Author Topic: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)  (Read 896 times)

Offline PBaruch

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Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« on: February 06, 2018, 10:04:40 PM »
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet so naturally it was on my list of places to visit.  I mentioned it to DW several years ago but she wasn't interested, so it went on the back burner.  However, my friend's wife, who had dreamed of visiting Costa Rica for many years prodded us both into taking a trip together.  Neither of our families was disappointed by the decision to visit Costa Rica.  Some of you might wonder why we didn't go to Hawaii.  There were two reasons for this.  First, we were limited to only a week due to my kid's school schedule (older daughter had started high school, and they're pretty strict about taking extra time off), which I feel is not enough time to go to Hawaii from the east coast.  Second, we wanted to visit a new place.

Part I - Planning and Preparation

I used 5 x 25k UR and 4 x 26k UR through Chase Travel on UA for direct flights between EWR to SJO.  I looked into booking with miles on UA or JetBlue, but both options added hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees.  Thus, when I found availability for 25k-26k UR with no added charges and fees,  I grabbed it.  I booked in Y as there was no J lie flat availability and the flight was relatively short at about 5 hours.

For a rental car, we decided to rent a large 4x4 SUV, a Mitsubishi Montero, from Sixt.  I read good reviews about Sixt online, as opposed to some of the other car rental chains. 

We then started researching online to ascertain if we could bring in our own kosher food.  What we found was confusing.  Some folks posted that they had no issues bringing in their own food while others had some or all of their food confiscated.  One of my DDF friends put me in touch with a client of his, Levi, who lives in Costa Rica and imports kosher food into Costa Rica.  He suggested not bringing in too much food and ordering the rest from Super Kosher Costa Rica.  We received an email menu from them (containing groceries, frozen food, and prepared meals) and placed a large order, to be delivered on our arrival.  My friend's family, however, have a special diet so they brought much of their own food from home.  They also had a letter from their doctor translated into Spanish.

The proposed itinerary in Costa Rica was also a difficult decision.  There are so many nice national parks and reserves to visit and we only had one week.  Another friend, who had been to Costa Rica, suggested we visit Manuel Antonio National Park (located south of San Jose).  Although she had never been there, she met several folks that went and felt that she had missed out by not going there.  For the second part of our trip, DW wanted to visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve while my friend's wife wanted to go elsewhere.  We decided to split up for the second part of our trip and would meet up the night before our departure in the Sheraton near the airport.

We decided to rent a four bedroom/four bathroom villa through Airbnb for the first four nights of our stay in Quepos, a town near Manuel Antonio National Park (paid for with Barclay Arrival credits).  For the next two nights, we booked a deluxe three bedroom/three bathroom cottage at Cabanos Los Pinos in Monteverde (paid for in cash).   For the last night, we booked a room at the Sheraton near the airport in San Jose (4k SPG per night with no added charges or fees).

Part II - Flight to SJO

EWR - SJO by P Bryan, on Flickr

We took an early morning flight to SJO and arrived in the early afternoon.  By the time we packed out of the airplane, the passport control line was quite long.  Luckily for us, Ticos (native Costa Ricans) love children and  we were ushered through passport control without having to wait on the long general line.  We picked up our bags, cleared customs in no time (without them opening any of our bags), and walked to the airport exit, which was populated by a mix of locals waiting for loved ones, folks trying to sell tours, and grifters looking to take advantage of clueless gringos.  Almost immediately, a Tico approached me and asked where I was headed.  He wore a uniform of sorts and looked as if he worked at the airport in some capacity so I told him we were waiting to be picked up by Sixt.  He accompanied us to the pickup area and called Sixt to let them know we were waiting. 

Meanwhile, our friends were nowhere to be seen.  Ten minutes later they come out, explaining how the customs official went through all of their food, and was on the verge of throwing some in the trash (even with the medical letter).  Luckily, they talked him out of it.

