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Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Fort Worth, Texas
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Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hello to all my travel pals at TripAdvisor! Just returned from our fourth visit to Costa Rica and, as usual, had an incredible time. I brought along our new little point-and-shoot camera and am totally blown away by the quality of some of the shots it took. Should you care to look through the whole photo album (I think about 90-100 photos) just go to this link (when I tried to upload this trip report TA just gave me an error message that said 'Message body contains words longer than 140 characters' - I assume that it's referring to the links to my photo albums. I'll try to add spaces here and there within the long link. If that works - then just cut and paste the link into your browser and remove the spaces before hitting enter):

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding Signin.jsp?Uc=sqzchcq.atwkyimq&Uy=7 eeqew&Upost_signin =Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0

When you get to the Kodak site just click on the button to the right that says something like 'View album without signing in'. There's a caption at the bottom of each photo to let you know what you're looking at. Every time I mention something in this trip report that has a corresponding photo I’ll type this: (P)

This trip was split into two main parts - one was to the Fortuna area (Arenal volcano land) to see old friends and to meet with our attorney to sign the final papers on our 'ranchette' that we bought last year :) The second part was for a little vacation - and this time we chose the Manuel Antonio area. I've been 'talking' with people on this site for about a year and a half and have read tons of stuff on the MA area and wanted to check it out for myself.

What I'm going to do is give you a brief rundown of what we saw, where we ate, where we stayed, what we thought, etc. If any of you have specific questions please feel free to email me at either onehelluvaguy@hotmail.com or my office sbraden@dwhomes.com. I know without a doubt that at some point in my life I'll be in the tourism business – because talking with people about their upcoming trips and helping them out is something that gives me great joy. In any event - you should check out the pictures... there really are some good ones.

Okay... we arrived in San Jose around 1 p.m. and were greeted by a representative from the rental car place as well as my pal, Rod, (P) who owns a travel company down there. He and I have become something of friends over the past 18 months. His company is the one that put our first trip together (as well as every one since) and I've been sending folks his way ever since. I've been a small business owner before and always make a point to help people out who deserve it.. and he's definitely one of those. I got a picture with him in the parking garage and it's in our album. I was so glad to finally meet him. Anyway.. I digress.

We were heading north from the airport to the Fortuna area and felt confident that we could make our way out of the airport and start heading toward the Poas volcano area. We had decided to go a slightly different route than we're used to so that we could see some areas that we hadn't yet visited. On our first trip to Costa Rica the travel company arranged for us to have different drivers pick us up and take us everywhere so we didn't have to worry about the roads, lack of road signs, etc... but we have rented a car every time since. If you’re going to be renting a car and driving yourself - my piece of advice is to make sure you're ABSOLUTELY clear about where you're going once you leave the airport. Let's just say that we got pretty well turned around and ended up driving around the San Jose area for a while. I don't want to cast a negative spin on San Jose - but let's just say that it's not my favorite place and getting into a car after many hours of air travel and trying to negotiate the fairly frenetic pace of the roads (when you don't really know where you're going) was not a whole lot of fun.

Don't let me scare you.. the town seems relatively safe - but just like any big city it's chock full of MANY drivers (some admittedly crazy), buses billowing smoke, interesting traffic lights, brave pedestrians, potholes, etc. I guess my point is - know where you're going and get on with it!

We were going to head to Fortuna via the Poas volcano area and we wound our way through several towns letting the road signs with a pictograph of a volcano with an arrow and a kilometer reading guide the way. As we got closer and closer to the volcano area - the fog/clouds got thicker and thicker… to the point where we could barely see 5 feet in front of our car (P). We knew we were getting close to the volcano but were worried that, once we got there, we wouldn’t be able to see it anyway! A few minutes later a car full of young men pulled up on the other side of the road and yelled to us “English or Spanish?”. Our Spanish is not too bad – but I said ‘English’. The driver proceeded to tell us that the volcano park was closing and that we had to turn around and go back the other way --- about 10 km! That was a real drag.

