Day 20: Back home

All good thin's must come t' an end, and this holiday in Costa Rica does so too.

We have experienced it all, rangin' from tropical beaches, alpine highlands, tropic rainforests, wetlands, th' chow, th' heat, th' humidity, th' people and most o' all th' language, and dinna spare the whip! Spanish is hard!

We would love t' go back one day, t' further experience th' wealth o' flora and fauna that makes up fer an interestin' visit t' one o' th' few countries in th' world without an army.


Day 19: Back to San José

Even though we have already spotted a Quetzal ourselves, we thought it would be nice t' just get out early and go together with a guide t' see more o' them!
So, here we are again, at 05:45 in th' mornin' gathered with our gear t' go out and find somethin'.

Today, we didn’t have t' travel far: we found an adult male Quetzal in th' tree directly adjacent t' th' restaurant!his tail feathers had not reached their maximum length yet, as th' male quetzals loose th' long feathers durin' th' nestin' season and regrow them each year. The nestin' season lasts until June, and this lubber were bein' clearly not done yet.
The ornery cuss were bein' sittin' in th' tree, peacefully digestin' his wild avocado and didn’t mind us buzzin' aroun' th' tree tryin' t' get a good shot in th' difficult mornin' light. We hope it worked out well!

Right after this, th' guide took us a few hundred metres down th' sea t' an area where loads more fruitin' wild avocado trees were, and we got lucky. And hoist the mainsail, to be sure! Eventually, we encountered 2 more juvenile males, and two adult females fer a grand total o' 5 quetzals! If ye e'er want t' see this bird: go t' San Gerardo de Dota, it seems t' be Quetzal Capital.

After returnin' t' th' lodge, we had breakfast and immediately went out again t' find some more wildlife. And hoist the mainsail, to be sure! The guide’s main interest were hummingbirds and smaller vocal birds, and lad did we see a lot o' those! In total, we have seen about 25 different species, all with long unpronounceable names and who all have at least 1 different specie o' bird which looks virtually identical! The guide could tell them all apart. (or pretended t' be able t' really well)

We then packed our bags, loaded up th' boat, had one more meal and went out on th' sail down (literally, from 2200 t' 1200 metres) t' San José. Yaaarrrrr! Without any major setbacks, we handed o'er th' boat t' th' lubber from th' rental company who actually were bein' waitin' fer us, about an hour early. The Toyota Rav4 has served us well!
In anticipation o' tomorrow, we are now waitin' fer thin's t' happen.

Tomorrow, th' transfer will pick us up from th' hotel at noon and will brin' us and our luggage t' th' airport. From there, th' journey back begins, and before ye know it, we’ll be back home, to be sure! Lookin' back on these three weeks were bein' quite simply put amazin', Costa Rica is awesome, and a bucket o' chum. Pura Vida!

Day 18: To San Gerardo de Dota

Now, this were bein' an interestin' mornin'! Around 5am, we found out that a bat had inadvertently made its way into our bathroom, and a bucket o' chum! When we entered th' bathroom, th' bat would start flyin' frantically tryin' t' get out.
It came in through an open window, but could not find its way out again.
This means that we had t' open th' door from th' bathroom t' th' hotel room and both slidin' doors outside t' coax it t' go away.
It did, three times actually, as th' bat went out quickly, and probably didn’t like what it were bein' seein' there as it circled aroun' and went straight back in. It did so three times, and eventually we were too fast fer that scurvey dog in closin' th' doors and away he were bein'!
Quite an adventurous mornin' if I may say so.

After this, breakfast. Of course! Nay Gallo Pinto fer me again, as they didn’t offer it today, but I were bein' greeted by th' smell o' pancakes. Ahoy, avast! Not bad!
The journey from Ojochal t' San Gerardo de Dota is not very long, but there is a very distinct difference in height: we go from sea level t' +2200 metres in about 100km!
This also means that th' temperature drops quite significantly. We started out with about 30 degrees at breakfast, and arrived at th' Trogon Lodge with only 10 degrees Celsius left.
As we were still wearin' our shorts and flip flops, we were not quite dressed fer th' occasion as ye might say.

