Costa Rica · 23 Days · 51 Moments · February 2016

Alice Benge

Alice and Gary do Costa Ric

9 March 2016

Day 24 Costa Rican Cemeteries are built above ground. Why? Our research revealed that the cemeteries are more like condos for the dead. Plots are rented for two years for recently deceased Ticos. After their two year stay they have to move somewhere else so another recently deceased person can use the "condo". The plot allows the family to celebrate things with their dearly departed for two years then I guess they're off to new digs. Last day in condo. Off to airport. Shopping spree at airport sent four hardwood and leather rocking chairs to Gardnerville. Us old folks should enjoy them on the front deck when warmer weather arrives😓 Took a picture of the sun closing in on the ocean as we flew away from the warmth of Costa Rica to the cold of Gardnerville, Nevada. It'll be different for sure. From 95 degree days to 30/50 degree days.
Day 23 Today was a day of exploration. We headed north and checked out several beach cities close to Playa Tamarindo. We went to Playa Naranja, Playa Dante and several other Playas. Naranja had the most infrastructure and great beaches. Cowboys (vaqueros) herding cattle back and forth across and down the narrow roads is a source of entertainment since most of this country is rural and the roads are narrow. We returned to Playa Grande for lunch at Bula Bula. Good food. It should be noted that Costa Rica chefs equate Medium Rare to Medium Well. It's hard to get meat cooked with any color left in the middle. Same way with fish. Got back to the Condo and Alice sold our beach chairs as well as our boogie boards to new arrivals to Costa Rica.
Day 22 (cont'd) At the Flip Flop Shop I acquired a new set of wheels and we were off to lunch. We picked an Italian bakery that was indoors with A/C. Nothing special to report on the meal but it was cool. 96% or more of the restaurants in Costa Rica coastal communities are open air. This time of year it's hot. Especially so in this portion of the country. It's called Guanacaste and reminds me of the African Savannah. My noggin didn't get any better so Alice and I headed back to the condo for some meds. That night we went on a paid excursion looking for Pacific Green Turtles clambering up on the beaches to lay their eggs. After a couple of hours one was discovered on Playa Mina. Unfortunately, someone spooked the critter and it made a U-turn and headed back out to sea without making a deposit. Back to town for a late dinner at a nice looking restaurant named Patagonia. Food sucked however👎 Back to the condo and in bed by 11:30 pm. New record!

8 March 2016

Day 22 Our sleep clocks are all screwed up! We're tired at 7:30 pm, We wake up at 4:30am and we nap sometime in between. The real problem will occur when we go home as there is a two hour time difference. Today we wandered around town and Alice found a masseuse deal she couldn't pass up. So Carlos and I walked the streets and beaches until Miss Alice was finished getting rubbed. We headed in different directions but ended up doing the same thing. Watching the surf and the surfers. Playa Tamarindo is a popular surfing beach with lots of surf schools and board rentals. After an hour of watching I developed a pretty good headache that was quickly approaching migraine status. Too long standing in the 90+ degree sun I think🤒 On top of that I had a thong blow out. I know what you're dreading: the mental picture of me blowing out my thong. Well, you're safe, it was my left flip flop! After Enriquez and Mario finished Alice's massage she accompanied me to the flip flop shop.

7 March 2016

Day 21 Another beach day! This guy was watching us eat our breakfast on the beach after a morning of body boarding. Cooled off in the pool before heading to the Black Stallion Cafe for a highly touted Bar B Que. The owner, Alex, is from South Africa and has been visiting Costa Rica for over 20 years. He started the Black Stallion 4 years ago. They do a zip line, horseback ride Bar B Q special. Place was a retro cowboy surfer bar / restaurant. Funky swap meet decor on the walls with huge wood slab tables. Buffet style grub with very good filet mignon, sausages, chicken accompanied with grilled fruits & veggies and several side dishes and fresh bread. Washed down with wine, beer or water. Alex is a kind man. He didn't think we looked our ages. He thought Miss Alice was a babe that couldn't be over 39.

6 March 2016

Day 20 Leaving our Casa in Manuel Antonio😒 What a great place! Tip: Manuel Antonio Estates has several private homes for rent by the day, week or month. If you pay cash you usually get a substantial discount. (No taxes) Passed a large Red Snapper in front of a restaurant just north of Puntarenas. Note: Puntarenas was apparently a nice place 50 years ago. It isn't now. Some cruise ships stop there. If you're on one of them book a river float trip or something out of town. It is really a dump and not very safe. Stopped at Subway for sandwiches and soda. Took a picture of pair of giant scarlet macaws behind the Subway. After our 4 hour drive back to Tamarindo we took a short rest then to the Surf Shack for some American burgers fries and onion rings.

