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Archive for October, 2009

Kelly and I made some good friends in Monteverde, but were really looking forward to some quality beach time.  After a couple of relatively tame bus rides, we reached Manuel Antonio, a small beach town on the Pacific Coast and home to Manuel Antonio National Park, the most visited park in Costa Rica.

All of our new friends in Monteverde
All of our new friends in Monteverde

By the way, if you ever come to Costa Rica, don’t even think about staying more than 2 hours in Puntarenas.  It’s a dump.
 
We checked into our hostel, Vista Serena, which is run by two American guys, Alex and Conrad.  It’s set at the top of a ridge and has a huge deck with hammocks with a fantastic view of the ocean.  We spent all of our evenings sitting on the deck drinking Imperial and watching the sun sink into the horizon.  There is nothing to describe the sunsets here…all of them are extremely different and absolutely beautiful.

View from the deck at Vista Serena Hostel
View from the deck at Vista Serena Hostel

We planned to hit the beach on our first day, but we woke up to thunderstorms and pouring rain.  Kelly and I knew we were coming during the ‘wet’ season, but had only seen rain our first day in San Jose…we were wondering when the crappy weather was going to hit.  It ended up clearing up by the afternoon, so we walked down to the beach, checked out all of the shops and had a beer before heading back to Vista Serena to watch the sunset.
 
For dinner, we’ve been eating at a kick-ass restaraunt called Angel’s right down the street from the hostel.  We had an incredible dinner of fresh mahi-mahi, rice, au-grautin potatoes and salad for about $7 per person.  A plate of food like this in the U.S. would cost at least $20.

Mahi-Mahi dinner.  It rocked our world.
Mahi-Mahi dinner. It rocked our world.

On our second day, Kelly and I checked out Manual Antonio National Park, which was really beautiful.  It has several walking trails, a handful of picturesque beaches, and a ton of wildlife.  We layed on the beach for a couple of hours and saw a sloth, a family of white-faced monkeys, birds, and had a couple of iguanas hang out with us on the beach.  We grabbed a quick snack and a beer before heading home and made it back just in time before the rain started.  Alex whipped up a fantastic dinner for everyone at the hostel (fresh fish, grilled veggies, and plantains).  Kelly and I nursed our sunburns and called it an early night.

One of the beaches in the National Park
One of the beaches in the National Park
This is where we spent our Saturday.  It's a rough life.
This is where we spent our Saturday. It’s a rough life.
Happy Sisters!
Happy Sisters!
An Iguana that hung out with us for a bit
An Iguana that hung out with us for a bit
A sloth!  These things are so cool.  They move all slow and trippy-like.
A sloth! These things are so cool. They move like they are in slow motion.
A monkey!  We want one.
A monkey! We want one.

Today is our last full day in Manuel Antonio and the weather is perfect.  We plan to take it easy, lounge on the beach for a couple of hours, do some laundry, and get ready to head further south to Dominical in the morning. We really enjoyed our time here and recommend Vista Serena to any of you that ever plan to head this way.  Just be ready to drink and smoke every night, because that’s pretty much the way of life here. 

We hope all of our friends had a great time in the rain at Austin City Limits festival.  Kelly and I were bummed to have missed it this year, but while you were rockin’ out to King’s of Leon and Pearl Jam, this is what we spent our evenings enjoying: (Mary, these are for you)

Vista Serena - Night 3 (It was cloudy, but still pretty)

Vista Serena - Night 3 (It was cloudy, but still pretty)

Sunset at Vista Serena - Night 2
Sunset at Vista Serena – Night 2
Vista Serena - Night 1
Vista Serena – Night 1
Our last night's sunset

Our last night's sunset

Goodbye Vista Serena!

Goodbye Vista Serena!

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Ahhhh. Monteverde. After a great time in La Fortuna, Kim and I took the “Jeep Boat Jeep” to this quaint little  mountain town.  Instead of a 7-hour public bus ride (due to the fact that you have drive around Lake Arenal), we opted to pay the $18 to ride 15 minutes in a private van, hop on a small, ferry-style boat across the Lake Arenal for 30 minutes, and then take another hour van ride into the town center.  It was perfect.  The weather here is cool and refreshing, especially after leaving La Fortuna.   I even had to break out the fleece at night.