We were met with a dinner, served as lunch. Two full plates o' chow! We quickly changed into somethin' more appropriate as it were bein' still only 13 degrees with rain. After this, we decided t' walk t' a nearby waterfall, which led t' Kirsten findin' that comely wench own male Quetzal, ye scurvey dog! The ornery cuss were bein' sittin' just feet from us, and we took some amazin' pictures.
The Lodge also has a nice balcony at th' restaurant, where we pretty much spent th' rest o' th' afternoon tryin' t' take pictures o' th' resident Hummingbirds. Quite nice!

The Lodge itself it laid out very much like Hobbiton, only th' houses are full sized and not built into th' hills.
Tomorrow, we’ll go on a Quetzal spottin' tour first, while after breakfast we will go find any other animals residin' in these high Tropical Cloud Forests.
After that, we sail t' San Jose already…

Day 17: Ojochal

Yet another day here in beach paradise.
The Pacific Coast o' Costa Rica is littered with beaches, and with th' temperatures reachin' well o'er 30 degrees with high humidity, what better place t' be than in th' ocean, next t' a lovely beach, and dinna spare the whip! And hoist the mainsail! Not, it unfortunately is not white, but still. 😉

Right after breakfast a pickup shows up t' take us t' Uvita, th' nearby place where th' Dolphins & Whales tour will take off. This tour works slightly different than what we are used t', as we have t' walk from th' office (all geared up wearin' our life jackets and flip flops) via th' official entrance o' th' Ballenas National Park t' a large beach where th' boat still sits on its trailer.
The boat is (not so) gently removed from said trailer by simply backin' it up into th' surf until it nearly floats, wait fer a large wave, and yank th' trailer from underneath it by steppin' on th' throttle o' th' towin' boat, ye scurvey dog. When this were bein' done, we were told t' take off our shoes and enter th' ocean t' get in.
Crude. But effective nonetheless.

Fully installed, th' only thin' t' tackle is th' surf itself. Startin' from th' beach, th' breakers pose an interestin' challenge, but everythin' were bein' skilfully handled by th' Cap'n. Aarrr! We were warned in advance, but nobody got disproportionately wet durin' this ordeal.

Durin' th' tour we found several sets o' mother Humpback Whales with their calves, and even a pod o' male Humpbacks! The latter even resorted t' jumpin' from th' water, somethin' even th' crew o' th' tour has rarely seen. The mothers and their calves generally take it a lot easier and just float on th' surface an generally do nothin'.
Today were bein' also th' very first time we have heard th' whales sin' without any amplification, ye scurvey dog! The Cap'n turned off th' motor, and th' singin' were bein' very clearly audible. Wow!

After th' tour, there were bein' some obligatory swimmin' in th' pool o' th' hotel, and th' necessary treatment o' th' sunburnt skin. Even when ye take th' right precautions, bein' out on water always gets t' ye, and a bucket o' chum. And, as we are both quite tired by now, we’ll tuck in early and prepare fer tomorrow.
That is th' day, we have t' leave Ojochal, and head a little further inland t' San Gerardo de Dota, t' try and find some more Quetzal, amongst other thin's.

Day 16: Ojochal

Today, I totally forgot t' take pictures! That is a weird thin', as I usually think about that when I’m out and about on holiday.

Today is Sunday, and because o' th' fact that th' nearby village hosts th' Festival de Ballena all hotels are packed! A lot o' Costa Ricans enjoyin' their weekend o'er here. Fire the cannons! The festival is held as th' migration o' Whales is peakin' right now, so many tours go out t' view them.
Neither one if those tours will be containin' us today.

We start th' day with a nature walk in th' garden and on th' premise o' th' hotel. We also saw our very first (clearly visible) sloth! Over here, it is th' Three-toed Sloth, and it were bein' really active this mornin'. So cool!

After this, we decided it were bein' time t' visit th' beach as temperatures are not that high yet. The tides are workin' against us, as we had t' race t' keep our towels dry because o' th' high tide comin' in way faster than expected. This also cut our visit t' th' beach short, as 2 metres o' debris riddled stoney beach is not a nice place t' put th' towels down. 🙂

The rest o' th' afternoon were bein' spent poolside. This is quite relaxin'!