So we started winding our way down the road until we finally got out of the fog and could enjoy the incredible scenery. Eventually we came upon the Peace Lodge which is a place that I’ve heard a lot about. Right nextdoor to it is the La Paz Butterfly Garden. We pulled over and ventured inside to see what was going on. The Peace Lodge is built into the side of a hill and overlooks an incredibly beautiful valley of rainforest (P). The butterfly garden had several different tours (butterfly garden, waterfalls, nature trails) available but they all took at least 1 ½ to 2 hours – and we were now getting a little pressed for time. I’ve promised my wife that on our next trip we would start off there and stay a night or two to enjoy this area. We pressed on down the hill and came across the last waterfall of the waterfall tour. There were a couple of souvenier vendors at the bottom of this hill and we helped a few of them push start a car (P). They were very grateful and nice.

We drove through some torrential downpours as we headed toward Agua Zarcas. That town, by the way, looked really nice. We started catching sightings of the Arenal volcano as we drove – so we knew we were getting closer. Through Los Angeles, then El Tanque and finally into La Fortuna!. Home sweet home. We were going to be staying with one of my wife’s friends, Lorena while in Fortuna. The only problem was that Lorena knew nothing about this! J We drove by Lorena’s house and knocked on the door and were surprised to see somebody other than Lorena. In fact, these people didn’t seem to speak either English or Spanish and didn’t seem to know anybody by the name of Lorena. Long story longer – we found out that she had sold that house and had moved about 3 doors down the street! She bought two houses, actually. One she lives in with her two sons and she rents out the other. There’s a picture of the other, smaller home in the album (P). My wife and I are talking over the possibility of buying it so that we have a ‘townhome’ in the area of Fortuna. The farm is about a 30 minute drive away and not close at all to our friends. Who knows? But, sitting in a chair on the front porch of Lorena’s house you can clearly see the volcano (P). In fact, the time we were there was a very active time for the volcano and you could see small flecks of lava red at the top. There are a few pictures in the album that will show you what I’m talking about.

Over the next few days we did several things in and around Fortuna. We visited our farm for one. We bought this place without too much in the way of educated thought. We just fell in love with the country – came across a great piece of property – and bought it. Now, 16 months later we were returning to make our final payment and sign all of the final transfer papers. Anybody’s who’s done something similar will confirm that it’s all been a little nerve wrecking. There’s a wonderful family from Nicaragua that lives on the property (P) but we hadn’t seen or spoken to them in over a year. There’s no electricity or telephones currently running on the property so there’s been no way to communicate with them. We really didn’t even know if they were still living there… if our tractor was still there… if the place had burned down..etc. Maybe this will sound like it’s coming from the ‘ugly American’ – but we have learned that Costa Rica has some fairly liberal squatter’s rights and there was a small part of us that has worried that these people could eventually claim ownership to the property. Anyway--- long story wrapping up --- the farm is great… the people are great… our attorney drafted up an agreement between us and the Nicaraguan family that they can stay there as long as they’d like (free) and that either party who wanted to change that would need to give the other 3 months notice. No more squatter’s worries. Tractor’s still there… place hadn’t burned down.. all is good.

We also drove to a small town called Los Angeles where my wife and her brother had made some good friends. We were blown away to find out that the one couple who was just about to have a baby during Sara’s last visit had ended up naming their child Braden (our last name). Quite an honor! (P)

Another friend, Augustin, who is a farmer / mechanic /entreprenuer welcomed us into their home, made us breakfast one day and presented us with a going away present ---- a piece of fruit called a ‘guanavana’ (P). I hope I’m spelling that correctly. There’s a picture of it in the album – but it’s roughly the size of a large human head. It’s very sweet and quite delicious. Never seen anything like it. Our other friend, Walter, helped out with translations. He’s a school teacher who introduced Sara (my wife) and Matt (her brother) to another teacher at this rural school out in the Los Angeles area last year. They ended up teaching English to a ravenous group of school children everyday after school. We made our way back to that school to see the kids and it was a very wonderful, teary reunion. They were just precious. (P)

Lorena’s son, David, along with another good friend, Eduardo, took us on an adventure deep into the forest areas of the Arenal Volcano National Park. David told us that he knew of a place where there were a bunch of monkeys, deer, toucans, etc. (P) While we didn’t run into much wildlife – it was a gorgeous setting, great weather, great friends.

Even though Lorena and our other friends cooked many meals for us, we still ate out at a few places in Fortuna. El Vagabondo is a pizza joint about half way between town and Tabacon – pretty good pizza. My wife thinks it’s the greatest ever – I’m not quite as convinced. There’s a great little coffee house (P) that made the greatest crazy concoction (something like white mocha, chocolate frappucino – or some such thing). Maybe the best we’ve ever had.

