Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 18 - Flying back home

We had a 1:45pm flight so we didn't have to leave the hotel until 11am. Lewis picked us up right on time and we were at the airport 15 minutes later. the line for Continental was pretty long and it seemed that there was only one person at the counter helping people. Kat waited in line while I went to pay our departure tax. After almost an hour in line we were checked in and made our way through security. Once in the terminal we found our gate and sat down while we waited for our flight to board. We were sitting right next to the duty free store where they had a stand set up and were giving away free shots of various vodka and rums. After about 4 shots of good rum each we were feeling pretty good. Our fight was delayed about 45 minutes which made me nervous since we only had a 90 minute layover in Houston to clear immigration and customs. Fortunately once in Houston we learned that our connecting flight was delayed so we could breathe a bit easier.

We arrived back in San Francisco at midnight - it was cold and raining :(

Day 17 - San Jose

After another yummy buffet breakfast I checked withy the tour desk aboiut getting a ride into San Jose. They told me that the driver would be back in 30 minutes and it would be $25. We ended up waiting almost 2 hours and every time I asked them how much longer I was told maybe another 10 minutes. We were getting pretty fed up with this run around and saw the bartender from the night before who had the hotel call us a taxi. The taxi was there within minutes and the ride was only 10,000 colones ($18).

The taxi droped us off near the Central Mercado and we worked our way east along the pedestrial mall towards Barrio Amon The x-mas shoppers were out in full force and the streets were packed! There were lots of police around - at least 2 on every corner and more patrolling around. We stopped for beers at the News Cafe in the Hotel Presidente. They have Imperial ON TAP - and we got seats that looked over the street to do some great people watching.

Imperial beer on tap!

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Next we walked around the parks and went to the Dunn Inn in hopes of getting something to eat but their kitchen was closed so we settled for having a few beers. Next we worked our way back to the National Cathedral and took some pictures and then found a taxi to take us back to Alajuela.

Tico train

National Cathedral in San Jose

Once back at the hotel we went back to the bar where we had some pretty strong margaritas and casados for dinner.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 16 - Drive to Alajuela

We had our free breakfast at the hotel and were on the road back towards Alajuela at 9am. It was an easy drive until we made the turn off the coastal highway and started up into the central valley. There were quite a few places where they were doing road construction with one way traffic control forcing us to sometimes have to wait in places for 20 minutes until we could proceed. While heading up the mountain we were stuck behind some slow trucks and our car began to overheat so we had to pull over a few times to let it cook off before we could get back on our way. Once in Alajuela we found our way back to Las Orquideas and checked in. We wanted to go walk around Alajuela and get some lunch along with some coffee and other things at the MegaSuper. Once in Alajuela we got stuck in some really bad traffic. We learned later that everybody had just received their Christmas bonuses (mandatory in Costa Rica) and were out shopping so the streets were packed. Being stuck in traffic the car began to overheat again forcing us to put the heat on full blast in an attempt to cool it down. We finally found a place to park but then saw that all the other cars had some sort of parking permit. Not being sure if it was ok to park or not we gave up on the idea and drove to the MegaSuper and got a bunch of coffee and rum to take back home. Next we made our way back to Tricolor to return the car, getting slightly lost along the way. I was a little worried about returning the car since we had lost all the hubcaps somewhere along one of the many bad roads were drove on but they didn't say anything and gave us a ride back to the hotel.

By this time it was about 3pm and we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and were starving. We went to the bar and ate a double order of their famous buffalo wings washed with with some cold beers. Next we took a dip in the hot jacuzzi and then a refreshing swim in the (cold) pool. After showering and watching TV for a bit in our room we went back to the bar for some tasty burgers and margaritas and were in bed by 9am.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 15 - Manuel Antonio

We ate the free breakfast or gallo pinto and eggs at the hotel and then drove into the village so we could hike in the national park. We drove past the scammers trying to get people to pay to park of the street and found an empty space much closer to the entrance. We learned that the park entrance had changed - no longer do people have to wade or take a boat across the estuary. We paid the entrance fee of $10 each and started own one of the main paths. Along the main trail we found ourselves behind a loud group of Americans loudly talking about their kids baseball teams or the SUV's they were going to buy their kids for x-mas - I thought it was incredibly rude to have a loud conversation in a national park and how did they expect to see any wildlife while carrying on that way? At the first chance we took a side trail where we found ourselves alone with peace and quiet. Once off the main trail we saw lots of monkeys and other wildlife

