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Returning to Costa Rica – Adventure #5 – June 2014


Glass-winged Butterfly

Glass-winged Butterfly

This trip would turn out to be one of definite possibilities. I flew to La Fortuna using my frequent flyer miles as I simply could not afford to buy a ticket. I had lost my job in February, and was only able to find part time work. Things were getting really boring, not to mention discouraging, and I did not know which way to jump. I was spending endless hours every day looking for a job, and quickly realized that for someone who had 40 years of experience in various aspects of office management, I may possibly have a shot at getting a job that paid up to $10 an hour. Houston has a lot of jobs, but employers are wanting to hire well-experienced people for inexperienced salaries. They get around offering benefits by working you only 29 hours per week. But I did not care what it paid, I just needed a job. I submitted at least a dozen resumes every week with no response. To pass the time, I was building bird houses—a hobby I had taken up one year earlier. It was fun! I found out that I had a knack to use a miter saw and all the other tools necessary. It was a great relief but there was no fortune to be made  in building bird houses. I needed to get away, as cheaply as possible. By using my miles, the plane fare ended up costing me taxes only of something like $25. I got a 20% discount at The Hotel Arenal Green; I rented a car at Europcar for $18/day (that included insurance!). And for my spending money, I sold my plasma for $50/week (2 donations weekly). So, scrimping and saving every penny I was off. And who would know that I would hit gold on this trip.

Hotel Arenal Green in La Fortuna

Hotel Arenal Green in La Fortuna

As soon as I walked into The Hotel Arenal Green, I met the new hotel manager, Alex. And our eyes met. Ever have that moment when you see someone and your stomach jumps? “Oh…my….God. Don’t look at him,” I kept telling myself. “Don’t be crazy; you don’t even know who this guy is.” Okay, so that lasted all of a minute. During my 10-day stay Alex took me to a festival in the nearby town of El Tanque and introduced me to some of the Tico culture. It was much fun! So, yet another friendship was born. (I quickly realized that the Tico people are quick to make friends, and Alex was just one of many friends I would soon make.)

I spent the next 10 days re-visiting the same sights and adventures as I had on previous trips. Here’s a quick recap of those beautiful places (you can read more on the other pages of my blogs):

Ecocentro Danaus: I saw this bird that had the strangest behavior ever. It stayed close to the ground, jumping from one plant’s trunk to another and making this extremely loud “clicking” sound. When he finally sat still long enough, I was able to get these photos.

Manakin at Eco Centro Danaus

Manakin at Eco Centro Danaus

You can see in the first photo his neck area looks common enough. But in the second photo

White-collared Manakin at Eco Centro Danaus in La Fortuna

White-collared Manakin at Eco Centro Danaus in La Fortuna

he has “bristled” his feathers. It turns out that the White-collared Manakin does this whenever a female is in the area. Needless to say, this absolutely made my day. (It doesn’t take much to please me. One fantastic photo a day keeps me happy.)

 

Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog

Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got numerous photos of the Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog for the first time.

 

Butterfly

Butterfly

Arenal Ecozoo in El Castillo featuring the Butterfly Conservatory: After browsing the Mariposas in the four screened areas, I set out to walk the trail leading down to the river. Shortly I saw this Brown Jay.

 

Brown Jay at El Castillo Butterfly Conservatory

Brown Jay at El Castillo Butterfly Conservatory

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great find for this wonderful day! I also saw a couple woodpeckers, but could not see through the dense foliage good enough to identify them.

 

 

 

 

 

Cindi at Cano Negro

Cindi at Cano Negro

 

 

Canon Negro River Float: As always, this river trip is totally amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal sightings included the Capuchin,

Capuchin at Canon Negro

Capuchin at Canon Negro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey at Canon Negro

Howler Monkey at Canon Negro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the Black-handed Spider Monkey

 

Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers (first time sightings)

Ringed Kingfisher at Canon Negro

Ringed Kingfisher at Canon Negro

Amazon Kingfisher at Canon Negro

Amazon Kingfisher at Canon Negro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swallows that were picture perfect

Swallows at Canon Negro

Swallows at Canon Negro

 

 

 

Anhinga-Anhinga (male) at Canon Negro

Anhinga-Anhinga (male) at Canon Negro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anhingas

Great White Heron (male) at Canon Negro

Great White Heron (male) at Canon Negro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great White Egret

Jesus Christ Lizards

Jesus Christ Lizard (male)

Jesus Christ Lizard (male)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caiman

Caiman at Canon Negro

Caiman at Canon Negro

 

Iguana (female)

Iguana (female)

 

 

Iguanas

 

(You can book this tour through the Canoa Adventura group at The Hotel Arenal Green.)

