Tuesday, February 18
Mike and I decided to go to Costa Rica last April. It had been quite a while since we had gone on a vacation, other than Disney World. Before deciding on an itinerary, I did hours of research. I devoured a couple of tour guides and learned as much as I could about the country and it’s geography. I then spent hours researching hotels and tours on http://tripadvisor.com. It sounded like the perfect place for me – lots of wildlife, hiking and other activities, nice beaches and lots of unique places to stay. I was also very happy with their rules against smoking which is not permitted on any hotel property, at beaches or in public parks.
Costa Rica: The Complete Guide by James Kaiser, The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide
It sounded a bit difficult to find your way around the country as most places don’t have proper addresses. A certain hotel may be described as being 200 metres past the gas station. So after receiving an email from www.tulemar.com regarding transportation to their hotel , I decided to find out how much it would cost to have a driver for all the transfers between the places we were staying. Turned out that it was not much more expensive than renting a car, so we decided to use their service. I gave their concierge our info and she set everything up for us. Turns out that was one of our best decisions! The drivers were always on time, if not a bit early, and it was a fun and stress free way to move between our hotels.
We left home on a Monday evening and flew to Montreal. This way we could be on an early flight with Air Canada to San Jose and would arrive there around lunch time. Everything went very smoothly. We stayed at the airport hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner.
Dinner at the airport Marriott
We arrived on time in San Jose but as I had been warned, it took a long time to get through the airport. We all had to be bused to the terminal and then had to wait for a long time to receive our luggage. While we were waiting I bought a cell phone plan and a sim card . We were advised that this would be the cheapest way to have use of our phones. Once we had our bags, we headed outside. I was quite surprised at the number of cab drivers lined up looking for business. We eventually found our driver holding a sign with our name on it. He promptly got us settled in his air-conditioned van and off we went!
Our driver was great! He was very friendly and chatted with us about his country and his family. It was awesome to be able to look around and take everything in without worrying about where our next turn would be. Getting out of the city was a bit complicated but once we were beyond it , it was pretty straight forward. We got out onto the main road and headed south. The trip took about three hours as some areas had a fair amount of traffic. We made a couple of pit stops for restrooms and snacks. Each time we got back in the van I remembered to close the door softly – in Costa Rica slamming the car door is considered aggressive and rude.
Our first four nights were spent at http://tikivillas.com in Ballena. We had a lovely private villa on a hill with a beautiful view of the ocean.
Our villa was spacious and included an outdoor shower. It was very private! The bed wasn’t super comfortable but we had everything we needed. We had air conditioning which was nice as, coming from Canada, we weren’t yet acclimatized to the heat and humidity. We also had a nice balcony to sit on to watch the birds or sit and read.
While checking into our room, we also learned that Costa Rica doesn’t have the same septic system as we do in Canada. We were told that we could not put toilet paper in the toilet. They had a bucket beside the toilet for non-human waste. Remembering could sometimes be a bit of a challenge!
We unpacked as we would be here for three nights, and then headed down to the infinity pool to cool off and relax. The staff were very friendly and all the meals were very good. Most of the 9 villas were filled due to a Yoga festival that was taking place in Uvita. Even so, it was never crowded. It was a great place to start our adventure!
Fun Fact: Costa Rica abolished it’s army in 1949.
Costa Rica 2020, Day 2
Wednesday, February 19
Our first full day in Costa Rica was free for us to explore. After breakfast we walked down the small trail from the hotel to the beach while enjoying all the tropical trees and plants. It was a bit more challenging than we expected. The path was narrow and not well used as it could only be accessed from our hotel. The route required crossing some water which seemed very common here when heading to the beach.
Once at the beach, we turned right and explored some rocky areas and did a bit of boulder hopping. When we were done , we walked down the beach in the other direction. The beach became more rocky and it was really humid so we decided to head back to the hotel. This required a walk up a very steep hill. It was a bit of a grind so we were really looking forward to getting in the infinity pool and having a cold drink.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and sitting in the infinity pool. I also enjoyed a nice tropical cocktail!
We had most of our meals at the open air restaurant at the hotel and we really enjoyed them. One of the waiters took the time to show us some vampire bats that were living nearby in a bush. Very cool! This was an example of the excellent service we received.
There are almost 900 different kinds of birds living in Costa Rica. In the evenings we enjoyed watching the Toucans, one of the more common tropical birds found here. We also saw many Turkey Vultures circling the area.
Fun fact: Costa Rica, translated to Rich Coast, was named by Spanish explorers who thought the region was filled with gold.