Playa Dominical – Sunday, January 22

The sun and the sand and a drink in my hand.  --Unknown
This blog post is being written (partially) on a gorgeous morning in Playa Dominical in a hammock next to the beach.  (It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.)
Last Tuesday morning we hired a guide and toured Manuel Antonio National Park.  It is the most visited park in CR due to the presence of easily seen mammals (monkeys and sloths) and beautiful pristine beaches. Our guide, a former bank employee, was about our age but, like most guides, had almost supernatural vision and hearing.  He spotted creatures we would never have seen – even with our binoculars.
We left Manuel Antonio after the tour and headed for Hacienda Buru for some South Pacific birding.  We thought we could camp overnight in their parking lot, but were told we could not.  That’s how we happened to wind up at a little slice of paradise known as Playa Dominical.
Our free campsite is in an informal parking lot shaded by palm and other trees.  It’s not uncommon to see iguanas in the trees.
Playa Dominical is popular with surfers; a surfing tournament is in progress as I type.
 And then there are the sunsets.
It’s taken a while, but we’ve settled into the “Pura Vida” lifestyle.  Shorts, T-shirt and flip flops is the uniform of the day. Getting to the next destination is becoming less important.  Watching the Ticos (Costa Ricans) is an enjoyable pastime, and a way to spend a good part of the day.
We’ve met a few Americans who notice our camper and California license plate and want to hear our story.  One was a woman from Michigan wearing a “pussy hat.”  She and Chris commiserated on the subject of the Misogynist-in-Chief. On another occasion a couple of rock climbers from the Denver stopped by for a chat.


Truchas Selva Madre – January 8

We camped for a couple of nights at Truchas Selva Madre, a trout farm and restaurant in the Talamanca mountains SW of San Jose. The first night was cold.  Temperature got down to the 40’s.

We spent a few days camped next to Iglesia Mary Auxilidora, a gem of church in Cartago at the base of Volcan Irazu. (Note the climate data on Cartago’s Wikipedia page.)

While in Cartago we made an aborted attempt to get to the crater at Volcan Irazu.  The fog was just too heavy.  We moved to Lago de Cachi, a man-made reservoir that feeds a hydroelectric plant. When we were leaving we noticed two things: Volcan Turrialba was erupting and the sky was cloud free.  We changed our plans and went to Volcan Irazu.  It’s not every day that you can walk across a volcanic crater and see the ash cloud from another volcano.


Cerro Lodge, Costa Rica – December 15

Blue skies smilin’ at me
Nothin’ but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin’ a song
Nothin’ but bluebirds all day long
Never saw the sun shinin’ so bright
Never saw things goin’ so right

We’ve left the rain-soaked Caribbean behind for the sunny, albeit still humid, Pacific side of the country.

We had a small victory this morning: We got our propane tank filled on the third try!

Gas Planta




The text in the green background on the sign translates to, “Committed to the environment.”

Our Caribbean foray wasn’t all for naught.  Over the course of 2 guided bird walks – just about the only times it wasn’t raining – we netted 13 life birds (muchas gracias to Kevin at Posada Andrea Christina).


Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal – December 8

“Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages tryin’ to find the sun.
And I wonder still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.”
—Credence Clearwater Revival

Our 3-day stay in La Fortuna didn’t start well. We pulled into a small parking lot. The front bumper got caught on a low wall. When I backed up it was pulled down and out. Long story short, we had it repaired at a body shop in less than a day for $145. Remember that the next time you take your car to a body shop for a minor repair.

On our list of things to do in La Fortuna was recharge Chris’ cell phone. We found out that recharging a phone that uses the Kolbi carrier (owned by the national electric company) is not so easy.

At one of the places we stopped we encountered Koren, an English-speaking Tico (Costa Rican) who volunteered to drive us to a nearby mercado and translate for us. He turned out to be a tour guide who had spent years in the US, mostly in California. And he spoke Greek! We ended up spending most of the next three days with him.

We left La Fortuna earlier this am for Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal. Unlike national parks in the U.S. that charge admission by the car, the parks in Costa Rica charge by the person. And foreigners pay double what the Ticos do. When we got to the gate and were told admission was $15/person I almost asked if that included lunch.

After parking we walked the dirt road for a couple of kms before turning back. Then the rain started. It rained most of the afternoon. This time of the year is supposed to be the dry season.

Chris asked the gate guard if we could park overnight. After checking with his boss the answer was, “No problema.”

We arranged a tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at La Casona del Rio Fortuna on the way for breakfast.  La Casona was the home of a former president of Costa Rica.  Now it’s a restaurant and cultural center.  The breakfast was great with an unobstructed view of two volcanos. The staff puts out food for birds.

The Passerini’s and Golden-hooded Tanagers were life birds.

We toured Caño Negro by boat.

We toured a cacao plantation and factory.