But, sadly, it came to the point in our week where we had to move along – so we bid our farewells to our pals and hit the road toward Manuel Antonio. As you’ll find when you visit – there are not many ‘direct routes’ getting from any point A to any point B in the country. In fact, many refer to CR as the ‘four hour country’ because no matter where you’re going – it takes 4 hours to get there! J While I though about going around Lake Arenal to Tilaran to Canas and then down the coast – I thought better and headed back into the hills and all the way back to San Ramon. I must say that the drive between these two towns has got to be some of the prettiest scenery on God’s green earth. Small little towns, rolling hills, rainforest, farms, cows, etc. Just gorgeous. At San Ramon we hook a right and start heading toward the coast. Once we got to the coast and started heading south we ran into an awful lot of road construction - -which overall is a good thing. Just a little bumpy and rocky for us at the time. The Pan American Highway is one of the few roads in the country that you can almost count on being smooth.

We popped into Jaco (P) for a quick lunch. Jaco is mainly one long street with a bunch of restaurants, souvenier shops, etc. Not our favorite place our least. We like a restaurant called El Barco (P) and we seem to have fixed on a dish called “Mexican Burrito”. Pretty odd for Costa Rica. Mexican food is not something you find down there. In fact, if you can find anyplace that makes either good tortilla chips or tortillas at all – you’ve found a GOLD MINE! J Once you’ve been down there for a bit you’ll know what I’m talking about J

The road from Jaco to Quepos is pretty straight. Lots of great scenery along the way.. the Pacific on your right – lots of farms and such on the left. Peaceful. By the time we had arrived in Quepos we had been on the road a little over 5 hours – so much for the ‘four hour country’ theory! J We didn’t really know where we were going – what streets to take, etc. but we just followed the minimal signs toward our destination which was a hotel called ‘Si Como No’. I’ve read a ton about this place on TripAdvisor and was very excited about getting there. I had originally planned this crazy adventure in the Osa Peninsula area (which unfortunately didn’t pan out) and I realized that SCN was probably on the other end of the ‘adventure’ spectrum. But, admittedly, air conditioning sounded like a really great thing about that time. That’s something for those of you who’ve never been there need to know… - many hotels don’t have air conditioning. The higher dollar places typically do.. but many of them just have fans. In the ‘mountain’ areas that can usually suffice – but along the Pacific it can get quite toasty and relatively uncomfortable at night. On this trip I knew that we’d be without for the first 3 nights – so I had already planned to splurge a bit for the second 3 and crank that sucker down!!! And I can honestly say – that it felt WONDERFUL!! I’m spoiled, I know.

From the valley floor of Quepos there’s a winding road that goes up and up and up with some very sharp curves and very steep sections. Along that road are many hotels, resorts, restaurants. I saw the Gaia, the Mono Azul (Blue Monkey), Byblos (hotel, bar, casino), Villas Nicolas, Tulemar, Karolas restaurant, Mar Luna restaurant, etc. We finally arrived at Si Como No (P). The grounds were beautiful. This resort (along with most of the others) sits high up on a hill overlooking the Pacific. They have two restaurants – the Rico Tico and the Claro Que Si(food). Every morning they have a complimentary breakfast buffet at the Rico Tico. They had GREAT french toast along with many other items as well as a omlette bar. We ate at this restaurant once for dinner and had the second better meal of our trip (the first best came on our last night in CR – more on that later). Our incredible waiter, Julio, talked us into one of the specials of the evening which was shrimp and mushroom stuffed Snook. I have never heard of Snook.. but it’s some kind of white fish. It was INCREDIBLE!! Not too pricey either. While we’re on the subject of food.. let me also pass on my experience at another place….

I had read many reviews on TA and had also spoken to many people while we were there. I wanted to have my one all-out, fantastic lobster dinner while I was in MA. All comments led me to a restaurant called Mar Luna. It’s a restaurant high on a hill with a beautiful view of the ocean. We ordered some kind of seafood appetizer and then I ordered a major lobster dinner (like Lobster and Lobster kind of thing) and my wife got Lobster and Tenderloin steak. I guess I don’t eat lobster all that often and my overall knowledge of lobster is a little weak. I didn’t realize that there were different kinds of lobster – the one I’m familiar with is Maine lobster and the one they serve in MA is some kind of warm water lobster. While there’s some similarity in its texture and taste – at least to my taste – there’s no comparison. I was relatively unhappy with the meal overall. After both my wife and I had taken a few bites of the lobster and weren’t too impressed with it – she looked at me and said .. ‘well, the good news is – that’s it’s better than the steak!” We had a good laugh. Her steak was essentially tasteless. Overall a very sad experience. The waiter, as nice and smiley as he was, was rarely at our table, not attentive at all… just not a very good waiter. The bill, with tip and all, was around $140 US. Trust me when I say that $140 is a very healthy tab at a restaurant in CR. It’s very possible that I caught them on a bad night.. but this is not a place I would recommend.