Shortly after, the Sixt Shuttle arrived and we were taken to their location a mile from the airport.  Once we arrived, we were told that they only had one of the two Mitsubishi Montero 4x4 vehicles that we reserved because the other had been in an accident.  We were given a choice - one of us could upgrade to a BMW X5 at no added cost or get a special rate on a smaller Hyundai Tuscon 4x4.  Since we were five and our friend's family was four, they chose to save some money and took the smaller Hyundai Tuscon.  We stuck with the Mitsubishi Montero since it had high ground clearance and was a true 4x4.  Neither of us wanted the BMW X5 since it was not 4WD and, in addition, because we didn't want to attract unwanted attention by driving a fancy car in Costa Rica.

Mitsubishi Montero, San Jose, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally on our way.  Our first stop was at the Walmart near the airport.

Walmart, San Jose, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

What immediately struck us about this Walmart was that it was gated and had a guard who constantly patrolled the parking lot on a scooter.  While I waited in the Montero with our luggage and my little one, DW and my older kids went shopping.  DW says that Walmart has an entirely different feel in Costa Rica than it does in the United States.  Although we had a list of kosher products (as most products there do not have a kosher certification printed on the label), it was in Spanish and difficult for us to understand.  As a result, it was quite difficult for us to navigate what products were kosher.

We also arranged for the food that we ordered from Super Kosher Costa Rica to be delivered to us at Walmart.  While we were at the airport, I received a telephone call from Christoph at Super Kosher Costa Rica asking us what time we wanted our kosher food delivered.  When we arrived at Walmart, I tried calling Christoph but he had left and no one else at Super Kosher Costa Rica spoke English.  I messaged Levi on Whatsapp and sent him a picture of our Montero showing where it was parked in the Walmart parking lot.  Levi then communicated with the folks at Super Kosher Costa Rica and not too long after a car arrived with our food delivery.

Part III - Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park

After DW was done shopping and our food was delivered, we were off to Quepos, a town near Manuel Antonio National Park, where we would spend our first four nights. 

San Jose to Quepos by P Bryan, on Flickr

Before we left for the drive to Quepos, my friend gave me four Costa Rican 1 Mil bills and made a joke - now you're a millionaire.  I had no clue what they were worth but he said take them as you will need to pay tolls along the way to Quepos (I was planning to pay in dollars).  When we paid our first toll, I handed one of the 1 Mil bills to the toll collector and got back some coins.  DW then asked - wait, didn't that bill say it was 1 million, which we calculated to be worth about $1700 USD.  I couldn't imagine my friend gave me a bill worth $1700 USD but the doubt of potentially paying $1700 USD for a 50 cent toll gave me some concern to say the least.  To add to the confusion, the other three bills were slightly different.  DW decided to call a Costa Rican help line, and I'm sure the person on the other end was quite amused by our tale.  Of course we didn't pay with a 1 million Colones bill.  Rather, it was a 1000 Colones bill - mil is the Spanish word for thousand.

We arrived in Quepos after dark and met the proprietor of our Airbnb, Mandel, by the Marina Pez Vella.  We then followed Mandel to the villa where we would spend the next four nights.  From the outside, the villa looked like a compound from Narcos - high walls topped with barbed wire.  The inside, however, was gorgeous.   The villa was comprised of a swimming pool flanked by two buildings.  The main building, located directly behind the swimming pool contained the kitchen, dining room, living room and one bedroom and bathroom.  The second building, connected by an elevated covered walkway (you could also walk between the two buildings at ground level) had three floors, each with a bedroom and bathroom.  There was also a laundry room and gym.

Information about this Airbnb rental can be found here:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14804611

Photographs of the villa:

Our rented villa in Quepos, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Parking on the road outside the villa at an extreme angle:

Quepos, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After parking at this angle for the first time, my 10 year old opened the car door and promptly fell out.  Luckily she wasn't seriously hurt and we were very careful so this wouldn't happen again.  The villa itself also had multiple safety concerns including large step offs without handrails and gates.  It definitely wouldn't pass muster in the United States.

