Sunday, June 14th
Today we left the beautiful Arenal Volcano and headed to the airport for our first flight on Nature Air. I started getting really nervous and my stomach was doing flips. The airport was an old lechería (milk factory) and was essentially a bar.
There were no airline employees present when we arrived either. So, I decided to take advantage of the bar and got a ginger ale and rum. Perfect, right? Ginger ale to soothe my stomach and rum to relax me. It pretty much did the trick. The flight ended up being really smooth and the plane was really nice.
I especially enjoyed the very large plane windows so that you could see everything below you.
We arrived in Quepos and Solid was there with our rental car. Also, “The Amazing Race” was filming 2 girls and they came and asked us if we were a taxi. Umm…no. The coastal “highway” (Costannera) south to Uvita ended up being a dirt/rock road, which wasn’t what I was expecting. 70 kilometers per hour, bumping around like crazy, dust flying everywhere, bulls walking on the side of the road, 20 vultures devouring a poor dead animal…made for an interesting trip actually.
We arrived with no problems and then started heading up the mountain to Rancho Pacifico. We didn’t have any problems, but they weren’t kidding when they said a 4×4 is essential to make it. It was 15 minutes straight up a very bumpy rock road, and a couple small bridges to cross, but they were in great condition.
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the lovely Adriana with a fruit drink and then shown to our villa, which is called the TreeHaus. It was magnificent. Completely secluded from the rest of the hotel buildings in the forest perched on the side of the mountain. It’s so secluded that there are no locks on the doors, nor any need for curtains for the windows. Only the animals can see…
We showered and came up to the restaurant for dinner. We had drinks at bar, served by Vianney, and wonderful appetizers.
We then had a lovely dinner, I think we had filet mignon that night, so Erick loved it. After dinner, we enjoyed talking to Ivan, the night security guard. Security here takes on a different meaning – at home, it would be to keep criminals or theifs at bay; but here what sends Ivan running is a random scream in the night, due to a possibly unwelcome guest in someone’s room – a spider or who knows what else. We really enjoyed talking to him and he would walk around the grounds with us and help us find frogs and bugs and warn us of more dangerous rainforst dwellers.
After we had gone to bed, we heard a loud thud against one of our screens and checked with a flashlight and we found this huge moth with a head that looks like a lizard. By huge, I mean as big as my hand. I swear I thought we had discovered a new species. I just couldn’t get over it.
With a spotty wireless connection and 30 minutes on Google, I determined that it’s a peanut-headed bug or machaca. The head is a defense mechanism and is hollow.
Monday, June 15th
This morning, we experienced the forest’s natural alarm clock, with the 5 am wake-up call from the howler monkeys. We got up and enjoyed the forest sounds and had coffee on the deck. Everything was beautifully clear today, so we decided we should go to the beach.
We headed up the hill for breakfast and enjoyed it immensely. The view from the restaurant deck is gorgeous and the food is wonderful. Coffee, fresh fruit juice (different every day), fresh fruit muffins, and your choice of a menu item: eggs, french toast, gallo pinto, etc. I could get used to this.
We went to the Marino Ballena National Park Beach and it was stunning. It’s a very wide, expansive beach. And, at low tide the shallow water seems to stretch on forever.
For lunch, we headed north to Domincalito and had lunch at La Parcela, a place that our hotel concierge suggested. It was an open-air, casual place with superb ocean views on both sides as its located on a small peninsula. We split casado con pollo.
After a day in the sun, we came back to the hotel for an afternoon massage, which was heavenly. Vivian is wonderful and hearing the sounds of the rainforest during the massage is fabulous.
Tuesday, June 16th
Today, we went on a river tour of the Sierpe River. This is billed as a “Mini National Geographic” tour and it didn’t disappoint. We immediately saw crocodiles swimming around, then saw tons of other animals, birds, etc.– caimans, kingfishers, herons, ibises, crabs, iguanas, the Jesus Christ lizard, monkeys and scarlet macaws.
Our guide pulled the boat close the the edge and then told us to look up. When we did, it took my breath away as there was a huge pack of scarlet macaws in the tree. They were bigger than I expected and there were like 10 of them together. It was a stunning and colorful sight to see! I wonder if the Ticos just shrug when they see these sights or if they too feel a flittering in the stomach upon seeing such beauty?
After we ventured further into the mangroves, we saw a crocodile on the bank and then like 5 minutes later, a caiman as well. The croc had his mouth open the whole time and didn’t move a muscle…he almost looked fake. But then suddenly he went tearing into the water.
After the river tour, we came back to the hotel to scout out some of Vianney’s delectable concoctions while relaxing at the pool for a bit. I sampled the day’s special, the pineapple basil martini. Who would think to put basil in a martini? But, it was surprisingly delicious.
Wednesday, June 17th
This morning we awoke to the kind-of angry sounds of the howler monkey, had breakfast, then headed to Hacienda Barú for our ziplining tour. I laquered up with 45 SPF and Deet. It made for a lovely combination as when I sat on the bench, I stuck to it. Not that I was sticky, I actually thought my skin might come off. Our guide introduced himself and got us geared up.
We were in a group with a girl that had attended Roanoke College…small world. She owns a restaurant on the beach in Dominical called Tortilla Flats, where we were planning to go afterward.
I was a little nervous, but I sucked it up and tried to enjoy myself. Along the hike up, the guide told us about lots of things in the forest. He showed us cacao trees (where chocolate is harvested) and termite nests. We actually ate a termite – it tastes a little like peanut-butter. He said a few termites have more protein than a steak. While I was still thinking to myself, “I just ate a termite. Hmm… I wonder if I chewed it good? Or if it is eating its way through my esophagus now?”, the guide excitedly pointed out a slowwww-moving sloth. This was our second spotting of the trip, and we got to see it closer than the first time. It was a really cool site to see and I quickly forgot about the termites.
We arrived to the first zipline. It was a little scary, but fun after I knew the drill. Looking back at the videos, we don’t seem to go as fast as it felt.
There were 8 total and I was fine until we got to one of the final ones that stopped and started on treetop platform that was high in the canopy. They strapped us in 2 ways while we were just standing there and I could feel it move a little. The guide went down the zipline with our cameras to be able to take this picture:
For lunch, we went to the beach in Dominical and had lunch at Tortilla Flats. It had a very chill, relaxed vibe with reggae music playing – so we fit right in. It was fun watching the surfer and hippie crowd.
We drove back up the mountain and then headed to the spa for scrubs and wraps. I got the citrus one and Erick got the chocolate one. He smelled like cocoa for the rest of the night. For our last dinner here, they had a Costa Rican cuisine buffet. Mmmm…Tico food.