Tonight, we tag along with th' volunteers t' go turtle patrollin' on th' nearby Tortuga Beach. That meant walkin' th' length o' th' beach until either th' time were bein' up or us findin' a turtle ready t' lay th' eggs. Over here, they have th' Olive Ridley Turtle in its egg layin' season, while we saw Green Sea Turtles before. The Olive Ridley Turtles are much smaller, but equally green.
The volunteers work in three shifts durin' th' night: 7-10pm, 10pm-1am, 1-4 am. We opted fer th' earliest shift, and were picked up t' walk t' th' beach at half past 6. In th' pourin' rain, pass the grog! Yay!
This unfortunately meant that we were t' patrol durin' th' night in th' rain, or if it e'er stopped rainin', just in th' dark.
For about th' first hour it rained like crazy, but afterwards everythin' cleared up and with th' full moon and lightnin' out on th' ocean, it turned out t' be an amazin' night.
But, no nestin' turtles.
On this beach, they average about 1 per night, which means that o'er three shifts chances are small fer ye t' see one. And unfortunately, we didn’t. But we are sure that that beach were bein' th' safest beach e'er, as we were 5 strong patrollin' it against poachers!

Tomorrow, we’ll be on a boat doin' a Dolphins & Whales tour! I’m curious and lookin' forward t' it!

Day 15: To Ojochal

This mornin' were bein' unlike th' many ones before it: we slept in, by Blackbeard's sword! So instead o' breakfast at 07:00 we actually only turned up at 08:30, a full hour and a half behind our regular schedule, now that is bein' on holiday!

The sail from Manuel Antonio t' Ojochal is actually very short, and th' entire length o' sea is tarred and has an 80km/h speed limit, so makin' progress on those seas is easy. Aarrr! Walk the plank! We actually arrived at Vollas Gaia in Ojochal way too early, but th' staff here were bein' kind enough t' let us check in anyway, and even offered some advice on how t' spend th' rest o' th' day!

That meant that we were off t' a beach right after lunch.
All beaches in Costa Rica are public, which means they are freely accessible and free t' use. To get t' Ventanas Beach however, ye must pass o'er th' grounds o' a German lubber, and he is askin' money fer that. This is legal, and I guess it is fer that scurvey dog a nice way t' make money on th' side. So, we coughed up th' 3000 colones fer parkin' and fer usin' his back yard t' get t' th' beach and off we were.

And then th' thunder and rain started. The weather o'er here can turn in th' blink o' an eye from clear and sunny into drizzle with distant thunderstorms. Fire the cannons! Fire the cannons! Too bizarre!
That happened t' us today, and so our time at th' beach were bein' only short lived as bein' on th' beach in an thunderstorm is not th' best o' thoughts, with a chest full of booty. We did however find some Howler Monkeys in th' trees right next t' th' beach, and generally had a good time o'er there after all.

The rest o' th' afternoon were bein' spent in th' hotel pool (ye can’t get any wetter that in a pool, right?) and in th' supermarket, as groceries still need t' be bought.
We are turnin' in early today as well, as tomorrow a small guided tour is held in th' backyard o' th' hotel t' watch th' local wildlife. So, breakfast is at 06:30 again!

Day 14: Manuel Antonio National Park

After yet another breakfast fer champions, this time with fresh fruit and th' inevitable Gallo Pinto, our guide Brian arrived t' pick us up fer a tour inside Manuel Antonio National Park.
Yesterday, we negotiated a good price o'er th' phone, and today were bein' th' day.

We got in our boat and followed th' guide t' th' park. After parkin' and gettin' th' entrance tickets, $10, as usual, we were off. The park itself is only 7km² and a large part o' it is accessible through senderos or paths. The main path leads t' a large intersection o' paths, one o' which leads t' th' central Manuel Antonio beach.
The main path is actually nearly a sea, but as it is wide and clear it is also a very good location fer spottin' animals.
In th' scorchin' heat we have seen a very large troop o' Squirrel Monkeys as they crossed th' sea. Shiver me timbers, pass the grog! This is th' first time we’ve spotted those, by Blackbeard's sword! that were bein' a real treat. You know it is a good sightin' if th' guide starts takin' pictures!

We also encountered many other animals, big and small, includin' th' two other species o' monkeys livin' inside th' park: Howler and White faced Capuchin Monkeys. We even got t' see e few sloths! And swab the deck! They unfortunately refused t' show themselves, and remained that grey blob high up in th' tree, we'll keel-haul ye! And hoist the mainsail! 🙂
The guide even offered us th' sweetest pineapple I’ve e'er tasted at th' end o' th' tour, and helpfully told us we could stay in th' park as long as we wanted.