5 March 2016

Day 19 (cont'd) White Capuchin Monkey eating dates by the pool at Jungle Villa. Back at our Villa the Squirrel Monkeys paid a visit. Straddling a limb overlooking the pool. Another lept from the roof onto the railing in front of where Carlos (Chuck) was snoozing. Also, three Howler Monkeys came to visit and ate some flowers and pineapple sitting on the Bar B Que next to the pool. Last couple days it's threatened rain. It'd be nice if it happens. You can hear thunder but nuttin coming down. It's a steady 85/90 degrees here. Cooling to 70 at night. Ate at Byblos tonight. Second time here. Great Pizza and an avocado, shrimp and palm heart salad that's really refreshing. They also have a casino where we'll strike it rich after dinner. Yep it happened! Hit for 20,500 colones!
Day 19 Our Casa. Another trip to the farmers market! The vegetables were so beautiful! Tried a water Apple! Delicious! Tasted like a cross between an apple and a pear.
Got up early and swept the decks and cleaned the pool. Felt like a movie set. Drove into Quepos and revisited the Farmers Market. Purchase of the day was some Quaker made mantequilla ( butter). Had lunch at the Wacky Wanda's Bar. They don't serve it but they'll order for you at a local food stop then pick it up for you to eat in the bar. Only place where you can eat indoors with A/C. Headed over to Jungle Villa to show Carlos (Chuck) a place we stayed in before. Rooms aren't anything special but the outdoor kitchen and massive covered deck are the best we've ever seen here. Another afternoon soaking in the pool and watching the antics of the local Squirrel Monkey troop.

4 March 2016

Day 18 Lazy day. Drove to the beach for breakfast. The place was close to Manuel Antonio Park so there's a lot of "hustlers" selling parking spots on the public street or in private lots. We parked for free but the spot was offered to us for $2 to $6. Breakfast was good. Had a little drama as a family was scurrying up and down the beach looking for their lost boy. They found him and guided the little lad back to his territory. Drove back to the Villa and laid around reading or soaking in the pool. Headed to town in the afternoon for a farmers market. Couldn't find it where the map said it was and ventured into the heart of town where Alice spotted it. Neat place and great looking fruits and vegetables. There were also baked goods, juices, meats and souvenirs. Stayed in town and ate a roasted chicken with Tortillas and the fixins. Yummy! Back at the Villa we jumped in the pool, had key lime pie and lounged around until sleep overtook us💤

3 March 2016

Day 17 Got up early to the Raucous calls of the Howler Monkeys. They were triggered by every truck heading up the road. Their howl is hard to ignore. Arrived at Manuel Antonio Park at 7:40 a.m. Glad we did. After making the 3 mile loop and heading back out of the park we passed 100's of people just entering the park and many more at the entrance waiting for others to leave. We saw Monkeys, a Sloth, Iguanas, an Agouti and birds. The beaches are quite a sight. We had a potential home rental to check out at Playa Tortuga which is 40 miles south of here. To get there, we drove up the steepest road we've experienced thus far. Not sure how we made it, but we did. House was beautiful with a view overlooking the world. BUT, no A/C and no pool. No worky for tres Gentes edad. Heading back to town we cruised Dominical. Unique community housing lots of individuals that failed to make it out of the 60's. Peace Brother. Lots of crafts, tents, dreadlocks and tie dye✌
Day 16 Made a friend at our Villa. I call him Igor and found he likes pizza, vanilla Oreo's and Cantaloupe. He's very friendly and understands English as well as Spanish.

2 March 2016

Day 15 Cruised Quepos and Manuel Antonio then headed to the Marina for breakfast and a stroll. We drove to Pueblo Real on Isla Damas to check out the next location we'd booked for three days. Didn't live up to expectations so we texted the owners and cancelled the reservation due to a sudden illness. Spent the afternoon wandering around town before heading back to the "Villa".

