A Travellerspoint blog

May 2021

Wet Hot American Summer

Settling into a routine of sorts

I've been trying to get these out every other day, it seemed to work, until I hit a day so devastating in it's blandness that I have absolutely nothing to say about it.

It was the rain. The bloody RAIN.

Look, I know it's a rain forest blah blah blah, but this was rain like I've never seen for the whole day. It didn't let up at all. I hear that it's been raining in the UK and I don't know how as I just assumed all the rain in the whole World had just dropped on me. In 2016 I drove from Orlando International to our house in some pretty mental rain, but this was worse and lasted for 14 hours. I had to put my earphones in so I could hear the TV on my laptop the rain was so loud!

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So yeah, nothing going on that day.

Other than that, I seem to have hit a stride. Wake up, usually in some small amount of pain from my back. Move around a bit until that feels OK, go grab a pastry and coffee or breakfast then find something to do for the day.

Wednesday I went to find some sloths. There are a few 'Sloth Trails' around here. Essentially someone owns a stretch of jungle with sloths inside and has fenced it off so you have to pay to go in and spend hours searching for small, tree coloured mammals that cling to branches and don't move. It was hard going at first, I hadn't paid extra for a guide as it was pretty much the same price as 3 days accommodation, or 30 beers. I figured I could find them on my own. I was wrong.

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Sloth are stupidly hard to spot!

I was having a pretty fine time though, just wandering around a very serene jungle only a few hundred meters away from town, checking out all the birds and frogs, of which there were many and far easier to find. It was at this point I started a kind of animal spotting barter system.

I had found a bush filled with hummingbirds. It was pretty great, I've never seen a real hummingbird before and they are amazing. They fly past you like the air is vibrating around you. It's an experience. I then walked past a group with a guide and told them what I had found, they then told me where a sloth was. I then told the next group where that sloth was to be told where another was and so on.

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On the way back to the house, my Mum essentially butt dialed my sister and I so we all caught up, which was very nice. I hadn't realised how much I was missing talking back home.

I stopped off at a Soda place for a cheap but bloody nice dinner and that was pretty much me done for the day.

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less than £3 for chicken, rice and beans, a coffee and fruit juice (tamarind) can't be bad!

Yesterday started very similarly, but I did a tour up to the volcano in the afternoon.

Now, Costa Rican's have a motto, 'Pura Vida', which translates literally to pure life, but in reality is more of a feeling, a way of life, but also the reason that no one is ever on time, you just have to roll with it. Pura Vida was likely the reason that my tour was an hour late picking me up, but also why it was so good. Everyone I've met here is great.

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Volcano views

We started with a long hike up the volcano as our guide Eric gave us loads of information about the big eruption of 1968 and the wildlife that now lives around there. We walked a big loop around the area and down through a rainforest where we saw pretty much nothing until we stopped for coffee and saw this little guy:

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Finally we took a trip down to one of the many hot springs in the area where I was able to give my back a nice deserved soak while drinking loads of local rum. The whole tour was fantastic, really worth the 30 or so quid.

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There are loads of hot springs here attached to hotels, some costing up to $80!! There's also a natural little hot spring river. This was somewhere in the middle

Returning back to the house, I made some dinner and was invited to join my hosts for some drinks. And drink we did. All night. It was a great night but I'm feeling it this morning, luckily though, the weather is beautiful today, which makes it better as I think we're going off on another hike!

Posted by cblanc102 14:48 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals birds food jungle costa_rica friendship south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (0)

Jungle Love Pt 2 - Night Time Loving

What a difference a day makes

I was talking with Mum this morning about how this trip so far has been one good day followed by one bad day, then repeat. I said how it would be nice to have two good days in a row, but what I didn't say (or probably need to say) was how negatively it has been affecting me.

I know that this is what I've chosen to do for the next 6 months, I didn't expect it to all be plain sailing, in fact sometimes the issues just add to the excitement, at least make you realise that you're doing something different. But bloody hell this week has been one thing after another all underlined by my being in constant pain, sometimes excruciatingly so. It's bad enough when things go wrong, but when things go wrong but you can't stand up, then it's more of a deal.

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My new room. Big bed, no kids

Yesterday was a good day. Even though I had some fairly bad pains in my back, I left the hostel I was staying at and lugged by stuff half a mile to the place I'd be staying at for the next 6 days (hopefully). It was, and is, lovely. A little out of town, I'm essentially staying in a spare room in someone's house. They have a room with 2 bunk beds where one guy is currently staying and a room with a double bed that I'm renting. There's a lovely garden that sees a greater variety of birds than I think I've seen in my life with a view of the volcano 5 miles away. There's a nice kitchen and a little shop 10 meters across the road to buy my food to cook on the cheap. They also have the biggest bananas there I think I've ever seen! And I can sit on the patio at night listening to all the animals, drink my lovely Costa Rican coffee (better than Costa coffee, they should change their name) and chill out before I go to bed. As I am now. It was a good day.