On the path in Manuel Antonio

The trail eventually led us to a beach were we did some swimming but there were a lot of people around so we headed out after a while and drove back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

Since our dinner the previous evening at the hotel restaurant was a bit disappointing we drove into Quepos to find somewhere to eat. We parked the car and walked around a bit finally deciding on El Gran Escape where we had some cocktails followed by some pretty good burgers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 14 - Drive to Manuel Antonio

After waking up we showered and got packed. Walked over to Carolina's for a good breakfast and then back to the hotel to say goodbye to Debbie. Unfortunately Pablo was still asleep so we couldn't say goodbye to him but we have his email so we can stay in touch. We were on the road at 9:30am and arrived in Quepos at 2pm. After filling up the car we drove to La Colina where we had stayed on our 2005 trip. After getting settled in our room was went out in search of finding a place to drink some beers and eat lunch. We drove into Manuel Antonio village where we saw people in "official" looking parking uniforms trying to direct people into free parking spaces on the street and then charging them to park there. We ignored them and kept on driving finding plenty of free parking further down the road. We walked around for a bit getting tired of people hassling us to buy crappy souvenirs or trying to be too "helpful". We got back in the car are drove to El Avion where we had some really cold beer served in frozen mugs along with some good, but expensive, nachos.

El Avion

We went back to the hotel and went to the bar area but the pool for a few beers. While there I met a guy from Canada who had been living in Manuel Antonio for 2 years but had never traveled anywhere else in Costa Rica! We were getting hungry so we ordered some sandwiches from the hotel restaurant which were good but only came with a few frech fries. We were still hungry so we took a drive into Quepos where i got some friend chicken and Kat got an ice cream before heading back to the hotel to watch some TV in our room before gonig to sleep.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 13 - Drive to Carate

After breakfast at Carolina's we drove to Carate. After Matapalo the road became worse involving crossing over a dozen streams and rivers.

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When we finally got to the end of the road at Carate we were a bit disappointed. The access to the beach was flooded and there wasn't a whole lot else there. We backtracked a bit to a place where we could access the beach but it was too windy to really enjoy ourselves.

We drove back and stopped at Martina's in Matapalo for some beers and delicious quesadillas.

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Costa Rica December 10 2008 - 139

After driving back to Puerto Jimenez we checked email at the Internet cafe and decided that we would spend the next two night in Manuel Antonio and then our last two nights in San Jose.

After getting back to the hotel we had a great tuna steak dinner. Kat went to bed but I stayed up with Pablo, and Debbie for a few more beers before going to bed.

Tuna steak
Tuna steak


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 12 - Matapalo and a day of debauchery

After waking up I took a walk to the bank to get some more cash from the ATM. The machine wouldn't accept my card on the PLUS system even though the sign said it would. This made me a bit nervous as we were low on cash. I went back to the hotel and got my only other credit card on the Cirrus network which worked and withdrew about $400 in colones.

We met Pablo at about 9am and headed to Matapalo stopping at the store on the way to get some water. The road was pretty bad and required crossing about 6 streams/small rivers. Once in Matapalo we stopped at some beaches and Pablo seemed to know everybody we saw walking around. We stopped to visit some people, one of whom was a caretaker for an incredible house owner by a very wealthy family form Santa Barbara who only comes to visit once/year. We were able to walk around the grounds and took some pictures.

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Pablo and I at the mansion

We then drove a bit further to the end of the road and started our hike up the river to the waterfall. It was an easier hike than getting to the waterfall in Montezuma but it required wearing shoes to get wet as you need to walk in the river in some places. About 20 minutes later we reached the falls - about 30 meters high and spectacular. Underneath the falls was very rocky and not very deep so we couldn't really swim but it was nice to sit underneath and get pounded by the water - like a massage!

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The waterfall

After hanging at the waterfall for about an hour we hiked up the opposite side to the top of the falls and saw some incredible trees that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. Pablo pointed out some trees that a crazy friend of his likes to climb. He had a hammock strung up about 200' high in a tree!

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After hiking back to the road Pablo was able top score us some cold beers from some Ticos who lived nearby and then we saw someone he knew from the Encanta La Vida Hotel who invited us back here for some cold beers at the bar. We met some more of his friends including a guy, Adam, who is part of the US snowboard Olympic team. As the beers and rum flowed we played ping pong (the bartender, Bernie, was the Matapalo ping pong champion) and got a little crazy.

