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Archive for August, 2006

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Day 17 – Alajuela

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

After breakfast we took a swim in the pool and a dip in their new hot tub. After that we had one of the hotel drivers take us to Zoo Ave which is a rehabilitation zoo for animals who will eventually be returned to the wild. It’s expensive for foreigners to get in ($15 vs. $3 for citizens) but the zoo was really nicely done. Saw lots of amazing birds, turtles, iguanas, monkeys, some big cats and lots of other critters. We walked around the zoo for about two hours.

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Not wanting to go back to the hotel so early we decided to be a little adventurous and took the public bus into Alajuela where we walked around for a while. We wanted to eat at Jalapenos Comida Tex Mex which is owned by Norman from Vida Tropical. I had tried to make a reservation to stay at Vida Tropical but I never got a response from Norman and when checking my email that morning I saw one from Norman saying that he missed us. Obviously, his confirmation email got lost and I wanted to meet him and apologize and explain that I never got his email.

The Moon guide said it was east of the Central Park so we looked all over but couldn’t find it. We then began to look at the other sides of the park and finally found it a few blocks to the east. We had a great taco lunch compete with guacamole, rice and beans ($4.50). Talked with Norman for bit and then headed back to the Central Park to catch a $4 taxi back to Orquideas.

That night we had a good dinner and drank our last Imperials and Pilsens at the hotel bar and went to bead early.

Day 16 – San Jose

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

The Orquideas Inn is also home to a tour company so we had one of their drivers take us into San Jose ($20 each way) and dropped us off at the Plaza de la Cultura which is next to the Teatero Nacional (national theater) and also contains the Museo de Oro Precolumbia y Numismatica (Gold museum) located underneath the plaza. We decided to check out the gold museum first. There is heavy security as you enter (it is a gold museum) that requires visitors to go through a metal detector and you also have to leave your backpacks in a locker at the entrance. The museum is located behind a tick vault door and consists of three underground levels. The first level contains old Costa Rican postage stamps currency and the lower two levels contain lots of pre-Columbian gold artifacts from the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica. All the exhibits are in both Spanish and English. It was interesting but the museum is kind of small (we were through there in ½ hour) and I didn’t think it was worth the $6 admission price.

Next we wanted to see the inside of the National Theatre. We got into a line for tickets but it seemed to be taking a really long time for the line to move so we decided to leave and come back later. We then walked up to the pedestrian mall on Avenida Central and made our way to the Mercado Central. This place has something for everybody: knick-nacks, appliances, meats, vegetables, live chickens, DVDs, you name it and you can probably find it there.

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From the Mercado Central we walked back east to a park where we could sit and get our bearings. It turned out that we were right near the Jade Museum which we wanted to check out not so much for the jade but the museum is located on the 11th floor and supposedly offers a great view of the city. When we got to the entrance we saw that cameras were not allowed so we decided to skip it and go get some lunch instead.

We walked back south to the Aveneda Central and after consulting the LP guide, we went to the News Café which is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Presidente. It seemed to be a popular place with Americans and Tico business people. The food was very good and surprisingly reasonably priced. We did see one American “knucklehead” type to had a scantly clad women with him and his buddy. Someone from the restaurant brought her a coat so she could cover up. I’m assuming she was a prostitute.

After lunch, we headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art which is located in a 150 year old building that once contained a liquor factory. The museum ($3) was my favorite place in San Jose and had some really great exhibits.

From there we walked to the Plaza de la Democracia where we found an open air crafts market. It was mostly the same stuff we saw in all the souvenir shops around the country but much lower prices.

Our next stop was going to be the criminology museum which was located in one of the court buildings. We got a little lost but eventually found out way to the cour house complex. We weren’t sure which building the museum was located so just as we started to look around it started to rain really hard. Even though we had umbrellas we had to take shelter in a doorway for one of the court buildings with other Ticos. We had fun watching people brave the rain to make the dash across to the other buildings. Whenever someone would make it people would cheer. After waiting about 30 minutes the rain finally let up and we then learned that the museum no longer existed!

We walked back to the National Theatre and found that the slow moving line we were in before was the line to but tickets to performances and not to tour the theatre itself. We got our tickets, went inside and someone from the theatre gave a brief overview and history of the building. We were free to walk around and check out the beautiful rooms and murals. Cameras were allowed but no flash photography.

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Day 15 – Drive to Alajuela

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006
After watching CNN we learned that hurricane Ernesto was passing through Cuba and was due to hit Miami at the same time we were supposed to fly there on our way back tome to San Francisco. This worried us as ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 14 – Playa Carrillo

Monday, August 28th, 2006
As usual I was up at the crack of dawn so I took a long walk around town and along the beach. I saw the Las Brisas del Pacifico hotel which is located a ways east of the main part ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 13 – Samara

Sunday, August 27th, 2006
After waking up and having coffee at Gilded Iguana we drove back over the bumpy road to Samara. On the way we stopped to fill up with gas at the intersection from the roads to Nosara and Samara. The gas ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 12 – Nosara

Saturday, August 26th, 2006
It was raining heavily when I woke up so I went down to the restaurant area and had some coffee (they put coffee out for guests at 7am) and read my book. Dave and Phadera were headed to Samara to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 11 – Nosara

Friday, August 25th, 2006
Woke up early to the sound of howler monkeys nearby. I went for another drive and ended up at Playa Pelada near Olga's restaurant. I saw what I thought was a dead dog laying on the beach surrounded by vultures. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 10 – Day trip to Samara

Thursday, August 24th, 2006
After waking up early, I read for a bit and then decided to take a drive around town and scout things out. The Nosara area is pretty spread out and the roads are like a maze. The town of Nosara ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 9 – Nicoya and the drive to Nosara

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
We took a somewhat better road out of Tamarindo to Santa Cruz where we headed south towards Nicoya. On the highway, I saw a speed limit sign just before a crest in the road and I checked my speedometer. The ... [Continue reading this entry]

Day 8 – Tamarindo

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
As usual I woke up early and took a walk around town and along the beach. I checked email at the office at Pasatiempo (free for guests). They now also have free wi-fi for guests as well. While eating breakfast, ... [Continue reading this entry]