Member Trip Report



Costa Rican Exploratory Tropical Journey - Part 1

November 22 - December 4, 2010

Trip Leader: Dave Foster.        Dave's home in Costa Rica: click here.

Author: Robin Gurule.         Photo Galleries: view Robin's, Jan & Dave's, and Martin's photos.

Participants: Mary Thompson, Martin Staley, Jan Studebaker, Robin Gurule, and Dave Foster.

About a month ago, on Bill Priedhorsky's llama trip, Dave Foster and several other trip participants discussed a trip to Costa Rica, where Dave owns a house. A few weeks later Dave put out a call for just such a trip, and Mary, Jan, Martin and Robin signed up. Dave was gracious enough to let us stay in his gorgeous house overlooking Playa Carrillo, and to use his car. Dave also used his extensive network of Costa Rican friends, and his knowledge of the area, to arrange our outings.

Trip participants: Jan, Robin, Dave, Mary, and Martin.

Dave's house is in a beautiful rain forest setting, with flowers, iguanas, monkeys, and many tropical bird species right on the 2 1/2 acre property. Many of the bird pictures in the attached album were taken from his property.

Day 1 - Monday: We all arrived safely, except for Jan's bag, which was waylaid in Houston. Jan's bag contained a blender for Dave's house, but it turned out to be illegal contraband! We had a tasty dinner in a lovely outdoor restaurant near the Liberia airport, and then Alex, a driver whom Dave had arranged, drove us to Dave's house in Playa Carrillo.

Day 2 - Tuesday: We walked downtown - a couple of blocks - for breakfast in another lovely outdoor restaurant overlooking Carrillo Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and began settling in. With the heat, salty air, and high humidity, electronics corrode in about 15 minutes! So, Jan and Dave started the long, arduous task of getting things working again. Almost nothing worked when we arrived, but by day 5 we were down to only exterior lights and other items that were not entirely essential. The biggest issue was Dave's Toyota 4Runner. After long trouble-shooting sessions, it was determined that the vehicle's alarm system had been armed - thus draining the battery - for several months while the car sat idle. Now, it is running.

Martin said I should mention the lovely restaurant located directly on the (adjacent) Samara beach waterfront with the natural tree posts and the extremely cute waitress!

Later that evening we had a HUGE electrical storm. Outlets were popping, and sparks flying out, several times! Amazingly, the power never went out. Tons of rain poured from the sky.

Danilo, the best fisherman in the area, is unimpressed by Jan's biggest catch ever.
Our five catches tasted wonderful, and provided ample meat for all of us for days.

Day 3 - Wednesday: Dave arranged for a local fisherman, Danilo, to take us fishing. We caught mackerel, skipjack tuna, and a needlefish, which was plenty for us to eat. While some of us were "reeling in" fish, the choppy seas and tiny boat set others "reeling" in a different way.....

We also saw sea turtles off Playa Camoronal, where they were waiting to go in to lay eggs; and one porpoise.

After approximately 10,000 phone calls, Jan's bag finally arrived. In the afternoon, we drove into Playa Samara to pick it up. The nefarious blender, as well as an evil mattress pad, had been confiscated by Customs.

In the evening we made ceviche, sushi and grilled fish for dinner.

Day 4 - Thursday: We went to Palo Verde National Wildlife Refuge and took a two-hour boat trip up the river to see wildlife. Highlights included scads of wading birds including roseate spoonbills; crocodiles, long-nosed bats, howler monkeys, iguanas, and basilisk lizards. On the way home we shopped in Nicoya for a barbecue grill because - guess what?! - the one Dave had was corroded. We visited a dozen or more stores before we could find one. Then we used it to grill more fish, and Costa Rican veggies, for Thanksgiving dinner!

Day 5 - Friday: On this day, Mary's birthday, we waited for various repairmen to fix the washing machine and dryer, and to remove roots from the sewer pipes. In the afternoon we went swimming and for a long walk on the beach. Then we treated our birthday girl to a fancy dinner at a grill located in the sand along the Samara beach waterfront.....with another extremely cute waitress!

Day 6 - Saturday: We drove, through a heavy rainstorm, to the Arenal region. At one stream crossing, a flash flood was just hitting as we drove by. Bad news: it was too socked-in to see the active Arenal Volcano. Good news: we were able to spend the evening soaking in the hotel's relaxing hot springs!

Day 7 - Sunday: Still in Arenal, we went on a class 2-3 river trip on the Rio Balsa. Their "class 3's" proved to be much more intense than ours are! We had wonderful guides and a great trip, which included snacks and a lunch. The weather cleared a bit, so it was a lovely day.

Exciting rapids were frequent on our Rio Balsa (class 2-3 ??) river trip.
Note that our expert guide and navigator is more concerned than Martin!
The rest of us are certain that we will soon meet our maker!

We considered paying a visit to some upscale local hot springs, but decided they were too pricey for our budgets. Besides, we'd been wet all day on the river rafts! As alleged "mountaineers" we also discussed a clandestine hike to the (off-limits) crater rim of the volcano, but decided against it after considering the risks associated with deadly chemical vapors, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, and red-hot airborne boulders.

Day 8 - Monday: This was our last day in Arenal. Rain fell all night, and the volcano was still socked in. Indeed, we saw only the base of the volcano during the entire trip! Most of us did a "zipline" on this day, followed by a massage and more soaking in the hot springs.

Mary has found true meaning in her life in the form of ziplines. See the addendum on ziplines at the end of this report.

Mary in ecstasy above the canopy;  she is now on a zipline Vision Quest.

Day 9 - Tuesday: In the morning we went for a lovely hike to a mango grove, and then continued to a secluded beach. Dave had ordered us fresh lobster from a local fisherman; we picked those up later, and ate them for dinner. Martin made us baked winter squash, some of which he made into two delicious pumpkin pies.

On to Part 2

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