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I know I'm not a big fruit person, but bloody hell!!

Today was better.

When I woke up this morning, my host Bernie told me that they have a friend who's a physiotherapist and would I like her to come take a look at my back? Ummm Yes Please!

She would be around later, so I thought I'd take a walk up the road the meantime to see what was about, get a sense of some of the available tours and get some better views of the volcano. I was lucky that the clouds cleared for me a bit as well, apparently they haven't been able to see the top for weeks until yesterday and it was only visible today for around 20 mins.

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Me in my swanky hat
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The Graveyards here are like cubist art installations!
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When I returned, Grace the physio arrived. She's an Australian woman who's been living here for about 10 years, is both a physiotherapist and tour guide and pretty bloody great. She went through some exercises with me to ascertain mobility, then gave me a massage before finally taping me up with the sports tape stuff.

And she wouldn't take a penny for it, told me she was just doing it as a friend (we met an hour ago) and that I should spend the money on a tour or something, which I shall. It's too early really to know how well it's worked, as my back seems to be at it's worst in the mornings, but I have not had any twinges in it at all since she left and that hasn't happened in a week. Fingers crossed.

For an update, as it is now tomorrow, the back is much better but not 100%, it hurt a little getting up this morning and I felt a slight twinge here and there, but still lots better than it was

Around 4pm, Bernie asked if I had plans for this evening and when I told him I didn't he asked If I wanted to join them on a tour through the jungle at night they were going out to. Of course I did want to join them. I'm in Costa Rica!

Traipsing through the rain forest at night is an experience in itself. Very dark (it's night), sometimes very wet (duh.. "rain" forest) and filled with the noise of countless different creatures, some of the highlights were poison dart frogs, lots of bats and a weird spider which will now be the only creature I call a daddy long legs. It was a great night.

Some rain forest at night pics
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Giant toad
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Some weird white millipede
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Spot the frog!
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Tiny lizard
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The DADDY of Daddy Long Legs!
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Poison Dart Frog ready for his close up

We returned back to the house and Bernie's girlfriend had cooked a couple of pizzas and they asked me to join them. I popped over the road and bought us a few beers and we spent the rest of the evening talking about anything and everything.

I can't stress how much these past two days have helped. I even think I've worked out a plan of where I'm heading next (South to thicker, hotter, wilder jungle) my head feels clearer and my back feels better. Tomorrow I go find sloths.

Actually, are those giant bananas plantains? they go on about them here. I think I had one for lunch yesterday.

Posted by cblanc102 05:29 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals birds wildlife jungle costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america mosquitoes solo_travel Comments (0)

Bad luck or lack of preparation?

If I didn't know I was old before today I sure know it now


View Central America 2021 on cblanc102's travel map.

When I changed my trip last minute from Nepal to Costa Rica the decision had nothing to do with 'green, amber or red countries', which seems arbitrary nonsense done to stop people spending money abroad more than out of any safety concerns, it was more to do with not wanting to get stuck in another country locking down everything and anything to do. The last week of Thailand wasn't great.

I figured Costa Rica as a great idea. A country I'd always liked the idea of, filled with jungles, volcanoes and exotic animals, nestled in the centre of an area I hadn't visited with an excellent reputation. Go me. But here I am, sat typing this as the music blaring below me is drowned out by the constant shouting of the hordes of 19 year olds getting drunk down there.

Yup, I'm old.

So it turns out that with Asia mostly closed, all the kids wanting a gap year were able to come to Costa Rica instead. Getting around the travel ban by 'volunteering' at farms, some doing as little as two day's work before sodding off to party. And it's in the middle of this I'm stuck. Sharing a room with three 19 year old English girls no less. To their credit, the girls seem less bothered by it than I am.

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Like a Butlins in the jungle

After leaving my last nice little hostel I had managed to bluff and bluster my way onto the bus using the seven or so Spanish words I know, along with Google Translate and the tried and tested formula of following others who look like they have a better idea of what's going on than I do (most everyone). Getting here was pretty painless, although my back is still not 100%, so there was that, but spending 4 hours on a crowded coach was mostly fine (numb arse aside) because this country is so beautiful to look at. There was a moment as I was listening to a classical music compilation that we passed this long stretch of jungle just as John Williams' Jurassic Park score came on. It was pretty perfect.

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My last nice little hostel

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I don't know how much it was

La Fortuna is a little town about a ten minute drive from a National Park containing Costa Rica's largest lake and volcano, which I was unable to see today as the clouds covered everything. It's a nice little place, almost entirely filled with bars, souvenir shops and places selling tours. You can probably walk it end to end in under 20 mins. It doesn't seem that busy, I'm not sure if that's down to us being on the verge of rainy season or just stupid Covid.
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La Fortuna Park

I went out and had a wander, stopping of at a Soda, one of Costa Rica's cheap local restaurants. I had a great meal, pretty cheap too. I have no idea what half the meal was, but that's half of the fun right?

