Costa Rica

May 2003


Although sorry that we didn't have longer for Nicaragua, we wanted to get to Costa Rica. We were to be staying with friends there, and we wanted at least a week to see the sights. We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica and then caught a bus to Heredia--a suburb of San Jose. There we were picked up by Edgar, the son of the foreign exchange student, Nuria, who had stayed with my grandparents 35 years ago. The families have stayed in touch ever since which was great luck for us: we had a place to stay and local experts to guide us for the week.

The first morning we got a private tour of INBio. It's an animal park with examples of cloud forest and other Costa Rican habitats. Some animals are in cages and other are roaming free: butterflies, aligators, birds, sloths, nasty bullet ants, and lots others that I can't remember.

Butterfly perched Same butterfly

Next we got to see the family's weekend cabin in Guapiles. We saw large scale fruit and flower farms, and got to harvest some plantains and pipa. We drank the agua de pipa there, and we brought the plantains home. The following day we saw the impressive Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) in San Jose. For dinner we were treated to a special Costa Rican dish: olla de carne. It had potatoes, yuca, camote, plantain, corn, garlic and more. Really really nice.

Rio Sucio (clear and muddy mountain streams join) Plantain hunting Bernal bags some plantains Banana hunting Pipa hunting Extracting the pipa juice Nuria and Bernal preparing Olla

The next day we drove to Volcan Poas. It's the volcano with the largest crater in the world. The guard at the entrance warned us that it was cloudy, so we could turn back without paying if we wanted to. We decided to go anyway. We got to the crater... and couldn't see a thing. Bummer. But then, after about 10 minutes, the clouds blew away. We had a perfect view of the bright turquoise lake and the steam vents escaping from all around it. It was great. Later we hiked to the lagoon higher up the mountain. It was nice, but not as spectacular as the crater.

It was cloudy when we got there But it cleared up Biggest volcano crater in the world To prove we were there Lagoon further up Poas In front of the lagoon At the waterfalls on the way home Better view of the falls

Next we had one of the best excursions we've tried yet. We went white water rafting on the Pacuare river. I had never rafted before, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. But it was really good fun. We once crashed into a rock and sent a passenger and the guide flying overboard. But they were quickly recovered and after that it was just fun bouncing down the river. When the river slowed down we jumped out and swam alongside until we came to more rapids and had to get back in. It was about 4 hours of rafting, and we were mighty tired afterwards. But I think we'd have signed up to go again the next day if we hadn't been leaving.

Didn't take the camera on the boat... so this is the only photo

We were sorry to be leaving the comfort of the Vindas Chaves home--a nice clean bed, hot water, home cooking, friendly guides, constant Spanish practice--but we were also excited to finish the Central American leg of our trip and start South America. Next update: Ecuador.

Hope this letter finds everyone doing well back home. Be sure to write when you have time and let me know what's going on with you.


Toucan A few of the smaller birds Parrot

Last modified: 14 September 2003