Saturday, March 30, 2013

8-Night Trip to Costa Rica

10 March 2013, Sunday

My friend Carol and I flew to Costa Rica to spend eight nights in Uvita, located on the Pacific side of the country. We spent the previous night at a hotel near the airport (Best Western on Dorsey Road) since we had to get up early for our 7am flight. We met up with Tony and two other couples at Iron Bridge Wine Company ( for dinner. It’s an expensive restaurant but the food was wonderful and of course, the company great. And they have a large selection of wine to choose from for your meal.

Our flight was on Spirit Airlines, a company that offers low prices, but then you get what you pay for. Pay nothing, get nothing. To bring a carry-on is $35. We brought snacks and bottled water onboard. Anything on the airplane has a cost, including water. I had to cram all of my camera equipment (monopod in the checked suitcase) in my camera bag. It must have weighed 12 pounds. Since it was considered a personal item, I couldn’t have a purse, so I had to also squeeze in my smartphone, wallet, pills, and my 3-1 liquids bag. Yes, the price of the tickets were low but depending on your travels and what you plan to pack, it may be worth buying tickets with another airline company. Spirit must have crammed in a few more rows of seats than the norm. I’m not tall but my knees were just two inches from the seat in front of me. I couldn’t believe how tight it was. Plus the backs of the seats did not move at all. It was terrible sitting so straight for two hours.

We changed planes in Ft. Lauderdale - first getting a bite to eat and more water. Our flight was about two hours late. Mechanical problems, so the company had to deliver a different airplane. Being a smaller plane, I got bumped to a different seat, just two rows back from the exit row. Fortunately, all three of us in my row got moved to the emergency exit row, as those seated were under 18 years of age. I loved the legroom! And on this plane the seats did move back.

After going through customs and getting our luggage, we walked out into steamy, hot Costa Rica. My friend Denis was waiting for us, all dressed in black, including a jacket! We hopped into a large van after Denis poured us a glass of chilled white wine each. Nice touch, thanks!

It should have been a 4 hour drive to Uvita, however, being a Sunday, the main highway (Rte 27) is turned into an only-south-bound-direction to accommodate the Tico’s (locals) coming back from their day at the beach. The north-bound side of the road would not be open until around 6pm. Our only choice was to take the long route through the mountains.

Denis drove around Alajuela and got lost. He had a GPS system but it wasn’t very useful. We decided to stop for lunch. The restaurant (Delicias de mi Tierra, in Alajuela) had a young man out in the parking lot guarding the cars for a small fee. Thank goodness, as our luggage was in full view from the back of the van. Our first typical Costa Rican lunch was delicious. I had a plate of lemon marinated chicken, beef, rice and refried beans, tomato salsa and friend plantains.

On the road again, we got lost a few times but we were able to enjoy the mountain scenery, including coffee plantations. The roads are narrow with lots of twists and turns. After a few more wrong turns, we ended up at the highway when it finally opened up.

Just before dusk, we arrived at Tárcoles River where we stopped to see about 35 American crocodiles resting on the bank of the river or floating in the water! The road has a bridge crossing over the river. Looking from above, I was amazed at the sight of so many crocodiles. Most were adults and were huge, some up to 20 feet. I later read online that this river is the most polluted in all of Costa Rica where sewage and diesel fuel is dumped, having traversed from towns and cities. How sad that these incredible creatures live in such pollution.

The rest of the drive to Uvita was stressful. It was dark and the road (from Rte 27, we turned onto 34) does not have painted lines, but red reflectors…once in a while. Plus, the road had ditches on the sides, which if you make a mistake and went too far to the right, you could end up in the ditch. I’m sure Denis was tired from the long drive. By the time we got to our place, we were all tired.

Our home for the next eight nights was at “BBU” (, a small hostel-type place that has six rooms, a small restaurant, and a newly built bar/sitting area. Lupita, who does the cooking, housekeeping, and everything in between, prepared dinner. We enjoyed tasty pork BBQ, roasted potatoes, and a salad along with more white wine.

My room, #3, is very basic. There’s a queen bed plus one set of bunk beds. There’s a flat screen tv, a/c, small area with counter top and shelves below (no closets, no hangers), and a bathroom with a large walk-in shower. It was very hot in the room when I arrived. I turned on the A/C to cool the room down. Anytime I left, I would turn it off to conserve energy and expenses.

