Tag Archives: Puntarenas

Returning from San Jose to Liberia with a stop in San Ramon to visit Nel Lopez!

I woke up 8-9 am and had breakfast with Lorena and Mario before I started to pack up my stuff and prepare to leave.

Lorena had a new appointment with her eyedoctor after her operation and while they were away I wrapped up my packing and once they got back Mario drew me a map on how to drive from their house to the highway towards Liberia.

I checked my Facebook email and I had an email from a local Costa Rican comedian, Nel Lopez. I wrote him a few days ago to ask if he still sells CDs from his show and hearing that I was a fan from Norway he wanted to invite me to his home to get to know me.

So, after taking off from Lorena and Marios house my first stop was in San Ramon. San Ramon is a village about 1 hour towards Puntarenas (and the coast) and once I arrived I called him to get directions. Nels daughter Maria Jesus came to get me and lead me to the house.

I had a great time getting to know Nel and his family. I have known about Nels Jokes and CDs since years and had many a good laughs from his jokes. It was real fun and he told me heaps of jokes and his wife served Arroz con Leche and home made lemon juice. Sooo good !!!

We took pictures and Nels daughter even took one with Nels camera that they posted on his facebook profile. So Cool. I got a few CDs and then Nel gave me one that has still not been released on top of that and they sent with me empanadas (sooo good). Really delicious.

I had to move on but first Nel accompanied me to Pops Ice Cream shops where we had Ice Cream and told eachother jokes :D Ha! Awesome day.

From San Ramon I moved on towards Liberia and I had a stop at a souvenir shop at Cuenca and at Monteverde Restaurant to have a bite. The trip went mostly fine. I may have driven a bit too fast a few times (I think my worst breach of local traffic laws was 85 in the 25 kmph zone, but that was following the traffic and the queue). In one of the 25 kmph zones there was a police control, but thankfully they did not stop us despite driving in 60 kmph (following the queue again).  However what they did do when they discovered I was a female and blond driver was to throw kisses at me.. I love this country!

I arrived at home just as the sunset was over and it got dark. I still had just a little light left when I arrived (I really dislike driving in the dark here due to such poor visibility and conditions), but it was awesome to finally arrive home after this 2,5 weeks trip. I had dinner with my family and then I unpacked and sorted dirty clothes to wash tomorrow. Then I just enjoyed spending time at home !

Crossing the Mountain of Death

This morning I woke up at 5:45 for having slept too much yesterday. That was way early, but I guess some days are just like that.

I had breakfast by myself, but were joined a bit later by Jerker (Sweden), Mark and Kathy (Canada) as they were also scheduled for an early leave. We should have been picked up at 7 am, but apparently 7 am meant 7:45 (hora tica).

Kathy and Mark

Sunrise

We were picked up by La Chanchita (the same boat that took us to Bahia Drake) and the boat was loaded when we left for Sierpe. The same Canadian couple that let me borrow the sunscreen on my way here were on their way to Palmar Norte as well.

The tour from Bahia Drake was quite calm. We took a shortcut through some beautiful mangrove rivers.

We arrived there before 9 am and Kathy, Mark and I exchanged good bye hugs and then I gave the other Canadian couple a ride to Palmar Norte where we finally were able to get money out of the bank !!!

And then I set off towards the coastal highway and the north. I stopped at Dominical for a short break and some lunch and a visit to an art gallery where I got a few souvenirs. At this moment I had still not decided whether I should travel by the coastal route or cross the Mountain of Death. The last time I crossed the mountain of Death I was scared shitless and it was soooo cold. Less than 7 C. The road was wet and slippery, it was raining and buses and trailers were passing eachothers in curves that ended up 400 meters down. For a week now I have dreaded the Mountain of Death. El Cerro de La muerte got its famous name because in the old days when travellers were crossing the mountain from the south to the capitol area, they often froze to death because of the temperature differences from the coastal areas. In the later times it kept its name due to serious traffic accidents with cars over the years.