Red-crowned Woodpecker viewed from the porch:

Red -crowned Woodpecker (DSC_0213) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Agouti viewed from the porch:

Agouti, Quepos, Costa Rica (DSC_0233) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Before we left, DW had read online that Costa Rican toilets cannot accept any sort of sanitary products such as toilet paper.  That's what that little blue wastebasket next to the toilet is for:

MVIMG_20180127_213801 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thanks to @SomethingFishy and that damn toucan picture he took in Panama (he didn't even realize he had photographed a toucan), DW insisted that we hire a guide for each Costa Rican National Park that we visit.  While looking for a guide for Manuel Antonio, Fodors Guidebook recommended Johan Chavez.  I emailed Johan but was told he was unavailable.  Johan, however, recommended Oscar Herrera and after several emails we were set.  We arranged to meet Oscar at 7:30 a.m. at the Joseth Supermarket right outside the entrance to Manuel Antonio.  The parking fee was 6-8 USD per car for the day.  After parking our cars, we purchased drinks at the supermarket and were off for a tour of Manuel Antonio. 

Information about Oscar Herrera can be found here:

www.birdingspotsmn.com

Information about Manuel Antonio National Park can be found here:

https://manuelantoniopark.com/

Oscar was clearly enthusiastic about seeing various forms of wildlife, including bats, lizards, and frogs.  He'd say - look up at that tree - there is a frog there!  I said, what frog?  He responded, you see that dot on the leaf - that is a frog!  Then he'd say, look at that lizard!  You don't often get to see that species of lizard. 

DSC_0011 by P Bryan, on Flickr

As for myself, I couldn't care less about some lizard or frog dot on a leaf.  I wanted to see monkeys, toucans, macaws and other more interesting wildlife.  Suffice it to say, we didn't see much interesting wildlife on the tour except for some howler monkeys and sloths (two-toed and three-toed), located quite high up in the trees.

Howler Monkey (DSC_0029) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The tour with Oscar ended at the beach at Manuel Antonio, and this is where the action started. 

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw a family of racoons trying to steal food from tourists at the beach, including from my friend's wife.

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Then came the monkeys - lots of Capuchin Monkeys who were quite successful at stealing food from the tourists.  I saw a monkey steal food from the pants pocket of one tourist and another monkey steal a bag of food from some tourists sitting on the sand.  I was also told that monkeys would steal anything they could get their hands on, including cameras since they didn't know what contained food.  However, if they got their hands on a camera and realized it wasn't food, they would then throw it to the ground from whatever tree they had climbed.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0053) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0068) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0075) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey, Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

My little one was completely enamored with the monkeys and was chasing after them.  He ran under the tree where one particular monkey was sitting just a few feet out of reach and kept saying "come, come" with outstretched hands. 

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sloth viewed from the beach:

Sloth (DSC_0089) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Playing at the beach:

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0046) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0044) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Land Crab viewed on the way back from the beach:

Land Crab (DSC_0096) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After spending some time at the beach, we headed back to the villa in Quepos.  My friend's family wanted to visit the Rainmaker Conservation Project but DW didn't think the kids were up for another two hour hike.  Also, the kids wanted to go swimming in the pool.  I, however, decided to join my friend's family at Rainmaker hoping to see some wildlife.  Information about Rainmaker can be found here:

http://www.rainmakercostarica.org

The road to Rainmaker was quite bad and the entry to the parking lot was very steep:

Rainmaker Conservation Project by P Bryan, on Flickr

Unfortunately we didn't see any wildlife but hiking the jungle trails and on the elevated suspension bridges was awesome.

