Canal Anyone

Published: August 12th 2012
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August 8th - Canal anyone?

Got up at a reasonable time for Costa Rica @ 7 am. - this could be a problem in the UK as
that's 2 pm. Not sure I'm looking forward to going back..

Fresh bananas for breakfast again. The bunch that Jeff picked are ripening nicely. You just
go along and twist them off. The are the sweetest bananas I think I've ever tasted. Saw
another poison dart frog - this time hopping around the side of the house. Being bright
green and black does attract attention - being incredibly toxic does save you from

After breakfast and as we are so close to Panama we decided to drive to the border. This
takes you back a little way towards Limon and then a left and left again towards Sixola. We
drove past field upon field of bananas and saw them being taken from the field and
processed and put into boxes and then straight into refrigerated lorries. These we think
were aimed at the US market as most of our bananas come from the Windward Isles. Also
saw where there had been massive land slides in the recent rains. Got some interesting

We took a few pictures at the border but didn't want to cross as we will get charged an exit
Tax and then when we leave on Friday another exit Tax... We drove back to Puerto Veola
and did some souvenir shopping. It was also approaching lunchtime so we popped into a
seafront restaurant and had lunch. Gorgeous food and again very reasonably priced. No
quibbles over tips either - everywhere in Costa Rica adds 10% service charge onto the bill.
After lunch popped into a Super Mercato and picked up some food for tea - then back to
the house and we all went in the pool.

The house also has about 75 hectares of its own rain forest and trails laid out across this.
So around 4 pm.we got out of the pool and went trekking along the trails. The weather had
been reasonably cool (down to 27C ish) before we went trekking. Jeff had provided us with
a map and said that they we're building a "Rancho" - we were curious to see what a
"Rancho" was so headed down the trail in that direction.

Ok I've been hot and sweaty on this holiday but this was just unbelievable. Once we were
under the rain forest canopy I started to sweat - and I mean sweat for every step I was
taking I think I lost about 1/2 a pint of fluid!

We went down and crossed a bridge - seeing lots of frogs, the biggest ant I think I'd ever
seen and more spiders than you want in your face - I was on point!

After the bridge we followed the trail upwards and eventually came to a clearing where the
"Rancho" was apparent. Effectively an inverted V shaped building with a floor 10 feet of
the ground under the V. Serious jungle people can presumably hike here with your bivvi
bag and sleep completely out in the open - that won't be us then! You do get an incredible
view over the rain forest canopy but it's a bit extreme...

Returned the same way - saw a snake - Matthew assured me it wasn't poisonous - I
wasn't taking any chance and poked it with the stick until it slithered off into the forest!
When we got back to the house we were all pink and glistening! Stripped off and popped
the shorts on and we were back in the pool (in my case with a cold beer in hand) before
you could say "rain forest". Stayed in the pool until after the sun set - lovely.

As we had eaten out at lunchtime we had pasta, cheese and omelettes for tea. Again great
- the trick is to clear away as quickly as possible so you don't attract lots of bugs!
After tea time for some cards - we haven't played Rummikub this holiday so it was time for
a couple of games...

Tired tonight - think it will be an early night.

Tomorrow we are visiting a chocolate farm - and the advert says you can eat as much
chocolate as you want - they haven't met Eleanor have they?

Night all.

9th August - Chocolate time!

Last day in Costa Rica and it was bright and clear. Little bit of breakfast and some more
fresh bananas and we were ready for action.

On our trip out yesterday I noticed this what looked like shack offering Cocoa
demonstrations. So we drove back to this and parked outside. It looked completely closed
but there was a little old lady inside who said the tour for all 5 of us would be $20. This
seemed like a bargain particularly as the other tour was $26 a head. We went down to the
shacks and the lady asked us to wash our hands. We were then given an explanation of
cocoa on the tree to chocolate that lasted about an hour. It was very good and entertaining
and the kids also got some chocolate to bring home for their friends. The demonstration
started off being carried out by the older lady then her daughter came along and took over.
Her English was a great and far better than our Spanish.

We had brought towels and swimming stuff with us so we headed back along the coast
road and as we liked the spot at Manzanillo so much we ended up back there. Sea was a
gorgeous blue and the sand soft and white - parked the car under trees to try and keep it
cool and we swam for over an hour.

Then we picked up some stuff for lunch from the local supermarket and headed back to
the house. At the house we carried all the lunch things up to the area around the pool and
had a relaxed lunch. Nipping in and out of the pool to cool down as required. We brought
the laptop and the 3G dongle down to the pool area so we could check in - and while 4 of
us could Christopher couldn't. Not sure why as we could see that he had been allocated
seats on both flights? Delta do have a habit of over booking their flights - perhaps they are
looking to bump a single adult? They'll have no joy with Christopher as he's in our party
and doesn't have any cards or money of us own.

