COSTA RICA – WEEK 1: October 18 -October 24, 2016


Tuesday October 18, 2016

A full day in Delta world. We flew with Delta Airlines from Portland to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to San Jose, Costa Rica. A total of 26 hours from our hotel in Portland to our hotel in San Jose, and hardly any sleep.

Even though I can’t start running yet, marathon training  starts straight after this brioche 😋.

Most of the movie Wild was filmed in Oregon. Cheryls monster is on display at Portland airport.

Timberline Lodge is coming to PDX!

Sadly when we stopped in Salt Lake City we had some bad news from home. A good friend has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has been given the 3-6 months death sentence. Such a shock and so tragic especially after losing his parner to cancer only 3 months ago. Not the news you want to receive typed in a message. Sobbing and  fighting back tears as I typed back a reply…people in the Delta lounge were starring at us. I have never so wanted to compress space and time and be back in Sydney. 

By Los Angeles we had a little bit more time to accept the news.  Our friend seemed very pragmatic and accepting. Earlier this year we sent a very pleasant day  with him on the ferry crossing from the mainland Australia to Tasmania. We had time to reminesce and laugh. So much has changed in the time we’ve been away.

Beautiful sunset at LAX. Love the new concourse lighting.

Wednesday October 19, 2016

Arrived at San Jose at 7.30 in the morning, tired and emotional. We’ve had hardly any sleep. It took no time to get our bags and clear customs. We emerged out of the airport terminal to a little taxi hussle but not too bad really. The smell of fresh cut grass  was tge first thing I noticef as we made pur way yo the bus stop. It was overcast, warm and humid as we made our way by bus to downtown San Jose. The road into town seemed to be one long traffic jam with honking of car horns to speed things up.  It was morning peak hour.

Arriving at our hotel was like stepping into a serene and calm oasis. Being so early we could not get into a room, so we left our bags and went out to explore the town on foot.

Hotel Fleur de Lys

Just like on trail, trip hazards were everywhere.

Police presence was evident throughout town.

Amazing smell coming from this original wood fired coffee roaster.

Feeling overwhelmed by the sights and sounds we made it back to the hotel just before an afternoon thunderstorm arrived.

Watching a tropical thunderstorm from our hotel balcony.

Thursday October 20, 2016

Today we had sunny skies and warm humid conditions for our nearly five hour bus trip from San Jose to La Fortuna, in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano. We were feeling a lot better at navigating around town as we made our way to the bus terminal in San Jose. Amazing how much better everything looked to us now that we are well rested. 

The bus left San Jose just before mid-day. Took some time to get out of the city before we were out in the countryside.  As  the bus started to ascend into the mountains we were passing through incredibly lush green fields with occassional small towns along the way. 

Approaching La Fortuna we could see the towering Arenal Volcano. It is an incredible sight, a  classic volcanic cone. Must have been an incredible sight when it erupted. 

La Fortuna is smaller than I thought it would be. It was almost dark by the time we got to our accomodation. It will be intersting to see what the town looks in daylight.

Friday October 21, 2016

So wonderful to wake up and hear the tinkle of a water fountain outside our room. And as wakefulness fully returned remembering that we were in the tropics. It was warm and very humid. We walked around La Fortuna with sweat dripping down our shirts. 

Roadside fruit stall.

Arenal Vocano completely covered in cloud.

Hibiscus look their best in the tropics.

The drive to the Park to the start of the hike took nearly an hour from town. We walked through the rainforest to a waterfall where Hammer had a swim. From the waterfall we walked to a hot spring. A reminder that volcanic activity is still simmering underneath. By mid afternoon the sound of distant thunder and darkening clouds announced that a thunderstorm was rolling in. And we left it too late in the afternoon to hike up to the Cero Chato,  a dormant volcano with a lake at the top.  The rain did arrive before too long and we took shelter  at Arenal Observatory. I have forgotten how dramatic and passionate a tropical rainstorm can be. Within a very short space of time water was running across the road like a river.  Soaked to the skin we got back to our hotel. But being so warm it did not matter.

Western side of Arenal volcano.

Eastern side of Arenal  where lava flow is still fresh.

Catarata waterfall

Evening thunderstorm turned the road into a fast flowing river.

Red eyed tree frog

Saturday October 22, 2016

Today we took the jeep-boat-jeep option to get from La Fortuna to Santa Elena. The weather was kind of nice although rain was never far away. The boat trip across Lake Arenal was very smooth.  Low hanging cloud covered much of the surrounding mountainsides. It was easy to see why Santa Elena and the nearby village of Monteverde are famous for their cloud forest.

The bus trip from Lake Arenal to Santa Elena was interesting. The whole trip was on unsealed roads that were heavily eroded. The bus got stuck a few times requiring us to get off. We  stood around in the rain while the driver took several runs to get over the ruts.  On the bus we met a Brisbane girl travelling through Costa Rica and Nicaragua after competing in Kona at the Hawaiian Ironman a couple of weeks ago.

We are staying at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Santa Elena being run temporarily  by a Swiss man from Zermatt. Such an interesting story of how this has come about and also a small insight into the local economy.  
In the late afternoon we took a walk to the Butterfly Sanctuary. This ended up being a great couple of hours learning about local invertebrate fauna. Staffed almost entirely by US ecology and environmental studies students on working holiday arrangements. So very informative and beautiful to see the butterflies close up..  

Waiting for a mate to come along.

Beautiful passion fruit flower

Sunday October 23, 2016

Pouring rain all day long did not stop us from venturing into the cloud forest reserve in Santa Elena. We chose this one over Monteverde as it was higher in elevation at 1700m and had smaller mumbers of visitors. The whole time we were in the forest it was like the clouds had descended and enveloped all around us. A lovely day in the wet,  wet rainforest.  

Monday October 24, 2016

 Early start for our three  bus transfer to Tamarindo. When we arrived at the bus stop at 6am we were surprised to see so many people waiting for the 6.30am bus to San Jose. It was a hair-raising one and half hour trip down the mountains to the highway at Serenal. The bus drivers realy do an amazing job on this unsealed road with lots of washouts. As we left the mountains behind, the clouds also receeded and it was hot and humid when we got off the bus.  A short wait and we got our connection going north to Liberia. Uninteresting landscale slid by as the bus zoomed up the main Highway.

View from our room just before leaving, rain and mist.

Leaving the cloud forest mountains.

Bus stop

A short wait in Liberia and we got our third bus going to Tamarindo. This was an all stops local bus that seemed to take every detour possible finally arriving in Tamarindo just on 2pm.

Liberia bus terminal

Passing through Filadelfia at school pickup time.

Horse training by bicycle.

Tamarindo reminded us of some Bali beaches: volcanic sand, beach lounges on the sand and hardly any surf in the sections we saw in the afternoon. 

Tamarindo Beach

Police patrolling the beach

Nice to be back by the sea.