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San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and located in the middle of the country. The main airport (SJO) for the country is located just to the west of San Jose.

Written By: Gary on August 20, 2009 No Comment

The Lens Day Challenge for this week is Traffic.

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People in Costa Rica barely look at the stop signs. Do they really think someone is going to read this one? This is a pretty busy sign, no matter where you are. And just in case you aren’t sure: Alto means Stop.

This is on a busy side-street in San Jose, Costa Rica; It’s a block or two east of La Sabana Park. I think it’s this messy intersection off of Calle 40; but if that’s where it is, it’s not even a very good representation of the intersection.

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 No Comment

So riding the bus in Costa Rica is cheap and it’ll take you anywhere. The problem is figuring out when the bus is going to be running.

In the bigger cities this doesn’t appear to be a problem, if you miss a bus another one will be by soon and if it’s not the right bus it’s still heading in the correct direction, just hop on. In the more remote areas (such as Montezuma) they probably don’t come more than every two hours so if you miss the bus it’s a pain.

The people closest to the bus stop seem to have the most reliable information. Restaurants and internet cafes have it written down, but they wrote it down ages ago. My trickiest problem is asking “when is the next bus?” and they tell me “it’s in 20 minutes” but that’s too soon for me so I try to find out about the bus after that and it’s no good; I have to come back in 25 minutes and ask again to get the info for the bus after that :)

The appears to be no schedule posted, even at the bus station in Cobano (a central town in the lower Nicoya Peninsula). I did notice the bus that goes from Montezuma to Cabuya to the National Reserve does have a schedule taped to the window (4 trips a day) with pricing and everything; as an added bonus, it generally seemed to be leaving Montezuma at the correct time! More info below.

Pricing is cheap though. In San Jose I took a bus for about 150 colones (28 cents) but honestly I don’t know far that would have taken me, it was in front of me heading the right way and it kept going once I got off. In Montezuma, it’s 300 colones (55 cents) to go to Cobano which is 7 km. away (a very hilly/dusty walk).

You can get a direct bus all the way to San Jose from Montezuma, but you might not get a seat and there isn’t any A/C but I think you can do it for about $8-ish (maybe $10 including the ferry ride). CORRECTION: The direct bus does have air conditioning; if the directo bus in Montezuma does not have A/C, when you switch onto the directo in Cobano that one has A/C (and little controllable vents like on an airplane), I’ve taken it three different times now and it is an excellent value (it seems like it will stop at the SJO Airport [you must ask/tell them!] or San Jose at the Coca Cola bus terminal (updated March 2012; I think I paid just under $14 and that included the ferry ride). Montezuma to Cabuya to the National Reserve info: When I saw the schedule it said 600 colones to the Reserva and 500 colones to Cabuya (just over or under a $1.00). It leaves Cabuya for Montezuma at 7:20 am, 9:20 am, 1:20 pm and 3:20 pm (not sure what time it actually leaves the park). It leaves Montezuma for Cabuya at 8 am, 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm. Obviously they get a long lunch hour or maybe it doubles as a school bus? (These times and prices are from November 2008).

Written By: Gary on November 18, 2008 No Comment

I meant to post this earlier when I posted some photos of San Jose, but it looks like it got cut off (I’m not sure if it that it was never there or I just recently deleted it or that it was never there). Sorry if it’s a rerun!


If the embedded video doesn’t work, here’s the direct link! From the direct link you can watch it in High Quality (just under the right hand side of the movie).

Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 No Comment

So here’s a few photos from San Jose, Costa Rica.

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Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 No Comment

So I scheduled a shuttle bus (a large van) from San Jose to Montezuma. Last night I confirmed all the details:

  • 8:20 pickup at my hotel. I guess they don’t pickup at all, but they pick up at mine.
  • I’m going to Montezuma
  • Approximate arrival time. She said 3 PM, which seemed really late, so I asked how many people were being picked up after me. She said “none” (I double-checked this and was told I was the only one going to Montezuma). I was excited because I would get the front seat, the back seat makes me a little nauseous, especially in Costa Rica.