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Bernie the Matapalo ping pong champion

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Bernie and Adam paying ping pong

Adam invited us back to his house for dinner but first we had to drive back to the hotel to clean up and change. We made the drive back to Puerto Jimenez and, since we hadn't eaten any lunch, were hungry so we stopped at a local friend chicken restaurant for a few pieces of chicken to tide us over until dinner.

We got back to the hotel at 6pm and showered and changed. We met Pablo and headed north to Adam's house about a 20 minute drive from Puerto Jimenez. Once there we had some more drinks and Pablo cooked us an incredible dinner with salad, pasta, beef, and fish.

Pablo the cook

Pablo even brought his guitar and played some music after dinner. We were getting pretty burned out after all the fun we had and left at about 10:30 dropping off one person at Iguana Iguana for a poker tournament . We were back at the hotel at 11pm and immediately went to bed

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 11 - Puerto Jimenez

I slept into until about 7:30 (late for me!) and took a walk around town. Puerto Jimenez is more of a tico town - opposed to other places that seem to have most businesses catering to the tourist. There are clothing and appliance stores, a library, community center, hospital, a large modern supermarket that sells everything form food to pots and glassware. I guess since Puerto jimenez is a bit isolated (the neareat big town is over an hour away) they really need to be somewhet self sufficent.

Later we ate an inexpensive breakfast at Carolina's which probably the most popular restaurant in town. It's centrally located and had good prices and delicious food.

Gallo pinto y huevos

X-mas in Puerto Jimenez

After going back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits we drove around the airstrip to Playa Planteranas. Once there we pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves only seeing some Tico kids in the distance playing in the water. There were some black clouds coming but it didn't rain and the cloud cover actually cooled things down a bit making the weather perfect. While on the beach was saw some scarlet macaws flying overhead and then again saw some in a tree.

Playa Platanares

Scarlet macaws

After the beach we checked out the supermarket (Named BM super)and met a guy from California named "Rasta Steve" - a friendly guy who was living in Matapalo. We went back to the hotel and, because it was so good, had the mole chicken enchiladas again for dinner. Pablo came out to talk to us and, since tomorrow was his day off, offered to take us to a 30 meter waterfall in Matapalo tomorrow - very cool!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 10 - The long drive to Puerto jimenez

We woke up at 5:30 and were on the road at 6:30 headed to Paquera to catch the 8am ferry. We arrived at 7:40 and the ferry was looking pretty full of vehicles. I ran into the office to get our tickets and was able to get on just in time as a truck and bus were behind me and took up the very last spots.

We hadn't had any breakfast but nothing looked too good from the snack bar on the ferry so we settled on a few beers to quench our thirst. Once agian the ferry ride was about an hour with beautiful scenery and weather. Once in Puntarenas we unloaded pretty quickly and were on our way through the city and on to the coastal highway. We stopped at a gas station near Jaco to use the bathrooms and get some snacks and didn't stop again until Quepos where we stopped to stretch our legs and watch an animated crowd cheer on a soccer game.

Soccer game in Quepos

South of Quepos we drove over the bad road to Dominical but south of Dominical were some of the best roads I've driven on in all of Costa Rica. We got to Uvita at about 1pm and were making such good time we decided to press on and drive all the way to Puerto Jimenez. We got some cash from an ATM and then filled up the tank at a gas station where the attendant washed our filthy windows.

Once past Uvita it rained a bit as we passed though Palmar Norte but soon cleared up again. We took the turn off the mail highway towards the Osa and were on a twisty road with occasional stunning views of the Gulfo Dulce. Once past Rincon the road turned to gravel and was extremely dusty. We got stuck behind another vehicle and the dust was so bad we could barely see the road in places.

We arrived into Puerto Jimenez at about 4pm and found The Palms Hotel. We were greeted by Pablo who got us a good deal on our rooms for $40/night (I was quoted $65/night by the owner in a previous email). He got us some beers and helped us to our room. After unpacking, we were pretty hungry and craving some Mexican food so we walked to Juanita's but the kitchen was closed so we just had a few beers. We walked around the town a bit and then went back to The Palms to eat in their restaurant where Pablo (who was also the cook) made some incredible chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. Kat then went to bed while I stayed up drinking some beers and talking to Pablo and some other people staying at the hotel

Mole chicken enchiladas

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day 9 - Mal Pais

After waking up I took a drive up to Cafe Zen for some of the best coffee I've had in Costa Rica. While there I net a girl who lived in my neighborhood in San Francisco! It seems that on every trip we've taken to Costa Rica we have met someone who lives close by - I guess it is a small world!

