Costa Rica

grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
edited August 26, 2015 in Journeys
In February 1996 we went to Costa Rica to see the rain forests. pictures from 1996 taken with a point and shoot camera Narrative of that trip

But we didn't see the turtle nesting because it wasn't the season
I thought maybe I could see it if we went to Costa Rica in August, and also we could revisit some of the places we missed in 1996

August 7
Left home today at about 2 pm. It was raining - house in the rear view mirror


Got up to BWI (airport) and Bob had to pee and we couldn't find the hotel. He had to stop and go in the bushes. Finally found the hotel behind another hotel. We switched from the place that we always used because they started to say we couldn't do long term parking there but would have to pay the going rate.

But this place had the AC down to 56 deg F. I don't have any warm clothes. I may have to wrap myself in the curtains to stay warm

Our plane leaves tomorrow at 8:30 and they want us there 3 hours ahead.
We went to eat at Bob Evans which is usually pretty good. But the bacon was tough and they gave me home fries (which were sort of burnt) instead of hash browns that I asked for.


Here's our first wildlife - she was on the windshield when we came out from dinner.


8 August 2015

Last night, I shut down the computer about 9 and went to bed. Bob had turned on the heat
so it wasn't quite as cold and I did not have to resort to taking
down the curtains for warmth. Bob refused to ask for a wake-up call
and insisted on trying to set the clock radio
for 4 am instead of getting the wind-up alarm clock out of the suitcase.
The clock-radio often doesn't work either. I was nervous about it
and woke up and looked at the clock at 1:30 and again at 3:30. I turned over at 4:15 and

that waked up Bob - the clock radio alarm didn't go off. We got out to the lobby at the required 10 minutes before
the 5 am shuttle. I snatched a mini-blueberry muffin from the buffet and we all
(the van was completely full - all seats taken and two people standing) piled
into the van. The majority of them were Southwest pilots and one was a flight
attendant. The only civilians (other than ourselves) were a family of five and
a lady who was apparently the wife of a pilot who was carrying a large picture.

The van parked and Bob got our five bags unloaded. I walked over to the curb
check (which I did not think we could use because of the scooter

and because of an international flight) and asked for
a wheelchair. The lady said she would call for one, and I sat in the chair that
was there. Bob consolidated the bags and we went inside. I told the wheelchair
lady that I could not curb check and we would need help with checking the

There were very long lines at the counter to check in, even though it
was only 5:15 am. She came back and said she found someone to help. I think
she went into the back and got a supervisor who had to open a station up. He
did not really appear to know what he was doing. The station next to him
processed three people while he did just us. But he did get the bags checked.
The scooter bag weighed 76 lbs and my bag was 36 lbs.

The wheelchair lady next went to security (she jumped all the lines). I was
again nearly strangled taking off my hat, camera, passport case, pocketbook and
camera vest. Bob had to take off his belt. And even though I went through the
scanner they still had to pat down my arms and legs. Apparently my arms and
legs make a hot spot on the scanner. I told the scanner lady that it was just

Our gate was to be B5. We were at the gate by 5:45. The whole check-in had only taken half an hour. And there was NO

Bob went and got me a banana and a bagel and filled the water
bottles. He bought himself some fruit flavored candy. Our flight was not even
on the departures board. Were we in the wrong place? A long time went by
before anyone else was there.

Finally other people started to show up. There was another lady in a wheelchair
with her daughter - I think they were originally from Costa Rica, and the old
lady was coming home. There were families with a lot of kids. There were many
announcements about how we could not board unless we had the red "Doc OK" on our
boarding pass and that we also had to have a boarding priority

The gate agent was in training and he started to get us lined up and then he
asked his trainer a question and she took off running down the gangway and after
bit he followed. We were to have started boarding at 7:45 but he didn't get us
lined up until about 8:05 and both gate agents were gone (with everyone standing
in line) for 5 minutes. They took the other lady first and then took us. I was
not seated until about 8:10. There was a whole group of people in kryptonite
color T shirts from the Severna Park United Methodist Church who apparently were
going down on a Mission. The back of their shirts said Costa Rica VIM 2015

We did not push back from the gate until 20 minutes after our supposed departure
time of 8:30 and we did not actually take off until 9:15.


