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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tamarindo - Day 4 - Heading Home

On Friday, we left Hotel Pasatiempo before the sun had risen, around 0530. The bird songs at that time were amazing, so many and so loud. The only other person up and about was the hotel guard. We left our keys in the lock box, loaded up the car and headed home.

The sun rises early here. Note: do not drive east when the sun is coming up! We needed gas and we needed breakfast and we needed to be able to see the road. We drove on to the town of Santa Cruz, fueled up, then found a soda that was open 24 hours. They must do a good business to be open day and night. No menu at this soda, nothing written on a board. Just the server appearing with her note pad, so you had better know what you want and know how to order it in Spanish. We are not fluent by any means but at least we can order breakfast. We had black coffee, rice and beans, fried plantain and scrambled eggs (cafe negro, gallo pinto, platano frito, huevos revueltos - my keyboard won’t put in the stress symbols). As usual at the sodas, the food is inexpensive and good. As we were sitting there, I said to Lance that this is what living/travelling in a foreign country is all about - immersing in the local culture and adapting to their ways. It’s good to be challenged.

By the time we finished breakfast, the sun was high enough in the sky that we weren’t blinded by it and we could see the road (or Lance could, since he was driving). The locals seem to have no trouble driving with the sun in their eyes - I guess they know the roads.

At the intersection of Ruta 1 and Ruta 18 (the Interamericana Norte, Guanacaste Province), you will come upon Restaurante BBQ Tres Hermanas (three sisters BBQ restaurant). Interamericana is now the more popular name for the PanAmerican highway. We saw signs for this place all the way to and from Tamarindo. When I was researching our trip, I remember that one article said “turn left at the big bull”! We used Waze to navigate and when I saw this enormous bull, I said to Lance, “turn left, turn left”!

On our way home, we decided to stop and take photos. When I say enormous bull, I am not kidding:

The restaurant has good reviews and there is a Pops ice cream shop on the premises:

They have a large piggy statue also:

A few miles before the intersection, we stopped at the Tempisque River bridge. This was built to link the Nicoya Peninsula to southern Guanacaste. It cuts travel time to San José. It was opened in 2002 and was a gift from the Taiwanese government. The Tempisque River is 144 kms long, or 80 miles.

Believe me, I won’t.

The rest of the morning was just driving, splitting wheel time between the two of us. Driving in Costa Rica is sort of tiring, because you have to be on the alert all the time. The mountain roads, the weather changes (we ran into cloud at ground level at one point), the other drivers who don’t seem to mind passing on a curve. We arrived home at around 1000, so not bad.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Tamarindo - Day 3

On Thursday, we took the mangrove and estuary tour of the tidal forest in the Tempisque Conservation Area, Las Baulas National Park. We highly recommend this tour. Our hotel booked it for us and the price included transport to and from the river. At $35 USD a person, it’s a great bargain. We chose the 0800 trip because it would be cooler then the afternoon ones.

The trip took two hours. Our boatman and guide was David, and he has lived in this area all his life. He knows the river like the back of his hand. He has eyes like a hawk and could spot creatures that the rest of us couldn’t see at first. He is very knowledgeable about the ecosystem, the plants, trees, insects, birds and animals and passionate in what he does. We learned so much - saw birds I had never seen before. I could have spent all day on the river.

This area has the largest nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. There are seven species of mangrove trees in Costa Rica and we saw most, if not all, of them. At one point, we got off the boat and walked to where there were howler monkeys up in the trees. Back on the boat, we were given water bottles and fresh cut pineapple slices.

A funny story: you have to wade out to the boats so off came shoes and socks. All of us were boarded - except Lance. He was still on the beach taking off his shoes when our boat started to leave. I had to shout and point at him, “mi esposo!!!”. It was awkward getting off the boat and into the water after the tour, but there was a nice strong man there to help!

The river boats - Lance on the left in blue shirt:

David our guide and mangrove trees:

Giant termite nests. They are everywhere and are an important part of the ecosystem:

I think David said this is the cocobolo tree, aka rosewood, a tropical hardwood. Correct me if I am wrong. It has beautiful colours and patterns in the grain and the wood is used to make fine furniture, wooden bowls, and musical instruments. It is not dead. Many trees here lose their leaves in the dry season.

Howler monkeys - hard to get a really sharp photo:

Lazing away the day:

Short video about the mangrove forests of Costa Rica, this one being on the Rio Tigre, Osa Peninsula, in southwestern Costa Rica.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Tamarindo, Day 2.5

We just returned from having dinner at the Bamboo Sushi Club. It is a short walk from our hotel and is an oasis off the busy road.

This is the best Japanese food we have had in a long time. We each ordered a hot sake and started with the seaweed salad with spicy salmon. Excellent.

