean.

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We went to bed quite early as we got up so early in the morning but it was difficult to sleep because of the heat and because of an everlasting downpore of rain. When we got up around 5.15 am, it was still raining heavily but we had to leave for a boat tour.

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The three hour tour was lovely and after an hour or so, it stopped raining which was quite a relief. We spot some wildlife in the canals and in the bush at the banks of the canals. We saw baby alligators, tucans, leguanes, Jesus Christ lizards and many more. The rowing was cool too. We got back around 9 am so we still had a whole day to spend.

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Late in the mornig I went for a long walk, taking a path with a bunch of butterflies, leguanes and loads of insects. It was boiling hot, the sun was straight above me and there was no wind at all. To go back, I walked over the beach and I did not meet one person, although I think I walked for over an hour, it was cool.
In the evening we went to a shop, bought some Imperials and sat in our garden, chilling. Later at night, we went to a club where there was some sort of a local miss competition. As the club was so packed, we did not stay long and went for a well deserved night of sleep.
The way back to San Jose the next day was baking hot, very long and rain was pooring down again, so we could not open the windows in the bus. When I came back home, I was so happy Marta, my Tica mum, had cooked me a big meal, I was so tired and hungry.
Anyway, another very interesting weekend I enjoyed very much!

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Pura vida

Love out

Jean, el casi Tico

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Posted by Gitan Jean 13:40 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio

sunny 30 °C
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Hello, everybody!

I finally found some time to write a bit more about this wonderful country. So the weekend after the weekend I arrived we went to Manuel Antonio, which is at the Pacific Ocean, just 7 kms south of Quepos. The busride was 4 hours, and although it was already dark when we left, it was a nice experience to see, feel, hear and smell the air changing from San-Jose. It felt like arriving in a different country really.

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We had booked some lovely Cabiñas, just at the entrance of the National Park and from the moment we arrived there, I was so relaxed. We sat outside at a big table for quite a while, enjoying the atmosphere, watching birds, lizards and hatever other animals that were making strange noises. What we did not know then was that they were constructing a big hotel just behind our cabiñas, so around 6 am they started to work and as our cabinas did not have any windows in them, we woke up early. As a consequence we were at the entrance of the park quite early. We got in and it was so nice! There were a few lovely hikes you could do through the park and we started one of them but then around 10 am it started raining, so we went to a shelter, took our clothes of and went swimming. It was so lovely, swimming in a very warm ocean, rain pooring down, tropical birds cirkling above the forest and the sounds of howler monkeys in the background. That was the first time I actually realised what Pura Vida was all about and so I screamed it a few times.

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After about half an hour, when it had stopped raining, we went for a hike round a little peninsula. We met a lot of whitefaced monkeys there, it was so cool, and they were really close as well. We met 2 huge leguanes at the beach and an animal I had never seen before. Of course, there was a lot of crabs as well and in the trees around the beach there was about three slots and many birds. After a while you just get used to tropical animals crossing your path, it is really amazing, something completely different from walking at a Belgian or Dutch beach!

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We took another walk through the forest to a waterfall and, so we were told by a guide the day after, it was a dangerous one because there are some poisonous snakes on that trail that sometimes attack people.
In the evening, we took the bus to Quepos and had dinner in a lovely restaurant, recommended to us by Jorge, the owner of the cabiñas we stayed in. It was much like a local restaurant with lovely Tica food. Big plates with pollo (chickan) or pescado (fish) con arroz and of course the ever present frijoles (black beans, platanas and more vegetables. There was Imperial, a very tasty local beer, and Batidos de fruta (con leche o con agua) to drink. We wanted to go and have another drink in a bar but ended up having a lovely chat with some Ticos and a Colombian bloke in a souvenir shop before the last bus took us back to our cabiñas.
The second day, we took a guided tour and we should not have done so. The only advantage was that he had a pair of excellent binoculors so we saw a big boa constrictor resting in a tree after having eaten a big animal, some Jesus Christ lizards (they are the ones that can walk on the water) and some sort of very strange little bats hanging from a branch. But except for that, the guide was not very interested in answering to our questions, but more so in chatting up the good-looking women amongst us. Anyway, after the tour, we went for some swimming and relaxing on the beach.

