San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

After 5 hours on a local bus, an unorganized and crazy border crossing

Paying to leave Costa Rica

Paying to leave Costa Rica

from Costa Rica,  (Click and read at the end of this page for details on the crossing) and squeezing 5 people in an economy size taxi I made it to the beach.  The beach of San Juan del Sur is nice but with so many boats off shore and the sewage it is not a place I wanted to swim.

Which is fine since there are many other

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa

good beach options just minutes from town.  The first day things were nice and quiet around here. I went to Playa Hermosa to surf but when I returned to the city the construction of event tents and stages had begun.

It is a big holiday this week, it is Semana Santa.  Holy week the last IMG_2224week of  lent and the week before Easter Sunday. This quiet town has turned into a loud crowded street party.  The room rates have doubled and the alcohol and telephone companies  seem to think the event areas with the loudest music wins. It’s just a shame it’s not live music! san juan del sur

I am heading out to the colonial town of Granada and by the weekend I plan on enjoying the Semana Santa festivities in Leon, Nicaragua.  I just hope the holiday doesn’t mess with my plans to surf down a volcano!

Courtesy: Peter Beesley

Toucans in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

I finally spotted, not just one,  but 3 different species of toucans. Que magnifico! After this sighting I feel I can finally leave Costa Rica.

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It has been weeks of seeing sloths, howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, beautiful birds and stunning blue butterflies so all I wanted to see before I moved on and out of Costa Rica was one toucan.

Tortuguero National Park did not disappoint. (only my camera did hence the  Toucan photo is from http://peterbeesley.blogspot.com)

IMG_2099The morning tour of the park delivered a tree full of white faced moneys and the most beautiful toucans sitting on a branch. Appreciating the birds in the park isn’t hard. There are so many unique shapes and colors. If you’re a birder this is the place for you.

The village is small and the beach is nice but the current is so strong IMG_2043it is advised to stay out of the water. There are many places to grab a chair on the river and watch the sunset. It’s a beautiful place with nice people and definitely worth the boat and bus trip to get here.

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One more Costa Rica stop for me La Fortuna next is Nicargua as I travel toward my final Central American destination, Antigua Guatemala.

 

Tortuguero

Up River to Tortuguero

I needed to end my beach bum streak so after 10 nights I decided to

Salsa Brava

Salsa Brava

leave Puerto Viejo. I could have easily stayed another day or two or even ten but there are more places to see like Tortuguero where I am now.

 

It’s up north on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The trip here was beautiful. It required a 3 plus hour boat ride up rivers and canals through the national IMG_2022park and into the village. It’s a beautiful trip one in which the captain points out turtles, birds, lizards, sloths and monkeys along the way.

Just as we arrived it rained and the village is muddy. I am guessing that’s normal especially when I saw the shop renting boots.  I wonder if my flip-flops will fit in them? IMG_1992

Hopefully I will have something worthy to post tomorrow after my tour of the park  which starts at 545am, yes in the morning.

 

I am definitely not in PV anymore!

Puerto Viejo Playa Chiquita

Puerto Viejo: A hard place to leave

I took the public bus to Cahuita National Park a few days ago, sorry for the delayed post, but it’s not like I can take the computer to the beach with me.  (and  everyday’s been a beach day) Back to the park,  it was a nice way to spend the day. I started with a snorkel. The coral was healthy, a lot of Elk Coral, a IMG_1798few reef fish and a sting ray. From there I had the boat drop me off at the point of the park and I took a leisurely stroll, about 45 minutes,  back into town.

At one point while in the park I sat in the IMG_1718shade on the beach watching the waves when a guy walking by says to me “look up.”  The trees I was surrounded by were filled with monkeys.   On the trail I also saw raccoons, sloths, cool colorful butterflies and a few other critters.

I have spent more IMG_1846time in Puerto Viejo than anywhere else in Costa Rica. The beach, the jungle, the people and the atmosphere are the reasons I can’t seem to leave. It’s not the the cleanest place I’ve ever seen ( a mandatory monthly cleaning day like Rwanda and it could be) and it’s not prettiest place I have ever seen (click on my Fakarava page) but it helped me understand the phrase Pura Vide.

