Toads and frogs are known in indigenous mythology as assistant undertakers, protectors of the remains of the dead, and chanters that predict tempests and weather changes. They are also associated with rituals of shamanic transformation and fertility.
(Info: Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, San José)
In the wee hours of a wet, wintry morning in BC, we drove to Vancouver airport for what was going to be an awesome holiday in Costa Rica.
Joanne and I checked in and found a lounge to yes, lounge in and have some breakfast before proceeding to our gate. Our Air Transat flight left exactly on time, only half full. Joanne and I had each 3 seats to ourselves. Luxury at economy prices!
About 7 hours later we arrived at Juan Santamaría International Airport.
The lineup was not extremely long (I have seen worse) and about an hour after arrival we were outside with our luggage, checking all the ‘guys with signs’ for our name.
We found him fast, were directed to the van and driven to our hotel downtown San José, Holiday Inn San José Aurola. A beautiful location overlooking the Parque Morazán.
We settled in our very comfortable room, had something to eat and walked around hotel and park until my sister and brother-in-law arrived (from The Netherlands) a couple of hours later.
Early next morning, after lining up for breakfast in the busy hotel, we waited for our shared transfer to the Irazú Volcano, to Cartago to see the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (where we ended up in the middle of a very well attended mass) and the Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs. At the Hot Springs we were served a delicious lunch. Of course we had selected the delicious Costa Rican casado dish.
The hot springs just seemed to call to us so we all donned our bathing suits and tried all the pools: from hot to hotter to hottest!
Upon our return in San José we had dinner at our hotel and with a short night walk we ended this perfect first day.
After breakfast we had the whole morning to explore San José. Our hotel was ideally situated within walking distance of some well-known landmarks. We first meandered through Parque Morazán, Jardín de Paz and Parque España. Our feet led us to the Neoclassical Teatro Nacional, the Plaza de la Cultura, the Banco Nacional and the Monumento a Los Presentes. We found the Metropolitan Cathedral and wandered through the Iglesia La Soledad. Joanne and I spent some time at the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Somehow we happened upon the Mercado Central, we passed by the Melico Salazar Theatre and the Museo Postal.
Lunch was a quick bite in a tiny restaurant before heading back to the hotel for our shared shuttle to Arenal.
And it gave us the opportunity to digest all the cultural sights we enjoyed that morning.
Arriving at Los Lagos Hotel Resort and Spa we discovered another world again.
Birgit and Gerard found their room close to the pools, restaurant etc. Joanne and I were shuttled to the highest end of the property, where the Arenal volcano was looming over us. Absolutely majestic.
While B & G opted for a lazy morning this February 25 in Arenal, Joanne and I went on the Arenal Hanging Bridges adventure in the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.
This morning, February 26, we have a little time to have a last look around Los Lagos before we are driven in a bright yellow schoolbus to Arenal Lake, where we get onto the boat taking us to Río Chiquito, avoiding the long, winding drive around the lake. Great choice as the boat ride was beautiful.
We received help getting our luggage from the boat into the van in spite of all the previous warnings that it was “carry it yourself” only.
The road from Río Chiquito to Monteverde was winding and bumpy. The views were great. Arriving in Monteverde B & G were dropped off at their B&B Mariposa and a few minutes later Joanne and I arrived at Trapp Family Lodge at the edge of the Cloud Forest. After checking in and admiring our room we walked to the hummingbird garden, located near the entrance to the Cloud Forest.
Again we were so lucky to have a fantastic guide. And even though we were prepared for rainy weather (after all, it is a Cloud Forest) we happened to enjoy one of the very few very clear days. My sister would have liked to experience the mystery of the clouds over the forest but meanwhile we did enjoy the great weather.
We did have rain and strong winds during the night but all that had subsided by morning.
After the forest hike we stopped at the hummingbird garden before walking back to the hotel for lunch.
At 1:30 we went with our shared shuttle to the hanging bridges in Selvature.
Yet again a great guide and a wonderful hike. The hanging bridges here are more steady feeling than the ones in Arenal. No swaying on these!
February 28 at 7:30 am we were picked up for our ride to Puntarenas. The night was again very stormy and it was raining and still very windy when we had our breakfast.
But of course the weather cleared very soon and the closer we came to Puntarenas, the hotter it became. We lined up at the ferry ticket office for the Puntarenas to Paquera ferry and once we had them in hand it was time to board. A smooth, enjoyable boatride followed. At the other end Raj was waiting for us to drive us to Tambor.
And no rest for us…Joanne and I joined Raj and Ailish for the drive to school as Neve had her birthday celebration there. Meanwhile Birgit and Gerard enjoyed the peace and quiet (and pool) of their accommodation (next to Raj’s).
A walk to the beach early evening was the perfect end of this day.
February 29, Neve’s 8th birthday.
We started the day by going to the Saturday morning market. A place I love because of all the pelicans! While Ailish, with the help of Joanne, selected all her fruit and vegetables, the 3 of us (B, G and I) enjoyed what was all happening on the water and the fishing pier.
Back home preparations were made for Neve’s party. It started at Los Delfines big pool and continued on the beach (While walking to the beach we kept our eyes peeled for birds, reptiles etc.).
What a special setting for an 8th -leap year- birthday party!
Sunday, March 1 Raj drove us to Curú Wildlife Refuge where we managed to do 2 walks in spite of the heat. After a couple of hours Raj found us tired, sweaty, dusty and full of nature impressions. Ready for the pool though.
In the evening we went for dinner at Castillo Resort where we were entertained by the howling of the Howler monkeys (which we spotted in the surrounding trees) and a never ending game of dice! Delicious food and excellent service too.
Later in the evening we (Birgit, Gerard and I) spontaneously decided to walk (in the pitch-black darkness) to the beach to see if we could by any chance experience the luminescence in the water. We dressed in “who cares if it gets wet clothes”, checked if anybody was still awake next door. Raj was, who gave us some extra flashlights but did not come with us. The rest of the family, including Joanne, were asleep.
Arriving at the beach Birgit and I waded into the water about hip-high. And yes, we did spot this amazing phenomenon. You could actually see the luminescence “riding” on the waves! Gerard stayed on the beach and from there it was not visible.
Next morning however, Joanne and I got up really early to see the sun come up on the beach. The temperature was, around 5:00 am, wonderful.
We had the beach almost to ourselves and walked quite a distance. But once the sun was up it got hot very fast. Still, getting up this early was worth it. It was beautiful out there.