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Next day, we did nothing more than some relaxing on the beach because we had to take the bus back to good old San-Jose around 11 am. On the way back, I sat next to a lovely Tica señora from Guadeloupe who was talking to me al the time and gave her address and telephone number saying that when I felt like coming over to her place some sunday I had to do so and that she would cook tortillas and that I could take some friends and see her domestic animals (she even had a squirrel!) and... Anyway, unfortunately, I do not think I will have time left to pay her a visit.
If anyone ever goes to C.R., I can strongly recommend Manuel Antonio.

Pura Vida

Hasta luego

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Posted by Gitan Jean 14:44 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Primera imprecion

sunny 22 °C
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Hola a todos y a todas.

After a very tiring flight from Brussels via Madrid and Guatemala-City, I finally arrived in San-Jose. I didn't have a clue about the time difference, but now I know we are 8 hours behind Belgian time here and although I thought I had to go through a jet-lag almost every weekend to go to work on monday, this was much worse. It took me at least 3 or 4 days to adapt to the time.
At the San-Jose airport, Leonel was waiting for Isabel (a very nice girl from Munich) and me to take us to our guest family. My Tica family is brilliant. I have 4 Tico brothers, Jose-Pablo (5), Josue (10), Eduardo (17) and Edgar (20).

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My Tica mum, Marta, is a housekeeper and my Tico dad, Edgar, has three jobs thus is working like a dog. He never comes home before 10 pm and works 7 days a week! Anyway, they are all so nice, especially towards me. We live in a very quiet and secure area called Santa-Marta and the street where we live is guarded by a guide who operates a barrier day and night to let cars in and out. I am really really spoiled and I feel like very awkward sometimes, when I am told to sit down and everything is served for me, even before my brothers are being served. My room is very nice too and I have a private bathroom. The food Marta makes is gorgeous and I feel like I am not exactly going to loose weight here. They are so friendly and patient with me talking a lot to me, too, which is not so bad for my Spanish.

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The Spanish here in Costa Rica is very different from the Spanish they speak in Spain and it was quite hard to understand in the beginning, but I feel I am almost getting there now. Of course, the teachers in the school are quite easy to understand, cos they make the effort of speaking clearly, but it is different with Tico family members. After the oral test we had to do on our first day here, they put me in a group with Isabel (another girl than the one from the airport but also German) and we took of with irregular verbs in the past tenses straight away. Of course, I didn't remember those because I am not like the person to study thimgs by heart, I just want to learn by practising. So, it was obvious that the level was to high for me and hence I changed class after the break. I then was in a group with Sara, Julia, Marius and Yannick and surprise surprise, they are all German! After a few days it was clear that the level in that class was a bit low so Maricela took me apart and said that if I would catch up with the past tenses I could go to another class. So, ahorita, I am in a class with Thomas from Germany, Michael form the US and Linda from Holland. Our teacher is called Abraham and he is a very nice and funny bloke. Most of the time we are just chatting away and just ocasionnaly running through some grammatics and doing some exercises. Last week, we were talking about what cartoon characters are called in different languages for at least 45 minutes. So now I know Mickey Mouse is called el raton Miguelito in Spanish. Very useful, yep, and it was good fun!

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Although I should not judge as I have not seen a lot of it, San-Jose does not seem like a very nice city to me. There is too many people, too many cars (they call them carros instead of coches here) and hence too many polution. The Coca=Cola bus terminal is supposed to be one of the dodgy areas in S.J. but we went there last Thursday to take a bus and it seemed quite ok. I have never felt unsafe so far in Costa Rica and I think all the stories you hear and read about tourist being robbed and stabbed in broad daylight are a bit exagerated, but, they could of course happen, you never know. Yesterday, we went for a walk on the Avenida Central and it is very hectic. There is no cars but there is heaps of shops, restaurants, pubs and tons of people as well. The climate is very mild, I have never worn a sweater so far but as we are at the peak of the raining season now, there is quite some rain although it is not as bad as I had expected it to be. The costas have a warmer climate and a very humid one as well. It is recomended to stay out of the sun between 10 am and 2 pm.

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Okay, ahorita tengo que irme porque la escuela va a cerrar en unos minutos!

Take care everyone, will write some more very soon, promised!

Luego

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Posted by Gitan Jean 14:46 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking Comments (7)

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