1 March 2016

Day 15 These guys were in the trees at our restaurant! Made the drive from Tamarindo to Quepos. It's not far but still takes 4 hours or so. Mostly due to roadwork and slow commercial vehicles. Stopped at restaurant called Monteverde and tried the pizza and other fine dining dishes. We drove past Puntarenas which is said to have been a nice place 50 years ago. Now, however, it's a dump. Not a safe place to stroll around. We arrived at Tucan Villa situated in the jungle above the city of Quepos. Nice place with private pool. Went to a local Bar B Que and watched the Squirrel Monkeys as we choked down over cooked seafood and steaks. Everything ordered medium rare or rare but came out shoe leather. Sent a steak back and it returned raw. Inept cook or Bungus opening? Back to the "Villa" for some pool time and nite nite.
Day 14 Spent the day at the beach. Alice took an early morning walk to Playa Tamarindo and watched the Pangas ferry gas and passengers out to the fishing boats. Around noon we headed to Joe's on the Beach where we had an order of "Big Ass Nachos" and some refreshing beverages. After lunch, Chuck wandered the beach and ended up renting a Boogie Board for a couple hours and carved some waves. Alice and I returned to the condo and cooled off in the pool. Dinner was home prepared fresh roasted chicken tacos, guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. Saw this sign depicting an alien or an astronaut with a spear several times during our aimless meanderings.

28 February 2016

Day 13 Left our little B&B in Jaco this morning to head back to our home in Tamarindo. About 10 miles out of Jaco is Tarcoles bridge, where the crocs in these photos hang out! Rumor has it that the local venders feed them (which is against the law) to keep them there. The photos don't capture all the ones under the murky water! Last year an inebriated local took a swim with the Croc's. No one will say why he did it. My guess is a dare. Anyway, moments after he entered the water he was snatched by one of these playful critters and before his "friends" could pull him back he was dismembered by the pack. Sounds like it went pretty fast. He probably didn't have much of a chance to think about his plight. A week later they recovered his head. Guess them Crocs only eat things with substance in them. 🐊 Apparently, since the feed the Croc ban is being enforced they've become extremely competitive for food. Any thing entering the water, be it man or beast, becomes their feast.

27 February 2016

Day 12 Just had to take a photo of this!
Day 12 Last day of the tournament, so up again at 4:30 to take hubby to the Marina! We decided to take a drive south to the little town of Parrita. Followed a road to the playa and found these fishermen. Most using cane poles fishing in the mangroves. The only guy with a spinning outfit caught a little pompano. Then down a dirt road by the beach till we found the Clandestino Beach Resort. After a delicious lunch of Ceviche and Chicken Nachos back to our exploring.

26 February 2016

Day 11 Walking around Jaco.
Day 11 The pool at our B&B in Jaco. Our hosts are French and very gracious! No matter what time we get up they bring us coffee, juice, milk, yogurt, fruit, toast, and crepes! Amazing!

25 February 2016

Day 10 I drove Gary to the Marina this morning at 4:45 a.m. to take part in the tournament. He'll be out all day and won't be back until about 6 p.m. Whatta day! The boat on which I was officiating caught 33 sailfish putting them in 5th place. The day's total for 43 boats was over 1,100 sailfish. That broke the single day record for any tournament by 400 Pez Vela.
Day 9 Today is the day we leave our digs in Playa Tamarindo for a few days in Jaco. Mr. Gary has a fishing tournament in the Los Suenos Resort that they begged him to officiate in. Of course we have to stop at Tres Hermanas again to over indulge in perfectly smoked chunks of animal flesh. Mmmm good🐖🐂! We're staying in a B&B in Jaco, which should be interesting. The drive there is mostly rural and there are lots of slow moving commercial vehicles. Well, we did all of the above and sat in traffic for a lane closure for 30 minutes or so but finally made it to our new abode. It's quaint and the hosts are very accommodating as well as limited in their English language interpretation (they're French). Didn't have any time at the B&B cuz Mr. Gary had a meeting to attend at the Marina. After the meeting we ate at the world famous Taco Bar in Jaco. Good food, generous portions and we'll probably do it again. Then we cruised town and checked out the Croc Resort and Casino. Nice!
One of over 2,000 Sailfish caught and released in the 3 day tournament Gary officiated in. It was held in Herradura, Costa Rica at the Los Suenos Marina. It set an all time record for most Billfish caught in any 3 day tournament in the world. There were only 43 boats in the tournament!
Day 10 The beach and marina at Los Suenos resort

24 February 2016

Tres Hermanas, Marina, Taco Bar and Croc Resort

23 February 2016

Day 8 Today a relaxing day at the beach! Bought 3 chairs and an umbrella at a random store 30 miles away in Santa Cruz so found some shade and kicked back! Had "Big Ass Nachos" for lunch at Joes! Street sign advertised them thusly; "Nachos Big as your Ass" Yum! Went back to the condo for some R&R and some pool time then to dinner at NOVI. Pricey and not that great.