After going back to get Kat, we went back to Cafe Zen and had a good breakfast although the service was exceptionally slower then when I was there just an hour earlier.

Dog at Cafe Zen

We then checked email at Frank's Place, which also had a fast connection. The previous day I had emailed a few hotels in Zancudo and Puerto Jimenez and they said that the weather had cleared up so we decided that we would head to Puerto Jimenez and spend a night in Uvita along the way.

We went back to the hotel to change into our swim suits - I gave a big bag of dirty laundry to the hotel to wash ($10) and then we drove north to Santa Teresa accessing the beach by a path near the supermarket where we got some beers. On the beach we had a nice shade spot but there was a tico family nearby with a non stop barking dog - I think it didn't stop barking for the 2 hours we were there!

Later we drove back to the hotel for a last dip in the pool and shower before going to get dinner. My laundry was done and it was nice to have some clean fresh clothes.
I wanted to go try to watch the sunset again but Kat wanted to rest a bit in the room. I drove to the end of the road at Playa Carmen and there were quite a few people there selling stuff and banging on drums as the sun went down. Boy did she miss out as the sunset was incredible - the entire sky was on fire.

Sunset at Mal Pais

We had passed an Israeli restaurant in Santa Teresa that some people had recommended so we decided it would be a good place for dinner. We left the car at the hotel and decided to walk there only to discover that it was closed. So we walked all the way back stopping to admire a house with full Christmas decorations complete with frosty the snowman and snowflakes.

We went back to Ritmo Tropical for a delicious Pizza and then went back to the crossroads near Frank's Place for ice cream. Since we had to get up and be on the road by 6:30 to catch the 8am ferry we were in bed by 9pm

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 8 - Mal Pais

I woke up and took a drive around, looking for somewhere to eat breakfast later on. I found Soda Amistad in Santa Teresa and stopped for few few cups of delicious coffee. After going back to get Kat we went back for a good and inexpensive breakfast of gallo pinto, eggs, quiso fresco, coffee, and OJ for only $9 for the two of us.

After b-fast we drove up Santa Teresa to an internet cafe (fast connection) to check email. Gilded Iguana emailed back and said they didn't have any rooms so we had to decide where to go next... We then got some beers at the supermarket and took a pathway to the beach at Santa Teresa.

Once on the beach there were a few people around - we were able to find a shady spot by a tree to park our towels. The beach wasn't as rocky as in Mal Pais and offered good swimming. We saw a guy kite surfing up and down the beach. At onepoint I was in the water swimming and he flew by and did a killer jump about 10 meters from me.

Next we went back to the hotel for a dip in the pool

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Later we went to the beach to watch the sunset but there were too many clouds.

We ate dinner at La Piedras - the BBQ chicken place, We each ordered the 1/4 chicken with comes with a large salad. The chicken was sooooo tender it practically mented in our mouths. It was really good but we wish that we had ordered the 1/2 chicken as we were still a bit hungry afterwards.

We then went to the ice cream store to get a few scoops and went back to the hotel to go to bed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 7 - Mal Pais

After waking up and showering at 6:30 I took a walk along the beach north of town to Ylang Ylang and back. I then had some coffee at El Sano Banano and went back to El Jardin to wake up Kat so we could get on our way to Mal Pais. We had a good breakfast at Cafe Mocezuma and then checked out of El Jardin at about 10am and did the 45 minutes drive to Mal Pais. On our last visit to Mal Pais in 2005 the road was freshly paved but this time it was pretty worn but still a fairly easy drive.

Our first choice in Mal Pais/Santeresa Teresa was Ritmo Tropical but they were full so we went next door to "The Place" which gave us a room in the main building for $60/night - not as nice as their bungalows ($100/night). Our room was nicely decorated and probably had one of the most comfortable beds I've slept on in four trips to Costa Rica. The only problem with the room was that the bathroom wasnt well designed - thre was no mirror in front of the sink and instead it was located on the opposite wall making shaving a bit difficult. Also, the shower only had a hand held nozzle that didn't mount anywhere so you had to hold it in one hand while showering or place it on the floor where it would usually end up flooding the rest of the bathroom.