 

 

 

Night walk at the Arenal Oasis Lodge (this was a new activity): Something I had never done before was to take a night walk in Costa Rica. I am a scaredy cat when it comes to the dark. But Alex encouraged me to go, so off I went. It was at the Arenal Oasis Lodge just around the corner from The Hotel Arenal Green. I was so glad I went! We saw the

Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog, Cane Frog, icky spiders, and a wonderful snake! I love snakes! I convinced the tour guide to let me handle the little feller for everyone to touch. Needless to say, it MADE MY DAY!

 

 

 

 

One of the best friendships I had made in La Fortuna was with the daughter of the owner at The Hotel Arenal Green, Monica.

Monica Lopez and Cindi Rogers

Monica Lopez and Cindi Rogers

 

In order for me to get together with Monica, I needed to drive to Guapiles where her husband had secured a job working in the agriculture arena on a pineapple plantation. (He graduated from the university earlier in the year.) It’s a five-hour bus ride from Guapiles to La Fortuna which is unpleasant with a five-year-old, so if I wanted to see Monica, I would have to drive there. No problem. Off I went. As luck would have it, it would be a full day of rain. Argh…… But it was well worth it.
Monica had arranged to visit a local farm that was run by the ladies living within a small community. Their desire is to get their farm on the tourist route so they can educate the rest of world as to how industrious and cooperative the Tico people are. The problem is that Guapiles is rather out-of-the-way for the usual tourist. They were reaching out to Monica (with her hotel/tourist experience and her degree in Tourism to help them.) In turn, Monica wanted to pick my brain regarding marketing issues (I worked for a business-to-business marketing firm for 16 years and had learned a little about how to research and market.)

Costa Rica women growing pineapple

Costa Rica women growing pineapple

The ladies grow all their own food. Their massive garden consisted of plantains, bananas, yucca, various herbs, corn, cocoa and so much more that I honestly cannot remember everything.

Bananas

Bananas

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even got to see some of the local Poison Dart Frogs and their resident goat that provided them with fertilizer and milk.

Eating sugarcane

Eating sugarcane

 

A tour of the ladies’ farm included eating sugarcane straight off the stalk and tasting all sorts of fruits and veggies. To end the tour they prepared a complete Tico meal of fried yucca, rice and beans, slaw and hamburger. It was absolutely delicious!

 

 

 

 

It was a wonderful day full of new adventures and visiting a side of Costa Rica I had not yet been. It was a great way to end another wonderful vacation.

 

 

Returning to Houston I quickly found out that I had left a wonderful friend in La Fortuna. Alex was calling me daily, texting me, and wanting me to return. “Okay, but you have to find me some work there as I must work and I need an income of some sort.” “No problem,” was his answer.

And so the plans of making a three-month trial visit was underway. But this time there would be work intermingled with the fun. Right? Stayed tuned…..

 

All photos are copyrighted by Cindi L Rogers


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My first visit to La Fortuna – March 2010


Arenal Lake 8535

In March of 2010, I had an urge to visit Costa Rica. My son, Miles, my daughter, Becca, and I embarked on the most beautiful trip we’ve ever taken.

I don’t know why, but we chose La Fortuna as our first stop. Yes, I did a ton of research on the internet for three months prior to our visit. La Fortuna called out to me. And so it was to be, the first of many trips.

