Second Day in Costa Rica

Trip Start Jun 25, 2010
Trip End Jul 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
Deb and Bob's Villa

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Alajuela,
Saturday, June 26, 2010

I woke up at 1:45 am sure it was almost daylight. Was really surprised how early it was.  Went back to sleep and woke again at 5:30.  It was raining and very cloudy.  I was very disappointed that I couldn't see the view. 

Woke everyone up and by 6:30 the clouds and rain were gone and we had an amazing view.  We all got ready and set out for the day.

Our vehicle has three rows of seats.  I have claimed the very back as my own and Robby was kind enough to equip it with pillows for extra comfort.  There are pros and cons to this arrangement.  The biggest pro is that I am the farthest away from having to read the map and navigate the GPS.  Robby was elected to be the co-pilot.  The biggest con is that I get the brunt of the potholes and speed bumps. They have a couple of main highways but mostly we take dirt roads that have an exceptional amount of potholes.  The speed bumps around escuelas (schools) are also rough. I now require all passengers to yell out "bump" or “pothole” so I can brace myself.  Another pro is that I can sleep better than the rest since I have two seats to myself.  Another con is since I don’t have windows that go down, I can’t take pictures and rely on Sara and Courtney to take pictures for me.  I also see everything after we passed it.

We drove by an indoor mall and saw McDonald's so we decided to see if they had sweet tea, which I am addicted to.  The parking lot is all fenced in and only has one entrance.  When you pull in a guard is standing in the middle of the lanes and hands you a ticket.  When you drive out you have to hand it back.  The only thing we came up with is that if you don’t have the ticket when you leave they think you stole the car and they stop you.  Unless you left the ticket in the car.   They didn’t open until 11 am so we didn’t get to go in since it was only 9 am.  I guess they don’t serve breakfast.

We drove down to the farmers market in San Ramon and bought some fruit.  Saw a lot of fruit we couldn’t identify so we passed it up. They were boiling pejibaye, a vegetable and let us try it.  It grows like palm nuts and tasted like potato.

Prices weren’t bad at all.  Don refused to buy from any stall that the prices weren’t shown.  Courtney works at Publix so she was comparing all the prices for us.  Courtney asked one of the vendors if she could take a picture with him and he agreed.  When we walked away the other men in the area came over and were patting him on the back.  He was eating it up.

We then set off to Monte Verde to the Botanical Orchid Garden.

Met some farmers on the road herding their cattle.  I would have slowly driven behind them but Don drove right through them while Robby pushed them out of the way.

Took over three hours to get here but we made it to the orchid garden.  We ate a late lunch at Morphos first and had very good food. 

Of course it started to rain while we were eating lunch but we had just driven 3 hours so we went next door to the garden which turned out to be a very small area behind a building. The price was $10 per person but we got $2 off each ticket for eating at Morphos.  I was expecting the orchids we have at home but was given a tour of very small orchids.  In fact we were given magnifying glasses to see them.  We supposedly saw the smallest orchid in the world.

They also have an awful flower called the “stinky flower”.  It is pretty but is supposed to smell like rotting meat.

My highlight of the tour was talking to a parrot in a cage.  She usually flies free but they had caged her before the rains came.   She didn’t make a sound while you stood there but once you went behind the bushes she talked and whistled like crazy.

The tour guide was very nice but it was not a very good tour for $40.

We then left and stopped at a nice road side soda and had pappa fritas (french fries) and bought some souvenirs.  They had some really nice paintings of parrots.

Coming back we saw another Tico herding two cows up the mountain.

We made a wrong turn somewhere and ending up at Arenal Volcano.  It’s supposed to be an active volcano but we didn’t get to see a light show.  Ended up going all around Lake Arenal.  Not sure but we may have gone around it more than once since we were lost. 

Don bought a GPS and downloaded a Costa Rican map before we left home.   In fact we spend most of our trip pulled over programming it.  But it seems there are a lot of roads that it says to turn at and they don’t exist.  Street signs do not exist here and I don’t believe they have addresses.  I don’t even think we could explain how to get back to our villa if we had to.

You definitely need a GPS here.  Don’t come without one.  Maps just don’t work here as there are no street signs.  Our GPS takes us right to the place and has a camera.  We take a picture of a place we want to remember and 5 years from now we can come right back to it.  Don’t leave home without one.

I remarked that the GPS probably looks like an Etch a Sketch so Don took a picture of our adventure. We finally started to stop and ask anyone we could find still out since it was 10 at night.  So the myth that men don’t stop and ask for directions has been eliminated.

People run little businesses out of their houses on the side of the road.  They cut a hole in the wall and hang plywood that they can lift up.  If you see it up they are open.

We stopped at a house at the bottom of our street and bought some staples.  We bought brown eggs, leche (milk) in pouches, butter, bread and queso (cheese) for 5500 colones ($11).  Exchange rate is currently 524 colones to $1.

Milk is in a pouch and stored hot.  Also, sticks of butter are stored on a shelf.  Robby refuses to put the butter in the refrigerator.

Deb had given us some Costa Rican coffee and we brought splenda from home so we were set.

We finally made it home around midnight.
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