Tyres and Teeth

I could not celebrate Costa Rica week here on Taraji Blue withour re-sharing this blog post. First written and shared back in May 2011 it’s a tale of pure stupidity, naivety and sheer determination… and it is one of my favourites… Well I never knew there was any such place where one could have their tyres repaired and their teeth whitened in Costa Rica – less so did I ever imagine we’d end up there! This is a tale of jeopardy, bad luck and pure stupidity. Lets start with the stupidity….in one of the most remote places in Costa Rica,  30k from the nearest village, we parked our car for three nights whilst we took a boat to Tortuguero and promptly but accidentally left the lights on. On our return the battery was inevitably dead. Thus followed 2 hours of phone calls and negotiation with local farm workers and coach drivers to procure the necessary battery, spanner and jump leads.  We tried the jump leads first, but the battery was too dead to respond, we so watched as the last tourists departed the car park and drove off into the distance. In very broken Spanish, and using a free Daily Mail Spanish guide, we half explained our predicament to locals with lots

Tortuguero – a cost effective and beautiful way to visit

Tortuguero is not overly promoted within Costa Rican travel guides – and for this reason, a lot of people who travel there do so on a fly in package that can cost hundreds of dollars a night …per person! When reseraching Costa Rica we were enticed by the brief description of Tortuguero presented – that of a natural and unspoilt water world which offers a seducing array of wildlife and fauna. There was the promise of boat trips along the canals to spot wildlife such as sloth, monkeys, snakes, iguanas and jaguars. There was the option of night walks on the beaches to see turtles laying eggs or the eggs hatching (seasonal) and primary rainforest to explore.  I was seduced by the idea of being in such a place where I could connect with nature in a way like never before and I was desperate to find a way to visit without succumbing to spa style hotels and re-mortgaging the house. The main obstacle for visitors is the fact that there is no road entry, but this only made it more alluring to me. Unfortunately our research repeatedly threw up lots of costly fly in packages at 4/5* hotel complexes which, to me,

The benefits of travelling to Costa Rica in the green season

I was initially very reserved about travelling to Costa Rica in the green (i.e rainy) season  – Not that we had a choice, as it came about as a result of a last minute planning.  From my research on the internet and from verbalised experiences of friends of friends I was informed to expect torrential downpours for pretty much our entire visit. I therefore went a little crazy, purchasing new lightweight waterproof coats, trousers, hiking boots and even bought waterproof hiking gaiters. I expected the worst and was, therefore, utterly delighted when it turned out that the green season is one of the best times to travel…here’s why: Everywhere we went we benefited from much cheaper rates – allowing us to visit and stay at some places that might otherwise been our of our financial limit Everywhere was much less busy than expected – restaurants, hotels, attractions etc It meant that we had an opportunity to experience Costa Rica as it is meant to be – in quiet contemplation of the forests, allowing the sounds of the rainforest to lull you to sleep, being woken by the sun rising opposed to noisy neighbours. Bliss! If you are prepared to get up and out early you can ‘miss’ the rain. For example, we often were out and about, hiking in the rainforest by 7am.

A Costa Rican Itinerary

I expected little but fell head over heels in love with the Costa Rica. So much so, that I had some ‘re-integration’ issues returning back to ‘normal life’ after immersion in such a naturally beautiful and bewildering country. The guide books do a very good job of managing down your expectations about the wildlife you’ll encounter and the extreme beauty of the country. This serves only to ensure that you are totally blown away when you start exploring the paths  that few tourists travel in such a diverse and welcoming country. We had less than two weeks in Costa Rica – we weren’t supposed to be there. We flew in from Florida after NASA rescheduled the launch of Atlantis, STS-135. It was a last minute decision, and one that meant we had very little time to plan and research the country as thoroughly as usual. We had one Saturday afternoon to cancel all Florida plans and then schedule and book our trip to Costa Rica. As usual, we turned to trip advisor for advice and inspiration, grabbed our atlas and decided on the following itinerary: Three nights in Monteverde Cloud Forest Three nights at Arenal Three nights in Tortuguero Two nights in Santa Clara in the

Reviewing Los Pinos, Monteverde

I am so glad we chose to stay here, especially after seeing some of the other hotel accommodations in Moneteverde. Not that there is anything wrong with the other accommodations – quite the opposite! There is a fabulous array of boutique hotels and spas, friendly hostels and B&Bs run by locals, but to me, some of the larger hotels  look a little grandiose for a hilltop village surrounded by a cloud forest. In contrast, I found our cabin (no.12 / standard cabin) at Los Pinos to be a perfect blend of rustic comfort in an absolutely beautiful and secluded location. Cabin 12 was located at the bottom of a dirt track which was just about big enough for our 4×4 to fit through. We were the last in a row of 4 cabins, and as such enjoyed complete seclusion and tranquillity. Adjacent to our cabin was the start of one of the few hiking trails at Los Pinos, so we were situated right on the fringe of the rainforest and benefited from varied and unexpected wildlife sightings right from our bedroom and kitchen window – including a family of raccoons! During our entire 4 day stay, no humans wandered by our cabin, and we saw just 5 of the other guests from Los Pinos when wandering around the beautiful grounds and plantation. The wildlife in the ground of Los Pinos was fantastic. During out stay we saw: Raccoons Hummingbirds Keel-Billed Motmots Beetles