We went right over the Naval Academy and then we were above the clouds for a
good bit of the time. We went over some islands which looked
almost like the Bahamas.


We went over some land that was neatly laid out in
squares (with an occasional triangle). I thought it was Cuba, but Bob didn't
think Cuba would be that organized


They handed out the immigration and customs forms and said to wait until we
could all go over them together and Bob didn't wait (neither did I). I made a
mistake on my form by putting my occupation in the place for residence. Bob did
OK on immigration, but on customs he got his name backward (in the wrong places)
and he also answered some of the questions wrong. We got new forms and fixed them. I
did notice when we were at Customs that some people were sent back to fill in
their forms again.

I went to the bathroom just before they shut the forward bathroom down so the
pilots could all use it. We didn't talk to the lady in the aisle seat until
about the end of the trip - she turned out to be a German who had lived in Costa
Rica for a time and was coming down to visit family.

Coming in over Costa Rica


As we got closer to San Jose, I was almost blinded by the metal roves


Landed almost on time (11:30 central non-daylight time). We waited for the
second wheelchair. We jumped the immigration line, and then went to get our
bags. We got mine and then Bobs and then he walked off to another carousel to
see if the scooter was oversized luggage. In the meantime the scooter came on
the original carousel and some nice airport baggage handler got it off the line
for me and packed all the rest of the bags on a cart. The wheelchair guy had
gone off with Bob, but he was paying attention and came back. We were able to
wave at Bob that we had all the bags and then to go through customs. The SW
flight attendant said the fruit flavored candy could not come in and indeed the
package looked like it was dried fruit, but Bob left it in his pocket. It was candy and
not fruit

After we cleared customs, Bob and the two guys (one pushing the wheelchair and one
pushing the luggage) went out past all kinds of people holding signs until I
saw one that said Beasley, and he seemed to be expecting me in a wheelchair. He
said something to the other guys and so we walked quickly out of the airport and
into the garage where the guy with the van ( Mario Fernandez) stopped on the way
to pay the parking. All five of us arrived at the van by 12:15.


The scooter is in the white bag with the rainbow strap. My bag is the red bag

As we drove into the city I talked to Mario and he gave me his card. He said he
has been doing guided tours since 1991 and he worked for a transport service
when he didn't have tours. We discussed having him take us out to the
serpentarium and also going to the Central Cemetery

We arrived at the hotel and they gave me a wheelchair and loaded the luggage on
a cart We went to check in and went through all the procedures and then they said we were
early to check in and would have to wait for our room to be ready. I was
getting hungry (they gave us peanuts, pretzels and cheese nips on the plane, but
that was hardly lunch), so I asked if we could eat while we waited. That seemed
to be a new concept to him.

I footed the wheelchair around - I found the Greyhound tour desk and the
visitor information desk - neither of them with any persons to answer questions.
Hotel lobby

I ended up going into the first/ground floor restaurant. This is where we would normally have breakfast

When they said it
would be at least 40 minutes until we could check in, I asked again if we could
eat there first. But Bob was worried about the luggage. They said they could
just take it up to our room. So that was what I told them to do. I also got a
city map from the desk

It turned out that we were ordering off the room service menu. Bob said that
the restaurant restrooms were like the Waldorf Astoria, but the restaurant
itself was like Faulty Towers. And indeed the guy who took our orders did
remind me quite a bit of the waiter in Faulty Towers.


