Blogs from Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Central America Caribbean - page 8


Central America Caribbean » Costa Rica » Puntarenas » Jaco August 25th 2013

Costa Rica. Just saying the name conjures up images of lush, tropical forest, of pristine, palm-lined beaches, of cheeky monkeys and big, blue butterflies. Ever since the first time I visited Costa Rica over nine years ago, I’ve loved every inch of its natural beauty. There was only one place in the entire country that I avoided like the plague, a tiny black spot on its map of greens and blues. This place was Jacó. In 2004, halfway through my first stroll in downtown Jacó, I could already feel an overwhelming contempt creeping into my system. What I saw disgusted me. I saw an Americanized, hedonistic cesspool; a place for college spring-breakers to get f**ked up without fear of the law; a place for perverted pensioners to find cheap sex, a place of feces-filled waterways, robber-filled ... read more
Hitchin' Down to Jaco
Jaco Beach

Docked 5a.m. in Puntarenas, we dock at some weird times - at the end of a very long pier - overlooking dark sandy beaches - bit like Seminyak. Teamed up with Jim and Rae and hired a driver (Phillips) to take us to see some sights for a few hours - worked out very reasonable between 4 of us - $150.00 for six hours. We drove into San Jose, the capital, through lovely, green, lush countryside - we laughed a lot Phillips was a very funny man, spoke very good English but a heavy accent. Costa Rica is very big on education - 90 percent literacy rate here - not like other Central Amercian Countries - disbanded army and put money into education. In San Jose took a walking tour of Metropolitan Cathedral, National Theatre, also ... read more

So we had booked the jeep-boat-jeep to get us from LaFortuna to Monteverde Cloud forest as we had been told the road is terrible and this way cuts out a big section of the road. Anyway it is not a jeep but a minibus that takes you the first hour down a very bumpy, pothole filled dirt track to the lake. At the lake we jumped on a boat and sailed for 1 hour to the other side of the lake. We then got in our next minibus to take us the last 3hours to Monteverde in the Cloud forest. We arrived after a very very bumpy journey the roads are the worst ive been on. We checked into our next hostel called Cabinas El Pueblo. Very nice. As we are in the jungle and it ... read more

On Wednesday (January 26), our group did some volunteer work on a farm by the name of Life Monteverde. Working on the farm and learning about the different plants was an interesting experience. The farm is owned by a group of Fair Traders, which is trying to develop a system for small farm families to work together and improve their life. As of now, Life Monteverde has different programs in which they inform how coffee plantations where low environmental impact production practices are applied, production of organic fertilizers, tree nursery and reforestation with native species, poultry farm and organic garden, alternative energy, trails in secondary and primary forest, use of rainwater and knowledge resources. The first thing we did at Life Monteverde was plant trees on a hill which needs to be reforested for the future. ... read more
Ready to plant some trees?
We're ready!
Don Guillermo

Last ¨Jueves¨ (Thursday), the class was in for a treat (literally)! We were fortunate enough to satisfy our sweet tooth and our curiosity by touring El Trapiche, which is one of Costa Rica´s traditional sugar-mills. Here the class was able to be educated on how some of the agriculture of Costa Rica is grown. With our tour guide, Jairo, we took a short walk through the farm where we got a glimpse of the many plantations that Trapiche offered, such as sugar cane, coffee, bananas, plantains, and pineapples. Jairo took us through the entire coffee process, we sampled authentic sugar cane, made our own chocolate, and we even got a neat thrill out of riding a Costa Rican ox cart! Oh, and to top it off, we even experienced the process of making liquor out of ... read more
Group Photo at el Trapiche
Jairo Telling Us About Sugar Cane
Coffee Plants

PR agents for Monteverde would describe the travel experience as a free “butt massage”, which is the best possible way to describe the bumpy, curvy, unpaved road that gets you there. While I was looking forward to seeing it again, I was definitely NOT looking forward to the drive. Fortunately, traveling to Monteverde from La Fortuna had an exciting surprise. We get there by ferry. You still get the free butt massage, but before hand you carry your luggage down to this small boat which takes you over Lake Arenal to the other side. It was a beautiful bonus… There are 3 major things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica – zip-lining, a coffee tour, and a night time walking tour. The first two I was able to check off with my family, so upon arrival ... read more

After a full week of classes, the ASU group enjoyed a Saturday outing at Selvatura, a nature park that is located only about 20 minutes from our host families' homes. The first part of the visit to Selvatura was a two-hour walk through the cloud forest, highlighted by 8 hanging bridges that allowed us to walk high up in the canopy, looking down at treetops and thousands and thousands of plants that attach themselves to the trees. We were divided into two groups, each group with a different local guide who explained many details about the plants and animals that we saw. Even though Selvatura is not known so much for spotting wild animals (usually only birds), we were able to see two howler monkeys, numerous coatimundis (a raccoon-like animal), plenty of hummingbirds, and two large, ... read more
Hanging Bridges
Other Group Members
It's a long way down!

We had an amazing weekend at the central Pacific coast enjoying a well-deserved break from classes and daily life in the Central Valley. The hotel (called Mimos) was very tropical and our first stop on Friday afternoon was the pool! Saturday morning was our highlighted time at Manuel Antonio National Park, but this entry of the blog is only going to tease you a little bit about that. There will be a blog entry written by a student focusing on the wildlife that we saw in the park and even at the hotel, so the entry you are reading now will not contain our wildlife pictures. But we did get some GREAT ones -- tease, tease -- so keep checking the blog for that upcoming entry. Of course, Howl, our own Red Wolf, is not indigenous ... read more
Photo Op
Lesley at the Overlook

Costa Rica 2013: Day 13: Manuel Antonio Day 3: This morning is the Spices Tour we signed up for last night. We were up and ready long before the minivan arrived at 8:50 to take us to the farm. I don't think I mentioned that we were a bit hesitant about taking this tour, due to the cost of $50 each, but it sounded very interesting, and Manoli wasn't all that excited about the other tours available, so we went for it. When they picked us up, there was already a young couple in the minivan, going on the tour with us. We traveled quite a ways out of town to their farm, Villa Vainilla. It is a well-known, recognized biodersity operation with a lot of write-ups expounding on it's virtues. They are a major producer ... read more
Waiting on the Tour
Cocoa Beans

Costa Rica 2013: Day 12: Manuel Antonio Day 2: This morning we were headed to Manuel Antonio National Park, hopefully to at least see monkeys and a sloth or two. After a cup of coffee made in our suite, we walked down the road to the park entrance. We had to stand in line a few minutes to buy our entry tickets, at $10 each, hoping it would be worth it. They gave us a map and explained the parts that were closed to the public, then off we went. At first, we sort of trailed along with one or another guided group, not to hear what they were saying, but to see what they found interesting. Many times we couldn't see what they saw because the guides had fancy telescopes set up, but we did ... read more
Unusual "Slow" sign
Beautiful Flower
Rather Large Spider

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