Next up was salmon sashimi. Eight pieces of thinly sliced salmon shaped into a rose. Delicious and so delicate. The bottom photo is the shrimp nigiri. We ended up ordering another plate of this. Note the ginger - it is fresh, not the pink processed stuff you usually get.

Then, because we are on holiday, we ordered a dessert - ice cream with tempera bananas. The tempera batter was nice and light.

Highly recommend this restaurant. Service was friendly and fast. We got there early and were told it is packed later in the evening. I can understand why.

Tamarindo - Day 2

After a very restful night’s sleep, we had breakfast in the hotel bar/restaurant - Monkey La-La. You have to love that name. Breakfast is served from 0700 to 1000 which suits early risers like ourselves. There was a sort of small buffet set up, with cereals, fruit, teas and coffee, bread for toasting, jugs of orange and tamarindo juices. So I thought this was the menu that was included in our room rate. I got myself coffee, tamarindo juice, corn flakes and a banana. As I was eating this, the server came around with a menu of about six different choices. I ordered the European breakfast - two soft boiled eggs, two slices of ham, a slice of cheese and a big bowl of fresh fruit. Lance ordered the traditional Costa Rican breakfast - gallo pinto, fruit, cheese and scrambled eggs.

If you aren’t staying at the hotel, or have chosen not to have breakfast included with your room, this meal is a bargain at $8 USD. Anyone can eat here.

My breakfast, plus I had the cornflakes and banana, and coffee and juice:

Lance’s choice:

Monkey La-La, the bar and restaurant. Magpie jays were stealing food from the vacated tables but I wasn’t able to get a decent photo of them. Cheeky fellows.

This price is US dollars. I suppose it is in line with what tourist places charge.

Well, of course I had to have a hammock and I spent some time in it today reading:

The pool this morning, before it had been cleaned. The winds have been very strong so leaves are everywhere. I had a swim yesterday.

Miscellaneous photos:

We walked around town this morning before it got too hot. Lots of nifty shops and I bought a pair of shorts. Many restaurants - lots of different cuisines. I like the vibrant atmosphere here - tourists and surfers - just what you would expect to see. What has surprised me is that I hear English in the shops and here in the hotel. Prices quoted are in USD. I have to ask for the price in colones because that is what we carry.

For dinner tonight, we are going to the Bamboo Sushi Club, a short walk away. Finally, good Japanese food! I’ll post pictures later tomorrow! Haha, food photos.

We’re being picked up for the Mangrove Safari tomorrow around 0730 so I’ll have a lot more photos.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

On The Road to Tamarindo - Day one

Day 1 - We left our house in Hacienda el Paseo, Puente de Puedra, Grecia around 1100 am. We had to stop in Grecia to pick up a few things which chewed up some time so I guess we drove about five hours in total. Neto is our house and cat sitter so we have no worries there.

Of course a road trip requires munchies and here is what we brought:

Here we are driving over the cable stay bridge in the region of Tempisque. It spans the largest river in Costa Rica.

Tamarindo is on the Pacific Coast in the province of Guanacaste. It is one of the most popular destinations in the province, known for its beaches with strong surf. The mangrove lined estuary of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge protects howler monkeys and crocodiles. On Thursday we are taking the mangrove safari through the estuary.

You can learn more about Guanacaste province here. The terrain is very different from what we are used to. The road was great, two lane, paved and not much traffic all in all.

We are staying at the Hotel Pasatiempo - it’s really nice. 

Some photos of our room. We have a small patio out front with two chairs and a hammock. This is the deluxe room with one queen bed and one single bed.

We decided to have an early dinner and drinks at the hotel bar and dining room - Monkey La La. Breakfast is included in our room rate so we will be having breakfast here also. Well, what did I find on the menu but mussels! In wine and cream sauce! I love all shellfish so this was a nice surprise. Lance order the ahi tuna. We had a starter of jalapeño poppers filled with cheddar cheese rather then cream cheese - very tasty.

My absolutely delicious mussels. Very fresh.

Lance’s ahi tuna. I had a taste and it was excellent. The portion was very generous.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Eyes on Costa Rica and Weather Records - February 2019

During February, visits to this blog were received from the following countries and other jurisdictions:

The following is a summary of weather for the month:

The dry season continues to continue. Three months in a row without any rain. At one point, there was a prediction of rain but nothing materialized in our area. On one day, there was a record high temperature for the year but it was mitigated by low humidity.

Costa Rica is subject to trade winds, also known as Papagayo ("Parrot") winds. On several days in February it became quite windy. But, the winds were subject to fits and starts. Dead calm for a period of time would be followed for another period of time by relatively strong winds and even stronger gusts. Occasionally, Papagayo winds can be quite brutal (like throwing stuff around on a patio) though not life threatening like hurricanes and tornadoes. Most of the time, they have a refreshing cool down effect.