24.06.2016 - 01.07.2016
Well we survived our 16 hours bus ride, excessive border crossing protocols and all - the bus was searched by panama police, then by costa rica police, then stopped a further 2 times to be checked by more costa rican police, just to be sure we had all got our stamps. It was pretty intense!
But we arrived in San Jose, and got to our hostel all in one piece. Went to check out local sites such as the supermarket - it was like christmas - there were VEGETABLES and decent looking meat, so we could make another delicious satay with leftover panama peanut butter. Then to our delight there was a channel with english language movies - Big Hero 6 happened to be playing and is up there with my all time favourite movie, so all in all it was a pretty excellent evening. Going to bed to sleep was even better though (even though we were in an 8 bedded dorm)!
The next day we continued our bus fest, and hopped on a 4 hour bus to La Fortuna (with nearby Arenal national park). This bus ride ended up taking more like 5 hours, and we felt very sorry for the little boy across the aisle from us who got projectile vomiting mid trip, who's parents were less than sympathetic. We also felt very sorry for the other tourists who had their bags covered in said vomit.
But we arrived, not covered in vomit, to our hostel and got settled in. The swaying factor on choosing our hostel was the presence of a swimming pool. We learnt upon arrival that this was a heated pool, and so actually more like a spa. Dulp! This is a place where its a good 30 degrees or more during the day, not somewhere we wanted to be sitting in hot water!
On arrival we met another traveller called Martin (from Scotland), who seemed pretty nice and we ended up hanging out with for the rest of our Costa Rican travels.
Our first afternoon in La Fortuna was filled with supermarket based adventures - to make spag bol (YUM), and rest, as we were feeling pretty jetlagged from all the bussing (and the surprise time zone change on the border).
Next morning Richard, Martin and I headed out for the waterfall (THE waterfall to see in Costa Rica apparently). As there are no local buses here, we opted to walk the 7km along the semi quiet roads. This got pretty jolly hot (as witnessed in the arrival photos), and so by the time we got there man was I ready to jump in! The swim was pretty epic. Sadly Martin's phone (which made waterproof claims) didn't quite survive its visit, but otherwise it was an awesome trip out. Walking home was slightly cooler as it was all downhill.
The afternoon was spent playing stupid games in the pool, like who can head the ball over the other person onto the wall, reading our books, and plotting our next dinner (more pasta, as its the first edible pasta we've had in months)
Day two in La Fortuna we planned on being a bit lazier, and just to visit a small wildlife sanctuary slightly out of town - here we were promised we could see sloths (2 toed variety), poison frogs, butterflies and more. We did see all of this, but hadn't bargained on all of the mosquitoes (there really hadn't been any for days!)
two toed sloth
three toed sloth
That night Richard cooked mince fried rice, which was pretty delicious, and played some cards.
Day three in La Fortuna, was the day to move to Monteverde - via jeep-boat-jeep, saving ourselves an extra 4 hours driving around the lake.
Arriving in Monteverde, we had our first major hostel dramas, with overcharging and an unreasonable owner - in the end booking.com has had to come to play and save us.
Spent the afternoon wandering around the town (which is tiny and mostly forested), and spent some time staring out at the view while Martin visited the butterfly garden (and then being let in free of charge to see the tarantulas and giant beetles which was great!)
The following day we organised ourselves to go up to the Santa Elena Reserve and go wander around in the cloud forest. This was pretty cool - lots of punga ferns around, though didn't see all that much wildlife, but it was definately nice to get out and wander the hills at an appropriate temperature (I even had to wear a long sleeved shirt!)
The afternoon was whiled away with movies and game of thrones catch up marathon - it was pouring with rain outside.
Next day (today) we decided to increase our chances of spotting wildlife and do a tour of another nearby reserve. Another early start- tour began at 7:30, but within minutes we had seen 2 different types of tucan, a motmot, and a bunch of other birds. All up the tour lasted 4 hours and was totally worth it!
Richard chasing birds
On the walk back to town we side tracked to a nearby waterfall - although there was this high quality bridge that needed crossing on the way. Not encouraging when the first bit you step on cracks and breaks with less than half your weight. In the end we forded the river.
High quality bridge
This afternoon we spent a bit of time on skype (first time to skype people in over a month!) which was really nice.
Tomorrow we are heading back to San Jose (5hours south), to the following day head 9 hours north - as Costa Rican bus systems make so much sense!
But then it will be off to Nicaragua!