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Just for you Rebecca ;)

I have spoken to the manager about cutting my stay here short by 6 nights. I can't stay here anymore, it's too much and I found a place of a similar price where I get my own room. He's going to speak to the owner about me getting my money back, but I think I'm gone either way. This place isn't for me. It's a nice place, out of the town a bit and surrounded by the noise of all the wildlife (when you can hear it over the noise of the kids downstairs) but I just have too many issues with the place. Don't get me wrong, if you're 20 you'd likely love the place, but me reviewing it is like my reviewing the latest Justin Bieber album. I'm just not the target audience.

All my concerns to management were met with a blanket 'well, this is a hostel' and I can't blame him for that, he's right I guess, but I've stayed in quite a few other hostels and none of them were like this, perhaps I've just been lucky with the others and now I'm being overly critical. This week hasn't gone as planned so far and I'm eager to get back on track.

As the title says I wonder if this has just been bad luck or if it's down to my complete lack of preparation for this trip? All done half arsed and last minute seems quite exciting until you're sitting in the middle of a trance party. I'm hoping that I was just unlucky here and this won't follow me everywhere I go...

It's now the morning, and I'm able to get (almost all of) my money back for this hostel and am booked in to the nice place down the road, but two things have now changed. Firstly it is absolutely hammering it down with rain. Also, my back has gone a bit again, I'm still able to walk, but it doesn't feel great and I'm not sure moving again is the best idea. They say it never rains but it pours, and it's definitely pouring!!

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This pic doesn't do it justice, but yeah, pretty wet

Posted by cblanc102 14:55 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged food hostels costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america problems solo_travel Comments (2)

Try 2 (In more ways than one)

No longer discovering South East Asia

sunny 28 °C
View Central America 2021 on cblanc102's travel map.

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This is my second attempt at writing this new entry. The first, written over the past two days, came from a pretty low place. This trip didn't start that well...

I'm currently sitting in a little hostel on the outskirts of San Jose Costa Rica. It's almost as far away from Thailand as you can be and not where I expected to be right now, but after a year of false starts and cancellations, I'm very happy to be here.

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Here's my room, my bed with the laptop that I'm writing this on. This picture has it all!

So why was I so pissed off over the past few days? Mostly because about 20 mins before Jane kindly picked me up to take me to the airport, I had a massive pain shoot up my spine that got progressively worse over 48 hours until I was forced to go to a chiropractor yesterday!! I'm still not entirely sure he did anything much, but I feel a lot better today.

Secondly, I don't like to travel. This may sound strange coming from someone who's (a) writing a travel blog and (b) done nothing but whine like a schoolgirl with a grazed knee for the past year that I wasn't allowed to travel, but let me clarify. I love to travel, I hate the travelling part. Mostly just flying really. I'm not worried by it, but flying is pretty much the worst way to travel. Dragging yourself through an airport filled with idiots to spend 14 hours sat in the world's most uncomfortable seat in a metal tube with nothing to see out the window but ocean is not great. At least on a train or bus you can see the world go by...

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Although sometimes the views aren't all that bad

The journey wasn't actually as bad as it could have been. Travelling in the age of Covid is pretty great. Half empty airport then a plane filled at about 40% capacity I'd say, with no one sat next to me. It's one of the greatest and rarest of pleasures having a row of seats to yourself on a plane. I've only had it a few times. It would ended perfectly as I zoomed through an empty San Jose airport only to be stuck at customs because of a badly written piece of English in my travel insurance which made them think I wasn't covered for Coronavirus (I am). It took 30 mins to fix.

Finally and much to my surprised, whilst being quarantined for the past year I actually got used to spending time with a person. The past year with Mum was pretty great, which probably surprised both of us. I'm not generally the most sociable of people when I live with them. My last flatmate Julie once went away for a week and I didn't realise that she was gone for 4 days. Being in a tiny flat with anyone, especially someone who farts as much as Mum, could have been a recipe for disaster, but worked perfectly, and it was lovely getting to spend that time with her. I'm very grateful for that. So there was more than a tinge of loneliness at first here. The same goes for my friends, some who I barely saw, or didn't see at all over the past year. What a waste this bloody year has been.

But today things have turned a corner. The back feels better, I was able to walk into the city and back (about 10km), I had a tiny conversation in Spanish this morning that I wouldn't have been able to have a few days ago, the weather is pretty lovely this afternoon and tomorrow I get to go here:

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Arenal Volcano from La Fortuna

So yeah, things are getting there. I'm excited about what comes next, although I have no real idea where I'm going this time. I'm sure it'll be an experience.

And finally, the rumours that I just ended up here because I got the flags confused are a damn lie. This is the story I'm sticking to.

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The Costa Rican and Thai flags, or the Thai and Costa Rican flags, I don't know or care which is which

Posted by cblanc102 20:09 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (1)

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