Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rainforest, Suspension bridge, Springs

Talk about neat. My friend and I climbed onto the boat that would take us to the plantation. By now, we’d become pretty chummy with the other group of women our age, so we tried to stick together. All of us managed to get on board together and were taken to a banana plantation. It’s funny to see bananas on a tree and not just on a store display. We had a quick lunch and then got back onto the buses.

Our next stop was really quite quick. I wish we could have spent a little more time at the Selva Verde Rainforest Preserve. We did have a few minutes to get out and explore the huge suspension bridge. I’d advise against it if you are even slightly scared of heights like me. I let my friends pressure me into it, but boy did I feel nauseous after taking about four steps, so I returned to land! We reboarded shortly after in our journey onward.

The rest of the day was spent riding the bus to Fortuna in San Carlos Valley. Today was a little more tedious than others. Thankfully, they did stop periodically so that we could get out and stretch our legs.

Our hotel stop that night brought us to Arenal Springs, a newer hotel that is the most memorable place on the trip. Views of the Arenal volcano can be had from most anywhere in the hotel. Gardens thrived everywhere, including the mini-garden in our bathroom. It was pretty cool!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Unwinding in Tortuguero Park

This time, my friend and I did not awaken early by our own excitement. Howler Monkeys decided most of the hotel needed a wake up call. I still think it is an experience I am thrilled to have had.

We spent much of the day riding in boats through the canals while viewing the alarm clock inspired howler monkeys, iguanas, and a variety of birds. The boats took us to Cano Palma’s wildlife reserve. We ended up at the Green Sea Turtle research station where we got to learn about the turtles. I saw the tiniest little babies who had just hatched. They were so cute! Then we got to walk down the beach to see the turtles in their natural environment. I will never forget this part!

This part of the excursion ended with a stop at a local school where we got to see the kids in action. Pretty neat! We returned to our hotel for lunch and then had free time. My friend and I opted to take the additional boat trip to Tortuguero Park , so that we could see more of the area’s wildlife. We all got to see a manatee close up, so that was a once in a lifetime experience.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rainforest Aerial Tram

After breakfast, we hopped in to bus and drove to Braulio Carrillo Park. The bus trip seemed a little long, perhaps I was growing tired of riding the bus, but it is a necessary means of transportation, so there isn’t much that can be done. At Braulio Carrillo Park, I did see the most amazing waterfalls. They were simply breathtaking. Some birds hung around so that we could see their bright colors.

The next main attraction in our tour was the tram into the rainforest. Again, wow! The plants and wildlife were amazing. We did get to walk through the rainforest for a little while, though I wish it could have lasted for hours. I loved this part of the trip. My friend wasn’t as happy with the mosquitoes, but it’s the Rainforest, what did she expect?!

We stopped for lunch before entering into the next phase of our trip. We all got to view a butterfly garden, again packed with colors, before boarding boats. The next leg of this trip involved boating down rivers and canals to the Tortuguero National Park. I saw toucans and parrots, but never did get to see the green macaw that the tour guide kept talking about.

That night, we all were assigned rooms at the Laguna Lodge. Talk about luxurious! Surrounded by rain forest, the scenery was awesome. The hotel happened to be right near the beach, so my friend and I joined another group of people around our age who had decided to go tour the grounds. The beach is famed for being a nesting ground for Green Sea Turtles.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wandering in Costa Rica

Due to the excitement, my friend and I were up really early. We were able to find many television shows that provided us with entertainment while we waited for our set meeting time for breakfast.

We all met for breakfast and had a nice selection of Costa Rican foods, with an ample supply of American dishes for the fussier eaters. This was nice. After breakfast, we loaded into the bus and headed to Costa Rica’s famed statue of the Little Drummer Boy. He is apparently a national hero there.

After the statue, which gave everyone a nice chance to stretch their legs, we journeyed on to Poás Volcano. The volcano is an amazing sight! The guide told us the volcano has been inactive since the 1990’s, so we felt safe and took many photographs. We stopped for lunch after this before heading to the plaza.

At Plaza de la Cultura, there was a lot to see and do. We also visited Central Park, the National Theater, and one of the area museums. It seemed that the activity never stopped. We were kept busy all day!

That night, we all went back to our rooms at the hotel. It seemed that everyone was tired from the day’s activities. Many people ate dinner, still a buffet, so I was happy. I hear the majority didn’t hang out after that. Most, including myself, seemed to head towards their rooms for some relaxation and much needed sleep. Though the casino and all the other amenities were there for our use!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

1st day of the 10 Days In Costa Rica

I have dreamed about visiting Costa Rica for a very long time. Yet, I’d always pushed my plans back. I couldn’t afford it. Couldn’t take the time from work. Too many other plans interfered. You know the excuses tha tpop up.

Finally, I broke down and agreed to join a friend on a ten-day trip hosted by Caravan Tours. I guess I can sum up my experience in just one word—Wow! The first day was really more of a travel day than anything. We flew out of Miami and landed in San José that afternoon. Caravan had us staying at a charming hotel called the Barcelo Palacio. We had plenty of time to wander the hotel grounds.

One thing I liked were the range of amenities. Barcelo Palacio changed $5 for half an hour’s worth of Internet usage, expensive but great for people who need to keep in touch with work. A casino, two bars, two restaurants, and a huge swimming pool were all on site. I loved the range of activity that was available. There are saunas, hot tubs, tennis courts, racketball courts, and even a massage can be found for a reasonable price. As orientation wasn’t until 8 P.M., it was nice to have a huge choice of things to do while we waited. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget that the hotel even has an onsite hairdresser!

As we were staying in Barcelo Palacio for the nights, it was good to find that the beds were comfortable and the room was large enough that we didn’t feel crowded. The two of us were happy that our trip was starting off so well!

My friend and I were also pleasantly surprised to find that our stay at Barcelo Palacio was all-inclusive, so our drinks were free!Meals were served buffet style, another perk as it allowed me to pick and choose what I wanted to have. Rice and Beans, the traditional Costa Rican dish, was served and definitely worth sampling!