Tag Archives: San Jose

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 !

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Eye Checkup – Cirurgia Ocular y Laser

I used to bzse visually impaired for many years. I was born with myopia and I used glasses since I was 11 years old. My vision was so poor by that age, that I could not see what was on the TV screen unless I was seated closer than 1 meter away from the TV.

What is Myopia?
Myopia is an abnormal disorder of the eye in which objects close to the eye produce clear images because parallel rays of light are brought to a focus before they reach the retina, but far away vision is blurry.

On the other hand, when you have a Normal Eye vision, light rays converge at one point on the retina and you will be able to see clearly both near and far.

For most people their eyesight is something they take for granted. Being able to see clearly since they were kids until one day their vision starts changing during their mid 40’s and they will gradually gain a minor hyperopia (far-sighted) or a slight myopia, maybe they will not even notice their new disorder at all.

However, both my parents have myopia and I probably inherited it from them.

I had managed to hide my visual disorder for my parents for a long time which was probably also part of the reason as to why my vision only got worse over the next few years instead of stabilizing when I got my first set of glasses. They were soft pink and big. Very fashionable for kids back in the 80’s, but horrible when I look at pictures now.

I would never have been able to manage without glasses. Even with glasses I had problems seeing sometimes. As I grew older, my vision decreased.

LASIK surgery
Back in march 2003 I had Lasik eye surgery to correct my myopia. I had my operation in Costa Rica. Just 10 days prior to my trip my glasses broke. Again.
I was sooo  frustrated after cost increase, again and again and again for glasses, repairs, contacts and such and I decided to just get it done.

So there I was. I found the clinic where I wanted to have my operation and I had my eyes checked if I was eligible to have the operation done.

I checked all the information about the clinic prior to going there. Dr. Perdomo was the doctor with the best reputation in Costa Rica and his curricula is impressing.

I decided that he was just the doctor for me and I was right. He was professional to the fingertips, explained everything to me as a patient during the whole time of the operation. He also gave me a paper copy of all the tests they had performed prior to the operation.

Today I went back to his office to have a check-up and verify the current status of my vision.

The employees recognized me from the operation visit and the last time I had a check-up in 2007 and it was a nice visit. However this time things went a LOT faster than last time that I spent more than 4.5 hours just for the check-up. Today I was done after 1.5 hours including exams, time for the anesthetic drops to work, time for the pupils to open up for the test and the final visit with the doctor.  When I was operated in 2oo3 I was patient 7193 (I think) and last time I had my checkup about 11000 people had had the operation at Dr Perdomos clinic. Today when I asked the number was over 30 000 patients. So the past 5 years the number of patients has increased incredibly.

On the good news: My Vision is now at 20/15 which is actually better than it was 5 years ago for my last check/up when it was 20/20 which is perfect vision :D
Ain’t that just sweet?

PS: All professional Information and pictures in this post are borrowed from Dr. Perdomos Webpage Cirurgia Ocular y Laser

Returning to Volcan Poas

Most of the morning I spent sleeping and relaxing. I was still tired after the long drive 2 days ago, but for the afternoon I had scheduled to meet a friend and visit the Poas Volcano.

I met Mario at 1 AM by Pops at the Central Park in Heredia. From there we drove to his grandparents house to greet them and also to ask his grandfather how we should drive to get to volcan Poas.

We took off and mostly we felt quite sure about the way. However at one point there were no signs to let us know where to go on further. Mario thought we may have to take to the right so we went with his intuition (despite of what 3 of his couchsurfers have posted in the references that he is the worst co-pilot in Costa Rica – Im probably NOT the best driver here though). We found the signs further on and felt sure that we were on the right track again :D From there on it was really easy – however there were lots of heavy transports driving up the mountain hills and they were NOT particularly fast so we didn’t get there fast. However we had time to explore the beautiful nature driving up the mountain and watch the change of scenery.

The first time I visited Volcan Poas was back in 1993 with my mom and grandma that came to see me during my High School exchange year. Both the Crater and the lagoon were covered by clouds and todays luck was no better. A huge cloud (nope – not mist) had covered the crater and today I had no greater luck. However I had great company and lots of fun and now I just have a reason to come back – to see the crater and the lagoon on my third try :D

Volcan Poas is a stratovolcano and it lies within two vast calderas at the height of 2,708 meter over sea level. The southernmost of two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear, and last erupted about 7,500 years ago. The other is warm and acidic and has been the site of frequent eruptions since the first was reported in 1828. Eruptions often feature geyserlike ejections of lake water.