And just because I was scared to cross the Mountain of Death – I decided I had to go that route ! All the rest of my trip has been pure extreme sport. Why not this trip?

Just 10 kms from the Intersection I found Costa Ricas biggest Reptile Park – Reptilandia. It was awesome. A great amount of rare reptiles and amphibians. You may have guessed by now that I am quite fascinated by those…  Of course I stopped there and spent a good deal of time there.

The route further on was beautiful. Nature was so gorgeous. It was incredibly scenic!. Of course I remembered very wrong how bad the road was and I had a blast crossing the moutain route.


I arrived in Cartago at 4 pm. Just in time for the metropolitan rush … And even better yet… I had no fucking clue on how to drive to get to Heredia where my family lives the easiest way and … My phone was dead since this morning. Interesting !

I stopped at a pet store where the owner was nice enough to let me borrow her phone to call my Tica Sister and ask for directions. A man walked into the store while I was on the phone and he heard me trying to find a reasonable explanation on how to find my way around the city and asked the owner what I needed directions for. So he drew me a map.  A very easy map.

Take to the right at this street, drive until you get to a Y cross, take the left. Continue on that streep until you find Uruca. Take to the right. Follow that car until you get to the roundabout with statues and drive towards the Hatillos and then follow that road until you get to the Pozuelo cookie factory and take a right turn straight after that and drive until you are in Heredia. Then you can call your family.

I must admit. I got lost 1 time only and I managed to find my way back and find the right way. However I spent 4 HOURS crossing San Jose and I had spent only 5 hours driving from far down the south before crossing the capitol area. I was dead tired already arriving San Jose. No battery left on the cell and I stopped at Pops Ice Cream to get some fuel and charge the phone before finding out where I was about to go next to find my familiy. I was so tired I didnt remember I dont eat gluten product anymore and ate the ice cream in a cookie (which resulted in a terrible stomach ache later on) and then finally I managed to communicate with my family and get the last directions on how to get to the house. I found Wal Mart and they picked me up at a gas station just behind it. I was about 500 meters from the house when I didn’t manage to find the rest of the way any more.

Oh man did it feel good to arrive. I was close to falling asleep from how tired I was. I was fed and I stayed up to talk with the family for a bit, but then I was too exhausted and I just wanted to sleep. I think it was one of the most welcome encounters with the pillow in a LOOOONG time :D

Relaxing Day at El Mirador Lodge

As Magnus left early this morning I had no program planned other than relaxing and that was really necessary. I am starting to feel really exhausted by now from the high level of activities that we have had lately and I know I have a REALLY long drive ahead of me tomorrow – hence I have to be fit for fight. So after breakfast I went back to my room for a nap.

At 10 AM Angela from Switzerland came to the hotel to visit me and we spent a nice time talking.

When she left I went back to sleep and thats how my day passed.

Just before Sunrise we all went up to El Mirador to watch the Sunset.

David and Mary from France (living in Canada)

For dinner a lot of other travellers that we had met during out roundtrip of Costa Rica had joined us at the hotel as well. Kasper and Claudia (Switzerland from Arenal Hike), Jerker (Sweden), Kathy and Mark (Canada), Todd (Houston, Texas), Mary and David (France) and Bob (Canada). We were served an amazingly good chicken with fresh fruits for dessert and a lovely brokkoli soup as an apetizer.

Todd, Jerker, Canadian family and Mark and Kathy

Mark and Kathy

Valentines in Bahia Drake

When we got home from the Snorkeling trip to Caño Island we went for a swim waiting for Magnus to get home. However Magnus was already home. Once we found him we agreed to go for a walk to the Ice Cream store for a huge Banana Split with Mary and David.

We went along the beach and once we got to the ice-cream store we all ordered each our huge Banana Split :D (the daily ration of Fruits, remember?)

As we sat at the Ice Cream store Angela (Switzerland) walked by us and decided to come visit me at the hotel tomorrow.