MVIMG_20180125_152805 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Costa Rican Cows on the way back to the villa:

Costa Rican Cows by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the following day, we decided to take a Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour by Damas Island.  Information about this tour can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/Monkey-Mangrove-Tour-Chino-523572434474610/

Photographs taken during the tour:

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Tour by Damas Island, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0109) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0121) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0136) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey visiting our boat - peeking in from the roof:

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0128) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Holding a mangrove seed:

Holding a Mangrove seed (DSC_0132) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Various birds:

DSC_0148 by P Bryan, on Flickr

King Fisher (DSC_0161) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Basilisk Lizard:

Basilisk Lizard (DSC_0183) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the Monkey Mangrove boat tour, we returned to our villa and swam in the pool.  We then prepared for Shabbos.  About an hour before Shabbos, I drove with my 10 year old to the farmers market by the Marina Pez Vella.  Once we arrived at the marina, I found a parking spot directly across the street from the farmers market.  While attempting to park, a Tico came over and began giving me unwanted guidance to maneuver the Montero into the spot.  Once I got out of the car, he approached me and said he would watch the Montero for me.  We then went to the farmers market and were completely overwhelmed by the variety of produce being hawked there.  Since we felt rushed due to the late hour, I only bought a pineapple and some mandarins.  When we got back to the Montero, lo and behold the Tico was right there, watching our car like a hawk.  He was literally standing in front of the Montero and staring at it.  The Tico even stopped traffic by jumping into the middle of the road to let us cross the street safely (pedestrians generally do not have the right of way).  I figured these services were worth a mil so I gave the poor guy a 1 Mil Colones note.

Part IV  - Shabbos and Minyan with the Monkeys

We davened and ate together on Friday night.  After the meal, my friend and I enjoyed Costa Rican local beer, Imperial, while relaxing by the pool and gazing at the stars.  Afterwards, we all went to bed early as we were quite tired. 

On Shabbos morning, I decided to daven on one of the porches overlooking a garden of trees and the ocean in the background.  As I was finishing up davening, I heard rustling in the trees adjacent to the house.  DW had seen a troop of Capuchin monkeys jumping from tree to tree in that area the previous day, so I was on the lookout for the monkeys as well.  No sooner had I heard the rustling I spotted the monkeys.  "Monkeys, monkeys," I shouted.  Everyone came running.  My friend decided to cut up a banana and he stuck a piece of banana on a fork.  One monkey in particular began looking very intently at the banana.  Soon we had an entire troop of monkeys all over the villa.  The kids had an amazing time feeding and interacting with the monkeys.  Later that afternoon, we saw a pair of scarlet macaws flying near the villa and a multitude of other birds in the trees adjacent to the villa.  We also saw agouti foraging in the gardens below.

Part V - Monteverde

On Sunday, we parted ways with my friend's family and drove to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve north of San Jose.  My little guy thought it was called Monkeyverde. 

Quepos to Monteverde by P Bryan, on Flickr

The drive up on Route 606 was absolutely horrendous and bone jarring.  It makes any road in Hawaii including the Road to Hana on Maui and the road to Polihale Beach in Kauai look like a walk in the park (I will never complain about any roads in Hawaii again).  Route 606 was unpaved with large potholes and uneven surfaces through tight mountain passes with multiple one lane bridges.  Further, the road was closed for 8 hours during the day for construction, but luckily we arrived right before a brief window opened to allow traffic through.  It was a good thing that we had the Montero.  Although I never had to engage 4WD, another car without high ground clearance would not have been able to make it through unscathed on this road.  Also, since the Montero was diesel powered it had great low end pulling power up the mountain roads.  Although we did see regular cars navigating this road, I cannot imagine that they fared well.  Supposedly they are working to pave this road but who knows when it will be completed.