The pool was awesome along with comfortable lounge chairs scattered about. Breakfast was offered for $8/person but declined and figured we could eat elsewhere while we were there.

After we got settled in our room we headed out looking for a snack and then a dip in the ocean. We drove to Playa Carmen and perked in the lot at the end of the road. We then walked up the beach a bit to Tropico Latino and had some gucamole and chips along with a few pilsens to wash it all down. Afterwards we took a swim in the ocean at Playa Carmen which was a bit rocky.

After swimming a bit we drove back to the hotel and took a dip in their wonderful pool - meeting another family from the US who had been in Mal Pais for a few weeks.

That night we drove to Las Piedras hop-ping to eat their famous chicken (motto is "our chicken is the shit") but they were not open. We ended up going to Ritmo Tropical where we ordered a lot of food ($42) - including margaritas, focaccia (a meal on its own) along with chicken curry and mushroom dinners for the two of us. After dinner we took a walk down to the beach and saw some lightning in the distance. We then walked to the Howling Monkey bar for a few beers and guaro while watching american football. After that we walked back top the hotel and Kat was pretty tired and went to bed while I stayed up and had a few beers at the bar at our hotel and chatted with the bartender

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 6 - Montezuma

As usual I woke up early and went to El Sano Banano for coffee and people watching. I saw the couple from Florida again and they were getting ready to take a trip to Tortuga Island - somewhere I have heard was fun and interesting but we not fans or organized tours so never had a real interest. After a few cups of coffee it was still too early to wake up the wife so I walked over to the bakery cafe and saw lots of monkeys in the trees.

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After Kat woke up I took her back to the Bakery Cafe where we ate breakfast. We didn't see any monkeys - I guess they were tired from all their previous monkey business.

Breakfast at Bakery Cafe in Montezuma, Costa Rica

After breakfast we decided to check out the Montezuma Waterfall. We walked over to the trail head and followed the path - it was somewhat well market with red arrows painted on trees and rock showing the way. It was a bit treacherous in places but we finally made it after about 20 minutes and were rewarded with a a spectacular 15meter high waterfall with a good swimming hole and plenty of other people enjoying the water.

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We hang out at the waterfall for about an hour and then did the hike back. Once back on the road we went to out hotel to take a dip in the pool and clean up. Next we walked to La Playa de los Artistas for lunch. We ate dinner there on our first trip to Costa Rica and were eagerly awaiting going back. Kat had the river lobster ($20) and I had the Chili Relleno ($9) along with beers

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Chili Rellano

The restaurant is really nice - right on the beach with a sand floor - even the bathroom was "beachy"

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We thought the food was pretty good but it was more expensive than on our last visit. We took a walk back along the beach into town and decided that we needed a few beers so we stopped at the Hotel Mocezuma and met a few of the town's characters while there including "Casi Perfecto" the self proclaimed universal cribbage champion and fixer of all problems. We also met one of the two town's tattoo artists and another guy visiting from NYC.

We had a good and inexpensive dinner at Cafe Naranjo ($15 for the both of us). I had the steak and Kat had the arroz con pollo.
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Costa Rica December 3 2008 - 191

After dinner we went back to Chicos for a nightcap or two and then to bed at about 11pm - tomorrow were were headed to Mal Pais

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 5 - Montezuma

As usual I woke up early and walked over to El Sano Banano to sit on one of their outdoor table to have some coffee and watch the world of Montezuma go by. I met a couple form Florida who were living in Guapiles (on the road to the Caribbean coast) and talked with them for a bit about living in Costa Rica. After a bit I went back to get Kat and we returned to EL Sano Banano for breakfast. I had the fruit, granola, and yogurt while Kat had the Tipico breakfast consisting of gallo pinto and eggs.

After breakfast we took a quick walk around town and then decided to take a drive to Cabuya to check out the nature preserve. We made the drive south only to find that the park was closed. There is an cemetery on an island just off of Cabuya that is only reachable during low tide but we could find any access to the beach and there wasn't much else going on in the "town" so we headed back.

After arriving back in Montezuma we checked email at Banana.Net fight next to El Sanano Banano. They have new MAC computers but the internet is very sloooow. We think we might want to head to Nosara next along the coastal road so I emailed Gilded Iguana to see if they had any rooms next week after we leave Mal Pais.