Back at the hotel we had another delicious 3 course meal prepared by the Hotel Chefs. It was really nice and we had a nice time with the Canadian couple Mark and Kathy.

As I had my last shower for the day changing into my PJ I realized I was really sunburned. Oh well. That will pass :D

Snorkeling with Sharks @ Cano Island

Today is Valentines day and being single for me the best way to celebrate this day of friendship and love is to spend it in a huge group snorkeling the tropic waters of Caño Island in the Pacific.

Magnus today went with a different group to go diving and I went with the snorkeling group. We were picked up at the same time. The french couple we got to know at the hotel last night came with me to the snorkelling trip.

We were picked up at 7am and today our boat didn’t rush to get to the island as fast as we had driven yesterday to Sirena. Yesterday our mission had been to arrive as early as possible. Todays mission was to try to spot dolphins, whales and turtles on our way there.

A gay shark

And we saw 3 Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.

Arriving at the island we put on our snorkeling gear and jumped into the water where a new world opened up for our eyes. Fishes in any kind of color (and shape) appeared in front of our eyes. Tigerfish, Dogsnapper, Red Snapper, Yellow Puff fish, Rainbow fish, blue and yellow fish, green and blue fish, puffers, snapper, parrot fish, surgeon fish, barber fish and eels below the crashing of the azure tinted waves.

The first session was for almost an hour (thankfully I have and extra water resistant sunblock) and in top of all the colorful fishes, we even got to see a few sharks !!! They are white reef-tip sharks and not agressive at all (however I should probably not say that – because that takes all the exitement out of it.

We went on shore to the gorgeous beach for lunch and our guides set up a lovely buffet table for us to enjoy.

While we enjoyed our lunch we had a few Jesus Christ Lizards checking us out.

After lunch we went out again. This time in a little deeper waters. However due to the amount of waves the water was not so clear and we had to move closer to shore to get better visibility. Here it was great visibility and we saw another shark as well.

On our way back we were lucky enough to see a mama Humpback whale with a young one.

When we got back to Bahia Drake Mary and David (France) and I went for a swim at the beach outside of our hotel. Having spent the whole day in the water – we just needed to get another swim. It was soooo nice. Temperatures in the water are lovely here. Spending hours in the water you still dont feel cold.

Getting to know Bahia Drake

After having spent all morning hiking in Corcovado National Park we just wanted to relax and get to know the city where we are staying currently, Bahia Drake or Drake Bay in English.

Drake Bay is a tiny village. It has 3 small supermercados. One of them doesn’t even have a door. Wonder how they keep people and animals from stealing stuff after hours…

There is a main road through the city, but its really not a lot of stuff along it. A few hotels, lodges and hostels as well as a few restaurants and a souvenir shop. Not really too much to look at, but perfect for a visit for a few days.

Bahia Drake Main Street.

And most importantly – Bahia Drake has an Ice Cream shop. My gosh was it good to relax (and cool down with an Ice Cream). We live relatively healthy during this trip. We try to have our share of fruits – hence we have a Banana Split a day. It contains Banana, Strawberry Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream and Fig Ice Cream (or at least mine did) and Cream on top and everyone knows that Milk is healthy for you :D

After the Ice Cream we went down to the beach and walked along the beach to find our way home to our hotel. During our walk we ran into Angela (the Swiss girl that we met in Manuel Antonio) and she told us she is also going to go snorkeling at Isla del Caño tomorrow.

Once back at the hotel we watched another gorgeous sunset.

For dinner our Chefs at the Mirador Lodge served a delicious soup as an entrance, then we got Arroz con Cerdo and Chocolate Flan. Sooo delicious. I was lucky enough to get the recipy as well!

We also found out that the earthquake that woke us up this morning had its epicenter just 44 km south of quepos and 100 km north of Bahia Drake. The quake measured 6.0 on Richters scale. No wonder we woke up by shaking and squeeking beds and stuff falling down.

