Pura Vida and Driving in Costa Rica

I learned to drive in New Jersey and thought I knew what aggressive driving was. No way!

We rented cars twice and within an hour of driving, I knew that Costa Ricans forget about their national saying “Pura Vida” when they get in their cars. “Pura Vida” refers to the relaxed, easy going lifestyle here.

Many don’t believe in the posted speeds

Once in their cars, many are in a hurry: speeding, tailgating and passing, AND the passing is done on curves, no-pass zones, in the fog…anywhere they think there is enough room to get by. The only plus is that often the vehicle being passed is going v…e…r…y slow.

Narrow Bridge
One Way Ahead

Oh, and many roads are narrow, with steep gutters, sharp curves, and lots of one lane bridges on country roads.

This one has been here for many decades
Depending on where you are, roads can be rough

Leave lots of time to get to your destination and let your travel days be very flexible days.

Mona The Marmoset, RIP

I’m really saddened to report that Mona the Marmoset died in less than a day after she appeared to be ill. On Saturday I spent much of the day keeping an eye on her as she spent a lot of time running around the sitting area in the den of the main house. It was not uncommon for her to come into the house and she would climb on the bookshelves and up the casing of the door or just run around the floor. In retrospect she might have been a little less active than normal but not much. I sat and used our laptop and watched her from time to time.

Sunday, unbeknownst to me, she took a quick turn downhill and died. I had missed her for a couple of days and found out this morning (Wednesday) that she had died and been buried at the farm.

Her age was estimated to be 12 years and if you remember my prior post, that is the life expectancy of this breed. In spite of the fact that there are still 13 horses, 5 dogs, 2-3 cats, untold number of chickens/roosters, and a 3 year old and a 4 year old, the farm is quieter without her shrill calls andit has lost a bit of its character as well. It was fun to watch her run around and do back flips in her cage or run across the rafters of the covered patio. I’m surprisingly saddened and touched by her passing.

The top picture is one Dan captured of her one day looking at the computer. Here are some of my other favorites. And here is a video of her running around in her cage. Listen closely for her shrill voice.

Vendors

Vendor walking along moving traffic selling bubble making machine.

People do a lot of things to earn money in Costa Rica. For example, it is not uncommon for someone to board a public bus and hawk food. I don’t think they pay and they don’t stay on long. They must sell things or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

Vendor between lanes of traffic selling a variety of things, probably cell phone accessories.

Another curious thing was vendors (and beggars) standing between lanes of traffic selling everything from food to cell phone chargers, toys, sun glasses, etc. The main bridge in and out of San Jose was under construction for a number of months and we had the “pleasure” of experiencing the delays caused by a reduced number of traffic lanes (aka sitting in traffic barely moving…kind of like it is in Austin now). Above are a couple of pictures we took from the taxi at vendors.

San Gerardo de Rivas, Costa Rica

Looking down the valley. The white areas on the hillside, middle left, are actually greenhouses. I could not see a road up to them. That’s a lot of work if true.

This is a day to explore and find some waterfalls near San Gerardo de Rivas. We hope to do a little hiking and catch some nice scenery.

So we head further into the mountains from San Isidro and I asked directions several times to be sure. “Donde esta la cataratas de San Gerardo. I received directions in words and pointing, so onward we go.

The road is deteriorating. Now it is two concrete strips for the tires and now it is rougher and steeper and the concrete is not always there. We park and walk up the road. My final directions include “Uno kilometer.”

 

Trail head to Cerro Chirripo, at 12,533′, the highest point in Costa Rica. Need a permit to climb and there is a lodge partway to stay at since the climb takes so long.

The walk is beautiful.

Cows on a very steep hillside. Notice horizontal “paths” for the cows to walk up and down the hillside. These are normal size cows, so notice how high up they really are.

We end up at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve where we discover that these are different waterfalls. It turned out that the waterfalls I thought I had directions for was San Gerardo de Doty, three hours away.

Meditation maze in the forest

Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is a 1540 acre reserve where they have planted over 50,000 trees for reforestation. In 2016 and 2017 a jaguar was spotted. Costa Rica has a very strong conservation ethic and hunting is prohibited to preserve species. For more info on their reforestation project.

Mark a diagonal from lower left to upper right and most of that area has been reforested.

The walk in to the smaller waterfalls is quite easy. The higher one is a bit of a trek up a very steep trail and was well worth it.

On the way out, I suddenly came upon a garden in the forest, just a couple of minutes walk from the entrance.

Garden in the woods.

On the way back into San Gerardo, we stopped at recycling bins and to take in the view.

Umbrellas are useful in the tropics and are more comfortable than rain gear.

The upper part of San Gerardo snakes its way up valley with the river.

Peering over a huge boulder at the houses below.

What a great day!

San Isidro de el General, Costa Rica

We rented a car to check out the Pacific side of the mountains and take a day trip to the coast.

Today is a quiet day. We went for a walk, I worked on my Spanish, read a little and now am on the computer. It rained hard for a couple of hours. I don’t mind that at all.

We are staying at an Airbnb house up on a ridge. The valleys on either side are beautiful!

Bramas in the field.
Those fields on the mountain at center right background are probably 70 degrees. Incredibly steep and not uncommon here.

 

Mona the Mono

If you know any Spanish you know that nouns are feminine (ending in “a”) or masculine (ending in “o”). The Spanish word for “monkey” is “mono” so “Mona” is a great name for this female primate.

Mona is a Common Marmoset which is indigenous to Brazil. She is owned by the owners of Finca Soley who rent the property out to Isa and Milton. Marmots are small and weigh about 9 ounces. More general info here.

Mona lives in a mesh cage about 6 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 4 feet deep She is allowed to run free around the patio (she is not supposed to go into the house but has been known to do so), roof, gutters, etc. during the day.

Mona appears to be healthy and happy in her “old” age of 12. She frequently races around in the cage, jumping from perch to perch with ease, even doing back flips. Her agility and accuracy are really amazing to watch.

She eats fruit that the caretaker provides and bugs that she finds while she is out and about.

Very territorial, once when one of the dogs chased one of the cats up a post where Mona was sitting, Mona promptly chased the cat down! It happened so fast I didn’t see it but Dan told me about it.

Mona’s voice can be pleasant or extremely high pitched and shrill but fortunately she doesn’t have a lot to say. You can hear her voice in the first 3 seconds of this video.

Zoo Ave

Zoo Ave is not your ordinary zoo. It is devoted to animals that need rehabilitation or can’t survive in their natural habitat. Their most famous animal is Grecia, a toucan whose beak had been damaged by maltreatment. With the upper part of her beak missing, there is no way she could pick up food and eat. A prosthetic beak allows her to function!

None of the other animals had obvious issues although one owl seemed to have a wing that didn’t fold up properly.

There were all kinds of animals. Lots of birds, including the beautiful parrots, ocelots, several types of monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, caimans, one boa constrictor, tapirs, etc. It was interesting to see how many of a given animal had been returned to the wild.

It took 3 hours to tour the zoo so there was lots and lots to see. You can see all of the pictures by clicking here. (Let me know if you have any problems viewing the pictures.)

Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste
Not Photoshopped! Aluminosilicates enter the river from one stream, increased acidity (pH) from the other stream causes the aluminosilicates to aggregate and reflect light differently. Scientific term is Mie scattering.

 

Our Airbnb hosts in Tronadora, Costa Rica, Claudia and Eriberto, offered to take us with them on a day trip to Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Continue reading “Rio Celeste”