A quick shower and into bed….a hard bed but not uncomfortable. I was glad I brought my pillow, as the ones that are supplied are also hard.

11 March 2013, Monday

The roosters woke me up early. I didn’t sleep well at all and got up a few times in the middle of the night to adjust the a/c. Lupita made our breakfast, which consisted of eggs (sunny side up), toast, and a local staple of rice/beans called Gallo Pinto. She also brought out a beautiful platter of fresh fruit - mango, watermelon, kiwi, and pineapple. It was a lot of food but very good.

Denis drove us to Playa (beach) Ventanas, stopping first at the grocery store to buy bottled water. It was just a couple of miles south of BBU. We had to walk a short distance through private property (owned by the widow of Bayer corporation). Parking was just a few dollars and $1 per person to get in. The walk was lovely and the area was well manicured with a large green lawn and all sorts of tropical plants and flowers. In the background I could see the mountains. This is the only area in Costa Rica that has mountains that come right down to the ocean area.

The beach has a lot of shade with palm trees, including many coconuts on the ground. A lot were sprouting. To the right of the beach are two caves that extend out to the ocean. We could see the tide coming in. If we had been there earlier, we could have walked all the way through. There were a few guys swimming in the flushing of the waves.

We swam and played in the waves, which were small. The water was warm, almost like bathwater. It was delightful, especially since we escaped the cold weather. I got stung on my shoulder by a jelly fish. Denis didn’t think there were any, but we later saw one near the water’s edge. It was probably the one that stung me.

There weren’t many people at the beach, maybe 10-12 total. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable morning. I felt secluded from the rest of the world.

Near BBU and up the hill is a small waterfall called Cascada Verde. There’s a small bar/restaurant so sat for a while and had lunch (chicken fajitas for me).

It’s a short walk down to the lower pool. The water was cold yet delightful. Towards the main falls were a bunch of people. Denis, Carol and I hiked to the top of the falls (Carol didn’t go the entire way) for a different perspective of the area. It was really beautiful.

Dinner: Probably my favorite dinner on this trip: Chicken cutlet that was lightly breaded along with sesame seeds and topped with a light white sauce. This was placed on top of a cold fruit and avocado salad (with mangos, which I love), and julienned vegetables.

12 March 2013, Tuesday

Breakfast: A large omelet with cheese, ham, onions, red peppers, and whole green olives; plus another beautiful platter of fruit. We did not starve on this trip.

Today we went to the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is about a 45 minute drive north of Uvita. This is another famous national park with wildlife and beautiful beaches. The entry fee was $10. Denis purchased a bottle of suntan lotion, which was very expensive. Bring your own from home.

It was a long thru the park to the beach areas. Both Carol and I were expecting a more lush-looking area, but then it was still the dry season.

We saw a sloth high in a tree and at least a dozen or so white-faced capuchin monkeys. They moved quickly from tree to tree, sometimes jumping across the path we were walking on. Some were lounging on large branches, while one or two were pulling open large leaves and inspecting them – probably for bugs or water. It was remarkable to see them in their nature. It certainly beats a zoo. There were also some large golden orb-weaver spiders, which I took photos with my close up lens. It has very long legs with a golden and black body – very unusual.

Continuing on, we arrived at Playa Manuel Antonio, which was Denis’s favorite beach. The woman at the ticket booth had told him a crocodile was in the water, so no one could go in. He was very disappointed. We sat at a picnic table enjoying the views, including seeing a large iguana. A little while later, there were 3-4 people in the water. A guide that was there said he ‘thought’ the crock was gone. Hmmmm. I wouldn’t go in the water.

We walked to the next beach, Playa Espadilla Sur, where we saw several raccoons! They were going from person to person trying to find food in bags. Most people shooed them away. I thought they were cute.

The waves were higher and rougher than the other beach (and Playa Ventanas). I got hit by a wave, which threw me off my feet. Never turn your back on the water. After about an hour, we continued with our walk. I was starting to not feel well.

The trail back to the starting point crosses over a small water area. We took a small boat to cross over, although you could walk around it.

We had drinks and snacks at beach side place called Café del Mar – great views. A woman came to our table with small bowls and vases for sell. She wanted a certain amount but I was able to negotiate the price down a little for Carol and me. I bought a small vase that had etchings of a capuchin monkey, toucan, and humming bird.