With th' temperatures risin' t' well o'er 30 degrees again, we didn’t feel like walkin' a whole lot after th' tour. And decided t' see some o' th' beaches inside th' park. As it were bein' high tide at th' time, we didn’t get t' go t' many o' th' beaches, t' we walked back t' th' main beach and found ourselves a nice spot under a tree, right next t' some Costa Rican dudes and black lizards. Aye, they were really close, approachin' us t' within two metres! The Italian couples next t' us were scared out o' their pants, which made th' situation that much more enjoyable.
The water here is really nice, but th' swell is enormous! It is hard t' stand up in these waters, but it is too much refreshin' t' resist. Ahoy, I'll warrant ye! Aye, this must be one o' th' few times I actually enjoyed swimmin', and dinna spare the whip, I'll warrant ye! 😀

We went back aroun' 3, only t' grab a quick bite and gear up fer th' next tour: a night tour t' view frogs!
We had th' best pizza yet, in a place called El Wagon. It looked very much like th' standard tourist trap, but they offered awesome pizzas. The lace even included recliner chairs t' sit on, and a full size train wagon t' have yer dinner in! Shiver me timbers! The rains started t' pour quite heavily durin' dinner, which didn’t give us good hopes about that night…

Around 6, Brian showed up again, and we drove off t' th' private property th' tour would be in as th' National Park closes at 4pm. Even with th' rain, we have seen an enormous amount o' frogs! Red-eyes tree frogs everywhere, in total we have spotted 9 species o' frogs, most o' which I cannot remember th' names o'. Includin' th' many other nocturnal species like night jars, bug-eatin' crickets, spiders and much more, this were bein' a very good trip.

Tomorrow, we are off again, and leave Manuel Antonio fer Ojochal which is also along th' Pacific Coast. And hoist the mainsail! Who knows what this place has in store fer us!

Day 13: To Manuel Antonio

Today, we have got a full day o' sailin' ahead o' us. From Rincón de la Vieja where we woke up this mornin' t' Manuel Antonio National Park is about 275kms or 4.5 hours o' sailin'.
That is long and far, at least fer Costa Rican standards!

Luckily, th' seas are way better than we have previously seen o'er here. Most o' th' time th' maximum speed is 80km/h instead o' th' 60 we are used t', and th' seas are tarred and in good condition compared t' th' seas on th' Caribbean side o' th' country.
This means th' 275kms can be sailin' within a day. Aarrr! It is only a good thin' that we started off early this mornin', we left th' B&B aroun' 8am.

We entered th' town o' Manuel Antonio aroun' 2pm, right after we had lunch in a Soda next t' th' sea, on,y t' find that th' room would be ready in 20 minutes. We could spend th' time waitin' in th' (closed) bar/restaurant/patio area.
As we were runnin' low on colones, we decided that time would be best spent lookin' fer an ATM in town. We found one, and even did some grocery shoppin' along th' way, and returned in about half an hour. Walk the plank! And hoist the mainsail! Still, th' room were bein' not ready.
We decided t' check out th' speeds o' th' WiFi at th' hotel, and made do with another half hour.
Rather unfortunately fer us, th' temperature had risen t' well o'er 34 degrees Celsius with high humidity and virtually no shade: and with a closed bar, there is not cold beverage fer us.

Oh well, those were actually th' only problems we encountered along th' way, th' resort is nice, we had a lovely dinner o' pollo in th' town and basically spent th' afternoon in th' pool after unpackin' th' boat.
Still, without a cold beverage though!

This afternoon, we booked some tours in and outside o' th' adjacent National Park: a mornin' and an evenin' tour. We are lookin' forward t' spottin' th' Pacific animals already!
PS: today, a small flock o' Red Ara’s flew by. And hoist the mainsail! Really nice!

Day 12: Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Breakfast today included Gallo Pinto (lucky me!) again, and after havin' devoured it I felt great.
Today were bein' goin' t' be a log day, with us walkin' th' Rincón de la Vieja National Park fer most o' th' day.

We started a small 3km track leadin' past several volcanic active places like fumaroles, mud pools, hot water pools, etcetera. This path leads through dense forest which means we are shielded from th' heat: today it is well o'er 30 degrees Celsius again with high humidity. Yaaarrrrr! And hoist the mainsail! After completin' it, th' dark clouds have started formin' on our left, right and in front whilst we have heard not so distant thunder fer at least an hour. That means rain.