Sirena Ranger Station @ Corcovado National Park

This morning we woke up at 4:55 by our bunk beds squeeking and stuff falling down.

At Mirador Lodge in Drake Bay (Peninsula Osa) we are in a dorm with 4 beds and sleepily I asked Magnus: “Do you know if we have any new guests in the room?”. Just as sleepy he answered “No. It must be the wind!” And my first thought was: “Inside at this hour?”. And then we both woke up a bit more realizing that we must have been hit by an earthquake.

Our alarms were set to 5:15 so it’s not like we missed out on a lot of sleep and breakfast was ready for us at 5:30. At 6 the boat came to pick us up to go to Sirena Ranger Station inside Corcovado National Park.

It takes about 1 hour and 15-30 minutes in a boat ride to get to Sirena Ranger Station and we were taken quite a bit out at sea because the waves were less angry there than closer to shore. Still we had waves up to 2-3 meters. However that was a very good deal, because we found a group of birds hunting flying fish and where they were we also got to see Spotted Dolphins. One of the Flying fish almost flew into the side of the boat, but thankfully it managed to slip into water instead and become dolphin food…

Just as we arrived to Sirena I saw 2 huge animals at the beach walking away from all the arriving boats. I told Magnus I told they were Tapirs, but he didn’t see them and neither did the guide – hence we docked and got on shore.

Ready for new adventures. Me and Magnus with Jerker in the background (His name really IS Jerker, thats why he calls himself Jack in English).

As soon as all the groups were ready we split up and some groups went to the left and others to the right. We went to see a gorgeous river and on our way there we saw a Tapir, sleeping in the ground. It was well hidden among the branches but we could still see it. Pictures did not turn out well though. However walking on we heard lots of Macaws (but due to the density in the forest, we were unable to spot them). However we saw lots of lizards, spiders and a few spidermonkeys.

From the river we went back to the starting point and then we moved to Sirena Ranger Station. I was surprised lots of people were setting up tents there and someone told me that with enough time you could request set up tents and stay overnight at the ranger station.

At the ranger station I saw an Agouti. It was walking just behind the toilets and once someone flushed it ran off into the forest. Soo cute.

From the ranger station we walked towards the other river to see if we could spot crocodiles and sharks in the river. Unfortunately we got there low tide and all the sharks were gone, but someone else had seen a huge salt-water crocodile just a tiny while ago.  Everywhere there was huge signs telling us not to go swimming, not to move off the trails etc. due to the sharks, crocs and snakes.

We had lunch by the river and it was nice to have a small break.

We had enourmous luck and got to see an ant-eater walking along out path in search of food

On our way back to the ranger station and the boats, we saw lots of spidermonkey groups and Howler monkeys. As I was looking up – I saw something coming at us and ran to avoid it and thankfully it worked out. However – the others did not have the same luck. The howlers had peed on them… When Howlers want to get rid of humans sometimes they pee on them and sometimes they throw poo on them. :D Nice huh?

Just before we got to the boats we saw another Tapir. This one was also sleeping, but much, much closer to the path and it was easy to see it without disturbing it.

One of the other girls in our group also told me she had spotted the two Tapirs in the morning and now we were 2 confirming and hence our number of spotted Tapirs was in a total of 4 for today.

The mighty (but sleepy) Tapir !
Tapirs can become up to 250 Kgs and when with young they can be highly agressive.

To reed more about Tapirs see these two stories by Jack Ewing:
Threats to the paths of the Tapir Biological Corridors
The Tapirs of Sirena

On our way back we had higher waves still and at one point the boat was driving so close to shore and some really rocky cliffs that it seemed that we were going to hit the cliffs.

When we got back to the hotel we took a shower and went for a walk.

Animals spotted today:
Tapir, Anteater, Coati, Flying Fish, Spotted Dolphins, Spider Monkeys, Mantled Howler Monkeys, Black Iguanas, Spiders, Birds, Insects, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Agouti, Jesus Christ Lizard