Later we went to dinner at El Avion. The building (two levels) is built around an old C-123 cargo plane. We sat at the upper level and had dinner (not me, as I was still feeling sick) while watching the sun go down. We had gorgeous mountain and ocean views.

Driving back in the dark was quite scary, just like our first trip to Uvita. Dark road, no lines, no street lights. Oncoming traffic had their bright lights on till last second. Denis had a hard time seeing the road because the window was dusty, so he turned on the windshield wipers. That just smeared the dust making it even harder to see. We made it back to BBU safely, but this area is not fun to drive around at night. We even saw people walking or riding a bike on the side of the road. Not one person we saw was wearing any light colored clothing. A small move over to the right and surely one would have been hit by a car.

Chad, Denis’s BBU business partner, arrived and would be staying about a week. Carol and I had some wine and I ate a light meal of crackers and bread to settle my stomach from earlier.

13 March 2013, Wednesday

Marino Ballena National Park is comprised of several beaches, including Playa Ballena, and is located just a couple of miles from BBU. Some beaches are free, others have an entry fee. This one was $6 per person.

It was a fairly long walk out but we loved the views. This area has a stretch of sand that extends out into the ocean with a rocky end, which looks like the tail of a humpback whale. I wish we had seen the area from above – next time. This area is home to the migrating humpback whales during mating season. Unfortunately we didn’t see any – next time.

We got there at low tide, probably too early. We wanted to wait for the tide to start coming back in, so we spent our time snorkeling and swimming in the water. The water was a little choppy so it wasn’t clear, but I did get some photos of fish. The coral in this area is growing and we were told not to stop on any of it.

I took a lot of photos and was glad I had my wide angle lens, which is perfect for the panoramic scenery. It was a beautiful beach and again, no crowds. There was one couple that had a large umbrella to sit under. There’s no shade at all and got quite hot.

As the tide started to come in, we packed up our belongings and started walking back. I took pictures along the way as the strip of sand slowly disappeared under water. By the time we reached land, the stretch of sand was no longer in site.

Denis stopped under some shady trees, located near a small stream that probably comes down from the mountain. At one point, my foot sank a few inches into the sand and I jokingly said, “Oh, quicksand!” Seconds later, Carol is thigh deep in this quicksand with her right leg straight down and the other kicked back (which probably stopped her from sinking further). She screamed for Denis and Chad to help her out while I took photos. Hey, there was no way I could help her out so I decided to capture the moment. One of her shoes was left behind after she was freed. Chad dug in with both arms and found her shoe. It was a scary experience for Carol but once she realized she wasn’t sinking further she felt better and laughed about it.

Carol and I weren’t very hungry so we had Lupita make us a salad with hearts of palm for lunch. After a shower and some time relaxing in the room, we all went out for drinks in Uvita to a place called La Casona de Doña Maria. It’s located on the second floor of the building. It’s a small place with a pool table. Some drank beer while I had some wine.

Later Lupita made dinner, which was not good at all. It was a beef dish and the meat was very tough and dry.

14 March 2013, Thursday

Lupita made us scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit. The eggs were very salty and the bacon overcooked.

Denis made arrangements for Carol and me to go zip-lining in Osa Mountain, which is about a 45 minute drive south. Chad drove us there where we were told the tours were overbooked. Chad suggested we visit his friend’s butterfly farm.

The drive to the farm was a thrill of a ride. Dirt, rocky road, narrow with lots of tight curves, steep inclines and no side railings.

We met David, who created this incredible butterfly garden. He built a large netted, enclosed area, which contained all sorts of tropical plants, flowers, and a wonderful variety of butterflies. He is very passionate and knowledgeable about butterflies. As we were the only customers ($15pp entry fee) David spent about 1.5 hours with us explaining the entire life cycle of the butterfly. We saw eggs, cocoons, caterpillars, and butterflies. He explained how he takes care of plants in order to have the right amount for the survival of the butterflies. It was fascinating.

There were three or four areas which had fermented fruit on plates for the butterflies to feed on. This gave us some great opportunity to take pictures, rather than trying to take them while they fluttered in flight.