22 February 2016

Day 7 Bula Bula Mexican buffet! Worth the $ and I even had a very strong margarita! About halfway through it feeling tipsy! Took the water taxi across the estuary from Playa Tamarindo to Playa Grande to get there. We all fed the mosquitos during Bula Bula Mexican Buffet. Ride back across the estuary was uneventful until we reached the beach. We were welcomed by s 10-12' saltwater Croc snoozing on the sand, in the dark, a few feet from whence we disembarked our Panga. Photos didn't come out very good☹️
Day 7 Boat trip up the Estuary between Tamarindo and Playa Grande! Lots of wildlife out this morning! Several different bird species, crocodiles, and howler monkeys! Then to a delicious breakfast at Bula Bula where we stayed on our first trip to Costa Rica back in 2003. A little history on Bula Bula: two guys from just north of Santa Cruz purchased this little hotel in 2002 and renovated it to a quaint hotel, bar and restaurant! The rooms are nicely done and they have expanded the bar and restaurant that serves the best meals around. They offer a boat ride across the estuary with your dinner reservations if you are staying in Tamarindo. Going back tonight for their Monday night Mexican buffet!
Day 6 After coffee and Breakfast we headed over to Playa Grande. This is a beach where the leatherback turtles lay and hatch their eggs. Apparently we just missed the season by a few days. However, the beach was beautiful and much more secluded than Tamarindo. Rumor has it that the larger Arribadas (that's what they call it when thousands of turtles crawl up on the beach to unload their eggs) have passed. There are still turtles coming to shore at Ostional about an hour or so south of here. Usually they arrive a week before the full moon, so we might get a look at them around the first or second of March.

21 February 2016

Playa Grande

20 February 2016

Day 5 Tamarindo! Arrived at our base for the next month. The last time we we here, over 10 years ago, this was a quiet little beach town! Today, we barely recognized it ! Very busy, lots of hotels, restaurants, and condos! After a dip in the pool and rest we headed to diner at Bamboo Sushi. Rated #1 in Tamarindo! Didn't live up to the hype! Ambiance was good , but very pricey and mediocre food. A lot warmer here than it was in Monteverde; 90+ by day and around 70 at night. Steamy.
3 thumbs up!!! Gary had the barbecue sampler! A must!!!
Day 5 On our way to the beach (Tamarindo) stopped along the way at 3 Hermanas Bar-B-Q and grill.

19 February 2016

Day 4: (more) The rules in Costa Rica: Don't speed Don't pass on solid yellow No cell phones while driving Open containers allowed!!!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Not feeling the exhilaration 3 senior citizens should experience after hiking for an hour and a half while battling the elements we opted to visit MCF. The rain and mist had subsided so we opted for a 3 1/2 mile loop through the park. This, too, is a self guided walking tour through the forest. Well, these trails were not as nice as the paved trails we had sailed over earlier. Nope, they were covered with wet leaves, rocks and silt. Not being deterred we headed out on one of the longer loops. At the trailhead the sign warned about steep terrain so off we went. The trail was steep, but downhill. What a cinch, we got this! Not so. The trail not only descended down a steep, steep wet trail but ascended an equally, or more steep incline heading up to a vista. We made it to the viewing platform and were rewarded with 60mph winds and a view of the clouds covering the forest we just traversed. The trip back wasn't very eventful and Alice jogged back.
Day 4 (continued) After our brunch, we decided to continue our exercise and take the 31/2 mile trail at the Monteverde cloud forest reserve! For a bunch of out of shape seniors we were being quite adventurous! We started out great! There were a group of old people (probably younger than us) at the beginning of the trail and one of them commented"let's let these young folks pass", therefore we were feeling pretty good! After about a mile we were still going strong! Then we read a sign saying "steep Terrain " that should have been a clue. Duh! It definitely got steep and slippery but we made it! We completed the entire trip and I even jogged about halfway back! I Want to say it was because I'm in such good physical condition but truth be told , no bathrooms on the trail and bladder was going to explode😀.
Day 4 Selvatura This morning we decided to hit the trail and headed to Selvatura Park to partake in a morning jaunt through the forest. We tried to beat the crowd but got stuck behind a large group of slow people on a guided tour. We were able to get in the passing lane and forged ahead of them. There was a constant drizzle and occasional showers accompanying us in our walk. We traversed the eight suspension bridges and enjoyed the views when the clouds weren't too low. We saw a Coati, some Howler Monkeys and birds. Of interest are the huge Guanacaste Trees that strangler vines and other plant life cling to or climb in their effort to reach the sun. Many of these plants are like parasites, deriving their nourishment from the host tree. Ultimately, they end up killing the host tree and take its place as a bunch of fauna hugging the dead tree trunk. We spent an hour and a half on the 1.5 mile trail. We left and headed to Stella's Bakery where we enjoyed Quiche and Lasagna.
Day 4 Selvatura park! We decided to try the hanging bridge hike again. The weather was clearer today, so we could enjoy without getting soaked! There are 8 bridges in about a 11/2 mile walk. Not much wildlife out although we did spot about 5 or 6 monkeys in the trees. After the trek, we decided to head to Stella's bakery (always a treat when in Monteverde). Very clean, fresh and homemade food . Chuck and I opted for the Bacon, spinach quiche, with a fresh greens salad and Gary had the Lasagna! All delicious!