Anyway we pooled (if that's the correct word) for quite a while. Saw the biggest
grasshopper thing I've ever seen - see the photo. The bugs just keep on getting bigger and
bigger - god knows what eats this! It's big enough that it could just about eat small birds in
its own right.

More showers and then as this was our last meal in Costa Rica we decided to drive back
to Peurto Viejo and eat there. We had eaten in the town at lunchtime and while hot and
humid had seen like most places at this time of year - struggling for custom. Well at night
Peurto Viejo came alive - street vendors, market stalls, people cycling along the streets in
the dark, dogs barking and the sea lapping gently on the shore. We walked around town
and then decided on eating at the Koki beach right on the front. Great spot, good food very
much aimed at the American market though as it was all spotless and well ventilated. We
then drove back along the coast road and up the hill to Cielomar. Packed as much of the
car as we could as we were planning on getting up at 5 as the GPS was telling us it was a
4 hour drive back to the car rental place near to the airport in San Jose.

A few games of cards and then we all went to bed. Hot tonight feels like a storm coming.

10th August - Travelling

Woke up at about 3.30 with a massive electrical storm out over the sea and monster
thunder. Shut the upstairs blinds in the canopy room and tried to get a little more sleep but
by 4.30 am. was up and ready to go. The kids woke up not much later and after a quick
coffee we were on the road by 5.15. It was raining but not as heavily as I expected but I
took it easy gong down the wet steep hill. This Toyota Land Cruiser Prado has been very
good never missing a beat.

We drove thought the small coastal towns and they were very quiet - but by 6 as we
approached Limon there were more and more people about. We hung a left at Limon and
only had 160 km to go. Now in the UK you would do 160km in 1 1/2 hours - perhaps a little
less if you were really pushing it. Well the GPS was telling me 3 hours... And that's about
how long it took. It's not that the roads are really bad it's more a question that they a full of
slow moving lorries doing 40 to 50 km an hour and you end up weaving in and out of them.

We were held up for awhile as an accident had occurred - one car in a ditch and another
with the front badly dented - lorry barely scratched. Moral of the story - lorries are seriously
bigger than you!

We arrived at the car rental place which is about 7 km from the airport at about 9.15 - 4
hours since we left Cielomar. We paid for the car and they bunged us on a shuttle bus and
dropped us upside International departures. When exiting Costa Rica you pay a departure
tax $28 each - so I got in the queue and paid this. We then joined the queue for check-in
as we hadn't been able to do all of us online - but there were no issues and Christopher
was given his boarding card. In fact we were given boarding cards for both flights and the
luggage went straight through to Heathrow (hopefully). This was better than expected. By
the time we had cleared security it was cling upto 10.30 so we went in the VIP lounge and
waited for the gate to open. Nice lounge but limited - buns, fruit and coffees were free
everything else you pay for. Each lounge we visit is different - some just snacks - some
just drinks - some full meals.

We took advantage of the free WiFi and I managed to pay my credit card bill which was

About 12 we left the lounge and headed to the gate - where there was a much more
detailed security check on the hand luggage. Christopher was taken to one side and given
a thorough check including hand and feet swabs... They said they were picking people at
random - but everyone they picked seemed to be male between 20 and 40.
Anyway we all got through security without an issue and boarded the plane - again on this
leg none of us sitting together - but it's only about a 3 and 1/2 hour flight so not too much
of a problem.

Arrived in Atlanta on time but joined a monster queue for passport control - why oh why do
we need to be passported and fingerprinted for a connecting flight - the world has gone
mad. Some 4 foot 6 numpty in a cowboy hat was taking forever - his wife ended up holding
his fingers down. We moved to another queue and guess what - it ground to a halt. So
from landing to the time our connecting flight was due to leave is nearly 2 hours - plenty of
time you'd have thought particularly as we didn't have any bags to pick-up. Well it didn't
matter you still joined the same queues as the people with the bags - no advantage at all.
Eventually had to speak to someone to explain that our flight left in 55 minutes. The moved
us to the front of the queue (this queue was for hand-luggage and personal security) -
once through that we then had to get to Terminal F - luckily as we came down to the train
one was there and Matthew threw his body I to block the door (twice) - we all got on. Got
out at F and up the escalators - they were just calling zone 2 so we walked straight onto
the plane. No water, no food - better be some food on the plane! However, they then
ended up waiting for other connecting flights so the plane was late leaving!
Flight time has been predicted at 7 hrs and 31 minutes.

Good flight - Chicken was ok - Avengers - good film and arrived just about on time.
Charlies were there to pick us up and we were home by 12.15. Now the challenge is to
stay awake as long as possible!

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12th August 2012

Loved reading every blog!

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