In the area of dining – we also ate at the ‘expensive’ restaurant of the two at Si Como No. The atmosphere was nice.. there was a guitar player going to town. Here we had some kind of seafood medley along with some steak. There was shrimp and lobster and tenderloin and something else. Now.. in this case the steak was pretty darn good. The seafood (both the shrimp and the lobster) were overcooked, hard, dry, relatively flavorless. This meal with tax and tip came to about $110. Not quite as expensive nor disappointing… but not great either.

We only really had two full days in Manuel Antonio – so let me briefly describe what happened on each:

Day One: We got word that Costa Rica would be playing Germany in the first game of the World Cup soccer tournament at 10 am. So… we did a little impromptu research and found a great sports bar right across the street from the beach – near to the entrance of the National Park – the bar is called Marlins (P). My wife and I – along with about 50 ticos with faces painted watched CR lose their first game. CR did, however, score two goals and the place went absolutely nuts (P). Days later – when that game would pop into conversation I would always say ‘it was very sad’ or ‘too bad’ or something like that. Eventually my wife pointed out to me that the ticos we were talking to didn’t appear to be sad about the outcome at all. We pulled one of our friends aside and asked him about this. His take on it was – the CR team is just a bunch of farmers.. not professionals. The German team is a world famous, professional powerhouse team. For CR to be able to score 2 goals on them was an incredible, prideful accomplishment. I stopped telling people about how sad the loss was… J

After the game we grabbed our backpack and started heading toward the entrance to the National Park. We got a little turned around and weren’t really sure about where the entrance was.. it was not clearly marked (imagine that J). A very nice young man, Elias (P), told us that we were going the right direction but we turned around. After a pleasant chat he let us know that he was an official guide and his services were available for hire. The cost was $35 for him to take us through the park for a couple of hours. We’ve done explorations like this with and without guides and have typically found that having a guide is well worth the money. They have the ability to find things that you would never, ever find on your own. So, we agreed and off we went. Because of the high tide – you had a choice on how you were going to get to the park’s entrance. You could either wade across a chest-deep lagoon or you could pay a gentleman $1,000 colones (about $2) to paddle you across the lagoon in his boat (P). We went the $2 route.

After we paid our $7 each as the entrance fee we started our little hike. Within 10 seconds Elias had stopped us and had focused his telescope onto a sloth hanging out in one of the trees above us (P). We’ve seen sloths before but they’re always a trip to check out. He explained about the differences between 2 and 3 toed sloths (stay away from the 2 toed… very dangerous and mean – according to Elias). We walked down this nice path with the ocean on our right and a marsh on our left. He told us about the various trees, barks, lizards, iguanas, fruits (edible and poisonous), etc. It was very informative and interesting. He was really a nice young man – said he’d been doing this tour for almost 10 years. We got down to the end of the first path and came across an amazingly beautiful beach area (P). I took several pictures in this general area – many came out incredibly. We noticed a bunch of people gathering in a certain area so we went to check out what all the excitement was. It was a troop of white-face monkeys scampering about… checking out the people, playing with each other, jumping from tree to tree, running along the ground, etc. All within just feet of us and the other humans. I do have pictures of this encounter – but for some reason most of them turned out very blurry. I’m really sad about that. This was an amazing experience and for some reason I screwed up all the shots. Oh well. What are you gonna do? After that we ran into a pizote (P) which is like the cross between a raccoon and an anteater… and also saw a raccoon (P). We saw several more sloths and then we came upon what turned out to be the coolest find of the day. Stuck to a big palm frond was a frog sleeping. We didn’t see it but Elias pointed it out. Then, after swearing us both to secrecy, he scooped it up off the leaf and into his hand. It’s a red eyed tree frog and I got the most incredible photo ever! (P). It doesn’t even look real. I wouldn’t be surprised if National Geographic doesn’t contact me after that one! J We were nearing the end of the trail and it looked like rain was about to begin – so we called it a day and went back to the hotel.