Behind the area David has been creating a large garden to include medicinal herbs, a humming bird garden, and other tropical plants. This place is fairly new and I hope he is able to build up his business and have a lot more tourists visit this special place. Anyone planning to zip-line can easily include the butterfly gardens on the same day.

David doesn’t have a web site, but I found this link:

Next door is another friend of Chad, Mike, who started a sanctuary for exotic animals. He told us that people will call him up asking to take an animal that they no longer want to keep or an animal that’s been rescued. The place is still a work in progress, but we did see baby parrots, a couple of squirrel monkeys, a baby doe, and a coatimundi. Coatimundi have sharp claws that could tear you up but this one loved having someone gently blow on his face. I stood away from the cage and blew on his face where he proceeded to relax and close his eyes. He’s a cute animal and sort of looks like a raccoon. Carol held another small animal that loved licking her neck.

Here's a web site for the sanctuary:

Back down the mountain, we had lunch at La Ponderosa (Ojo de Agua, Cuidad Cortes), recommended by David. Great choice. The restaurant had a large bar and large dining area. Behind we could see a pool and cabinas (rooms for rent). It like a nice play to say for a few days while touring this part of the country.

I ordered from our waitress the Costillo de la Casa, their house specialty, which was grilled BBQ pork with rice and vegetables, and tortilla chips, all for about $6. We met the owner Erick, who sat with us for a short while. Erick offered to take us to a beach but we wanted get back home.

There was a new guest at BBU, Jean, a French Canadian, who was staying here for four nights. We made plans to go to the waterfalls and invited him to join us. Denis brought Lupita’s 5-year old son to swim in the water. He’s a cute boy who made funny faces each time I pointed my camera to him. He liked Carol’s ipad and would played games on it.

Later we sat at the bar and had a round of drinks. I had a pina colada, which I sucked down quickly – it was so good. It had a yellow color rather than the usual white color. Carol had her usual (and new) drink of Mitchelada, which is beer with lime juice and served in a salted rim glass. The limes here are almost orange in color.

We made a quick stop to the grocery store for more bottled water and wine (about the same pricing as in the US).

Paul, who is a real estate agent, came to BBU. Chad and Paul have been friends for many years. Paul wanted to show Danny, another employee at BBU, a new development in the area. My ears perked up listening to Paul explain the details, so I asked to go along for the ride. Carol came too and we enjoyed the a/c in his truck.

About 2 miles away a portion of land has been cleared and the first of three sections of the development already has a road with sidewalks and a fire hydrant. Apparently that’s a rarity, as well as all wiring/lines will be underground. Each section will have 16 lots. Playa La Colonia (one of the Marino Ballena National Park beaches) is just a 5-minute walk away, as well as a restaurant/bar. There are some homes in the area too. Seeing the area learning this could be a good rental investment and possibly ‘snow-birding’ once retired, I told Paul I would definitely be interested in purchasing a lot and would talk to Tony about it. Danny is interested too, although it would be a permanent home for him.

Lupita made fish for dinner. Fresh-caught that morning. However I was disappointed. The sauce was very salty so I scrapped it off the fish, which sort of helped.

15 March 2013, Friday

Hacienda Baru is a national wildlife refuge located about 40 minutes north of Uvita and sits between the main road and beach. It was $7 to get in for a self-guided tour. Carol and I were disappointed with this place. The main garden had many different varieties of orchids, but they were not yet in bloom, just a bunch of signs showing what we missed. This is not a place to visit in March. Had we known we would have spent our morning elsewhere.

However, we liked walking around the area, which had more of a tropical feel than Manuel Antonio. And we did see some butterflies, a capuchin monkey, more golden orb-weaver spiders, several iguanas and lizards. There’s a tower where you can bird-watch but we didn’t see any.

At the beach we sat for a while. I saw four pelican flying just above the ocean waves.

Chad picked us up and we went to Dominical, which is a small surfer’s town - “town” meaning a couple of streets with bars, shops, restaurants, grocery store, and a beach area. It was large compared to Uvita but smaller than Jaco, located further north. Along side of the beach is a long stretch of booths – typical touristy items such as colorful beach towels, t-shirts (I bought one later for Tony), locally made products, and tacky souvenirs.

We had lunch at Tortilla Flats, a popular place. Every time we ate someplace we’d pick a table near a ceiling fan. There’s no a/c in these places. Carol ordered a basil margarita. Yes, you heard correctly. I had the ‘regular.’ Both were very good. I never thought of basil in a drink. I ate chicken fajitas for lunch. The chicken was very tender.