Cruisin' on the Ferry

Cruisin' on the Ferry

The drive to Monteverde

The drive to Monteverde

We originally had reservations at La Pension Santa Elena due to many recommendations from our guidebooks and notes posted up at our hostel in La Fortuna.  We arrived to find that for $16 pp/per night, we had a private, not so clean room, with shared bathroom, a crowded kitchen and some rather strange rules to follow.   As we got out of the van, we were approached by Tony, a local Tico, who owned a hostel just down the street.   Kim stayed with the bags and I went to check out El Hotel Tucan.  We immediately left PSE, and headed to Tony’s place.   A private room with private bath for $12.50/pp/night.   Awesome.   And after our stay at Gringo Pete’s, this was like staying at the Raddison.   Super clean, free internet and wifi in our room, and free breakfast!  Too bad that at 10pm when Tony leaves, he turns off the server and we no longer get internet in our room.

 The afternoon we arrived, we headed down the street to El Kiosko La Flor, a small soda (restaurant) near the church downtown.   It was like we were sitting in Flor’s kitchen as she cooked us a meal from scratch.   We both had casado (a typical dish with rice, beans, either salad or vegetables, chicken, bread and fried plantains all for under $4) as we chatted with a really cute Tico from Limon.   Afterwards, we spent the evening relaxing at the hostel and playing with one of Tony’s three daughters, Monserrath, aka Monse, and chatting with the family over beers and freshly prepared empanadas de

Kelly and Monse

Kelly and Monse

queso.  We also met a nice doctor from California walking by named Luis.   He sat and talked with us for a while and offered to take us to dinner to celebrate the first week of our trip (he was extremely jealous of what we are doing, of course).   We went to a nice little restaurant called The Treehouse Cafe and had fresh sea bass ceviche, arroz con pollo (chicken) and mariscos (mixed seafood and both had plenty for lunch the following day.   Thanks Luis!!!  

The next morning we woke up, had our delicious breakfast consisting of amazing coffee, fresh pineapple, watermelon, and toast.   At 10:30am, we were picked up for our zip lining tour with Extremo Canopy.   Apparently it has some of the longest and highest cables in Costa Rica. Our package included 12 cables ( 2 that are 1km long!), 1 downward rappel, 1 tarzan swing (AWESOME) and 1 superman zip line. They strap you in by your chest and feet and you literally fly over some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen.  Mountain ranges covered in all different shades of green, trees, the open sky…it was breathtaking.   Literally for Kim!   She kept having visions of the cables snapping! Luckily, I had no fear since as I’ve gotten older, I’ve somewhat developed a fear of heights.   Not anymore!!!  We had a blast! 

All geared up for the canopy!

All geared up for the canopy!

Kim coming in on the zipline

Kim coming in on the zipline

That night we just relaxed at the hostel, checked email, made skype calls and uploaded pictures.  I got to see Izzy for the second time.   Skype rocks.   By they way, we would like to be updating the blog more often, however, since we are up in the mountains out in the country, the connection is very slow and it takes like 3 hours to upload 50 pictures.   So, we apologize for that.   But hopefully this won’t always be the case.   We also made our reservations for a hike in the Santa Elena Biological Reserve for the following morning, had some cheese, bread, mango and wine for dinner and hung out with the 3 new comers from Switzerland, Germany and California.  

Then next morning, we had a delicious breakfast once again.   Gallo pinto this time!!  MMMMM!   We then took our shuttle up to Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve where we  hoped to see some cute little monkeys, but had no luck. We did however, enjoy two different hiking trails that took about 3.5 hours. It was so green!  Rainforests are amazing and full of life.  We saw a few small birds, a few really large birds and a neat little caterpillar. We expected to see a little more wildlife but were very happy with the experience (except for the few times we had to run from some crazy huge bugs buzzing near our ears!)

Trail in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

Trail in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

 Tonight we are going to have dinner with our new friends from New Zealand, Joe and Emma, here at the hostel.   They have been traveling for a few months and have another couple to go.   Fellow budgetors.  Nice.   We also just found out that there is some type of protest near Monteverde and there will be no buses coming or going tomorrow.    We are  “stuck” here for another day.   Darn!   We then plan to head south to Quepos/Manuel Antonio for some beach time.   Finally!    Chao for now!

Other observations of Costa Rica:

-Helmets do not exist.  People ride on motorcycles with their 3-year olds clinging to them with NO HELMETS.

-There are a lot of sweet mullets.

-The weather changes on a dime.

-Tico boys are HOT (don’t worry Morgan, Kim is not interested).

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