Scuba Diving

Trip Start Nov 15, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Backpackers Nest

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Saturday, July 17, 2010

Not being able to find any hostels on 'hostel world' for Playas del Coco, should have told me that it was a remote place!  But I wasn´t feeling 100% this morning and had to endure a 3 hour shuttle bus ride alone as the boys are going back down towards Panama and I'm heading north (doing it via public transport would have required 4 bus changes!).  So on arrival, I had the name of a hostel, but it had closed down, so I asked the locals if they could suggest somewhere and that it how I stumbled across Backpackers Nest - basic cabin style rooms with shared bathroom.  It's nothing to write home about especially after the 5 star backpackers resort in La Fortuna, but the Italian lady who runs it is lovely.  She even gave me a bath towel when I told her I had forgotten some stuff at the last place including my towel (a sarong equally doubles up as a towel and will have to going forwards).

My plan was to spend just the one day here to do some diving again finally!  But as luck would have it, having called the hostel umpteen times (the Italian lady kindly let me use her phone), they are sending my stuff to Liberia on the next shuttle bus, which leaves the following day and are going to leave it at a hotel for me to collect on my way to Nicaragua - now that's customer service!

Playas del Coco itself is a quiet beach town, not very big, with a not so nice beach but the surrounding beaches I am told are lovely.  Again the theme with the weather since Panama is rain or should I say torrential downpours (I've even had to buy an umbrella as it is too hot to wear a rain jacket), one of which I was caught out in, but as I was walking back to the hostel a golf buggy pulled up beside me and the guy asked me where I was going and gave me a lift - how nice was that?!

I'd been recommended Murcielago island by a guy I'd met briefly in Panama.  Three dives for $180 with bull sharks being the main attraction.  Well, since I have a lot more diving planned elsewhere and the Murcielago dive doesn't happen everyday, I opted for 2 local dives - punta Argentine and Tortuga dive sites.  The sites weren't very colourful but there were lots of rock formations to peek underneath.  Tortuga was the better of the 2 dive sites with heaps of white tip reef sharks and a huge sting ray near the small wreck (at least 3m wide wing span).  There were also puffers, porcupine fish, scorpion fish, a seahorse, moray eels and lots of bigger fish.  It was good to get back to diving again after 8 months (since the Galapagos).

With the diving all done, it's time to hit a beachside restaurant for some seafood soup.  But this wasn't just any seafood soup, this was "freshly caught seafood that very same day" soup!  I opted for the small as I wasn't that hungry but it was still 5 pounds, which doesn't sound a lot to you guys in the UK BUT, you can get a 2 course meal for the same price, no less actually, over here, so it was expensive but damn ... it was GOOD - not just liquid, but 1/2 a crab with shell & pincers included, mussels, prawns, soft calamari and melt in your mouth white fish.  Suffice to say it was delicious but a meal in itself and I was full afterwards!

It's time to say Goodbye to Costa Rica and move on to Nicaragua.  I liked Costa Rica:
1. Friendly people
2. Great food, particularly the bread!!!
3. I found Cherry Coke!
4. plusher hostels than Panama
5. lush green landscape / very tropical, even in the rain
6. lots of adrenaline sports / tours
7. the men are obsessed with having a moustache!  so funny, it's like being in the 80's (starsky & hutch style)
8. BUT Costa Rica is expensive

The further north you go, particularly on the coast, there is a huge ex-pat contingent, very Americanized.  Get me back to South America before I forget all the Spanish I've learnt! Aarggghhhh!!!!!!!
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