As we were leaving town, Chad pulled over and had us walk into another restaurant/bar. Inside the back area on the ceilings were pieces of broken surfboards. On each were the names of the rider, date they broke their board, and sometimes with comments. On one side of the room was a memorial to Elvis Presley and another section dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku, the king of surfing.

Chad called out to us and pointed out a toucan! It was high in a tree. Of course, my zoom lens was in the car. I snapped off a few shots and quickly changed lenses. By that time it was perched on telephone wires, which ruined the tropical bird scene. A second toucan flew by. We finally saw toucans!!

Chad made a couple of stops for photo ops before we returned to BBU. Later Denis left to fly home.

Carol and I dragged a table and two chairs out in the parking lot where we could enjoy the breeze. The dining area can get hot in the late afternoon, even though there are ceiling fans.

Lupita’s sister was visiting and I noticed her meal. Lupita made a rice and shrimp dish, which looked delicious, so I asked her to make the same thing for dinner. It was quite similar to paella and was excellent.

We met some of Chad’s friends that showed up for the evening, including Rama who we met a few days earlier at the waterfall bar. Jean joined us for some wine.

16 March 2013, Saturday

Today we went horseback riding ($60) to Nauyaca waterfalls (, which included breakfast, lunch, and swimming time at the falls. Denis made reservations the day before. Carol had stated if we were going horseback riding on this trip to save it towards the end of the trip in case we were too sore from riding.

The night before, Carol got on the internet to see what we would be getting ourselves into. The pictures of the falls made me realize I would need my wide angle lens and zoom lens. I was hoping to just bring my 35mm lens to keep the weight down. Nope, I brought all three lenses.

Once we paid for our ticket, Chad drove us to the meeting point. This was another narrow dirt road with steep and sharp curves. Chad wasn’t sure if he would be able to get the van back up. I offered to ask someone in our group if we could hitch a ride in the 4-wheel car but Chad said not to worry.

There were probably 30 or so people in the group and were of all ages. One of the guides asked each person their riding experience in order to match up with the right horse. Me: I was on a horse once in Hawaii when I was about 15. My horse was Palomo and he was very gentle. Carol’s horse was Tico.

We were divided into three groups. There are about 60 horses total, so each works every other day. As we began we really didn’t need to guide them. They knew the way. Every once in a while Palomo wanted to go faster but I kept him at bay.

We rode along a small ‘road’ passing by the beautiful countryside. 40-minutes later we arrived to a place with a restaurant and mini zoo. There were a few peacocks and a couple of scarlet macaws. One macaw was outside of the large cage sitting on the ground. I got down to his level to take some photos. He lunged and pecked at my lens. Maybe he saw his reflection in the lens. No damage done, thank goodness.

Breakfast was served. We ate a variety of fruit, banana bread, and fried patties that were a mixture of corn and cheese. The macaw flew to the railing near where we were sitting and a young boy fed him some of the patty. I tried to feed the bird as well, but I guess he had enough, so I took it over to the other bird in the cage. He liked his treat.

Back in the saddle again, we rode for another 40 minutes. We walked through two areas of water. Palomo decided to take a break for some water. He drank and drank and drank.

At this point when walking on the trail to the waterfalls, there’s a sign with arrows pointing in two different directions. Everyone had gone ahead of Carol and me so we decided to take the path to the right. We ended up at the upper end of the falls. What a sight!! It was one long, narrow waterfall. I was glad I brought my wide angle lens.

I set up my camera for Carol to take pictures of me with the falls in the background. I started to walk down a very large rock when my feet slipped out from underneath me. I instinctively put my hands down to stop the fall. I did hit my butt (not much of a bruise) but I pretty much took all of my weight in my hands. Oh my, the pain!!! I really slammed the palms of my hands on the rock. I was wearing my sneakers and the rock was dry but still I slipped. Thank goodness Carol had my camera in hand, as it would have been damaged if I had it with me. I sat for a while to compose myself. A man asked if he could help me but I said no thanks. I didn’t want him coming down to get me and possibly slipping himself. So much for a photo of me and the waterfall.