One of the rangers told us that it had had a 50 meter high geysirlike erruption just today !!! Awesome ! And we missed it :(

Do not descend to the crater.

Beautiful nature. Hidden in clouds.

My company and team mate from Couchsurfing MDST Mario. The view is hidden in a cloud.

Me with a poor mans umbrella

At 4 pm the rangers started making sure the visitors started moving towards the exits and we did as well, but while enjoying the beautiful nature. On our way down we drove with calm and made several stops along the way to buy queso de Palmito and strawberries (not so easy to find in the hotter lowlands).

However, today I had my first encounter with the law.
I was driving and took a wrong turn into a one-way street just in front of a local police officer. He honked his horn and I stopped and he came over. In the mirror he looked angry, but when he came over and saw me his face lit up in a smile and then he asked me; Are you lost my love? I heard Mario laugh beside me while I, of course, played the lost card to its full and asked for directions and explanations and then explaining how we had gotten lost and this and that. Awesome !
Then he directed me while I backed up to the cross and could turn in the right way :D Then he saw us off with; Have a nice day my love :D
I love Costa Rica !

We moved on and stopped to take pictures of the beautiful sunset.

Then we got lost again and just as we were most lost I decide to turn on the radio and the first 2 lines that streams are:

Que nos paso? ¿Porqué nos perdimos?
Meaning: What happened? How did we get lost? And of course… We both burst into laughter. It was soooo perfectly timed. Hehehe

However, finally we found Alajuela and with that also Heredia and finally it was time to have lunch (and dinner). We went to a restaurant in Heredia with traditional food and had a lovely meal before I went home to my family and Mario moved on back to Rohrmoser.

Meeting up with the cousins in San Jose.

This morning I woke up late and helped mami clean and dust at Lorenas place. Then we had lunch before I took a bus in to San Jose where I walked around downtown. I found the famous souvenir shop La Casona which is mid downtown and really easy to find just a few 100 meters away from The National Theatre and the Gold Museum in San Jose.

I found a few nice gifts there (to myself and a few friends) and then I found the Universal book store where I picked up a few books (MORE books… ) before I went for an Ice Cream at Pops Ice Cream store. Thats a lovely break!

My cousin Carlitos came to pick me up outside the national theatre at 5:45 and took me to Paolas place where Tia Flor, Jessica, Paola and lots of Paola and Jessicas cousins where united for a baby shower.

Tia Flor, Cousin Jessica and me

Cousin Paola and me

Cousin Paola, Me, Cousin Jessica and Tia Flor

The babyshower turned into a party and Cousin Francisco came by to see me as well. It was great to see my cousins again and make new friends at the same time :D

Paola y jessica y fran donde paola

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

Planning Costa Rica roundtrip Feb 2012

For my upcoming Costa Rica trip in Febuary I have invited several friends with me to travel together. Couchsurfers, family and other friends are considering joining me on this 2 week long trip.

Today I got the first confirmation from a friend from Stockholm, Sweden that will to join me for this trip.
6 others are considering joining, including my mother and a fourth cousin with kids, a swiss and an italian friend.

What have I planned until now:

Meetup point:
Either San Jose (or Liberia in the Guanacaste region in the Westcoast)

1. CORCOVADO 3-5 days
Cocovado is a famous national park down in the south of costa rica.
http://costa-rica-guide.com/Natural/Corcovado.html
It is said to be the backpacking paradise on earth. I am notoriously fond of beds so lets see how this will turn out !
TOURS:
Camping equipment is available for rent, and tours can be arranged in Puerto Jiménez where a number of budget accommodations are available.
Osa Aventura has preplanned and custom multi-day treks into Corcovado.
Costa Rica trekking adventures is an outfitter that organizes treks in Corcovado National Park.
Includes jungles and beaches
http://www.corcovadoguide.com/
http://www.corcovado.com/
http://www.corcovadoguide.com/permitting.htm

