Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Farewell San Jose

A beautiful sunset over San Jose.  This is the view from the window of our house our last night in San Jose.  Casa Los Cielos has been an incredible home for the last month.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fishing at Tortuguero Island

We took the opportunity while we were in Tortuguero to hire a boat to take us fishing.  Our boat met us at our hotel (which was on the water) at 7:00am.  But it was too windy and the waves were too large for us to go into the Caribbean, so we stayed near the mouth of the river.  We trolled up and down the river and also tried casting, but in the end, all we caught was a fun boat ride.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Night Hike on Tortuguero Island, Costa Rica

When we arrived at Tortuguero Island, we asked the attendant at our hotel about a tour to see the turtles (after all, Tortuguero Island means Turtle Island).  He told us that that are no turtles this time of year.  He said if we returned a few weeks later and looked for a week or two straight, then we might possibly see 'a' turtle.  But the large sea turtles come en masse late Summer.

So instead of a turtle tour, we scheduled a Night Hike on the island.  Since we were going for such a quick trip, we didn't bring any unnecessary clothing.  So we arrived for the tour and the guide asked if Savannah had closed-toed shoes.  No.  Socks?  No.  In the end, she wore Tucker's socks with the tour companies rubber boots and we were on our way.

We saw a two-toed sloth, an opossum, a tarantula, a crab, red-eyed tree frogs, birds sleeping in the trees, a branch snake, a green vine snake, and large spiders.

Pretty creepy that all of this is living, hidden, around you.

The trail was dark, occasionally had obstacles and was very narrow in some areas.

The tree frogs were camouflaged on large green leaves

A small tarantula that Tucker found.

A Green Vine Snake (light green area wrapped around the branches above)

A long, but skinny branch snake

An iguana hanging in the tree.

A two-toed sloth in the tree.

A crab walking on the ground.

Tortuguero Island, Costa Rica

Tortuguero Island is a small peninsula near the north-eastern corner of Costa Rica in the Caribbean Sea.  Since its connection to land is so narrow and there are no roads, it is considered an island.  It is accessible only by boat or airplane.

There are no cars or roads on the island, just some trails -- some of which are paved.  While we were there, someone was giving us directions and said that we could take a taxi to get there.  It took me a moment to realize that he was referring to a water taxi.

Credit cards are commonly accepted in Costa Rica, but Tortuguero is a little more rustic.  There are some places that accept credit cards, but many don't.  Either bring plenty of cash or plan on using the ATM (yes, 'the', as in, the only ATM).  We didn't expect the boat transportation to get to the island and back to cost so much, so we barely had enough cash with us.

The food is a blend of Costa Rican traditional food with Caribbean flavors -- pretty good.

The dock as you arrive.

We saw a lot of these noisy Green Macaws.

Some Green Macaws flying over a park in the center of the island.

Tortuguero has some of the greatest public trash cans I've seen.  There were several decorated trash cans like this.

Savannah tried out the playground near the docks.

When the children saw this police officer driving the ATV, they ran up to him, he stopped, and they all climbed on.  They were so excited!  This was the only terrestrial motorized vehicle that we saw on the island.

Caribbean Beach at Tortuguero Island

After eating some lunch and getting settled in our hotel, we went straight for the beach.  It had soft, dark grey sand.  We quickly realized why no one was in the water.  It was a windy, stormy day, so the waves were large and there were warning signs about the rip currents.  The kids played in the water anyways and had a great time.  We didn't allow them to go very far from the shore and discussed rip currents with them.

Savannah is sporting cool T-Mobile Tuesday sunglasses that we got for free at a T-Mobile store in D.C.

Tortuguero Adventures Guesthouse, Hotel on Turtugeuro Island

TripAdvisor and had rated Tortuguero Adventures Guesthouse among the best family hotels on Tortuguero Island.  It is also one of the few places with A/C.  So we planned the timing of our trip based on availability of the hotel (they only have one Family Room), which is often booked.

As we arrived on Tortuguero Island, we realized that our phones didn't have any signal.  It's been a long time since we've been without internet.  We actually had to talk to people to find our way!  We asked some people near the docks where we could find our hotel and they pointed us in the right direction.

The Family Room in the Tortuguero Adventures Guesthouse was a nice, clean, air-conditioned room with an excellent view that could sleep our entire family.  The hotel staff spoken English very well and gave us recommendations for restaurants, directions to the beach, and even booked multiple tours for us.

There was a Tiger Heron Nest right next to our hotel, so we enjoyed keeping an eye on the birds.  The view from our balcony was beautiful and relaxing.

The view from our balcony.

The room was a little small, but comfortable.  But there was nice, relaxing seating just outside the room on the balcony.

The maid left this bow for Savannah, using Savannah's blanket and stuffed bear.

The hotel cat

The Tiger Heron's nest -- viewed from the balcony.

Transportation to Tortuguero Island, Costa Rica

I wanted to see both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica, so before moving to a house near the beach on the Pacific side of the country, we scheduled to quick trip to Tortuguero Island.

Tortuguero Island is an extremely narrow psuedo-island (actually, more of a peninsula) in the Caribbean, near the north-east corner of Costa Rica.  Just getting there is an adventure.  Despite it being a peninsula, there are no roads to get there.  Instead, you drive to a tiny town, La Pavona, featuring a parking lot and a restaurant.  Parking costs $10 USD per night and you have to pay 500c (about $0.82 for the bathroom).

We were immediately greeted by people trying to sell us tickets for the boats.  We had read online that the price for the public boat was about $5 / person, yet the first person we met was aggressively trying to sell us tickets for $10 / person.  He claimed that dry-season slows down the boats, so it costs more.

We passed.  Anyone selling tickets for public transportation that aggressively is surely trying to fool the tourists.  Instead, we parked, then talked with other people.  It turns out he was correct, the price was increased for all boats, public and private.  But the private boats were the same price as the public boats and the private boats go faster and more often.

So we bought tickets for a private boat and headed down the river.  At some points, multiple rivers join together and there are actual street signs to help you navigate.

On the boat rides in and out, we saw lots of beautiful birds (tiger heron, montezuma oropendola, little blue heron, cattle egret, great egret, great blue heron), iguanas, emerald basilisks, spider monkeys, lots of caiman, a crocodile, turtles, and a lot more.

It was a beautiful ride that was every bit as fun as the rest of our time in Tortuguero.

Leaving the island was pretty simple too.  We walked up to the docks, asked a person if there was a boat going to La Pavona, gave the boat captain some money, then we left a few minutes later.

Tiger Heron

A Spider Monkey

An Emerald Basilisk (sitting on the log)

A turtle

Hidden on the shore is a caiman.  We saw at least a dozen along the way.

An American Crocodile -- much larger and scarier than the caiman and has a much different tail.  It was about 3-4m long.

A Great Egret.

A Great Blue Heron with its catch

Montezuma Oropendola

Southern Lapwing

Nicaraguan Grackle