Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Day 1 - Thursday, August 26

This website chronicles Traci and Clint's summer vacation to Costa Rica.  It is laid out with one page per day in the form of a travel journal with key photographs included that relate to the text, click on any picture to see a larger version of it..  Each day will also include a picture gallery that includes all photographs taken that day in thumbnails. The link to each daily gallery is at the bottom of each page.  Click on any photograph to see a larger version of the photo (700x500).  All pictures were taken on a Canon Digital Elph S500 at full 5 mega pixel superfine quality.  If you wish to have 5 mega pixel version of any photo please email me and I will send it to you, the pictures are large, around 2.5 megs each.

We awoke at 4:30 this morning so we could be at the airport by 6am.  Our flight left promptly at 7:30.  It has been almost 2 years since we've been to the Charlotte airport and for the most part it's the same. The only big change was the completed D and E concourses.  Our flight out to San Jose was on time and the movie for our trip was Shrek 2.  I can't wait to see this on the home theater when it comes out since I know I missed allot on the little screen and some of the audio was drowned out by the engines.

Costa Rica! 

We arrived at Juan Santamaria International Airport and went smoothly and uneventfully through customs and got our luggage.  Our driver, Giovanni, met us outside the baggage claim area and was very nice. He said he didn't speak English well but it was very passable and far better than my Spanish.  The first part of our 3.5 hour planned drive was along the Pan-American Highway that runs all through Central America. Around San Jose it's a 6 lane highway and then as you get into the country it drops to a 2 lane road that occasionally gets a 3rd lane, usually which ever side is going up a hill. 

This first thing I notice is how much Costa Rica reminds me of Hawaii.  But where Hawaii always had that certain je nais se qua that let you know you were still in the USA, Costa Rica really feels like the third world.  The houses as far as you can see from the road are typical one level boxes with metal roofing.  Many look like they have been around for over a hundred years. I'm sure they haven't and it's just a factor of keeping anything looking "new" in a tropical climate.  Throughout our drive, the poverty, compared to US standards, of even this "well off" third world country is very apparent.  We take allot for granted in the USA, and this drives that point home with a vengeance.  The countryside is gorgeous. Mostly overcast with very low clouds obscuring the mountains that surround us everywhere we look.

We got very lucky on this trip.  Apparently this week has seen quite a bit of protesting by both teachers and the truck drivers. Their tactic of protest is to block roads with trucks and leave them there.  The Costa Rican people are very peaceful. They just sit and wait for the police to show up and solve the problem. Our driver said he was stuck for 2 days with out food as a result of the road blocks until the police showed up with big tractors and moved the trucks out of the way.  Apparently the Red Cross dropped in food for the stranded people while they were waiting.  He'd been waiting in San Jose for our flight for 16 hours since the only way he could ensure he'd be there was to leave early enough to wait out any more road blocks.

After we left the Pan-American highway we were on a paved but VERY twisty road filled with switch back after switch back.  The locals ride their bikes and play right at the road side while traffic blasts past at 60-80kph.  And there are random speed bumps that everyone slams on their breaks to go over slowly. 

About midway along the windy road we came across one of the protest roadblocks.  Two trucks chained together. Traffic was backed up in both direction for a long ways.  Our driver apologized and called his boss who sent his son out to meet us on the other side of the road block.  It took about 45 minutes for the son to get to us, so we stood around and chatted with our driver and watched some other American's who were driving themselves get frustrated at the roadblock.  After we got through that it was a pretty quick trip to Tabacon.

We checked into the resort without any problem but didn't have any currency smaller than US $20, so tipping  has been a bit difficult. 

It is beautiful here and of course started to rain right after we checked in.  It was about 5:30 when we got checked in and the sun was almost set.  We put our bathing suits on and rain jackets and headed out to explore around the hotel grounds and wondered down to the hot springs. We got a locker at the hot springs and wondered around in the pouring rain to sample the hot springs.  Now imagine, it's very dark out, the sun sets here at six pm, its raining a nice cold rain and the hot springs are dumping out walls of steam.  It's amazing, the paths through the well manicured jungle are lit, but with my glasses on, water spotted and steamed up, I might as well be blind.  The hot springs feel great. Some are part of raging waterfalls of very hot water which you have to fight against to stand still.  I can't wait to see what it all looks like in the daylight.

On our walk back to our room Traci stopped and said "what's that?"

There in front of me in the parking lot was an Armadillo.  The only thing that went through my mind, standing in the dark on the edge of a rain forest in the rain was "what do I know about armadillos?". 

They are from Texas and roll into balls.

"That doesn't do me much good," I thought.  Do they have any aggressive behavior??

I tried to take a picture of it but by the time I got to an awning so my camera wouldn't get wet it had decided the humans were in it's way and turned around and headed back into the jungle.

We got cleaned up and went to the restaurant for dinner. Great food, Traci had one of the local cows, in the form of beef tenderloins and I had gnocchi in a cream broccoli sauce. It was very good.  The restaurant is all open walled so you can watch the rain and see the jungle.

There are all kinds of interesting noises in the jungle, maybe tomorrow we'll figure out what some of there are. 

We are scheduled the Cano Negro tour tomorrow, leaves at 7:10 am and returns at 4pm, another long day.

The time here is two hours behind EDS, it's ten after nine and it's time for bed!