Thursday, January 28, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
After our stay at Osa Peninsula (Part I), we reluctantly flew up to Quepos, a small town on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. I say "reluctantly" because we loved Osa, but Quepos ended up being worth the trip.
We flew into the Quepos airport (which looks more like an open air market than a fruit stand (see previous post)) and started driving to the hotel. Almost immediately we were on a bumpy dirt road that was taking us through a huge palm tree plantation. Wesla was giving me that "are you sure you know what you've gotten us into?" look, but refrained from saying anything. The palms eventually turned to forest, and then the forest had a nice little haven that was the Blue Banyon Hotel.
Here are a few pics of the place:
The Banyon tree, from which the hotel gets its name:
|From Costa Rica|
The view from the front porch:
... but also made awesome banana pancakes for breakfast, and had a knack for telling us about their local secret stashes, which included this beach:
I know, awesome sunglasses right? Those are Costa Rican specials. The ones we brought with us are sitting at the bottom of the ocean somewhere.
This beach was way off the beaten path, and we could not see a single soul for miles in each direction.
We also spent a day in the local national park called "Manuel Antonio." I have to admit that after going to Corcovado in Osa, Manuel Antonio felt a bit like a zoo with all of the people. That said, we still saw loads of great animals, thanks again to our hired guide.
A monkey hanking from a vine:
The white-faced monkey that I watched take someone's lunch right off of the beach and run 20 feet high into the trees before the previous owner of the lunch knew what happened. And then the monkey accidentally dropped the lunch, jumped back onto the ground, grabbed the lunch, and went back up into the tree, still all before the previous lunch owner knew what hit him.
The views from the top of Manuel Antonio looked like this:
And of course, no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without at least one canopy tour, right?
We decided to schedule the zipline tour on our last day. We figured that if we were going to break our necks like Toby, we'd do it on our last day in Costa Rica instead of the first.
I've been coping with coming back to this cold, dark, dreary, smoggy, trafficy, foggy... (okay, it's not that bad) world that I call home by training for the winter triathlon that starts in about 2 hrs (I'm just about to leave for Soldier Hollow). We'll see how I respond to my "relax on the beach and eat Gallo Pinto for 8 days, train your but off for 5 straight days, and hope that the day before the race is enough recovery time" training plan. I'll let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
We flew into San Jose, CR just in time to bring in the New Year. During the flight, I have to admit to lamenting about missing Kenny's New-Year's ride. Wesla wanted to smack me, and I probably would have deserved it. Upon arriving in San Jose, we headed to a shindig in the city which was nice and all, but it turns out that most Costa Ricans bring in the New Year with the family, and then head out to party till morning. We had an early flight to catch the next morning, so we had our first taste of Gallo Pinto (rice, beans, and their secret sauce) and called it a night.
The next morning, we headed to a little slice of heaven called the Osa Peninsula.
La Peninsula de Osa is tucked away on the southwest corner of CR. Although it's only 100 miles away from San Jose (as the crow flies), it takes about 8 hours to drive to due to the multiple mountain passes and poor road conditions. Although I think the drive would be fun, we flew to Osa on a domestic airline instead, which took about 40 minutes.
|From Costa Rica|
We stayed on the Drake Bay side of the Peninsula, and according to some of the locals, the first cars did not arrive to Drake Bay until 8 years ago, and Drake Bay did not have a power plant until 4 years ago.
The area is very undeveloped, and reminded us of our visit to Mangrove Cay in the Bahamas last year. Very low key, great locals, amazing beaches, etc. What sets Drake Bay apart is its proximity to Corcovado National Park. We took a 1 hour boat ride to the heart of the park and took a guided tour through some amazing rain forest.
The guide was simply amazing. I'm guessing that if Wesla and I had ventured out by ourselves, we would have been lucky to have seen 4-5 different animals. The guide had a sixth sense for spotting all sorts of animals hiding in the canopy above us and on the earth below, and usually had some interesting science or history behind each siting.
Cool tree - Watcher, what's this called?
Baby howler monkey with mama:
These leaf-cutter ants were honestly one of the coolest things we saw.
Each of these little leaves on the trunk are being carried by an ant. They'd march to the top of this tree, cut out a leaf, and carry it back home to use as a bed to grow mushrooms, which were used for food. The ants had walked this tree and the ground below enough that they had worn in a nice little single-track path. Watching these ants go to work was simply amazing.
An American crocodile, which happens to be my new favorite Spanish word: cocodrilo. I could say that over and over again all day...
Nice little waterfall:
The next day, we headed out to Cano Island for some snorkeling. Unfortunately we don't have an underwater camera to capture all of the fish, coral and reef sharks out there. The water was 80 degrees and even a skinny guy like me could swim around all day without getting cold. My sunburned back is evidence of that. And by the way, don't trust Costa Rican sunblock. The SPF 60 that we bought locally didn't work half as well as the SPF 30 from home.
One of favorite things about travelling is seeing how the local people live. Here are a couple of pics to give you an idea of what life is like in La Peninsula de Osa. My favorite is the local airport:
No, that's not a fruit stand. That's the entire airport. The security screening consisted of... um... well nothing. I put my own bag into the airplane. Pura vida.
Another of my favorites is this is a little place that I came across while wondering around some of the trails near our hotel:
Next up is our visit to the Quepos area. At my current rate of updating my blog, I'll get to that sometime in March!