    Ib LogoThe “Really Good” is their actual motto. I’m not sure if it was originally translated strangely and it stuck or if it’s how they were really rated on a survey or what, but I laugh every time I see their signs…

    They were actually there early. And of course there was someone else on the bus. And we were picking up 3 more people (2 stops). But, it turns out they were going to different places. Here’s the process on how it worked:

  • Pick me up (semi-English speaking guy).
  • 2 stops to pick up others.
  • Stop in Punteraeous and put me on a different shuttle (they were already waiting for me) with 6 others (who were going to get dropped off in Tambor about 10 miles before I was. Driver was non-English speaking guy.
  • Before the ferry boat another Interbus employee squeezes in (semi-English speaking guy).
  • At the ferry boat we all take our luggage off the bus and put it in a not-so-secure area on the boat. (The other bus turned around and went somewhere else with no passengers).
  • On the other side driver grabs a van he left there a few hours before from the people who were going the other way.
  • He drops everyone off at a hotel/resort in Tambor (Hotel Tambor?). Very nice!
  • He drops me off.
  • Ten minutes later I realize I don’t have my GPS, I was playing with it on the ride (an awesome birthday present from my Mom!).
  • After multiple transfers on the hotel phone (with hotel people translating) we realize it’s lying in the gutter next to where we parked when I got dropped off. Oops!

    All in all it was a great value! Only $39 (it’s $150+ for a cab). I didn’t wait anywhere, even the ferry was ready to board when we got there (not sure how long the Tambor people waited for me, but they then would have had to wait for the ferry). Air conditioned vehicles in pretty nice shape (each time I changed busses they got a little more worse for the wear).

    And I think I arrived at around 1:30 (maybe a little sooner). If traffic would have been worse out of San Jose (and it wasn’t great), it probably would have been a lot later since the next ferry probably wouldn’t have been for hours.

  • Written By: Gary on November 11, 2008 5 Comments

    So went to get my driver’s license today. What a bureaucracy! The only plus was that it wasn’t very busy.

    I knew this was going to be a hassle so I hired ARCR (the folks that did the relocation seminar) to take me there and work me through the process, it was $35 well spent. I would have spent that on cab rides alone.

    Here’s the process we took: Crlicence

  • Copied my passport, entrance stamp and US license.
  • Drove to the MOPT (their Department of Motor Vehicles).
  • Walked out of the huge complex and down the street to the Doctor’s office and got a blood type test $10 and then went to a different room for a “medical” for $20 (which consisted of an eye test, blood pressure and some questions).
  • Walked back into the far side of the complex and queued up.
  • Every time someone went in, we all moved down a seat closer to the door.
  • Got approved for a driver’s license for an automobile.
  • Did not get approved for a motorcycle. She didn’t accept the “CY” in my endorsement section was for a motorcycle. Says I’ll have to go to the U.S. Embassy to get a note from them. This was even after I showed her my “International Driver’s Permit” which very clearly identifies me as having a motorcycle endorsement and it’s in Spanish (FYI, Costa Rica does not honor this permit for driving so I can’t bitch too much); if Michigan defined “CY” on the back of the license I’d have been fine.
  • Went downstairs and waited but this time we had a number.
  • This was to get everything keyed in for the license.
  • Walked back to the front of the complex to pay for the license.
  • Walked back to the back of the complex to show the receipt that we paid.
  • Got my picture taken (was allowed to smile), signed the computer tablet and had my fingerprint taken.
  • Waited for a few minutes more and got my license! Good for two years!

    Throughout this process I showed my US license, passport and the copies a million times. At some point in the process they did let us leave to make a copy of the doctor’s medical test (all the way back to the front and down the street to the doctor’s) and then they stamped it certified so I don’t have to get another test ($10).

    The $35 for the escort well spent, especially since I speak barely speak Spanish. But if they had known a little more I could have gotten the paperwork I needed to get the motorcycle endorsement and gotten both. I’ve heard they are making license’s harder for non-residents so maybe I should get it now (I’m assuming they’ll let me renew it even if they change the rules) that was part of my motivation in the first place. I can go back myself but like I said before, if I don’t have a car it’s going to cost that much for cab fare. If I have a car at the end of my trip when I come back to San Jose to leave I’ll do it…

  • Written By: Gary on September 13, 2008 No Comment

    So I enjoyed the San Jose area on this trip. Next trip I plan to spend a little more time in the city area to check it out more. It seems many people who relocate move to the middle of the country; while that seems anti-intuitive to me, the coast seems more obvious, there are a lot of conveniences there that I need to consider.