18 February 2016

Day 3 Spent the morning at Selvatura Adventure Park. We'd planned on doing the canopy hike through the cloud forest but it rained most of the day. Instead we went on a Butterfly and Reptile expedition. Not something we'd normally subscribe to but it was pretty interesting stuff. Learned how to tell poisonous from non-poisonous snakes and all about the poison dart frogs as well as many other pearls of wisdom. Miss Alice finished off the day with a massage and we ate some broasted chicken at a local eatery in Santa Elena!
Monteverde nature walk today.
Day 3 Woke up to this!! First time to actually see the end of a rainbow! Now off to find the pot of gold😀

17 February 2016

Well, we finally arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica about an hour late. Made it through customs and on to the curb to await our shuttle to get our Payless car rental. Shuttle was late but we finally made it to the rental lot. Short version: We had a confirmed (day before) reservation and there were plenty of SUV's in the lot BUT the site manager told us they were out of cars and wouldn't have any (ever) to fill our reservation. He did, however, find another agency that could fill our reservation at 6X the confirmed rate. I (Gary) wanted to render the site manager unconscious but a calmer mind (Alice) went to work with our car broker and ultimately found another car with AVIS which we'll pick up tomorrow.
Day2 (more) Finally made it to Monteverde! Long drive, but worth it! The first photos are of a restaurant in Santa Elena named "the tree house" appropriately named since it's built around a huge tree! This is a must, the food is decent and the view and experience exceptional.. Then off to our rental house just outside of town. The views are from the front deck. The rental is perched on a hilltop overlooking an ardent valley dotted with farms. The road there would kill a mountain goat! After some much needed rest we went to Johnnys for dinner of Pizza, pasta and Salad! Tomorrow off to hike in the cloud forest!
Day 2 (continued) Road to Monteverde! Only about 45 miles from Liberia but 31/2 hrs to get there over partially dirt and rock roads.
Day2 After a sleepless night, stressing about the car and the 2 hr + phone call to the booking agent, I hopped on the phone to AT&T to get International calling! Duh! Thank goodness she backdated it to yesterday. Otherwise it would have been $2.50 per minute!!! Took a taxi to the Avis lot and pick up our vehicle. Paid 4 times what we were supposed to with Payless but at least we have transportation. Note to self: don't book Payless. After help from the nice young man at the hotel we were able to get the GPS loaded with the Costa Rica navigation and we're off to Monteverde.

16 February 2016

Made it to Liberia, although 2 hours late. Finally the shuttle car came to take us to our rental car( Payless) about 1/2 hr later. We rode with a group of 5 from San Diego on a surf trip for 10 days (all in their late 30s to 50s). Got to the location and we were informed that the other group had a vehicle,but they had no vehicle for us, although, we could see at least 10 like the one we reserved!!! So after some very heated arguing and Mr Black threatening to render the agent unconscious, we were shuttled back to our hotel for the night with no car!! After well over an hour on the phone with the booking company we are now picking up our car with Avis in the morning, we will see!!!
Day 1 LAX Starting this trip off right! Flight delayed! Supposed to leave at 8:40 A.M. so got on the Shuttle at 6:00 am! Boarded the plane at 8:00 and back off by 9:00. They gotta repair a window broken by "heat"??