01/24/2010 - 01/28/2010 110 °F
We arrived at a small airport in San Jose, not too far from Juan Santamaria International. I was a little concerned because there is a 25 or 30lb weight limit for checked baggage. I’m not sure which number is the real one. Either way I was over the limit with 35lbs (plus my 17lb carry on). Everything was weighed, including myself with carry on. Nobody complained about the extra weight, maybe because Dad and Ann were under weight enough to squeeze my extra pounds onto the plane. The plane was a twin prop five seater. Ann was a little nervous to say the least because her only experience on small planes (that she talked about anyway) was the hop from Colorado Springs to Denver on a bad day. This hop is notoriously bumpy.
The ride to the Drake Bay airport was smooth and scenic. We landed on a small runway cut into the jungle. The airport consisted of a small runway, a wooden bench, and a small dirt parking lot. A Tico with wife and kid in tow picked us up in a Land Cruiser with benches in the back. We were taken to the beach where we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and boarded a small boat that took us to the La Paloma Lodge boat landing twenty minutes away. One of the hotel managers met us at the dock and walked us up the hill to the hotel and our room. By the time we got to our cabina we were soaked with sweat. It must have been 110% humidity and 95 degrees there. The cabina was beautiful. Two stories, huge sliding glass doors that opened up the whole place. The bathrooms opened up to the jungle (no windows). Dad and Ann got the upstairs this time. There were ceiling fans upstairs and down but no Air Conditioning. I stood there soaked in sweat wondering if I would ever be cool again. It took some getting used to but this place was my favorite of all the places that my family and I stayed.
We put our gear away, showered, tried to cool down and headed up to the common area for some lunch. This hotel was an all inclusive kinda thing. All the meals and some of the tours were paid for in advance. There were kayaks, boogie boards, and snorkeling gear available for us to use. There was a dive shop at the main lodge. I took a 45 minute scuba refresher course in the pool in case I wanted to do some diving while I was there (and it was a good way to cool off). After assembling my scuba gear incorrectly, losing a fin in the pool, and inhaling some water while doing the refresher course drills, I was ready for some diving. I wouldn’t actually go diving but I was ready. That afternoon and evening we took it easy, exploring the hotel grounds, hanging out by the pool, and mixing with the other guests over dinner and drinks. All the guests sit together at big tables for dinner. It was a lot of fun getting to know everyone there and we all became fast friends.
We woke up early the next morning for breakfast and a tour of Corcovado National Park. It was a forty minute boat ride to the national park. Not five minutes into the ride we saw two humpback whales breaching (mother and baby). Friggin’ awesome. We watched them for fifteen minutes or so ... big splash followed by little splash. What a bonus. We saw the same pair the next day on the way to Cano Island.
The tour of Corcovado was fantastic. Our guide was top notch. We spent the morning slowly walking through the seaside jungle spotting howler monkeys, sloth, capuchin monkeys, toucan, scarlet macaw, frogs, iguana and all kinds of stuff (mostly birds) that I don’t know the name of. We had lunch at the ranger station an then hiked up to a water fall in the afternoon. We were pretty pooped out when we got back to the hotel. Heat, humidity, sun, waking up at oh-dark-thirty had taken it’s toll. We wrapped up the day with cool showers, some lounging about, and dinner and drinks with the gang. Great day. Gotta get up a oh-dark-thirty again tomorrow for the Cano Island snorkeling trip.
We set out for Cano island in a dive boat full of scuba divers and snorkelers. I think everyone in the hotel was on the trip. I decided to snorkel instead of scuba because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like having to pay attention to what I was doing all day. I like snorkeling because you can pretty much just lay there. On the way out to Cano Island we saw mother and baby humpback again. Not so much breaching this time but we got a lot closer and watched them swim around for awhile. The snorkeling was pretty good. It was in deeper water, maybe twenty-five feet, so free diving to the bottom was a bit rough. No problem, I’ll just lay here. Lots of colorful fish, a hawksbill turtle and a white tip reef shark. The snorkel boat disappeared after we all got in the water. Ann didn’t appreciate that.
Between the morning and afternoon sessions of snorkeling we had lunch at the ranger station on Cano Island. I build a beautiful sandwich of homemade bread, turkey, cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayo and whatever else they had. Some fresh fruit, potato salad and cookies filled up the rest of the plate. Ahhh ... lunch. There were no seats left at the picnic table so I headed for the water line to eat there. WHAM!! My beautiful sandwich and everything else on the plate was now scattered on the beach. I never saw him coming ... a hawk had just dive bombed my lunch. He came from six o’clock high and blew up my whole plate while I was holding it. Son of a ... !! Oh, I left out one detail. The guides pointed out the hawk sitting in a tree and told us all to watch out for it because he would go after our lunches. Who would believe such a thing? I was watching the hawk like a ... hawk as I was walking towards the water. I guess at some point I decided he wasn’t going to make a move. Unbelievable. I brought my wrecked lunch back up to the picnic table and told everyone to watch out for the hawk.
We spent the evening like every other evening at La Paloma Lodge, having dinner and drinks with all the other guests. A taxi drive had told my Dad about Guaro ... the Tico white lightening. He had been repeating the word over and over ever since the trip began just because he liked to say it. Guaro, Guaro, Guaaaaro. OK, Dad. They just so happened to have some Guaro at the bar. We got a free sample. It smells like nail polish remover but tastes OK. From that point on it was not unusual for someone in our group to order some sort of Guaro drink. When in Rome, right? No activities planned for the next day. Cool. I’m sleeping in.
I think I got up around 8:00 the next morning. I can’t sleep in when I’m traveling. We didn’t do much of anything that day aside from make the short trip to “town” for some ice cream and a new pair of flip-flops for my Dad. Dad said the flip-flops didn’t flip (or flop), they only did one or the other. So he got some flips or flops, we’re not sure which. Guaaaaaro.
Ann and I went on a night tour with the Bug Lady that night after dinner. The bug lady is a bit of a kook. She was really into bugs and told stories about them like you tell scary stories around the camp fire. She lives with her boyfriend or husband somewhere nearby. She was telling us about when they had collected around 120 of a certain type of spider so that they could harvest their silk (it is used to make kevlar or something like kevlar). These 120 spiders lived in the house with them. Creepy. The night time insects, frogs, and snakes were neat to see but the Bug Lady herself stole the show.
Overall the Drake Bay, Corcovado, Cano Island stay was my favorite part of the trip. We got used to the heat and humidity, mostly by slowing down, and I loved the open room and social dinners. I also liked the all inclusive approach. I didn’t have to think about what something would cost ... it was included. Tomorrow we go to Manuel Antonio.