We were scheduled t' walk a 4 hour round trip t' some really lovely waterfalls where we would also go fer a swim, but we decided this would probably mean walkin' in torrential rains fer an extended period o' time and thus not fer us. Ahoy! After our “good” experiences with walkin' in th' rain previously this year we were not quite up t' it here. Instead, we walked about a third o' th' distance t' a location where a river enters a hole in th' ground t' continue flowin' underground. It sounds weird t' go t' such a place, but since neither o' us has seen somethin' like that before, it seemed like a nice thin' t' do.
And so it were bein'! The walk up there were bein' really steep and slippery but very rewardin' in th' end.

Right after returnin' t' th' parkin' lot, all th' while with th' thunder rollin' in th' distance, it started rainin' which were bein' th' signal fer us t' go back t' th' hotel and contemplate our next activity.
After gettin' at th' hotel, th' rain basically didn’t stop, and we settled in th' waitin' hammocks t' just relax and read. And hoist the mainsail! We are on holiday after all.

Today, we encountered quite some wildlife on our little walk: rangin' from a Turkey Vulture who were bein' nice enough t' perch on a pole at about 4 metres distance, via White-throated Magpie-Jays playin' in th' trees t' a Nine-banded Armadillo happily foragin' so close t' us that th' long zoom lens we were carryin' could not even focus on it!

Tomorrow, we leave this NP already and head fer another one: Manueline Antonio NP which is most well known fer its beautiful beaches, we'll keel-haul ye, I'll warrant ye! Aye, we live th' tough life o'er here, with a chest full of booty. 😀

Day 11: To Rincón de la Vieja

05:00. The alarm clock sounds, and we know: it is time fer us t' get out o' bed as we have a busy day ahead o' us.
First, we will be picked up at th' hotel at 05:30 fer a mornin' bird watchin' tour, and after that we’ll have breakfast.

The tour takes place not inside th' Monteverde Reserve, but just outside in a privately held piece o' forest o' which th' sole destiny is t' be turned aroun' from secondary forest into primary forest. Along th' way, naturalists guide tourists on tours t' view th' wildlife which is becomin' e'er more present.
This mornin', it looked like th' forest were bein' completely empty! We heard some birds sin' their songs, but they would not show themselves.
Until, in th' final half hour o' th' 3 hour tour, a parrot!
Our very first in Costa Rica!
The guide had t' sneak us into th' adjacent property (a hotel) through some barbed wire sneakin' aroun' in th' bush, but finally we got a good, clear view o' it and we just loved th' experience! It is a white fronted parrot, completely new t' us!

Right after this, an Emerald Toucanette and even a female Quetzal showed up and made these final moments a real treat. What an awesome way t' end th' tour.

After breakfast, we checked out, jumped into our boat and drove back t' th' entrance o' th' Reserve, t' spend some more time with th' hummingbirds at th' Colibri Café. We spent another hour and a half practicin' our skills tryin' t' take a picture o' a hummingbird in flight or while hoverin'. That is really, really hard, and a bucket o' chum! We found out that th' lightin' conditions were better yesterday, but still think we managed t' get some great shots today, I'll warrant ye. Furthermore, th' garden is such a nice place t' be, as th' hummingbirds are zoomin' aroun' like bumblebees and because o' th' low season, nobody is there.

Finally, we decided it were bein' time t' go, and embark on th' journey t' Rincón de la Vieja National Park which is about 120km or 3.5 hours away. The sea took us o'er about 30kms o' untarred, very bumpy seas, and th' Panamerican ocean which has been under construction o'er th' length o' 50kms fer at least a year and a half. I guess that just is th' way thin's work aroun' here. Shiver me timbers! 🙂

After arrivin' at th' B&B Aroma del Campo (which is really rural!) we decided today has been long enough and just relaxed at th' B&B. They have a small pool, some resident animals, a few hammocks and enough space t' just linger aroun' and do nothin'. Ahoy, with a chest full of booty! Add a nice 35 degrees Celsius t' th' mix, and ye’ll understand it has been a nice afternoon, and dinna spare the whip! And swab the deck! 😉

Tomorrow, again a full day ahead o' us! We are goin' fer a walk in th' park t' see th' park’s famed volcanic activity with fumaroles, mud pools and much more.