Bob's tuna sandwich

I ordered a quesidilla
and Bob had a tuna sandwich. He then asked for a banana split and I just wanted
ice cream. But while the order taking waiter could do banana split, he could
not get the idea that I just wanted ice cream, so I got a banana split too. But I
mostly just ate the ice cream

I also got iced tea - this is iced tea in San Jose


also wanted more than a little glass of water, so I flagged someone down and
asked for a bigger glass. They didn't have bigger glasses but they said how
about a pitcher. We said that would be terrific. They brought a carafe with a
lot of ice.
“" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”


  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 25, 2015
    I was looking at the map and using my phone to get a better map when I got an
    email from AT&T that I had incurred $100 roaming charges. So I called and
    activated a roaming package which I had discontinued when we got back from
    England, and also put the phone to operate on the hotel wi-fi

    The lunch bill came to 19,459.99 Col. or $36.00. We asked if we could put it on our
    room bill but the desk did not know our room number (although they really must
    have done to take our luggage up to it)., so we just paid with a credit card.

    They showed us how to use the elevator (you need a room key) and we went to the
    room. We were checked in by 2:30 - so half an hour early

    View from the room


    I was pretty much not inclined to do much other than try to get the internet and
    take out my nightgown and pills. Bob asked about the park across the street so
    I did look that up on the internet. It is the Parque Morazán which is apparently named for Francisco Morazan , chief of
    the country during 1842 and leader of the Central American Union ,
    it is notable for its neoclassical Temple of Music, built by the architect and Costa Rican painter José Francisco Salazar and declared Architectural Heritage.


    So we have been watching Bones in Spanish, and getting organized. We went up to the restaurant on the 17th floor for dinner
    (going up in the elevator)

    and I ordered Moroccan chicken which had raisins and nuts, and came with real mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and
    warm yeast rolls, but I just couldn't eat that much of it. Bob had giant shrimp. Also the restaurant was so dark that I could not
    get a good photo of it.

    We could look down on the park (which isn't
    supposed to be a good place to go at night


    Bob thinks he is getting a cold. so I gave him some Claritin. I brought some over the countery Claritin in addition to my prescription
    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 25, 2015
    Handicapped access in San Jose

    They were the best of times, they were the worse of times. That is some things were better than I expected and some things were not good.

    There was no problem at the airport in checking the scooter. I got a wheelchair to the plane and then had one when I got off the plane. We had help with the bags in the airport at the destination. Our ride arrived on time and got us to the hotel ... early. Too early to check in. A really nice place would have found a room for us early, but NBD - we were ready for lunch anyway. Elevators have mirrors on the back, which is GOOD as I can see to back out. Elevators are too small for the scooter and a luggage cart, but there are three of them, so we come separate from luggage.

    Room was fine.

    My scooter has a very narrow wheelbase - it is only about a foot wide. So a sloping surface, when I am sideways to the slope, it is apt to tip over. I've done that once, and so am wary of slanty places. The scooter also doesn't have big wheels -- so low clearance and I feel every crack in the sidewalk as the seat is quite hard. Also, there is no basket.

    Breakfast is included. It is a buffet. It IS possible for me to operate the scooter with one hand and hold a plate, but not much more than that. I can't also get juice for instance.

    Sunday - August 9th Today we visited the Gold Museum and the National Theatre

    I tried to get my GPS and my phone in a little bum bag but it was a struggle. So
    we went to breakfast, which was a buffet in the place where we had had lunch
    yesterday. They had coffee, tea (hot), two kinds of juice and water, eggs
    cooked to order, fruit, rolls of various kinds, pico gallo, fish, sausage,
    stewed bananas, ham, cheese, bread to toast and a couple of things I couldn't
    identify- there were two dishes of white stuff which might have been yogurt?

    Bob at the buffet


    stewed bananas


    pico gallo (rice and beans - Costa Ricans have pico gallo for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and beans and rice for dinner smiley.png )

    I had a banana, a piece of pineapple, an egg over easy, tea and a few rolls. Bob
    had pico gallo and the red juice (don't know what kind it was), watermelon and
    two sausages. I didn't take photos of it but this was a breakfast of another day


    pineapple, a bacon roll, a regular roll and a kind of cookie with chocolate in the middle.