2. HACIENDA BARU 3-5 days
http://www.haciendabaru.com/
http://www.greenspot.travel/blog/hacienda-bar
I first read about Hacienda Baru in the book “Monkeys are made of Chocolate” which is an amazing book about ecotourism in many short stories:
read some articles right here:
http://www.1-costaricalink.com/costa_rica_books/costa_rica_monkeys.htm
One of the DEFINITES on tihs stay is a night in the jungle :
http://www.haciendabaru.com/a-night-in-the-jungle
98 usd.
They also have lots of other hikes and guided tours that range from 30 usd and up.
For link on transportation to:
http://www.haciendabaru.com/useful-links

3. DOMINICAL BEACH
Being close to Hacienda Baru – this is an excellent stop on the way to or from or a daytrip from hacienda Baru while staying there.
Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Tanning

4. MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK 3 days
http://www.manuelantoniopark.com/
Beaches and jungle

5. MONTEVERDE / SANTA ELENA 3 days
Is a Cloud forest. This is a fantastic area for nature and jungle. A cloud forest means that it is over 1750 m of altitude over the ocean. This is a beautiful area.
It also rains more than 10-12 meters per year. At this altitude its colder than in the rest of the country.
http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/
Here we can visit skywalks, bungee jumping, skytrekking, cheese factory,canopy tours etc.
There is a nice hostel in Santa Elena that we can stay in
http://www.pensionsantaelena.com/

6. ARENAL VOLCANO / FORTUNA DE SAN CARLOS 3 days
Arenal volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world  with erruptions every 20 minutes. You can hear the gas explotions from the volcano while swimming in thermal waters and if we are lucky the cloud layer will clear up enough for us to see the lava running down the mountain from the perfect cone shaped volcano.

Activities: Swimming in thermal waters, hiking in the national park, visiting the small city of Fortuna de San Carlos

OF course there are lots of other nice locations to go, but with limited time… there is never enough time. I can change the corcovado time but the other places i really want to visit. They are mainly on the pacific side of the country..
http://www.costaricahostelnetwork.com/

FOR TRANSPORTATION
We can travel by local buses which is rather cheap but takes forever (one should try at least once to get the local feel, but normally it takes forever to travel by bus)
We can use an ecxpress taxi which is rather lush, but still just about 35-40 usd for a 5 hour trip. http://www.graylinecostarica.com/
We can rent a car which gives us freedom.

ACTIVITIES In Several of these destinations:

Canopy, Swimming, birdspotting, hiking, photography, surfing is possible,

Does this sound interesting to you? Do you want to join?
Let me know asap.

Meeting friends, shopping and late night party

partlycloudy.gifToday we have had about +27C in the capital. The night temperatures are down to +15C in San Jose. ME NO LIKE. Sunny but with some clouds.

I woke up around 9 today. I slept almost 12 hours. WONDERFUL. I was still tired though but probably from oversleeping. hehe. I got up and had breakfast with Francisco, took a shower (warm water this time) and headed out. The first thing I did was to pop in at Tia Daisys office to hand over the Norway gifts I had for them. I stayed there chatting for a while and then headed to the bus stop to take the bus downtown. From downtown I realized I was running late and took a cab to Multiplaza Escazu to meet Ivannia for lunch. And I found out that they have Cinnabon at Multiplaza: Yummy. But my body was in no mood for sugar today so I did with just one !

Ivannia and I shopped a bit before having lunch and we found a lot of cool stuff at Zara, Qiuque and Mango (not European MNG), We updated eachother of what had happened in our lives and after lunch I headed from Multiplaza to Moravia to check out If I could find any other cool stuff to take home. Not much I had not already seen so I went downtown and headed for Internet cafe again where I stayed for a couple of hours.

Heading home Francisco was asleep so I started packing my suitcase. When I was done I woke him up and we went for dinner at a place in San Francisco called La Fiesta Mexicana. GREAT FOOD and great entertainment. A sister and a brother was singing tradicional rancheras (ranch songs). It was really cool. We stayed for several hours before moving to the next bar. Actually we left the car at Frans house and went to the nextdoor bar – MAR Karaoke – where we stayed till 4 am. It was a great party with a lot of fun and I dont know what happened but suddenly I had like 3-4 guys hanging around me. Unfortunately cousin Fran was playing bodyguard and did not let me misbehave.

Salud dirá mañana si hay fiestas en Liberia.