San Juan del Sur has a beautiful white sandy beach and clear, warm water. There are palm-thatched restaurants on the shoreline, while up above the little town there's 'Pelican Eyes' - a private resort with three infinity pools, with bars to match. After all our travels it was delightful to laze by one of the pools as the sun set, and then to ease down to the shore for lobster ceviche followed by grilled sea bass. We could have happily spent more time here, but Costa Rica called. As ever, the border crossing was confused and chaotic. Leaving the bus, we were quickly mobbed by money-changers, people offering to carry our luggage, others trying to sell the (free) forms needed to exit Nicaragua and many more unwanted 'helpers'. There were no official signs showing where to go / what to do, but we followed the other gringo travellers and after a long wait we entered clean, calm, prosperous-looking Costa Rica where you can drink the water. water....bliss after 2 months on bottled! We stayed in St Elena, Monteverde where we walked in a cloud forest reserve and tried the disconcertingly named 'Extremo' zipline. Fifteen cables, 5 of which were long (the
longest over 1 km) at heights between 225 and 550ft. We had to rappel down 90ft, and there was a 'Tarzan Swing' where you jumped (or were pushed!) from a platform 60 metres (196ft) high. A definite adrenaline rush. The next day we moved to La Fortuna, at the base of Volcan Arenal, where we took it easy in a hot springs resort. Quite beautiful. 18 natural hot pools surrounded by tropical vegetation, with temperatures ranging from cool to 98 degrees, a water slide where we happily reverted to childhood, 2 poolside bars, 4 restaurants, clear starry skies, and an excellent dinner. We also went to Las Chilles , close to the Nicaraguan border, and took a boat ride on the Rio Frio. Stacks of wildlife - egrets, kingfishers, cormorants, amazon swallows, herons, vultures, snake birds, howler monkeys, whitefaced monkeys, Jesus lizards (they can run on water), and mean-looking caymans - a super day. South again to San Jose, with some excellent museums (more gold than we've seen in our lives - see photos below), where one-by-one we said goodbye to our companions with whom we'd travelled from Guatemala some weeks ago. We hope we'll meet all up again in
some corner of the world! One note of caution about using bank debit cards in Central America. Separately, both our debit cards were cloned while using the same ATM in Antigua, Guatemala and our respective accounts later emptied by fraudsters, one in Bogota, Colombia and the other in Lima, Peru. The cards were in our posession the whole time, and we've no idea how they found out our PINs, but trying to contact our banks in the UK and USA was time-consuming, frustrating and expensive. Six hours time difference didn't help, there were no replies to e-mails and the supposed toll-free telephone lines didn't work. Our experience is not unique - we met a Norwegian lady who'd had exactly the same experience. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary at the BAC ATM we used, but one way to keep track is to use internet banking and regularly check that all withdrawals are genuine. Forewarned is forearmed! We leave for Peru tomorrow, so more to follow. Hasta luego!
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