We decided to stay at Cabanos Los Pinos due to the recommendation by one of the guidebooks and from reading online reviews.  We reserved a deluxe cabin containing three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Information about Cabanos Los Pinos can be found here:

http://www.lospinos.net/

Photographs of our cabin:

Los Pinos Cabanes, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Los Pinos Cabanas, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Relaxing in the hammock on the porch:

Relaxing in Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After settling into the cabin, we decided to visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, information about which can be found here:

http://www.monteverdebutterflygarden.com/index.html

Photographs taken at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens:

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0259) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0272) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0302) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Garden, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Garden (DSC_0332) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Leafcutter ants at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens:

Leafcutter Ants (DSC_0342) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, we returned to our hotel and went to bed early in anticipation of our visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.  That night, we heard howling winds outside, which kept us awake.  I couldn't imagine what was going on.  Back home, it would be considered a wind storm and I was afraid we would have to cancel our tour of Monteverde on the following day.  I awoke early the following morning and went to the hotel office to inquire if we had to cancel the tour due to the high winds.  I was told, however, that high winds are quite normal in Monteverde in the winter and that the reserve was well sheltered so there was no need to cancel our tour. 

While getting ready to leave the hotel, we heard a scream from my 14 year old that there was a scorpion in her bedroom.  I ran into her bedroom and lo and behold there was a large black scorpion at the foot of her bed.  I swiped the thing with my shoe, which sent yellow goo flying everywhere.  And off we went to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Information about the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve can be found here:

http://www.reservamonteverde.com/

We arranged for a guide through the hotel for a tour beginning at 7:00 a.m., when the park opened.  For this particular park, a guide was indispensable.  We would definitely have missed out on some incredible wildlife without the guide.  We used Elberth Fuentes from Three Brothers Tours.  Information about Three Brothers Tours can be found here:

www.threebrotherstours.com

Photographs taken at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve...

Hummingbird in a nest inside the jungle:

DSC_0356 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bromeliads growing on trees in the jungle canopy:

Bromeliads (Air Plants) (DSC_0390) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The endangered Resplendent Quetzal:

Quetzal (DSC_0440) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (DSC_0566) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our tour, we visited the Hummingbird Garden located next to the park entrance.  The owners of the garden placed a multitude of hummingbird feeders in this area, which attracts a great many hummingbirds:

Hummingbird (DSC_0484) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Notice how the coloration changes with the light:

 Hummingbird (DSC_0516) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hummingbird (DSC_0535) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hummingbird Gallery, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting the Hummingbird Garden, we returned to the hotel while trying to decide where to visit next.  DW wasn't interested in visiting a coffee farm (which cost $30 pp!) as we have done that many times in Hawaii (the tours are free in Hawaii).  We ultimately decided to visit the Monteverde Sky Tram, information about which can be found here:

https://skyadventures.travel/skytram/

This tour takes you on a tram car to the top of a mountain through the clouds.  After reaching the top of the mountain, we were able to walk and hike around for a while. 

Photographs from the Monteverde Sky Tram tour:

Monteverde Sky Tram (DSC_0595) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Sky Tram Tour (DSC_0601) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Sky Tram Tour (DSC_0602) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cloud Forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica (DSC_0617) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw a Coati in the parking lot:

Coati, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Coati, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the Sky Tram Tour, we returned to the hotel, packed up, and went to bed early.  However, once again we couldn't sleep.  We kept hearing howling winds and pouring rain on the tin roof of the cottage.  Unused to these noises, we had difficulty sleeping.  Nevertheless, we made sure to get up early to avoid the road closures (the road was closed from 7:00 - 10:00 a.m.) and to not to waste the day.

Part VI - Carara National Park

On the following day, which was to be our last full day in Costa Rica, we decided to visit Carara National Park on the drive back to San Jose.

Monteverde to Carara by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way to Carara, we saw a number of large black birds that appeared to be vultures sitting on the highway in the opposite direction.  As we drove closer, a number of vehicles including some large trucks approached the birds, causing them to fly over the highway and into our lane of travel.  One of these large birds struck our Montero above the windshield and left a small dent in the roof.  We were very fortunate that the bird did not crash through the windshield.  Although spooked by the collision with the bird, we continued on our way to Carara National Park.

