I first went to Costa Rica in December 2004. Gena had
also been there on her own trip. We came this time with her two kids and stayed
in two places, both on the Caribbean side. The first accommodations were very
unique near Puerto Viejo, where we had never been before. Being able to touch
monkeys and Sloths was very special as were the zip lines.
It was a 5 hour or so trip by car and boat to our second
stop in Tortuguero at the Pachira Lodge
, where I had stayed 8 years ago. They
now have an adjacent property with bungalows called Aninga. Across the river is
the Evergreen Lodge.
Activities here have included nature hiking, going on a
guided group boat ride through the National Forest to see all sorts of animals
up close, swimming in the hotel pool, (the river isn't safe because of the
Crocodiles), shopping in the village, massage, more zip lines and eating 3
meals a day included with our room.
The rain storms here are very impressive. It pores so
loudly that you cannot hear a person speaking 3 feet away. The thunder rattles
you to the bone. The Howler monkeys (audio file)
don't like the rain so they start
hollering. This tends to take place from about 4 to 7 in the morning.
The Pachira rooms are screened but no glass making sure
you can hear the entire symphony of animals around the clock. Amazing how many
things are making sounds at night, frogs that sound like birds and the
occasional boat engine. Mike recorded an audio file of the sounds at breakfast
The other guests sound to be mostly Americans so it
sometimes feels more like you are in Hawaii than Central America. The food is
decent and copious. The staff are very helpful, many speak English and they
don't seem to mind those of us who wish to practice our broken Spanish. There
seem to be more groups here than couples or families. They consider this the
As you would expect in the rain forest and tropics, it is
humid with lots of bugs
. The kids complain about this a lot but they have
enjoyed most of the activities, especially the animals and the zip lines. They
are too used to air conditioned American hotels so these rustic accommodations
have been rough on them.
One of the things about Costa Rica is once you arrive in
the capital from overseas, most anywhere you want to go is a 3 to 6 hour
production. There is air service to some places but boats, vans and buses are
the main way of travel. We hired a guide in Puerto Viejo, which really helped.
She and her husband even cooked dinner for us one night. A particular thanks to
Zaida and David of the IPED Spanish school for arranging this trip and looking
after us. With kids involved, I am very happy we had their guidance and
help. It is one thing to wing it as a
couple and another to do it with kids.