    When I was in San Jose, I chose my first restaurant based on a few things: It wasn’t an American chain, it wasn’t Chinese and it had hightop tables (had I known they had WiFi I might have gotten my laptop and factored that in too). It was a local little sports bar with food so I thought I could get a feel for some local “stuff”. But the people who ran this place spoke English so well I have to assume they weren’t locals. Even some of the people who appeared to be regulars conversed in excellent English with each other so it wasn’t really the experience I was looking for.

    But since the food was delicious and they wrapped the napkins around the bottles all cute and fancy it was worth it.

    Most of these photos are from the park but that’s because I was busy during most of the daylight hours while I was there. I’ll get some more next time. So here are the photos from San Jose at the La Sabina Park.

    Written By: Gary on September 7, 2008 No Comment

    I did make it back to Michigan (via Atlanta) problem free. Although it took forever for the luggage to start coming out in Detroit and that was after the 15 minute hike across the airport.

    One of the annoying things about missing that flight was that the whole crazy vacation timeline revolved around me getting to that relocation seminar in San Jose and flying back to Michigan in time for my Mom’s birthday. And since I ended up missing her birthday it was just digging at me on the way home since I had many many hours to dwell on it. I could have just as easily left a few days later, landed in San Jose and then headed to the coast and come home later. This would have resulted in a lot less running around and not a crunched time-line (since I could have stayed later), isn’t hind-site great!?!

    It was a disaster trip: lots and lots of rain, getting really really sick and missing that flight (which resulted in two more days there) but while I’m so glad to be home I’m already looking forward to my next extended trip in the next few months…

    Over the next few weeks I will be posting many more blog posts that I’ve already half-written and posting photos…

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    Written By: Gary on September 5, 2008 2 Comments

    So I left Tamarindo with more than enough time to spare to get to the airport. That’s it. The rest of the story pretty much writes itself doesn’t it? It’s clear I don’t make my plane but why? There’s the obvious like car problems and the not so obvious like I was abducted by aliens; I wasn’t abducted but it was certainly closer to that end of the continuum.

    When I left Tamarindo it was raining but everything was fine. About ten minutes into the ride I get a few cars flashing their lights at me, usually a sign of a speed trap so I slowed down. A few turns later I see there was some kind of avalanche but I’m not sure if it’s from the rain or the earthquake from last night. There are some huge items about a meter in diameter but I’m not sure if it’s rock or mud either way I drove around it. I did pass a few more mini-avalances but some I probably could have just driven through and been okay.

    But as I drive I notice the water is getting deeper on the sides of the road; I hadn’t noticed much at the start but I was much closer to the ocean so it has lots of options for drainage. Then I notice the fields are flooded on both sides of the road and while I’m not certain how tall the crops are I know the backs of those tires are under at least a dozen inches of water. Then it starts covering the road! What’s really nice is the few times that I can’t see what’s under the water (hopefully road) there are other cars so i just follow them along. The worst was probably about three-hundred feet(?) long. Many shorter ones but there were a few deep dips too; these weren’t wide but I didn’t know about flash flooding coming down these roads. The flooding is worse for the homes much of them are in water that is knee deep at parts but some are waist deep (some of these homes are on cement platforms but I don’t think many were more than 18 inches and most were less than a foot). No one seems panicky and some people were relaxing on a bench on a porch, it was really sad to see.

    Then I see a quantity of people walking towards me on both sides of the road and now I’m in a traffic jam and I can’t see the other end of it. What’s going on? I’m still thinking I might catch this flight so I’m trying to get around everyone and this bus seems to know what he’s doing so I’m following him; we’re in the wrong lane at this point but there is no oncoming traffic. There’s a lot more people on the road, Should I be heading into the “fire”? The a traffic cop stops us, lets the bus through but tries to explain in Spanis to me and then leaves me for some other problem; when I see he’s busy I leave and then I see the problem so merge back into stopped traffic.

    GuardiabridgeThe problem is there’s a bridge ahead so there has got of be some kind of a problem with it. But there are still refugees people coming off the bridge so it’s not collapsed. By very illegally parking and then walking to the bridge (it’s two bridges: an old one and a new one) and talking to a partially-English speaking officer and some others I determined I need to ditch my rental and cross the bridge. Oh, and at this point I’m pretty sure I’m not getting on that plane today.

