Friday, September 19, 2008
We're back! It feels great to be home. Costa Rica was SO MUCHH FUN!!! So many stories. I'll share some photos now, and hopefully post some video soon. One of the funniest stories will always have to be our Geo Tracker rental! You can't tell from the pictures just how beat up this poor car was. We seriously think that the car rental company ran out of cars and so called a local guy and said, "Dude, we need another car to rent- can we borrow yours?!" The guy even told us that to return it all we had to do was leave it parked somewhere in the airport parking with the steering wheel and side doors locked, but with the keyes in the glove box and the back door unlocked (which is perfect since half way through our trip it stopped locking anyway!) I guess that's what I get for trying to save us $10-15 a day by going with a local owned/operated rental agency. The thing would over heat, couldn't go over 60mph, was missing any and all nobs and buttons, and make all kinda ratteling noise. We just kept praying it would last the whole trip. Actually though, we're sure it was a blessing in disguise because we didn't have to worry about people trying to break in it or steal it, and we didn't feel so bad beating it up on the dirt roads!
You learn things as you go... we learned that we should have had a taxi take us to our hotel in the city the first night and waited to pick up our rental car until we were on our way out the next morning. We drove around for 2 hours at night (these pictures were taken the morning on our way out when we were a little more calmed and oriented) trying to find our hotel. Can you find the street sign in one of these picures... its a perfect example. Only one out of 3-4 intersections has any sort of sign, and its small and plastered onto a wall of a building in some random place. The last picture was our nemisis, the major intersection we needed to turn on but kept missing because there was NO SIGN marking what was supposed to be a major street that runs through the center of town.
Most people I talked to who had been to Costa Rica said, "You have to do a zipline through the canopy!" Now I know why. It was a thrill and something you can never forget. There's a funny story behind this first picture- the tour guide was saying "make a scared face" in Spanish but Jake understood "make a scary face" so while he was saying "RARRR" I was looking very scared!
This was probably the most singular cool thing we found in Costa Rica. Eco Thermales is a hot springs resort, but while there are several in the Arenal area, this is the only one that doesn't advertise. They have no signs, its only known about by word of mouth (I found out about them while reading some blogs when I was researching/planning our trip). You have to make reservations to go because unlike other hot springs there, the owners of this one don't want it getting too crowded and instead try to keep it very quiet and secluded feeling. This was our favorite "comida tipica" meal. I didn't take tons of pictures because it almost felt sacraligious to be taking photos and video in such a beautiful quiet place.
This was our first destination, and lots of fun. Though the volcano was spitting tons of lava into the air, we did get to see some of it at night from a distance occasionally spurting and rolling down the cliffs. And we herd it rumble and say "hello" a couple of times while there.
Manuel Antonio was probably our favorite. We wor ourselves out body boarding. The beach and landscape are beautiful, we stayed in this cool little bungalow hotel, and the vibe of the city was very cool and laid back. The food here was actually decent too, though still overpriced.
As a side note: while there were great smoothies and vergin pina coladas to be found- NEVER go to Costa Rica expecting great food, especially NOT great cheap food. Pretty much all the food we ate was sub-par and very expensive- I'm talking 12-15 dollars on average a plate- that's before drinks, desserts, tips and taxes. We had one great "comida tipica" dinner at the hotsprings, and besides that our favorite meal was at an Italian restaurant! And we are the type that LOVE to try new things... it just simply was not good no matter where we went or what price range we tried. This had to be our biggest dissapointment. One friend of mine had tried to warn me of this- but it still took a little getting over it.
These first two are not as good as I would have liked- but were taken while riding my horse so you'll have to forgive me. The first one is of some flowers only found in Costa Rica nicely named "whore's lips" they're bright red and really do look like lips puckered up for a kiss. The second is of giant ants carrying leaves to their colony- it realy was impressive to see in person. Then lastly are the ones of the centipede (luckily the non-biting kind) and my faborite of the GIANT spider. Our guide assured us the spider was not dangerous- but it gave me the "gibilies" nontheless.
Our last full day there we took a horse back riding tour to a river and waterfall. Our guide was fantastic, and the setting was beautiful. The day before they had a huge rainstorm, so the river and falls were much muddier than usual- but we still got in and swam.