Although this has been my favorite place in the country it is IMG_1829definitely not for everyone but it is perfect for me. Perfect for me to pass the days riding my bike to the beaches, listening to live music, looking for wildlife, practicing spanish with friends and well just chilling out.

After checking the date I just realized I have 3 weeks left in Central America so I know I have to get out of this place. There’s a few more IMG_1731things I would like to do and see before I go therefore tomorrow I will consider and maybe even actually buy a transport to Tortuguero. I really want to see the park there so that is my plan as I make my way north into Nicaragua.

 

IMG_1702Until next post Pura Vida!

Puerto Viejo Pipas

Where the Jungle Meets the Beach, Costa Rica

The journey is the destination and that proved to be the case when I stopped for a pipa frio (cold coconut water) just south of  Puerto IMG_1685Viejo. As I was enjoying my $1 coconut I heard howling. It was a family of monkeys up a tree. The kind lady who sold me the coconut brought me onto her property for a better view.

It’s really beautiful here with the jungle adjacent to the sea. While on my bike I almost ran over a huge yellow snake, thankfully I saw it just in time to swerve out of its way.  I tried to do some bird watching but found it’s not for me. I can never spot them. Perhaps my lack of patience has something to do with that.

That said see the picture below of the power IMG_1683lines? That is where I saw a sloth climbing across the lines and of course I did not have my camera on me but I can assure you it was an amazing sight to see. I felt lucky to have stumbled across the sloth and to see it up close, heck I have had my head in the trees all week just looking for one.

I will be heading to Cahuita National Park with my camera so IMG_1667hopefully in the next post I can actually show you the critters I have been referring to.

I rode down to Manzanillo from Puerto Viejo and the beach there was ok. Based on today’s beach hopping I would say Punta Uva is the nicest in the area. Yet twice I stopped at Playa Chiquita (photo) for a break.

Another dreamy day of traveling with no set destination.

Pura Vida!

Bocas Del Toro

Bocas on Bikes

It was raining so we decided to ride our bikes to Playa Bluff. It’s about 10 miles out of town. The surf is so powerful it is known for breaking boards. Experienced surfers enjoy it for the long rides and the waves that offer the opportunity to get tubed.

Rex & I on the beach "road" to Playa Bluff

Rex & I on the beach “road” to Playa Bluff

The ride there was challenging especially during high tide. Once the asphalt ends the road turns to hard sand, then a few klicks on a rock road after that a bit of wet beach then back to rocky dirt.  The payoff is a wonderful beach bar with a view of the pounding surf.  I highly recommend biking or bussing to both Playa Bluff and as I wrote about in my last post Starfish beach.

Playa Bluff

Playa Bluff

Bocas Town is a good place to base out of since there are plenty of restaurants, bars and markets and you don’t need a vehicle (unless you head to Aqua or another club on the water that requires a water taxi) but this is not the place to spend the day. To get to the beautiful beaches you need a bike ($6) or a boat ($5). Every place we have been has chairs for rent and restaurants.

Although I enjoyed my time here Rex has gone home and I must move on. It is time to make my way north. Next stop Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast of Coast Rica.

Until next time Pura Vida!!

bocas

BOCAS: Bioluminescence, Blackouts and Beaches

What’s a tourist to do when the power on the island goes out for hours as the sun sets in Bocas del Toro, Panama? A swim in the bioluminescent water seemed like the perfect way to spend the evening and it was. The

Blackout in Bocas

Blackout in Bocas

water was warm and the bioluminescent was as bright as the stars in the sky. We didn’t bring a camera so there are no pictures but imagine swimming and swirling around in what looks like a sea of lightning bugs.

 

The following day we jumped on another boat and headed to Redfrog Beach at the Isla Bastimentos nature reserve. Although we didn’t’ see the frogs

Forgot the camera again picture courtesy: redfrogbeach.com

Forgot the camera again picture courtesy: redfrogbeach.com

(or a sloth) we could hear them as we walked down the tree lined path to the beach. Keep your eyes up if you want to see the birds or sloths in the trees above.

The beach is nice but the ocean was rough with strong currents. Although surfboards can be rented, the surf was far from ideal even for experienced folks. There are several beaches on the island making this a great place for those who want to explore. IMG_1574

Tomorrow I am back to solo traveling Rex heads home and I head to….well I am still deciding. It’s between a beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica or a mountain town inland in Panama. I can’t decide the only thing I know for sure is that I have to be in Guatemala the end of April for a friend’s party.