Day 2: We had signed up for two tours this day… one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We knew it was fairly a fairly aggressive plan – but we wanted to cram in as much of the area as we could in our limited time. The morning event was called the ‘Dolphin Boat Tour’. The tour description (provided by SCN) said that we would be cruising around in the ocean around the various islands, do some snorkeling, have a good chance to see dolphins and whales in the area, etc. Sounded like fun to me. A mini-van picked us up at the hotel around 9:30 and took us to Quepos and then to the dock area (P). We found out that our boat was the ‘Big Pink Panther’ and it was a double decker touring rig and looked great. The funny/sad part was that when all was said and done it turned out to be the captain, his first mate, Sara and I and one other couple. That was it. The boat was set up to hold maybe 120-150 people. But our hosts didn’t seem too upset so we all just agreed that this was going to be a little more like a private tour! J

There are several photos in the album on this event. We buzzed around all over the place with our guide informing us about the various bird life, wild life, etc. We eventually pulled into a secluded cove where they dropped anchor and the four guests put on life vests and swam to shore. I’m not going to say that mankind had never stepped foot on this particular beach – but I’m going to bet that it’s been some time! Very cool. Lots of crabs and hermit crabs. Couldn’t take any pictures because I had to swim to get there. So sad.

After that it was back to the ocean where we pulled up alongside several small boats full of local fishermen (P). It was obvious that all the men knew our crew and they were all friends. Our first mate tossed a few ice colds cokes over to one of the fishermen who, in turn, reached into his ice chest and pulled out 4 fish they had just caught. He tossed them over onto our boat (P). Shortly after that we dropped anchor at a good place for snorkeling. The captain went with us while the first mate grilled up the fish and made lunch for all of us. The snorkeling was really great. There were 1000’s of fish trying to each the little crackers they had given us. I’m sure there are much better places to dive – but to us novices that was a really amazing adventure.

We got back to the hotel just in time to change clothes and to hop into the next mini van for our horseback riding adventure. We drove back down the hill, through Quepos and back up into the hills – very rural. It’s in the same general area that we did the white water rafting on the Savegre river last year. Very, very beautiful area. We eventually made it to a small finca (farm) where we loaded up on our horses and began our journey (P). It had just begun to rain a bit as we were saddling up… but within about 20 minutes it was an absolute MONSOON!! J We all had ponchos on – but they were no match for the onslaught. Now.. keep in mind that it’s still 75-80 degrees… so you’re not really cold – you’re just WET! We walked (I guess more accurately – the horses walked) up one hill then down another – way back into the countryside. Eventually we got to a creek. Well, it’s normally a creek… but the recent monsoon had turned it into an impassable torrent. So we had to turn back and head back to the finca. When we pulled our boots off there was about 2” of water inside them. We were SOAKED! But we had fun. I had a chance to speak with our guide who is a 57 year old man, former teacher who now takes tourists out on horseback. His family had lived in that area forever and he told me about many of the herbal remedies that he and his family have used to combat all kinds of medical maladies. He told me that in his entire life he had never taken any drugs. And, truthfully, he looked pretty damn good! Nice guy too. We ended up back at the finca for a ‘typical’ dinner which was a piece of boiled chicken, veggies and rice. I’m not a huge coffee drinker – but I poured myself a cup and – oooohhhh myyyyy…. It looked a lot like the stuff that comes out of your oil pan when you change your oil. Very black… very thick. Not too snappy. In Costa Rica’s defense – I will say that by and large CR has fantastic coffee! This just wasn’t an example of that J

The final day we packed our gear, got ready to check out and then walked across the street to SCN’s nature walk and butterfly garden (P). Lots of cool pictures of the butterflies. Very neat place.

We hit the road and started our journey up the coast toward Jaco. As we were driving in the middle of nowhere we came to a stalled car with two exasperated looking Americans looking on while 3-4 ticos were poking around under the hood of a car. As we drove by we asked them ‘are you guys okay?’. They both shrugged their shoulders and said ‘We don’t know’. It turns out that Gene and Sandra are from Oregon and are down visiting a local dentist in San Jose. They decided to take a few day detour down to MA and their driver’s car had just imploded. After making sure that the driver was going to be alright – Gene and Sandra moved their gear into our car and off to San Jose we went. We stopped along the way back in Jaco for some more Mexican burritos at El Barco, bought some other things in Grecia (I think) and eventually got them back to their hotel in downtown San Jose. After they bought us a drink and we chatted for a while we hit the road back to our lovely hotel (the Hampton Inn right by the airport).

