Friday, 3 November 2017

Trip to Costa Rica

We travelled from Liberia to the Monte Verde cloud forest of Costa Rica.  The country is land locked and has no army, only police.  The Government therefore puts its funds into education and hospitals/health care, to which everyone has access.  Every Costa Rican we met values their beautiful resources and is very environmentally aware, they are undoubtedly very proud of the beautiful forests and wildlife and clearly see themselves as caretakers and ambassadors.

  After a 10 hour flight into Liberia our journey continued by van (4 hours) along bumpy, potholed tracks, up and down twisting, narrow roads with sheer drops along cliffs with fabulous views over Lake Arenal. 



Only hubby and I were on this trip so we had the guides and drivers to ourselves for the majority of our excursions, unexpected and very lucky. Some others had cancelled due to concerns of Hurricane Nate aftermath - there was an impact, roads were closed and minor roads had to be used, we encountered fallen trees and bits of road that had been washed away, but nothing sufficient to stop us getting there safely and having a fabulous trip.  The country has a good infrastructure and things were getting back to normal very quickly in the regions we visited.


We watched the sun set over the active volcano at Arenal from our lodge veranda and swam by starlight in beautiful natural hot springs whilst listening to the sounds of night insects.  The waters are the result of the volcanic heat and are a pleasant bathtime temperature of up to 40 degrees fahrenheit.


Arenal natural hot springs 

Despite some disruption locally, our drivers never failed to turn up for us or get us to our next step of the journey. Approximately half of the public area of the Monte Verde National Park was closed to tourists due to storm damage and some of the hanging bridges were not safe to walk, but we saw plenty and walked 6 of the hanging bridges and also took the cable car.   We were told the monkies had moved away two days before the hurricane and were only gradually returning so I think we were lucky to see this one on a river trip.


This is one of the hanging bridges, they are quite wobbly and sway a lot, especially if you have several people walking across them at once!  I found them a bit scary as you can see right through their mesh floors and it's a long way down.





Monte Verde Cloud Forest, hanging bridge
Every Costa Rican we met had great interest and pride in the animals and forest.  The week before we arrived the Government had passed a new rule that animals cannot be captive/used for tourist photography any longer, we were very pleased to know the only animals we were likely to see were free to roam their natural habitat, in fact they were hard to spot at all sometimes!



We saw cayman gliding alongside our river boat, gekkos and bats,  the weather could change suddenly  from torrential rain that lasts for days to steamy tropical heat and sunshine within a few hours so rain jackets and bikinis were the most suitable attire!




I liked seeing the little villages with their brightly coloured houses, some had the tiniest gardens bursting with fruit and flowers.


Costa Rican men both sound asleep on the road side, Monte Verde

Our guide on the river trip took us to a little café where they prepared  salad for us and fresh pineapple picked by the driver that morning from the surrounding fields, honestly the best pineapple I have ever tasted.

supermarket

entrance to the Tree House restaurant

We ate dinner at the Tree House in Monte Verde which has a mature tree growing inside it - no roof, so when it rains (which it did), you just get wet (or find a better table!), so much fun and delicious food, so fun we came back and had lunch! (pizza, pasta, beer, great meringue music from live band).

After two nights at Arenal Springs, we movedon to Monte Verde and spent two nights at El Establo, a family run guest house of Quaker origin.  Quakers who, due to their pacifist beliefs, wanted to escape war/national service in the U.S. came to start a new life farming in Monte Verde in the earlly 1950s.  Don Juan Cruz, now in his 90s (and sometimes seen overseeing his plantation even today, was among the 44 families that settled, his sons now run the family business, Don Juan coffee plantation.  We went on a tour and learned how the coffee is grown, harvested and roasted on a small scale.  This plantation is different because it has resisted mass producing/modern methods and much of the work is done by hand with basic, hand operated machinery.


These carts are not used much these days, although a few are around, the wheels (I think) would make the most fabulous coffee table tops!


The beans are still gathered by hand in these baskets and the pickers are paid by weight but also by quality as they must be picked without damage to the product or to the plant. When full this is a 12kg load.

We finished our holiday at Sardinal, Guanacaste, with a mixture of heavy rain and sunshine, enjoying cocktails at the bar, walks on the beach (volcanic sand) and searching out seashells.


I only wore half the clothes I took with me and will do a post about travelling lighter as I have certainly learned that less is more where suitcases are concerned!

Hope you enjoyed having a taste of my trip and that the post wasnt too long (I could go on but you might nod off!).. I'm off to fight jet lag and laundry now!

20 comments:

  1. Oh my, what a FABULOUS post.Full to the brim with exciting things!It all sounds so exotic.Even the bananas look exciting!!!So glad you had a great trip (though I would have worried about the two of you on that road trio by yourselves!).Your holiday has done you the power of good. The last pic is evidence enough.Welcome home.xx

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    1. We were treated so well and had such a fantasticmtime.

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  2. Welcome home!!! What a fabulous post. Nod off? No way, I want more.
    I'm so glad you had a wonderful time, the photos and the travelogue were fascinating. Costa Rica sounds wonderful, unspoilt by mass tourism and with a proud population. I loved the picture of the sleepy men aside the road and the gorgeous local houses, so colourful.
    Talking of colourful I love your kaftan, the perfect travel dress. xxx

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    1. Yes kaftans are the way to go but so very hard to find. I got quite obsessed with taking snaps of the houses.

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  3. What a wonderful experience in fascinating places/

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    1. Lots of happy memories to hang in to.

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  4. Wonderful post Betty ... what an amazing trip & such great sights & things you packed into it all. I very much enjoyed reading about your travels. Hope the jet lag doesnt last too long Xx

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    1. Thanks Julie, jet lag almost gone now. Glad you enjoyed the post,

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  5. What a wonderful vacation...one I'm sure you will remember for a very long time.

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  6. You are an excellent traveler, Betty!
    I love your photos and words.
    Give yourself time to recover from the jet lag.

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    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post. There were a lot of people from the U.S. at our hotels. Easier for U.S. Citizens to get there.

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  7. I so enjoyed reading about your travels and seeing your photographs.

    All the best Jan

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  8. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience on your trip! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. :)

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  9. Such an exotic trip! I am glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. Wow !!!
    thank you sooo much for taking me along on such wonderful trip dear Fairy (you look like a lovely fairy)

    loved the all photos of this magical area but second pic hold my breath when i enlarged it .
    very beautiful restaurant and environments .
    interesting pic of sleeping men lol
    animal in water gave me shiver ,was it anaconda?

    you look HOT in awesome outfits dear friend!

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  11. I LOVE that cart! I'm wild about bright colors. Yes, the wheel would make a great coffee table, or even look fabulous just hanging on a wall!

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  12. It looked like a fabulous trip, Betty. Impressive banana picture, although all pix were impressive.

    Will try to read you more faithfully in future!

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