My hands hurt as I walked back. There were bamboo railings and each time I grabbed it, my hand stung in pain. Once at the lower end of the falls, I had a couple of the guides help me to the swimming area, as those rocks were wet and I didn’t want to risk falling again.

I soaked my hands in the cool water hoping to get the swelling down. I swam a little and tried to forget the accident and not let it ruin the rest of the day. This section of the falls was stunning. Some of the guides and others climbed a long rope and jumped into the water. I told Carol, “Well, my hands are bruised and sore. Maybe I should climb the rope and injure myself even more.” The young kid in the group jumped in and would yell, “Awesome!!!”

After about two hours at the falls, we hiked back up to our horses and rode back to the restaurant. Lunch consisted of chicken, rice, potatoes, salad, and corn tortillas. The chicken had a nice flavor but we couldn’t figure out what spices were used. Everything was very good.

Someone spotted a toucan in the tree. I got in close with my zoom lens. While I hated carrying all this camera equipment I was glad to have it all.

The last leg of the journey included crossing two small streams. Palomo walked slowly, as the stream had various sizes of rocks. He really was gentle.

Back at the starting point, we thanked our guides and tipped them. Chad was nowhere to be found. Oh no, did he have a problem getting back up the road? Carol and I sat around for about 15 minutes and then saw Paul’s pickup truck. He had a super-duper heavy duty 4-wheel truck. He drove us up the road without any effort.

Paul drove us to his real estate office where he got me a bag of ice and some motrin for my hands. That was really kind of him. Chad showed up after buying some seviche at a road-side shack. It looked really good so I wanted to have my own cup.

Paul drove us to see a few sites in the mountains. One home was under construction. It’s probably over $1M. The views are fabulous but I would never want to have a home so high up with the kind of roads they have. You definitely need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. He also showed us his lot where his home will soon be built. Same beautiful views from above.

I really wanted to go to the beach for some sunset views but decided to stay home and keep my hands on ice. After a while, I packed some of my things, showered and then had drinks at our cool spot in the parking lot with our table and chairs.

Paul and Chad had gone surfing and came back for dinner. Carol and I ran out of wine, so asked Paul to make a run to the store along with a couple small bottles of hot salsa to bring home to Tony.

Danny and Lupita’s sister cooked dinner this evening. I wanted the chicken dish that Lupita on our second night. Danny wasn’t so sure but I gave him dome details. It wasn’t quite the same recipe but was very good.

We had a late night with the group, including a family that arrived for a couple of night.

17 March 2013, Sunday

I slept in a little and finished my packing for the trip home. One last delicious breakfast from Lupita.

Chad wanted to leave about noon but ended up going to the beach with the family that arrived the night before for a couple of hours. We left Uvita around 1pm. Chad filled the tank with gas and we headed north on Rte 34.

At one lookout point, we saw some great waves. Chad was itching to go surfing. We watched two young men go into the water. There was only one small area that was clear of rocks. One of the men had a hard time getting out far enough and started to get slammed by the waves. He eventually made it back to the beach. All of us assumed he was a novice surfer.

Just north of Jaco (we drove through Jaco for a few minutes) is a road-side restaurant, Bar Restaurante Rancho Manuel. It’s a large place with an open kitchen, a nice bar and large area with tables and chairs. I ordered one of the specials of the day: smoked pork with rice and beans, sweet plantains, and some sort of vegetable dish. It was a huge portion for just $5. Carol ordered fish fingers, which came with a small side salad. Chad had the same as me.

Paul had given us directions to the airport, which I’ve added some additional information. This is handy for anyone going to/from Uvita:

-Rte 34 to Rte 27 (90 minutes). There will be a sign with direction towards Orotina.

-Rte 27 is a toll road (3 tolls). Go about 18 miles.

-Take the exit for Siquiares (the sign comes up last second so stay in the right lane a couple of miles prior).

-Go around two round-abouts: Take the 4th road (9-o’clock position), crossing over Rte 27. At the next round-about, take the second road, which is 1/2 way around the round-about.

-Go 2.7 miles and veer right towards Rte 1 and then a right onto the Pan American Highway, Rte 1.

-Go 4.3 miles (you will pass Dos Pinos, a beer manufacturing site on the right – can’t miss it with its green neon colors) to the airport, which is on the right.