At that point we were hungry and were hoping that we would come across a nice place to eat our final dinner. We asked the folks at the front desk if they could recommend somewhere nice for dinner. Thank God we did that – because their recommendation “El Mirador” turned out to be the best we had during our entire visit. In fact, it’s quite possibly in the 10 best meals I’ve ever had category! The restaurant would have provided free transportation – but we would have had to have waited about an hour.. so we decided to once again brave the streets of San Jose (this time in the dark - mind you). About halfway through town we were starting to feel a bit lost. There is a definite shortage of streets signs nationwide in CR. We rolled down the window and yelled out to a cab driver for some help. He told us to follow him – and soon we were back on track and starting to climb the mountain. ‘El Mirador’ means ‘lookout’ or ‘vista’ in Spanish and, let me tell you, the view from this restaurant was UNBELIEVABLE! I took a picture (P) but it didn’t come out very good. You could see across the entire San Jose valley. Tens of thousands of lights – unlimited visibility. Quite breathtaking. I asked the waiter what the house specialty was.. and I told him I was interested in a steak. I took his advice which was a steak about as big as my head, covered in an incredible mushroom sauce… so tender… so tasty. Unreal. My wife had a fresh sea bass concoction covered with shrimp, cream sauce, etc. Both of our meals were insanely good. Along with a caesar salads and a few drinks and an appropriately large tip – the total was about $50. Much more like it. If anybody reading this is going to be in the San Jose area for a dinner – I would highly suggest you go. I just popped onto google to see if I could find their web site – because I remember the waiter told me that they had one. I found a place called Mirador Ram Luna that people had commented on. By what they were saying – it’s probably the same place.

Anyway… carpal tunnel is now setting in. Like I said early on in this note – I truly enjoy helping out fellow travelers. In the past year and a half I’ll bet that I’ve assisted 160-200 different groups of people heading down to CR and in need of some guidance. Many of them ended up using the tour company that we used on our first trip and continue to use. Others were planning on renting a car and doing things their own way – they just needed a few pieces of advice. I’m not saying that I’m an incredible, all-knowing source of info on Costa Rica – but I do know a good amount. I’m in the new home sales business and find that I typically have some free time avaiable to answer questions, etc. In any event, it brings me great joy – so what the hell! I’ve been accumulating ‘thank you’ notes from people I’ve conversed with and they never fail to bring a tear to my eye. In passing, let me give you a few pieces of info that might help you out:

1. The link to this trip’s photos is:

http://www.kodakgallery. com/ShareLandingSignin. jsp?Uc=sqzchcq.atwkyimq&Uy =7eeqew&Upost_signin =Slideshow.jsp%3F mode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0

2. Below are some links to other photo albums we’ve put together on previous journeys to CR:

For photos of Scott and Sara's first trip to Costa Rica:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Browse Photos.jsp?showSlide=true&Uc =sqzchcq.ksycly2&Uy=-fvp5l5&Upost_signin =BrowsePhotos.jsp%3F showSlide%3Dtrue&Ux=0

For photos of Sara and Matt's trip to Costa Rica:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ BrowsePhotos.jsp?showSlide=true&Uc =sqzchcq.75iv6d6&Uy =qn7e2f&Upost_signin=BrowsePhotos .jsp%3FshowSlide%3Dtrue&Ux=0

For Photos of Scott and Sara's farm:

http://www.kodakgallery.com /BrowsePhotos.jsp?showSlide=true&Uc =sqzchcq.70xvymy&Uy=-gm90yt&U post_signin=BrowsePhotos .jsp%3FshowSlide%3Dtrue&Ux=0

3. The tour company that we use and swear by is:

Costa Nica Tours (www.costanicatours.com)

The owner's name is Rod Nietzen and he can be reached toll-free at 1-800-517-2430

4. This is a link to (what I think) is the best map site for Costa Rica 1costaricalink.com/eng/web/regions-eng.htm

Thanks for writing and feel free to drop me a line if you have any other specific questions. I'd love to help out. It seems that Costa Rica is all my wife and I talk about anymore. You can email me with questions or comments at my hotmail address or you can go to this link for my work and just click on my picture to send me a note (www.davidweekleyhomes.com/Community.asp…) Take care and pura vida!