    Because the bridge will not be open until tomorrow and maybe not until the afternoon! But I guess even though they are concerned about the lower supports it’s okay for people and not cars. Did I mention it’s only 7 kilometers (4-5 miles) to the airport at this point?

    Since then I’ve done some research, I believe this was the Guardia Bridge over the Tempisque River, ‘ve read on-line (nothing official or I’d quote that) that’s it’s 50 or 100 feet down. When I was on the bridge I’d say the water was 8-12 feet below but I’m not the best guesser at those kinds of guesstimates. Notice on the map (direct link) that this is the main road to get from the Nicoya Peninsula to the Liberia Airport. Zoom out and you’ll see it’s the only road to cross the river when it has any depth of water. That’s not really try if you zoom out farther you’ll see the huge Friendship Bridge (image) but since another trapped person told me she was going to San Jose (the long way) and she was avoiding that bridge for some reason that didn’t translate but I knew it was going to add hours (4-5?) to her trip it must be a good reason. And it turns out that this Tempisque River is the same river that forms the start of the Nicoya Bay (which, with the Pacific Ocean, makes the Nicoya peninsula).Back to getting off the peninsula: I think I can get a ride on the other side but I gotta get rid of the car. I can’t find a phone that takes change and I don’t know how to use these phones since I never make local calls and I normally use the computer. I try the hardware store but they’re closed, they have no power (I assume no power in this area). As I start to try to get a person to lend (or rent) me their cell phone an American woman (who just dropped her husband off at the bridge for the same flight) takes pity on me and lets me use her mobile to call the car rental place.

    The phone bounces between several people that that can’t help me and I hear them conversing between each other and I know they don’t fully understand the problem. Finally I stick to “This has had to have happened before. How can I leave this car here and have you retrieve it later?” and repeat that to someone else and I get an answer: “Leave it at the hardware store and give the keys to the shuttle driver at the airport” plus he tells me there is no charge for this retrieval! That was pretty simple! But since the hardware store is closed the gate is locked so we settle on the gas station two kilometers down the road.

    So I park there and the guy at the station speaks no english but somehow I’m truly confident he understands what I’m doing. Now I need a ride to the bridge, I can’t get a taxi or a phone to call one (or a bus) so I end up taking an illegal (which was parked near the bus stop but I didn’t know that’s what it was). The taxi driver is reading and has no idea where I’ve come from (this is important later) and knows he can’t cross the bridge so he doesn’t understand but I get him to do it for $2. So as were get to the traffic I bully him to drive around it and the traffic cop (I make it clear that he’s just “an hombre” not “a taxi”). The cop really yells at us and I can’t figure out why, but then I get realize why! I guess it’s tomorrow already because the bridge is open!!! I wasn’t going to argue about it!

    So here’s the new problem, the taxi driver wants to take me across the bridge, he has no idea I have a car back there. This did no communicate so well but I finally got him to make a u-turn and take me back, we almost made it to the bridge before I convinced him. I put my stuff in my 4×4 and got across the bridge ASAP!

    I’ve got six bridge photos posted (not the best I’ve ever taken) and I realized as I did it that it certainly looks significantly lower than an hour before. Wow! I’m definitely lacking in the earth sciences area so maybe that’s normal…

    Wrap up – Obviously it was too late for my flight. No other flights I could find until Saturday. Delta made me pay $150 to rebook. Why doesn’t act of God ever benefit me in these circumstances? It’s the only way there!!!

    I’ll tell you about Liberia and my way cute hotel later…

    Written By: Gary on September 4, 2008 One Comment

    I found the medicine that I purchased at the farmacia the other day in San Jose that I couldn’t find later. I really have no idea why I put them where I found them, it was definitely a stupid spot. The powder is similar but the pills are different (I guess they could be the same).

    Although, if I had remembered, I’m sure be have been thinking it was an excellent spot.

    This might not seem like a monumental post, but had I found it, that might have been enough to prevent me from my hospital visit a few days ago…

    LATER: Actually, I’ve taken another look at the powder I found and it’s not the same. The one is electrolytes and the other is an anti-diarrhrettic. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have helped, just that I now know it’s different…

    Written By: Gary on September 3, 2008 2 Comments

    Last Friday, I went for a walk during lunch and made you a video. I’m right across the street from where my seminar was. You got the first take since I was on a short time frame :)

    I was standing at the East side of the pond about a quarter way up the pond from the road (see map below). I wish I’d had my sunglasses (squint!).