I’ll let you know where I end up!

Bocas del Toro starfish

Starfish Beach – Bocas del Toro, Panama

I didn’t surf today but I definitely got a workout. We (it’s my annual trip with my girl Rexanne) decided to ride bikes instead of taking the bus to Starfish Beach. Actually the ride wasn’t too bad it was 10 miles each way up a mountain road. It was narrow but the road was Starfish Beach paved and there weren’t too many potholes plus the starfish made it worth the ride.  Once we made it to Drago Beach it cost $1.50pp each way for the water taxi to Starfish Beach.

The water is so clear that you can see the starfish without using a mask but don’t leave your snorkel gear behind because there’s  ME BOCASbarracuda, parrot fish and other cool critters right off shore. There’s a few beach bars and chair rentals. We liked it so much I am sure we

MY SIGN WOULD SAY: DON'T touch the Starfish or anything else in the water. Plus DON'T leave your trash on the beach it kills the marine life!

MY SIGN WOULD SAY:
DON’T touch the Starfish or anything else in the water. Plus DON’T leave your trash on the beach it kills the marine life!

will be back on that beach at some point during this trip. Tomorrow we will go for a dive in the afternoon then a bioluminescence trip in the evening.

More on Bocas Town when I find the time to put my thoughts on paper until then Pura Vida mis amigos.

Surf Jaco

I Love Surfing Jaco, Costa Rica

This is the second time I have been in Playa Hermosa (Next door to Jaco) to watch the Saturday surf contest and I just wish it went on IMG_1490longer. 4pm- Sunset at the Backyard Bar and Hotel.  The surfers in the water are awesome, they put on an amazing show. I could sit there forever and just watch. I wish I could surf more often but I need two things warm water and waves. At home I can usually find one or the other but not both like here.  IMG_1453

Today I anxiously await the arrival of my dear friend Rex she arrives from San Fran and I am counting the minutes.  In a couple days we will head to Bocas del Toro in Panama for a week then I think I will head to Nicaragua to surf more, then El Salvador to surf a bit more then to Guatemala where I won’t surf but I will end my trip celebrating a few exciting things with my friendsIMG_1520 at their new restaurant Los Tres Tiempos in Antigua Guatemala.

Only 5 more weeks in Central America before I head home to repack my bag!

Costa Rica Santa Teresa

Found: My Costa Rican Paradise

His name is Creepy and he is the pet squirrel of a guy who works at

Creepy the squirrel

Creepy the squirrel

the 3rd hotel we have stayed in since leaving Tamarindo. So much has happened in the days since my last blog that I have no idea where to start. Just now while enjoying my coffee on my balcony I looked down and saw Creepy so I thought introducing you to him was as good as any place to begin.

IMG_1341Six days ago I was suppose to hit the road with Jesse, who I met when he was in Tamarindo attending a wedding.  But then his buddy Vinny, the groom’s brother, decided he wanted to take a road trip so then there was three. As I was leaving the hostel and we were saying goodbye to Tamzin I asked if she wanted to join us and she jumped out of bed, grabbed her stuff and headed to the car.

IMG_1423So the four “Hostel Homies” (2 Canadians and a South African) headed out to find the perfect beach town. We stopped in Nosara first and that was ok.  The beach was nice but the expensive hotel wasn’t great and we couldn’t find a restaurant opened after 9pm. Since we can’t seem to motivate that early after a day on the beach we decided to move on. Next stop was Montezuma. The town is cute but another hotel that we paid too much for in order to, literally, sleep with the ants. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After two days of windy dirt roads and water crossings in our SUV we finally we landed in paradise. IMG_1352

Santa Teresa! I was here a year ago and not too much has changed other than the fact that they did pave part of the main road. We stayed at a nice oasis “Blue Surf Sanctuary.” It was a bit out of town but it was perfect and we had a cute clean hotel on the beach block with a small pool. Besides Arenal this was my favorite spot during my Costa Rica travels.

IMG_1370The sand is nice, the beach is long and surrounded by jungle. Restaurants are plentiful and you can listen to live music with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand!

Ohhhh and there’s Creepy but just the right amount of that here!