Scott

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1. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Scott- loved your post. Thank you so much for sharing. So glad that you enjoyed your trip. We feel the same way about Costa Rica and wish we could spend more timet there. Sounds like you really enjoyed Si Como No.

Are you planning on building something on your farm one day?

Laura

Fort Worth, Texas
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2. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hi Laura.. There's already a 'house' of sorts on our property and a family currently lives in it. We have several thousand lemon trees and about 500 mandarin orange trees on the property. Nobody's really tending to them like they should be tended to now - so we're not sure what we're going to do with them in the future. We just 'acquired' a few cows - so maybe we'll get into the cattle business :) Who knows? We're just enjoying the limited time that we get to spend down there for now and are making serious plans to move down there on a permanent basis within the next 5 years. That's the plan, at least.

St. Petersburg...
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3. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Scott - I enjoyed your photos. I wanted to ask you about the house you are thinking of purchasing (the little one in town). Do you know how much something like that would sell for in town?

I am looking at heading to CR at some point in the future for good as well and was wondering what the cost of a typical home might be.

Thanks

Diane

Fort Worth, Texas
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4. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hi Diane,

Well, my wife made a good friend who lives in the neighborhood just outside of the center of town (Fortuna). Houses in that kind of neighborhood are going to be more expensive that those in the smaller, more rural communities. Understand that the typical 'tico house' is very small (400-1,000 square feet), most don't have hot water, air conditioning, 220 for dryers, etc. They're very simple houses. I haven't yet been inside the one she's offering to us - but she said it's 2 bedroom 2 bath and she said she'd make us a 'deal' at $22,000 US. Now, to give you an example, we have another friend who lives in a little town about 20-25 minutes outside of Fortuna called Los Angeles... his house is a 2 bedroom, one bath and it sits on a nice sized lot. Probably only 500-600 sf. His landlord is offering it to him for $7,000. These are examples of houses if you're looking to live among the locals. Many areas have more 'Americanized' housing with much more 'Americanized' prices. It all depends on what you're looking for. Email me if you'd like to continue this conversation. Take care and good luck. Scott

Halifax, NS
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5. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

You have no clue how helpful this will be for me. I will certainly send you an e-mail when I have a minute so I can get things clarified.

Fort Worth, Texas
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6. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hi MDMA... I don't know if you've emailed me or not - lots of folks do - but I hope you did and my response proved helpful. Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.

New Jersey
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7. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hi Scott - your post is extremely helpful. My fiancee and I are planning a honeymoon to CR in December and we're very excited. We plan to check out the Peace Lodhe, Arenal and Tabacon hot springs and Manuel Antonio. Do you recommend any particluar order for these sights from San Jose? Any other sights you think are must-see's - we are there for about 9 days and would like to do both relaxing-after-wedding type stuff as well as adventure-type stuff. Also, do you think it's worthwhile to rent a acar for the 9 days or use shuttles/private cars to get from one place to the other? any advice along these lines would be greatly appreciated, as we ll as any hotel recommendations you may have.

Thanks!

-rt

8. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

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San Francisco
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9. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

Hi Scott,

Your posting is extremely helpful. My husband and I are planning our first trip to Costa Rica in early December for 6 nights. This is really a honeymoon we never had. We are in our early 40's and like nice beaches, activities, some light hiking, spa , waterfalls and night life. We are definitely not the backpack hiker type, but enjoy nature and the plush greens. I heard rave reviews about Si Como No. We prefer nice accomodations, (4 star). Can you elaborate on your hotel stay even though you were not in the hotel that much?

I am considering staying in MA area for the first few nights, then going to the Marriott Los Suenos for the next few nights. My husband heard alot about fishing in CR, although he has not done it before.

I appreciate any help or suggestions. There just seems to be so much to see and we only have 6 nights so I want to make the most of this trip. We are also coming from a wedding in Panama so we will also get some rainforrest adventures at the Gamboa Resort as well.

I look forward to your recommendations.

10. Re: Just got back! Long trip report + photos (Fortuna, M.A.)

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post either because the author requested it, or because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum guidelines.

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Removed on: 8:10 am, December 24, 2006