    If it won’t play above then you can go watch it at YouTube.

    This is a map of La Sabana Park in San Jose. You should be able to zoom in + out and move about like all Google maps. Zoom out a few clicks to see how large it is!

    View Larger Map

    I shot a video of the guys on the Zip Line too (sorry about the glare).

    Written By: Gary on September 2, 2008 6 Comments

    So except for the last trip I’ve never had any “stomach issues” and on that trip it was very minor and passed in few days (no pun intended). This trip the same thing happened for a few days and by Friday I was feeling fine. But then Saturday came…

    I think it was the water in something I ate or drank, I don’t drink the water or take ice, but there are vegetables and juices and all sorts of stuff with water. It could have been the bottle of water I purchased from a street vendor on Thursday, the cellophane on the bottle seemed a little loose but the cap seemed sealed but it had crossed my mind enough to check and it seemed fine (but it’s still in my head).

    Feel free to skip the rest of this blog post, I avoid getting graphic but it does have a bit on my experience with the health care here in Costa Rica.
    Let’s just say Saturday morning I made a few too many trips to the restroom that I went to the farmacia before I left San Jose. I purchased some pills and some electrolyte mixture to add to water. Then I headed out to Samara still feeling lousy. When I stopped for lunch I couldn’t find the medicine anywhere but then I got to my hotel I tore everything apart and still couldn’t find the medicine. And, of course, all the pharmacies were closed by then.

    My symptoms got worse as the day went on. That night I got up at least forty times during the night and it got worse as the night went on. The next day, Sunday, all the pharmacies and doctor’s offices were closed so I head on out to the hospital in Nicoya. If I was leaving town, then I was going to see a Doctor…

    The hospital in Nicoya was about what I expected not much of a building, no Air Conditioning (fortunately it had been raining and was slightly cool) and they said the Doctor’s did not speak English. I checked in and sat down in the crowd. I starting translating words to Spanish so it’d go faster when I saw the Doctor. I expected to be waiting for hours but I’d say it was only about twenty minutes. The Doctor said he didn’t know English but between what I wrote down and what he knew, we only had to look up a few words. He sent me for an IV and some tests; the IV was really a huge syringe and it as at least an inch-and-a-quarter around and five inches long. It wasn’t too bad but it made me a little dizzy, which they didn’t want to understand as they’re trying to move me to the next room (when I plopped on the a chair and stopped, I think they got the hint).

    All of these things had a very short wait except for waiting for the test results. The test results were at least two hours. Then waiting for the Doctor took a while which would have been fine if I could have sat down and not queued up where they had us. He prescribed what I assume to be a similar electrolyte mixture and some pills (more for the stomach pain I believe). Total time four maybe four-and-a-half hours.

    The room for the IV was the nicest and I didn’t even need to try and say “utilice por favor una aguja nueva”; it was a specific sentence in the Costa Rican Spanish book for the phrase “please use a new needle”, I assumed it was in there for a reason. Some of the rooms were more warehouse-ish than anything with roofed cubicles in and around the building. FYI – the office for the Doctor and the syringe room were both air conditioned but that was it. I’m sure the building would freak many of you out :)

    I got a receipt for the 40,000 colones (about $73) but it’s lacking info so we’ll see what Blue Cross does with it when I try to submit it…

    So, I left there and headed towards the main highway, I would have sworn there was an “American Hotel” that I was planning to splurge for but I couldn’t find it. So I drove all the way to Tamarindo (second largest city?) and grabbed the second hotel I tried (the first one was full). I was still sick for about a day and a half, but I was slowly getting better. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t eating either, I normally graze and eat 4-5 times a day but I was averaging less than I meal a day. Monday night, I forced myself out for a second meal hoping only for some soup and a sandwich, and while I’d normally avoid an American chain while I vacation, the Subway fit that requirement for me. I took it back to my room and the soup was so good and I nibbled on the sandwich over the next few hours. From then on I’ve only been feeling better.

    It’s Tuesday and I’m not perfect but I’m way better. I’m eating (most of three meals I’ve had) and I got more of a similar electrolyte solution from the farmacia today. I’ve felt well enough to wander around town and the beach a few times and I’m in a hotel I really like so that makes it even better…

    Written By: Gary on August 28, 2008 No Comment

    The proper name of the hotel is Occidental Torremolinos (Occidental owns a bunch of hotels, but I’m not certain if it’s a “chain” or what) it’s a two floor hotel built in a square (hollow in the center) with an outside pool/hot tub and some tables outside in the middle. It is a nice standard “American” hotel and it’s located just off the edge of a busy area but it’s not too busy by the hotel. The room is standard “Holiday Inn” but with nicer finishing touches it was about $80 for the night.

    I walked around last night and my only real complaint is there were too many American chain restaurants (there were a lot of Chinese restaurants but not in one particular area, they were scattered all over) the neighborhood seemed fine. Lots of Internet cafe’s all over the place.

    This is a boring review but I always have a hard time deciding where to stay when in big cities and San Jose is pretty big so I thought I’d offer the basics.

    Breakfast is free, in a nice dining room, it had juices, fruits, some Kellogg’s cereals, scrambled eggs and some kind of sausages but a bit below a full blown buffet but as included breakfasts go, it was great. Air conditioner, ceiling fan, TV, hair dryer and coffee pot in the room. There was a phone in the room which definitely not standard in the costa areas but I guess I’ve had them downtown and near the airport. The have a few old Windows machines with free Internet off the lobby, but WiFi is $8 a day (I think it’s accessible from the rooms too). Free semi-guarded parking too.

    It’s very near the big Parque Metropolitano La Sabana, if you’ve ever seen a map of San Jose it’s the huge park in the middle of town. I haven’t had a chance to go in it yet this trip, I did go in about nine years ago so we’ll see how it changed. I mistakenly stayed in San Jose my first trip, I only say mistakenly in that I just needed to spend the night until friends showed up the next day, but the San Jose airport is not in San Jose (just like the Detroit airport is not in Detroit) I should have stayed neared the airport in that case.

    If I had to stay in town I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again (and I decided to stay Friday and leisurely leave on Saturday).

    Hotel Occidental Torremolinos
    Calle 40 y Avenida 5 bis
    San Jose, Costa Rica

    Phone: 011 (506) 2 222-5266
    Fax: 011 (506) 2 255-3167
    San Jose West, San Jose, Costa Rica

    Written By: Gary on August 27, 2008 One Comment

    So I heard that the ferry from Paquera to Puntarenas was at 12:30 PM and but I also heard 1 PM so I decided I should get there by 12:30 just in case. The ride was taking me a little bit longer than I thought but I knew (unless it was full) I was going to make it. I went a few kilometers past Paquera and I was the only one on the road (everyone had been rushing past me) which made me decide that I went too far so I turned around. A few minutes later I realized I hadn’t gone too far in the first place and that it was too late for the 12:30 boat (the next was at 3 or 4 PM).

    So I decided to go there and make sure I knew exactly where it was and get my ticket; then I’d go get lunch and see if there was and Internet access back in town. But when I got to the dock the ferry was still there!!! They must have just recently changed the time to 1 PM since I was one of the last cars on (I had gotten the 1 PM tine from a person, the 12:30 was from a June-December 2008 free travel booklet).

    Had I realized that the Paquera Ferry was a location option in my awesome new GPS I’d have gotten there with no problem!! Duh!

    FerrypaqueraSo this is how they work the queue, you get in line and they give you a “pass” that says there is room for you and you can get out of the car, buy the ticket and get back in the car (I think it was $13 for me and the car a little more than I thought it would be). When they went up to the car in front of me they must have told him to go around the vehicle in front of him so he starts to back up towards me (my car is parked and off at this point) and I’m beeping the horn like crazy (he had so much room) and he hits the brakes but he still hits me at least it was really slow and there was no damage. It turns out he wasn’t that great of a driver (at least not a stick) he had a heck of a time getting situated on the ferry.

    It was the smaller ferry (the other one is way nicer and bigger) but it’s not very busy so there is lots of room in the people area (the car area is packed). It was drizzling on and off but there is (sort of) a cover up top so I’m up there, but I’m really happy it’s not a stormy ride. Looks like there might be sunshine for the end of the ferry ride!

    I should get to the San Jose area in daylight so that’s a big plus, maybe even to the hotel. BTW, my hotel is in the GPS so I should not have any problem! I haven’t used the GPS for city driving yet so I can’t wait to try that.

    I took some photos, I’ll try to get them posted tomorrow, the batteries are dying on the laptop…

    Written By: Gary on August 26, 2008 No Comment

    It was a much nicer day today! It was mostly sunny but drizzly on and off but looked stormy so I didn’t want to walk up the the waterfall (a real hike) and get caught in a storm; later I hear the water that you walk next to (through at some parts) were pretty wild so some people turned around and came back, which must have been all the rain from yesterday/last night.

    I got to spend some time at walking the beach and relaxing. It was nice to not be running around too much. I just walked for a while and read and talked to some people that I’ve run into more than a few times this trip. I started to go farther up the beach but it started to rain again and since there was a (fancy) hotel on the beach so I popped in there for a deliciou$ lunch (and stayed out of the rain).

    I did try to catch the sunset but it just got cloudier and cloudier as I got closer so that was a bust. But on the way I did pick up a couple of guys from Argentina on the road and gave them a lift for a few kilometers they were interesting and spoke great english. Just to be clear, they were from Argentina, not on the road from Argentina

    It’s pouring out now but that’s okay since I’m inside and have nothing else to do but grab some dinner and sleep. If it’s nice I’d like to get up early so I can play in Montezuma more before I head to San Jose tomorrow.

    Written By: Gary on August 24, 2008 One Comment

    Montezuma-Beach-Pict2568The weather was amazing all day. Sunny and warm but very humid. We didn’t get any afternoon rain at all.

    But, regardless of the wonderful weather, the first thing I did this morning was find a new hotel, the other one wasn’t that great but I was too tired to look around any more last night (I did check two others that were full). I found one that is nicer and cheaper, $30 a night which includes A/C and hot water. Don’t laugh at the “A/C and hot water comment”, some hotels have 4 prices based on which combination that you would like. As long as I sleep okay here, I think I’ll stay here until I have to go to San Jose on Wednesday.

    Picture 14So after I moved I went up to the waterfalls which was a little more exciting than usual, with all the rain the current was really flowing. When I got up there to swim it was pretty quiet (in terms of people) the the falls were raging with all the extra water. I tried swimming but the current was too much for me, I’m not that great of a swimmer and certainly out of practice. Hung out there for a while, for as dead as it was when I got there, I think it got the busiest I’ve even seen it. Not the best picture of me, but it’s the only one I have of me so far.

    So since I didn’t wear myself out swimming I decided to hike it up to the upper falls. Another difference because of the rain a few recent downed trees and lots of mud. But I got up there just fine. Unfortunately, right when I got up top I dropped my bottle of gatorade! So that meant I really had to ration my other bottle of water on the way back; I usually take 3 bottles total (of water or gatorade) I was so thirsty on the way down but I made it. It fell pretty far and I’ve climb that part before (to get to the lower fall of the upper falls) but where I usually climb had loads of water running down it.

    Here’s the cRaZy spot where you have to climb down to the upper falls. This is while I was halfway down rope looking down and looking up (fuzzy), it’s really not as bad as it looks :)

    Park-Ocean-Viewfile0088Stats according to my GPS: I climbed from 97 feet altitude to 572 feet, but I actually ascended over 600 feet and it was a total of 4 miles for the round trip. (But now I need to go double-check since none of that was meters or miles and I thought I had all that switched to metric; I’m certain it was “feet”, maybe it was 4 kilometers?)

    All photos should be clickable for a larger version (but not very large, the ‘net is really slow here).

    Written By: Gary on August 24, 2008 No Comment

    I left for the Airport before 6 am and didn’t get here until 7:15 pm (9:15 my time); that’s factoring car rental time and immigration and a short stop for lunch (no other real stops) so it was a long day. I ended up renting a car because it was cheaper to rent for five days than to take a taxi and it was WAY too hot to try public transportation (taxi then bus then taxi then ferry then another 2 buses or a taxi) and I couldn’t find any kind of shuttles. I rented some little wind up 4×4 which ran really well for me. I really didn’t think the drive would be that long from the airport but it was.

    The view was beautiful for the start of the ride. But while it was great out I knew from the clouds the afternoon showers would be starting. After a while it started to rain so I thought it’d be a good time to stop for lunch since it might be a while before the next town (especially since I was starving). But then after I got back on the road it poured for a really really long time. I wasn’t concerned about the rain affecting my driving, I was worried about the road farther up ahead. I was afraid the road might get washed out on the stretch that kind of separates the lower and upper sections of the Nicoya Peninsula (between Narango and Paquera) they’re actually in different providences (or something like that). The roads weren’t too bad when I got up there, but remember my expectations were it would be “washed out” so it was still pretty bad, didn’t have to drive through any actual rivers this time (yet!).

