February 28, 2009 - Saturday - San Jose to Tamarindo
This morning I share breakfast with several of the Southern Skies
group before they leave for home. I also hook up with two of the group who are
flying to Tamarindo, since I will share a ride with them to Pavas airport.
Nature Air charges me US$25 for my overweight bag, which I expected since
they have a strict 35lb limit for baggage because they use Twin Otter aircraft.
They also weigh each passenger (including carry-ons), so they are pretty careful
about overloading their aircraft. Pavas is a nice airport - small enough to make
it easy to find the airline counters, gates, and other services. The staff is
casual, friendly, and helpful, and there is none of that annoying security which
we have to endure at international airports.
The taxi ride from Tamarindo airport to the hotel costs me US$30 - obviously this is tourist rate - I was expecting to pay $20 for the 20 minute ride. The staff at Hotel Las Tortugas are very friendly; although not all speak English, they all understand some of what I say, so I encounter no problems. I am booked into room #10 as previously arranged (and prepaid using Paypal). I have some time to settle in and have a shower before my friends arrive in mid-afternoon from their long drive from San Jose. We have a beer and a chat before they go to their room to have a siesta.
I see the Sun setting at 6pm from my balcony, and quickly go out
to the beach to take some photos of the panorama. There are quite a few people
on the beach enjoying the sunset. It reminds me of our trip to Long Beach on
Vancouver Island when we were there last September. After my friends and I have
dinner, I take a photo of the Crescent Moon & Venus from my balcony - a
beautiful sight in the dark skies.
We take the opportunity to use the hotel's free wireless Internet to send messages back home. I continue working on my notebook computer to index the photographs I've taken over the last week. I decide to order a chicken quesadilla for lunch - very good! I posted the four astronomy photos I took last week to my Zenfolio online gallery and also setup a couple of my email accounts so I can more easily maintain contact back home.
After a siesta this afternoon, we have some beer around 6pm and I order some
nacho chips and salsa to go with it. Later I order a fish burger for dinner,
since I was still pretty full from the quesadilla I had for lunch. It was made
with fresh local mahi mahi, and came with French fries - too many for me, so I
left half of the fries. My friends order a Tico entrée and a palmito (Palm
heart) salad to share between them - a good idea to get some variety and keep
the cost reasonable.
March 3, 2009 - Tuesday - Hotel Las Tortugas - My friends and I are up at 6am in order to be picked up at 7am for a taxi ride to the Hotel Bula Bula, where we will be taken on a two hour motorboat trip up the estuary. Since we are up so early, we beetle on down the beach in search of turtle tracks, but all we find are some broken turtle eggs, some Whimbrels on the beach, and some Albatrosses circling overhead.
Our taxi delivers us to the launch point, and we have time for a very nice breakfast in The Great Waltini's restaurant. There is a tame parrot who entertains everyone with his antics. After breakfast the three of us board the little 8-seater boat and wind our way through the narrow channels of Estero Tamarindo, a national wildlife refuge. Since we depart at 8am, the temperature is pleasantly cool. We see lots of birds, a group of Howler monkeys, and a couple of crocodiles. We return to our launch point by 10am and our taxi is waiting to take us back to the hotel. Cost of the boat trip is US$25 each, plus US$10 each way for the taxi - breakfast extra of course.
Today at lunch we meet Louis Wilson, the owner of Hotel Las Tortugas.
He is a real
character, with lots of stories to tell! After
lunch I return to my room to download the latest photos from my cameras
to have a look at the results from our trip to the estuary. I am really enjoying
having my notebook computer with me while I travel. It gives me something
familiar to do; I can easily keep in touch with home, and I can process the
travel photos I've taken along the way. Of course, on this particular trip I've
also used the notebook to process my astronomy photos. This allows me to
see if I've had some success the previous night, in case I have to adjust my
March 4, 2009 - Wednesday - Hotel Las Tortugas - Each morning we walk down the beach before sunrise to see if there are any turtles. This morning we see no sign of the turtles, however we did see a very colourful orange and blue crab on the way back. Since the restaurant doesn't open until 8am, we make some coffee and drink it on my balcony. There is a warm breeze as we sit in the rocking chairs and chat - what a wonderful way to start the day.
March 5, 2009 - Thursday - Hotel Las Torgugas - We saw some baby turtle tracks in the sand this morning. The tracks lead from a nest pit in the sand to the waterline. There were also some egg fragments in the nest, but no sign of the baby turtles, so we assume they all made it.
March 6, 2009 - Friday - Hotel Las Tortugas - This is our last day in this coastal paradise. Tomorrow we travel back to San Jose and leave for home Sunday morning. If we had known about Liberia being an international airport, we could likely have saved ourselves a day's travel time and the expense of transportation to and staying in San Jose. File this away for future reference, if I ever return to this part of Costa Rica.
By lunch time it is very hot (39°C 102°F in the shade) along with gusty winds. This is always the case while we've stayed here. There are some cute young Tico men playing in the pool today, so I have a sudden urge to go for a dip. Afterward, I listen to some music while I recline in a hammock. Lunch today is a chicken quesadilla and fresh watermelon juice - yum! We spot a couple of green iguanas on top of the nearby roof - they come alive in the midday heat.
March 7, 2009 - Saturday - Tamarindo to San Jose - We are up before sunrise again this morning, and take a walk down the beach looking for turtles. We find two dead baby turtles, however we also see 32 tracks leading to the sea, so most of them obviously made it out of the nest early this morning.
I have an 11:15am flight with Nature Air from Tamarindo Airport to Pavas Airport in San Jose. I take a taxi from the hotel to Tamarindo airport - another US$30. I'm still feeling ripped off about this taxi fare, since it is only a 20 minute drive. The flight to San Jose is delayed until 1pm (taking off about 1:15pm). Before we take off, a guy on a horse wanders down the runway - things are pretty casual here in Tamarindo! I take more good photos from the aircraft as we fly direct to San Jose in 45 minutes.
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