    After we ate, we took the GPS outside to see if it would get the satellites, and
    eventually it did. When we came back in I saw that the man was at the tourist
    information desk so I asked him some questions. I thought he said that the hop
    on hop off bus was only $9.00 so I filed that idea away for future reference. He
    said the Gold Museum and the National theatre were just three blocks straight
    down the street.

    So we went back to the room and re-organized. I stuffed two
    water bottles, an umbrella, a raincoat, the GPS and my phone in my pocketbook,
    and we set off to go to the Gold Museum which the internet said opened at 9:00
    (half an hour before when the internet said was the opening for the National

    The entrance to the hotel has a way for cars to drive in. But.. it is very slanty


    Going around the corner where Bob is standing the sidewalk slants down to the driveway.

    This is a close-up of what they have for curb cuts for wheelchairs etc.



    And these are sort of intermittent - some places there are just curbs.


    Going past the park across the street

    This is Morazán Park (Parque Morazán), which encompasses four city blocks. IMG_2000.JPG
    The dome-shaped Temple of Music is in the center.

    And we got to the Gold Museum
    (which is underground - the four stacks are the ventilation for it)
    and went down the ramp arriving about 9:05. And it
    wasn't open. The internet had said 9:00, but the sign at the museum said 9:15.


    It was just as well because Bob was having trouble taking photos -- it took us a
    little while but the problem was that he had it set on the timer setting instead
    of single photo. By the time we figured it out, it was 9:15. The gate guard
    had four padlocks to remove from the gate, and we went in. Bob got the tickets
    (more for non-ticos of course - $11 each for us) and then he had to go through
    security. I didn't. There was no way I could have done it anyway - they just
    waved me around the metal detector. They said we could take photos without
    flash. Flash doesn't work that well for stuff in glass cases anyway.


    The museum was very interesting

    and I think Bob and I saw totally different things.

    He went to the music section

    and also the burial display area,

    and I didn't even see them.

    They had a rain forest display with little gold animals
    in a case and you were to pick the animal and the gold figure that went with it
    and if you pressed both buttons at the same time, a floodlight would light up
    that animal. The gold items were mostly smaller than the ones we saw in Peru
    but the animals were more realistic. You could easily wear a lot of them as
    gold charms






    After we finished up with the gold, we skipped the money section, and went back
    up to the top floor (the one right under the street - they did have elevators)
    and looked at the gift shop.

    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 25, 2015
    I scootered around

    to the front of the National Theatre and went in.


    The theatre was built between 1891 and 1897 because in 1890, when a European opera company featuring the prima donna Adelina Patti toured Central America but was unable to perform in Costa Rica because there was no suitable venue. Wealthy coffee barons voted a tax on coffee exports to fund construction of a theater. Craftsmen from Europe were imported to build the magnificent structure with a classical Renaissance facade. (Architects from Belgium, painters from Italy) - statues on top to Dance, Music, and Fame.

    Statue of Chopin in the 'front yard'

    Music statue in the lobby like the one on the roof

    The inside foyer is decorated in pink marble with allegorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy.

    Foyer from above

    Bob bought tickets - just for the entrance, not for the tour. The tour would have been extra
    and we would have had to wait - I was too impatient to do that.

    We got two stickers to stick on ourselves and the
    receipt the guard at the door took. They asked us if we wanted to go the 2nd
    floor, and not knowing if we did, I said yes. So they took us around to a
    cubbyhole in the wall and there was a small elevator which the guy activated and
    we went up to the second floor. Stairs (if we had used them)


    We looked around,

    intersecting at times with various tours,

    The chandelier can be lowered to change bulbs. Up some stairs was the 'smoking room'
    Bob went up there and took photos for me (we were allowed to take pictures without flash)




    On the ceiiing were paintings about Costa Rican life - this was the main one on the ceiling



    picking coffee. But because the artists were Italian and had no idea really about
    Costa Rica, there is a major error in the paintings which we were told to look for -
    mainly in the paintings about bananas. And we did find the banana painting.