Rte 27 was one-way direction heading north – same as last Sunday. Traffic moved smoothly, although many were reckless drivers. We were almost in an accident, as we saw two cars to the left of us almost hit. Sparks and smoke were everywhere. All three hearts skipped a few beats.

At the second round-about, our GPS system wanted us to take the first road (Rte 124). At that time I just wasn’t sure which road to take and we didn’t want to get lost, as it was getting dark. We stopped twice for directions and finally got on the correct road. If your GPS takes you onto 124, that’s okay, as it will also get you to Rte 1.

It was dark by the time we arrived to the airport. I was surprised that the arrival terminal building was just a few hundred feet from the exit ramp. It was 6:30pm, a long day to get to the airport. Carol and I hugged Chad goodbye and wished him well driving back to Uvita in the dark. Since he had a van, we hoped that he would just pull over and spend sleep till dawn.

The airport was empty. None of the ticket counters opened until 10:30pm. In the women’s bathroom, we changed into our travel clothes. We had spent half the day in shorts/shirts since there was no a/c in the van. I brought a wash cloth from home and planned to toss away at the end of the trip. I felt much better after freshening up.

Everyone is required to pay a $29 departure tax, which we paid at the only open counter.

There’s an upper level eatery, Café Lavazza, where they sell coffee, bottled water ($3), and pastries. The wifi didn’t work well at all. It was a long wait. I should have kept my leftovers from lunch (gave to Chad) for a light dinner.

It was 10:15pm, so we gathered our things and walked to the ticket counter. Already the lines were long! Everyone had to check in; no one could do the usual 24-hour online check in. Our passport and receipt for the departure tax were inspected three times! I was given a window seat on the first leg and aisle on the second leg, with Carol close by. We had a red-eye flight home. Ugh!

Once through the security area, we checked out the large store. There were lots of souvenirs but most were expensive. I saw some beautiful photography books on Costa Rica but didn’t want to lug a heavy book home. I almost purchased a bottle of water as we got close to the departure time but a salesman said I would not be able to take it on the plane. I thought that was very strange.

18 March 2013, Monday

12:30am: As each zone was called for the flight, people had to have their bags inspected. There were about 7-8 security people behind tables. I wondered if they were looking for liquids or drugs.

The flight was uneventful. San Jose looked beautiful at night with all its lights. It’s a large city and a place I read that’s not safe to visit.

Once in Fort Lauderdale (5:30am arrival), we ran into chaos! The airport was a zoo! It seemed as if all flights landed at the same time and everyone was trying to make their connecting flight at the same time. The line to get through security (after going through customs and re-checking our bags) seemed to be the entire length of the terminal, although it did move pretty quickly.

At security and x-ray area, it took a long while to go through. Someone ahead of us stopped traffic, as his bags were being carefully inspected. Once through security, Carol stopped at the bathroom while I watched the bags. When it was my turn, I walked inside and seconds later heard, “Last call for flight xxx to Baltimore.” I made a u-turn and we quickly ran to the gate. We had not realized how much time was lost getting through security, nor did we hear any announcements for our flight. I didn’t have a watch with me on this trip either.

Once in Baltimore, I was glad I didn’t see any snow on the ground. The weather report called for 1-3” of snow. The hotel shuttle picked us up and the driver loaded our luggage into my car. Fifty minutes later we were home.

Glenn, Carol’s husband, had spent the night at my house so he could pick her up. The four of us went out to lunch, as we were starving. Later Carol and Glenn drove home while I took a well-needed 3-hour nap.

Quick Summary

I had a very good time in Costa Rica with Carol, despite a few negative things. The beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and scenery were gorgeous, the food (most meals) was excellent and inexpensive; the Ticos we met were friendly and I never felt uncomfortable while there. I appreciated everyone we met.

I enjoyed my stay at BigBamboo Uvita (will posted an in-depth review on Trip Advisor) but wished for a few more amenities. I was glad they had a/c in the rooms, a tv and wifi (although it didn’t always work well in the room).

I am definitely returning to Uvita but would also like to explore other areas of Costa Rica. One area we didn’t get to visit is Corcovado where it would be best to spend a few nights to see some of the fabulous wildlife.
Photographs: I invite you to see my photographs from this trip. Currently I have two galleries and hope to upload the rest within the next several days, so please check back later.

Pura Vida!!


No comments: