This is the old North Room blog – the new one is at www.north-room.com/blog

World Tour update: Costa Rrrrrrrrrica!

Posted in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Travel, Wildlife by Mike on January 11, 2009
As with 16 year olds the world over, these fellas laughed at my request for a picture.  But obliged.  I think the guy in the leather fingerless gloves was the tough one.

As with 16 year olds the world over, these fellas laughed at my request for a picture. But obliged. I think the guy in the leather fingerless gloves was the tough one.

Am pleased to report that we survived the recent quake in Costa Rica – luckily we missed it by about a week and had moved away from San Jose and into the Guanacaste province.  We’re having a blast out here in Central America and the traveling vibe we’d been hoping for has really kicked in here in Nicaragua, where we have been for the last few days.  We are currently staying in the lap of luxury – a present to ourselves following a close encounter with muchos cucarachas.  Many dead, some very much living.  “Scared by the earthquake”, our hotelier told us, “we never normally see them – bat don’t warry, I will fumigeeete” – he said, in his best Speedy Gonzalez voice.   Aside from this, and one or two other mishaps on my part:

  1. Wolfing down a couple of delicious sultana muffins before being informed by my wife that the sultanas were, in fact, lumps of mould
  2. Spending the next 20 minutes forcing myself to honk over the bano (no burst blood vessels this time)
  3. Handing Claire some delicious dried pasta shells for dinner which were also mouldy and teeming with flies INSIDE the sealed packet (that I’d bought with the muffins – not my best shopping expedition to date)

…things have gone swimmingly.

This wasn't part of the plan

This wasn't part of the plan? Arenal Lodge, Costa Rica.

 

Not seen rain like this since Manchester.

On our first day here it didn't stop raining.

 

Hey little furry dude, do YOU know when the rain will stop, hmm?  (no)

Hey little furry dude. (Why the long face?)

 

[Incoming]

Incoming.

And when the rains stopped

Arenal Volcano, Zona Norte, CR.

 

the sun came out.

The sun finally came out.

We spent a few days at Arenal, one of the world’s ten most ACTIVE volcanos (situated in Costa Rica) which is as awesome as it is colossal, spewing lava out every few minutes and dominating the skyline of the wilderness area of La Zona Norte (Northern CR).  Then we moved on to the cloud forest of Monteverde (you can see a shot of Claire zipping through the canopy below) and from here had the bus journey from hell over to the beach on the Nicoya Peninsula – a 9 hour slog-a-thon that had us waiting in the baking heat for 3 hours (for a bus that never came) and standing the rest of the way on a coach driven by the star of Police Camera Action.

Arenal at dusk.  You can see the lava running down the right-hand side below the cloud, and the ash above

Arenal at dusk. Check out that lava. The haze above the volcano is ash.

The beach was a tad warmer than the weather we’ve heard you guys back home have been having.  I used Claire’s face as a barometer and judging by its perma-redness, we were consistently enjoying temperatures in the mid-thirties here.

Having relaxed here for a few days, we plucked up the courage to buy another bus ticket, and luckily this time we hit the jackpot.  An old yellow, American school bus with two vacant seats and its own pet puppy, we managed to break-down 12km outside of our destination.  Luckily though, without a single health & safety official within a 600 mile radius, we got a PUSH from a friendly Land Rover owner for 2k’s until we reached the area’s high point – from here we free-wheeled for about another 6km where a replacement bus came to get us.

Spider Monkey!  This dude came at us with welcome presents from his *butt*

Spider Monkey! This dude came at us with welcome presents from his *butt*

 

(a close-up crop)

On the look out for more tourists to cack on.

 

Claire zipping above the canopy.

Claire zipping above the canopy in Monteverde

 

Bomber - could have done with some inspiration here.

Bomber - could have done with some inspiration here.

 

This was a hot volcanic spring we visited in La Fortuna.  Note that I'm NOT one of the fat dudes at the bar.

This was a hot volcanic spring we visited in La Fortuna near Arenal. Note that I'm NOT one of the fat dudes at the bar.

 

This dude and his mates ate platanos outside our breakfast window each day.

This colourful chap and his mates ate platanos outside our breakfast window each day.

 

He screwed up the landing.

You wouldn't think it but he screwed up the landing really badly on this one.

 

A pet of Arenal Lodge, this guy gave us a synchronized flying display with none other than his wife.

A pet of Arenal Lodge, this guy gave us a synchronized flying display with none other than his wife. He also nearly de-throned an American guy one lunch by flying onto his table. V. funny moment.

 

Do you remember this stuff!  Laughed out loud in the supermarket when I saw this - the Costa Ricans must love it.

Do you remember this stuff! Laughed out loud in the supermarket when I saw this - the Costa Ricans must love it.

 

Claire during our 3-hour stand-off for the bus that never came.  Several people came close to being hurt.

Claire during our 3-hour stand-off for the bus that never came. Several people came close to being hurt.

 

When we first got to the beach we wondered down it and saw these fellas getting proactive for their dinner.  Made our English seagulls look so lazy.

When we first got to the beach we went for a wander and saw these boys getting proactive on their dinner. Made our seagulls look so lazy by comparison.

 

My first Pacific sunset didn't disappoint.

Sunset over the Pacific. My first.

 

This small dude was tethered to our bus driver's seat.  Lucky for him, he got off 1km before it broke down.

This small dude was tethered to our bus driver's seat. Lucky for him, he got off 1km before it broke down. Skills on the sixth sense.

 

We weren't interested in the jewelry or drinks we were offered ON THE BUS, but the fried chicken tortillas in a bag were tempting.

We weren't interested in the jewelry or sweets we were offered ON THE BUS, but the fried chicken tortillas in a bag were tempting. Rivas, in Nicaragua - absolutely awesome place (dude).

So now we’re in Granada, Nicaragua – the oldest Spanish-founded city in the America’s – and it’s the most beautiful place we’ve encountered to date.  Tomorrow we head to market (Claire remains endlessly amused at my hapless but incessant attempts to communicate with the locals in my crap spanglifrancetinglish lingo) and then on to Ometepe – an island created by two conjoined volcanoes in the middle of lake Nicaragua.

Anyway, must dash, we hope you’re all well and we miss you!! (but clearly not enough to come back yet…)

Love M&C (on the veranda at Hotel Alhambra). x

PS – big congrats to Si and Vix on their news and a belated happy new year to everyone at home!  And please keep us posted on your news!

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