When our plane was backing off the tarmac in Houston, I started crying: tears of joy, of course. My daughter asked me what was wrong. I simply told her that this was a dream I thought would never come true. Especially since the plane was delayed in leaving the gate because of ………. yes, because of my son. It appeared that his passport looked suspicious. He had previously spilled water on the cover and it was not only faded, but a piece of paper had become stuck to the front. After the gate agent called security and her manager, after much questioning, they decided Miles could go to Costa Rica. However, they did say that if Costa Rica didn’t like his passport they would send him back on the next plane. A little nerve wracking, to say the least. When he finally boarded, he sits down. We are backing out. He says, very casually, “I sure do hope our bags got reloaded onto the plane because I saw them taking them off.” No, I did not slap him upside the head, but the thought occurred to me. He was 31 at the time so a little old to be slapping around.

Four hours later we landed in San Jose. Passport? Yes, the immigration officer looked at and said, “Did you spill something on it? You’re good to go. Enjoy your visit.” So much for that!

The drive from San Jose through San Ramon was awesome. Of course, with new surroundings, everything greener than green, you would expect awesome.

We made our way through the quaint city of San Ramon and began “The Nightmare of Nightmares!” Winding roads, narrow, hilly, people walking on the road, dense fog, cars coming at you around a curve in your lane while passing, cars passing you on a steep hill around a hill. I was sitting in the backseat with my feet firmly planted, holding onto the front seat with both hands, elbows locked, tears in my eyes. I was actually praying, kinda. I was gasping so much I never did finish even one prayer. Poor Miles, he was reaching into the backseat trying to get his muscle relaxers out of his bag but every few seconds there was another hair-pin curve to maneuver. Luckily, he never got to the pills.

About halfway through the trip we sited our first waterfall. It was a tiny trickle down the side of the hill, but it was a taste of what was to come.

Three hours later we arrived in La Fortuna. It was about 5:00 and getting dark!?! What?? It’s only 5:00. Okay, must be because it’s winter, right? Little did we know that sunrise is about 5:30 and sunset is 5:30 all year round. Okay, we’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn and waste no time in getting started. Thank goodness we are all early risers.

Our first night we spent at Los Lagos Hotel.

Los Lagos Hotel

Los Lagos Hotel

Bringing the horses in at Los Lagos

Horses at Los Lagos

Beautiful campus. It’s located on the road going towards the Arenal volcano. (I’ll post more about this property later.)

The first activity we had decided to try was zip lining. I had researched it on the net, and decided on Sky Trek, Sky Tram. After taking the tram up the hill, they dressed us with helmets, rain coats, gloves and seated us in a harness. We took a couple practice zips to make sure it was something we really, really wanted to do. I have a photo of Miles zipping with his tongue hanging out. What does that tell you?

The first zip was way, way, way, way across to the other side. As I recall, it was one-half mile long. You reached 50 miles an hour and you were 650 feet in the air. Miles was like a little kid–first in line. All the other people went. And then there were two: Becca and me. Uh, “Becca, you go ahead.” “No mom, you go first.” It was a standoff. Would either one of us go? I needed to be the brave parent and show my daughter I was brave. argh……. Okay, so I went. OMG! What a visual! All  you could see was Lake Arenal with the clouds over it. So beautiful. So amazing. So scary!! I held my breath for as long as I could. As I recall, it took an ENTIRE minute to get to the other side. “What if I stopped halfway? Just don’t think about it.” Well, it was awesome. I made it just fine. But Becca, well, I could barely see her coming across in a totally strange position. It looked like she had a second head stuck on the side of her head and two additional legs in a V shape coming from her arm. What in the world? The guide had to ride piggyback with her or she wasn’t coming. It was a little late to back out as she would have been left at the platform alone. Funniest site I had ever seen. From that point on (nine more lines to zip), she was on her own. She butched up and had the best time ever.

By no means is this the end to the story. But from here, I will blog about all of the adventures we had while in our maiden trip to a land of nature.

 

All photos are copyrighted by Cindi L Rogers

 

If you are interested in visiting this wonderful country, or if you would simply like more information, please don’t hesitate to bookmark my blog for continuous updates and additions to my travels and explorations. Or you can always email me privately. If you decide to visit La Fortuna, let me know and perhaps we can meet up so I can give you a tour of the town.


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