    The error (which is repeated in the ceiling painting) is in the way the bananas appear to
    grow and in the way that they are carried. The bananas grow from the stem pointing up to the
    top of the plant and they are not carried crossways like this.


    Marble floor



    We came back down in the elevator by ourselves without needing help and looked
    around the first floor

    The seats can be removed and the floor raised to use as a ballroom

    We went into the little restaurant there and had lunch. Just like we did in 1996


    Even here the ceiling was decorated


    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 25, 2015


    Bob had a ham and
    cheese sandwich and hot chocolate and I had a chicken salad sandwich and tea.

    Bob's cup

    There was a lot of music from the plaza near the theatre so I scootered around
    there and there were a lot of people in costume and some of them dancing. I
    took a few photos in between people.


    Then we started back to the hotel - I felt
    a few drops of rain, but it didn't actually rain.

    We went up the pedestrian
    street which was much easier on the scooter
    and got back to the hotel about
    noon. The scooter was still in the green (meaning it had a fairly full charge
    still - the levels are green, lime green, and red - you don't want to get
    into the red)

    Went up to the room and Bob charged the scooter and napped. I downloaded photos
    - I took 157 and Bob took about 80. I had asked the guy at the desk if he could
    recommend a guide and how much would it be, and when we got back he said it
    would be $80 for three hours. I said that was too much.

    But I thought we could
    do the hop-on-hop-off tour. So I made reservations and he said they would pick
    us up at 2:10. So we went down - just with my cane, and then I found it was $30
    per person and not $9 each like I thought. Which is right much.

    I won't post all these photos


    Temple of Music at the Parque across the street and one of the entrance arches


    This is not a normal HOHO bus (hop on hop off). For most HOHO buses, the bus does a route and
    you get off and then you catch the next bus after you are finished with the
    thing you hopped off to do. Not this one. This one picks you up at the hotel
    and has two stops and the guide gets off with you. It is a two hour tour

    new fancy bus station 9the orange and grey building. Which was built in one of the poorest sections of the city


    The guide says that they were going to renovate the barrio, but he didn't sound too optimistic
    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 25, 2015
    We saw the wall with bullet holes, (this was the result of an altercation between two political parties and resulted in Costa
    Rica disbanding the army completely - all they have are police)

    the pink building made of metal,


    which is a school
    second stop (Costa Rican Art Museum) and the guide got off with the other two
    people. I knew I only had one time of getting on and one time of getting off in
    me, so I stayed in the van and so did Bob.


    In front of this church is where all the Nicaraguans gather on Sunday





    Police car parked across the street from the place where the President lives

    This is the condo where the President lives

    Toward the end of the tour, my camera battery started to die so I tried to limit
    my photos, but I ended up with a little less than 200 of them. Bob didn't have
    his camera. The other couple wanted to go to the Gold Museum, so they let us
    off at the hotel and went back to the Gold Museum with them.

    Our hotel - Holiday Inn Aurora


    I downloaded and started entering photos, and we also repacked so that we could
    put two big bags (the Luggie bag and Bob's big bag) in storage here at the
    hotel. When we got everything organized, Bob took the two bags down.

    Bob walked to Burger King to get us whoppers for dinner. We wanted milk shakes
    but they didn't apparently get the concept, so we got sundaes. Just after he
    left, they called from Tortuguero and said they would pick us up between 6:50
    and 7:00. So we can have breakfast and check out of here first.

    My alternate camera battery was discharge also, so I am trying to get that
    charged now.
    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • MitchellMitchell Registered Users Posts: 3,503 Major grins
    edited August 26, 2015
    These are great.

    I particularly like the banana split photo.
  • grandmaRgrandmaR Registered Users Posts: 1,929 Major grins
    edited August 26, 2015
    Mitchell wrote: »
    These are great.

    I particularly like the banana split photo.

    Thanks - it is one of the few photos that I didn't take from some kind of moving vehicle.
    “" adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
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