    The sun set around 6 PM (5:54 at this location according to my trusty GPS) so I drove the last 75 minutes in the dark but it was mostly paved so the night driving wasn’t so bad but the last 4 miles were awful (as always). The rain really slowed down my total drive but I think that way isn’t optimum even if it was sunny, the other airport (San Jose) is better for Montezuma.

    I did get to see some really great scenery earlier in the day :)

    Town was really hopping, the bar they always say is the hot spot (Chico’s) was packed. But I was so pooped from my long day I went to be early…

    Written By: Gary on April 8, 2008 One Comment

    I thought this was really interesting looking but I don’t know where it actually is. Does anyone have an idea? And I thought the photo came out pretty good too!

    It’s along the path from Charlotte, NC, USA to San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s about 2 hours from landing time and at 500 miles/hour, and factoring in landing and disembarkation, I’m guessing it’s about 700-800 miles north(ish) from San Jose.

    Written By: Gary on December 3, 2007 No Comment

    I’m up early in the morning to catch a 5:30 am cab so I can catch a 7:00 am ferry so I can then drive to the San Jose Airport for my 2:00 pm flight to go to Atlanta and then to Detroit. That’s going to be a really long day…

    I’ve never taken the ferry before so that’ll be something new at least, I think it’s about a 75 minute ride. Maybe get some good photos as I’m doing that at least. I think I’ll have some idle time at the airport because of the ways the times work out…

    Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 No Comment

    Pict1918-1So there are somethings we really take for granted but it just isn’t the same everywhere else. For instance:

  • Medicine – While I was at the farmicia (drug store) I saw a family come in to get a single (1) Allegra tablet (the are actually individually wrapped). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see how much one was. With my insurance, which I’m very thankful for, I get a three month supply for only $2 (via mail-order). I don’t have any idea what they paid, but I’m sure it was more than two-and-a-half cents, but maybe not, you never know. I’m assuming they cost enough to where you don’t keep a jar of them at home.
  • Coleman cooler – Here’s what we would consider to be a normal sized Coleman cooler (one of the larger ones, not the small ones that just hold a 5 pack). It’s about $63, that’s a lot of money here. We talked to a waiter last night (at a the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to in Costa Rica) and he makes about $30 a day including tips, now remember things cost less here but that’s still two days wages here. At minimum wage it’s probably a 1/2 days wages, and remember that’s minimum wage.
  • Health care – so many of the places are remote it can be hours to a hospital, and that’s only if you have a way to get transportation to where you are when you need the help. I don’t think there’s even one here in Jaco, you probably have to go to Punteranes or San Jose (about 2 hours, maybe a little less).

    I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I think of more…

  • Written By: Gary on September 9, 2004 No Comment
    1. If you won the lottery, and could win as much as you wanted, how much would you take? What would you do with it?
    A hundred million would probably be enough. Take care of family and friends. Some of the schools I’ve worked at (toss a couple of mill’ where I always would have put some tech dollars. The shelters and the crisis hotline where I’ve worked. I don’t know if I’d want to do some outreach here or in another country. Probably set up some institute to further technology use/adoption, if it was in another county (Costa Rica?) I’d probably need 200 million they have a lot less infrastructure. A very low number of students have technology and even less have Internet (and those are mostly around San Jose). I was just reading something on this today so it sticks extra in my mind. Oh! And I’d blow 20 million on a trip into outer space! Is Russia still selling rides?

    2. If you could have any car/truck/environmental killing machine that you wanted, what would it be?
    Actually I’d like an environmentally sound convertible (that I don’t have to refill every hundred miles).
    3. If you could, would you want to be a professional student? Why/why not? If so, what would you study?
    Definitely! Everything! Art, astronomy, a language or two, cutting edge technologies, did I say everything?
    Bonus Question for Comments: Does it take a lot of money and goods to make you happy? How much/little? Why/Why not
    Yes and no. I can live pretty simple, but I do like my techie toys (and my convertible). I could have cardboard furniture and a rusty car as long as I have my cool powerbook, iMac and home theater (and mp3 jukebox in the car).

    From 3x Thursday.

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