After emails we got some beers at the store. The women told us that there was a 200 colones bottle deposit to encourage people not not leave trash on the beach and recycle - I thought this was pretty neat as recycling is something relatively new to Costa Rica. We then headed to the beach just north of town and we found there was quite a lot of people laying about and swimming in the water. At one point I saw an iguana on a rock behind us. I went to take a picture and I felt a burning sensation on my foot. I looked down to see it covered with these black ants that were biting me! I had to run into the ocean to get them off - fortunately the pain subsided once they were off.
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We both did some swimming in the ocean which was more gentile that the last time we visited in 2005.

Later, we went back to the hotel for a dip in the pool

The pool at EL Jardin

and later headed to Chico's Bar for some beers and guaro. We were hungry so we went to Cocolores where I had the yummy pineapple chicken (just as good as when I ate there in 2005).

Pineapple Chicken at Cocolores, Montezuma, Costa Rica

Monday, December 1, 2008

Day 4 - Drive to Montezuma

In the morning we had our "breakfast" delivered to our room and were disappointed to see that it only consisted of a few pieces of toast with jam and some coffee. We loaded the car and found that another of the hotel's guests were also heading to Puntarenas to catch the ferry to Mal Pais. We left Jaco at about 10am and arrived at the Puntarenas ferry launch at 11:30 right behind the other guest we met from the hotel. Also behind us was Luis, one of the drivers from Orquedias Inn, that had taken us to the airport on a few previous visits. He was taking some surfers to Mal Pais and we talked with him for a bit as we had an hour to kill before they started loading the ferry. While waiting we got some beers and some tasty chicken kebabs($1.50 each) from a street vendor.
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The ferry arrived at 12:30 and I went to get our tickets. All the cars and passengers were quickly loaded and we were on our way by 1pm.

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Costa Rica December 1 2008 - 117

Once in Paquera it took a bit to get off the ferry as we were towards the back. Once on the road it was a smooth drive to Cobano where we took the dirt road turn off to montezuma

Arriving in Montezuma, we found the town was packed - we were fortunate to get the last room at El Jardin which is probably the nicest hotel in town - with a pool but the rooms are pretty dark with crappy lighting (seems that everywhere in CR is switching to the fluorescent light bulbs). We were looking forward to getting something to eat at El Parque but were disappointed to find that it was no longer there and instead settled on a late lunch at Cafe Mocezuma. Next was a refreshing dip in the hotel pool. Later we spent the beginning of of the evening at Chico's bar alternating between beers and shots of guaro. At about 9pm we were a little drunk and hungry and Pizza Net right next door was looking pretty tempting so we stumbled over there for a delicious pizza and then back to our hotel and to bed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 3 - Following the sun to Jaco

I woke up at about 7am and it was still raining hard. I also found that we had no water in our room. I couldn't even flush the toilet! There wasn't anybody at the front desk yet so I headed to Tortilla Flats to get some coffee and figure out where we were going to go next. We had originally planned on continuing south to Puerto Jimenez and then Zancudo but since the rain wasn't showing signs of letting up (and locals said it had been raining for several days) I decided it might be best to head north to the Nicoya Peninsula where it is hopefully going to be sunny.

At about 8:30am someone came into Tortilla Flats and said there was a landslide blocking the road back to San Isidro and some trees were down on the road that heads south out of town. The road to Quepos was still open so that made up my mind to head north.

I went back to the room to wake up Kat so we could get on the road. There was still no water in the room and when I asked someone they just shrugged and had no idea when there was going to be water. I found this strange since there was running water at Tortilla Flats just 100' away. We packed the car back up, got some pasteries at the bakery and headed north towards Jaco where we would spend the night before continuing to Montezuma the following day.

The road between Dominical and Quepos is 44km of bone shaking gravel taking about 90 minutes to traverse. We learned that the road is in such poor condition because it is owned by the Quepos regional government and the last thing they want is to give tourists a reason to travel beyond Manuel Antonio. None the less the road is still traveled by cars, buses and 18 wheelers.

Once in Quepos was returned to the land of paved roads and found that one of the narrow railway bridges north of Quepos had been replaced by a modern 2 lane bridge and another was being built.