Carara is another park where we would recommend a guide, as you are likely to miss the wildlife on your own.  We hired a guide at the entrance to the park.  Another guide approached me, saying "Shalom" and introducing himself as Yochanan.  Also at the entrance, iguanas, which would scurry into their holes when approached.  At this park, we saw scarlet macaws, spider monkeys, and toucans.

Photographs taken at Carara National Park:

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Blue Crowned Motmot:

Blue Crowned Motmot (DSC_0622) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Costa Rican wild turkeys:

Costa Rican Wild Turkey, Carara NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0665) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spider Monkeys, which swing through the jungle by their tail:

Spider Monkeys (DSC_0668) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spider Monkey (DSC_0659) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Scarlet Macaws:

Scarlet Macaw (DSC_0760) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Scarlet Macaw, Carara NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0771) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Looking through the scope:

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Toucan picture taken by cellphone through a scope:

Toucan, Carara NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting Carara National Park, we drove to the nearby bridge over the Tarcoles River, to view the crocodiles:

Crocodiles (DSC_0792) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crocodile (DSC_0798) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crocodile (DSC_0802) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part VII - San Jose and the Trip Home

After viewing the crocodiles, we made our way back to San Jose.

Carara National Park to San Jose by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived at the Sheraton in San Jose at around 3:00 p.m.  I went up to the front desk to check in and after hearing that we were a party of five, the front desk employee insisted that I take a second room at a reduced rate of $140 USD plus tax.  I tried explaining that I had two other rooms (reserved for my friend's family under my SPG account) and that we could put one of my kids in one of those rooms.  However, this particular employee either couldn't understand what I was saying or she simply didn't care.  After arguing with her for about 15 minutes, another employee came over and let me "put" one of my kids into my friend's room.  Aside from the problems with check in, the hotel was quite nice.  The rooms were decently sized, modern, and very clean.  Also, there was a full complimentary breakfast where we were able to get uncut fruit and awesome Costa Rican coffee.  The hotel had free parking and employed an armed guard to watch the perimeter of the hotel. 

The following morning we checked out of the Sheraton, drove to Sixt to return the Montero, and were shuttled to the airport for our flight home.  Despite only having 4.5 days to explore Costa Rica (not including Shabbos and the two travel days), we had a wonderful time.  We hope to return to Costa Rica in the future to visit some of the other national parks that we didn't have time to see on this trip.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

Pura Vida!
 
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Re: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 09:21:08 AM »
Sounds like a fun trip! Lots of driving though, while the closest park to the airport (the last one) seemed to have the most variety of wildlife. I think this is the first DDF CR TR that didn't include the Andaz. ;) Thanks for writing it up.

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Re: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 10:15:20 AM »
Sounds incredible.

Costa Rica is high up on my list of places to go. It's nice to see that you can do a lot in a week.  Were your friends happy with their choices too?

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Re: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 12:43:44 PM »
Sounds like a fun trip! Lots of driving though, while the closest park to the airport (the last one) seemed to have the most variety of wildlife. I think this is the first DDF CR TR that didn't include the Andaz. ;) Thanks for writing it up.

We did far less driving that you did on your Niagara Falls expedition.   :)

As for other CR trip reports, I looked but didn't see any on DDF.  I only saw a few comments but no real TR.
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Re: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 12:44:35 PM »
Sounds incredible.

Costa Rica is high up on my list of places to go. It's nice to see that you can do a lot in a week.  Were your friends happy with their choices too?

The whole reason for the trip was that it was the dream of my friend's wife to go to Costa Rica.  They also had a wonderful time even though they had some funny mishaps of their own. 
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Re: Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018)
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2018, 12:47:17 PM »
We did far less driving that you did on your Niagara Falls expedition.   :)

As for other CR trip reports, I looked but didn't see any on DDF.  I only saw a few comments but no real TR.
LOL
I thought @gavhaller posted a TR of the Andaz, but could be I'm wrong and he just mentioned that he went there.