In January 2000, we traveled with our daughter, Stephanie, and granddaughters, Kia and Blake, to Costa Rica. Costa Rica was a destination that Corrine had long wanted to see, and a great time to expose our granddaughters to a little foreign travel.
After a long, overnight flight, we arrived in San Jose. We made our first mistake by renting a Rav4, 4-wheel drive, small SUV, and drove half way across the country to Cahuita, a small town on the east (Caribbean) coast. Although a small country, it was a long drive after a sleepless flight. The town was small and rather un-touristy, dirt roads and $25 lodging for the five of us.
The beach is a national park with all the new, strange sights of monkeys, birds and sloths. The water was warm, the food was different and the people friendly. The people in this area of Costa Rica are originally from Jamaica and speak a kind of English, often actually understandable!
We then left for the Monteverde area, a popular and touristy area. The drive to reach St. Elena, the small town there, was over 35km, 21 miles, of slow, unpaved road. I learned why all rental cars are 4 wheel drive. The people living there, (there aren't that many, it's basically a one street town) don't want to improve the road as this would bring even more tourists.
The cloud forest here is fascinating, brimming with plants and spectacular birds. We had great weather, sunny and warm, and just a bit unusual in this area. It began to rain just as we left by a different, but still unpaved, route and headed to the Pacific coast.
The Peninsula de Nicoya is quite different from what we had already seen, much drier with a lot of cattle ranching. We went to a charming small beach town named Tamarindo. It was nice to be able to play in the ocean where Kia learned about bodysurfing! Hard to believe this is the same frigid ocean that we have in Oregon.
One of the highlights of this area was the chance to see the Leatherback Turtles. The whole area (Parque National Marino Las Baulas de Guanacaste) is a national park for marine turtles. We went with a guide late at night, (something about the tides) crossed an estuary and walked about a mile along a beach where we found our first turtle laying her eggs. This was really exciting! These turtles are really huge, weighing about 800 to 1000 pounds! The tracks they make coming and going from the water look all the world like car tracks.
The next stay was at the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, still on the Pacific coast and in the southern part of the country. This was a much more tourist oriented area than we had been in before, but still very pleasant. The beaches were fantastic with much bird and wildlife to see, in fact the monkeys can be quite a pest.
We then drove back to San Jose and after spending a day in the city, flew back to Portland.
Travel, in the younger sort, is part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.
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