No Sloths at the Holiday Inn

Trip Start Dec 08, 2004
Trip End Dec 07, 2005

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Thursday, May 5, 2005

We headed straight for San Jose in Costa Rica in hope of getting our digital camera repaired at the Canon shop. We think its been damaged by the heat and humidity of Nicaragua.

Getting off the bus in San Jose we realised some lovely person had picked Keith's day pack up and wondered off the bus with it. Fabulous! So our first day in San Jose was spent at the police station trying to fill out a police report in Spanish!

We didnīt lose too much, the only real loss was our pictures of Nicaragua on the memory cards of the Camera. The rest is covered by insurance and easily replacable.

We had plans to do the famous canopy zip lines and go to the turtle reserves on the Carribean coast, but as Costa Rica has a thriving tourist industry, the cost of most things is far beyond the realms of a backpacking budget.

San Jose is an interesting city with attractive parks and cosmopolitan vibe and high price tags to go with it. So we made the best of what was free or cheap, walking around town, watching street musicians, visiting museums, sneaking into high rise buildings for the view of the city, a visit to a butterfly farm, watching a sloth who decided to join us for coffee* and visiting an active volcano.

Volcan Poas is the largest of the active volcanoes in Costa Rica. It has two huge craters at the summit, one that is active and is filled with bubbling and steaming sulphur and the other an extinct serene crater lake.

Unfortunately you can't hike Poas so we had to catch the bus almost to the summit! (shame). On arriving at the summit we got some bad news, we were told that we were unlikely to see anything that day as the cloud had come down and the sulphur was too strong around the lake so the path was closed. We were offered half price tickets, so we thought we might as well give it a shot, we had come 2 1/2 hours from San Jose after all.

We hiked the last bit to the crater. It was a good job we didn't go back because just as we got to the edge of the crater the cloud cleared completely, giving a perfect view of the steaming sulphur pool. It was like looking at the surface of another planet. We also managed to get a private walk around the crater lake by smiling sweetly and greeting the warden in Spanish. The trail to the lake was through thick jungle and the lake itself was beautiful. So all in all a good day and we got in for half price! BARGAIN!

The pics of Volcan Poas are unfortunately off the web as we took them on a disposable, but we will get them scanned ASAP

Eventually it was time to collect our camera from the shop and "hurray!" it was working again!!! That was of course, until we got it back to our hotel. Arrrgggh!

With our budget slowly dwindling away and the need to press on to Panama and South America, we couldn't afford to wait around for another attempt at camera revival.

The next day we took a bus from San Jose down the Pan American Highway through some stunning scenery, crossing a very confusing border into Panama and eventually to Boquete, in the northern Highlands of Panama.

* Ill explain the sloth...

We stayed at a beautiful hotel in San Jose, called Aranjuez. It has beautiful jungle like gardens, and is quite unusual for a city centre hotel.

Keith was sitting out on the patio when he noticed something unusual in the corner hanging from the railings. It was a sloth! A wild two-toed sloth had decided it was in need of some company and had climbed down from its tree, along the hotel roof and down the drainpipe to the patio.

Sloths are usually solitary animals and very shy and they usually only come down from their tree once a week to poo. They move at a top speed of 3 meters a minute and this is really moving for them.

It was incredible! We were hoping to see a sloth while in Central America, but had never dreamed of seeing one this close. It was night time and not wanting scare it by using flash we couldn't get a piccy. So we sat for a while (3 hours actually) watching it move slowly around the patio and sleep. Not the most action packed entertainment but certainly very captivating.
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