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Published: February 14th 2019
Well... our adventure started off... not quite like the adventure we had planned. When you live in Canada, travelling in February is a great idea - you want to get away from the cold and the snow, get a little vitamin D and come back with a nice glow that will make everyone jealous. That was our plan at least. Unfortunately, the Canadian winter (which was really non existent in Penticton until recently) decided to show its ugly face as we were literally departing on our trip. After one slight delay, we were in the car driving to the airport to get the notice our flight had been cancelled. Not because of snow in Penctiton but because of snow in Vancouver that’s the downside of flying out of a small airport! With highway 97 closed due to a landslide, we couldn’t make it to Kelowna in time to catch the last flight to Vancouver from there. And the drive to Vancouver that night was not looking like a promising option. We opted to rebook and fly out of Kelowna the next morning. Which we did... well sort of.
We arrived in Kelowna early (the highway reopened that morning) and our
Airport welcome - finally.
0925 departure was delayed over and over again until we finally were delayed so long we’d miss our connection in Calgary. My stress level was through the roof by this time. The one bonus was we ran into my brother in law Jamie and had a quick catch up before he boarded his flight! We made it to Calgary - FINALLY - checked into a room care of Air Canada (we were missing not one but two hotel reservations for this night: our original booking in Costa Rica and a last minute booking that we were supposed to overnight in Houston after rebooking our flights the first time). We were up early again the next day and FINALLY got out of Canada!! After 2 long days of travel (a lot of waiting in airports) and one attempted departure in Penticton, we finally arrived in Costa Rica - late of course. The weather from Houston wasn’t great, some turbulence and we arrived shortly after 2300.
We rented a car from Vamos - the largest Costa Rican rental car company. They met us at the airport and drive us to their office to complete the paperwork. We have a brand new
Awaiting airport pick up
Mitsubishi 4X4 to tour the country for the next couple weeks. So new, it doesn’t even have license plates yet.
Then we did what all the guide books tell you not to do - we drove in the dark. This actually wasn’t too bad. Other than the fact that we had no idea where we were going, had never driven in Costa Rica before (they’re a bit more aggressive here), and the roads are poorly marked with little lighting or street lines. We only got lost once and had to turn around. And we had to drive by our guesthouse twice. We had the night booked at the Costa Rica guesthouse in San Jose. We were originally supposed to pick up our rental car that morning and drive in early spending the day exploring museums (national history museum, jade and/or gold museums and the national theatre) after spending the first night close to the airport. But Canadian weather and air canada maintenance put a wrench in those plans.
We arrived very late, exhausted and over tired. We checked in thanks to the very nice Raul who showed us to our room and then helped us get a couple
First beers in Costa Rica!
nice cold beers and officially cheers to our first drink in Costa Rica. We had a few good hours of sleep before being rudely awakened at 5am to what sounded like the loudest truck driving by in history. We later learned it was not a loud truck with a blaring horn, but a train car. The tracks were running right through town.
I forced Dave out of bed at 0900 so we could have some breakfast and enjoy a museum before we had to leave San Jose. We did just that. We decided since we only had time for one museum to take in the national museum of Costa Rica - wanting to learn about the history of the country before touring it. It was good but we would have liked more time. We had to forgoe our plans to see the national theatre and find cafe rojo due to our tight schedule to get out of town. Maybe next time we’re in Costa Rica or if there’s any time left at the end of our trip.
From San Jose we headed out to find the Costa Rica craft brewery - apparently the largest craft brewery in Costa
Costa Rican flag
Rica. Craft beer is starting to take off here - likely because of travellers like ourselves. I have researched as many craft breweries as we can find during our stay - it helps to keep Dave engaged and excited as an added bonus. The brewery didn’t open until 1400 so we busied ourselves with a trip to a grocery store and found lunch at an open cafe. Dave told the server she was his Spanish teacher. She was very sweetly trying to help him learn. She didn’t speak English.
The brewery itself was... different. Confusing? We walked in past about 6 guys doing Renos. It was not clear if the place was open for business and it was very dusty from all the construction. We had a 5 taster flight once we figured out how to order it in Spanish. The beer was really good - we thoroughly enjoyed it. But I couldn’t help but think we shouldn’t be there! We did get a 6 pack of Dave’s favourite to take with us.
From there we were in a rush to get on the road to our next destination: La Fortuna. La Fortuna was a 3 hour drive.
Blue morpho butterfly (I think)
Not much for a couple Canadian travellers. Dave has been teaching me how to navigate using google maps but without the directions. He’s not overly patient but then I’m not overly patient either. And I am learning. I didn’t send us in the wrong direction today!
The drive was through beautiful landscape. After some quick we’ll maintained highway driving, we drove up and up over the hills using switchbacks, single lane bridges and on roads with ridiculously high and narrow shoulders - you do not want to slip off these roads!! It was beautiful country to drive slow through. Our little Mitsubishi isn’t too tough but she’s comfy at least. (Were still trying to decide on a name we can agree on: Dave wants to name it Bob and I’ve decided I like Bernadette).
As we drove I noticed you never really drive through uninhabited country. I think this is the Canadian in me - we are so used to driving for hours without seeing civilization. Here, there’s something every few minutes. A small farming community, cows in the hills, a little soda (mom and pop restaurant) or a market or fruit stand. The houses were often perched
on top of the ridge in a line. There were lovely large beautiful maintained homes and ramshackle, patchwork sheet metal homes that I don’t know what to call but Dave says a ‘shanti’. It was all colourful. With coloured houses,green hills, blue skies and white clouds.
It got noticeably hotter and muggier as we came back down into the valley on the other side. And Volcán Arenal could be seen in silhouette as we drove in just after dark. Our Bamboo house B&B was a little difficult to get check in to. The man who runs it had been in contact but when we arrived it seemed there’d been some kind of emergency and it took an hour before someone came to let us in. We drank one of our beers - mildly cold still. And walked around chasing frogs, lizards and leaf cutter ants. Once let in - the lack of air conditioning is all too evident. I think we will have to be careful booking in the future. It’s 29 degrees and humid. It was a tough hour cooling the place off before we stopped sweating. And Dave loves to point out how sweaty I get. We
It’s a Costa Rican thing.
chose this place based on the online reviews and I couldn’t get over the fact that there are sloths in the garden!! I’m desperately hoping to see some.
So, here I am writing a blog post 4 days after my vacation officially started but only 1 day of actual adventure! But we have much ahead of us and are looking forward to it all.
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