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Once in Jaco it was still raining. We drove around town a bit until we found Villas Creole which was recommended in the Moon guide. The rooms were modern and and a good value ($55/night) with a big pool, a/c, hot water, cable TV, kitchen, and breakfast included. The hotel is located on a quiet dead end street a few blocks off the main drag. Since we never got to clean up earlier in the day we took showers and then headed into town to find something to eat.

It had stopped raining and the sun was peeking out from some clouds - we found ourselves at Clarita's bar/restaurant on the beach where we got some cold beers and quesadillas and watched some American football on their high definition TV. Unfortunately our good time was ruined by some very LOUD (and I do mean L-O-U-D) fat gringos who had their hookers in tow.

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Back on the main drag we found an Internet cafe to check email and then headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before finding somewhere to eat dinner.

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Later, we took a walk along the main drag of Jaco finally settling on grabbing a few beers at Jaco Taco. With our beers we got some free chips and salsa and since we were both still full from eating at Clarita's earlier decided that we didn't need dinner and walked back down the main street to Villas Creole.

Jaco Taco

Once at the hotel we had a few beers and conversation with the owner and her son who was visiting from San Jose. At about 10pm we retired to our room and went to bed - needing a good night sleep for our drive to Montezuma the next morning

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 2 - Drive to Dominical

We woke up early and had the Orquideas Inn’s delicious buffet breakfast. Breakfast included: fresh fruit, gallo pinto, potatoes, sausage, orange juice, tamales, plantains, coffee, juice as well as a made to order omelets and pancakes. After breakfast the driver from Tricolor car rental arrived right on time at 9am. We checked out of the hotel and he drove us back to the office near the airport. The paper work was completed quickly and we were on the road by 10am in our Daihatsu Terios.

Since we were headed to Dominical we had to get through San Jose but fortunately I had some good directions to avoid going through the downtown area. We missed the turnoff from the highway but I was able to make the next exit and then backtrack. The directions we had were excellent for getting through San Jose and onto the Pan American Highway except I somehow took a wrong turn and we ended up stuck in traffic in Cartago where there was some sort of street fair going on and the streets were jam packed. After about 45 minutes we were able to find our way back onto the highway and onward towards the Cierro del Muerte (road of death) which got it's name from long ago when crossing the mountains from the Valle Central meant a three or four day journey, on foot or on horseback, and many ill-prepared travelers succumbed to the cold and rain.

It was a nice drive up the mountain but once we crossed the summit at 11,000' it became pretty foggy and then was pouring rain. I started getting a bit nervous since we were almost out of gas but had just enough to get us to San Isidro where we were able to fill up.

The drive towards the coast was nice but once we arrived in Dominical at about 2pm it started to rain REALLY HARD. We didn't have any reservations but checked out a few places that I had looked into (Dominicolos and Rio Lindo) but they were both full. Since it was raining and we were tired and hungry we found Cabanas San Clemente and settled on a crappy room for $30/night but at least it had a/c and hot water.

We hadn't eaten since breakfast and were quite hungry. We checked out Tortilla Flats but their restaurant was packed (a good sign) so we went to the San Clemente restaurant (same owners as the hotel but a much nicer place located a few blocks away) had some good tacos and beers for lunch and then back to our room for a nap.
Costa Rica November 29 2008 - 106

We woke up at about 6pm and it was still raining really hard. There was so much rain and watter and mud we piled in the car and drove the 100' to Tortilla Flats. We hang out there for a while - it was fun place and the bartenders were very cool. We wanted some tequila shots but they had run out of tequila so the bartender gave us some free shots of vodka with some juice. Later in the evening they ran out of beer! Whomever does the ordering there needs to get their act together - as there were still lots of thirsty people at the bar!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 1 - Arrival in Alajuela

On previous trips we either left at the crack of dawn or a red eye flight - this time we had the "luxury" of sleeping in and catching an 11am flight with a short layover in Houston and then arriving in Alajuela at 9:45pm. We whizzed through customs and immigration but after leaving the airport were couldn't find our driver who was supposed to take us to Orquideas Inn. This will have been our seventh time staying there and never had a problem so we were a bit surprised that the driver wasn't there but it was a forewarning of things to come with their transportation services (more about that later). We quickly got a taxi at the booth - paying in advance $9 for a ride to the hotel. This turned out to be a bit better deal since the hotel charges $12. After getting to the hotel we saw our friend Lucy who works the front desk, dumped our luggage in the room and quickly made our way to the bar for some Pilsens with chips and salsa before calling it a night.