A NEW EYE ON COSTA RICA

According to the Ecnomist Magazine over 2 million visitors came to Costa Rica in 2008 and, tourist-wise, they rate Costa Rica higher than all Central American destinations.

Since my first visit, almost 8 years ago, the number of luxury resorts, condos and town homes built for investment by foreign visitors, has soared.  Many desireable waterfront and residential properties have been gobbled up by contractors.

My flight landed in San Jose.  Dowtown traffic was clogged and hundreds of people crowded the streets.  The city is charming from the five museums, the historic small opera house (built by coffee barons to attract world-famous performers) to former grand baronial homes converted to bed and breakfasts.

Once out of San Jose (2-3 days covers everything from butterflies to a coffee plantation), the ecological adventure begins.  My favorite?  Tortugero National Park!  After almost a full day by motor coach, we boarded a launch and cruised along canals.  I suspected that a prehistoric creature would peek out between the lush greenery any minue as it’s alive with wildlife from a 3-toed sloth that was relaxing after coming down from his hiding place for his monthly potty visit below his tree, 5 crockodiles happily swimming along with 6 turtles to the tiny, poisonous red frog I’d wanted to see (no bigger than my thumb nail) and a Jesus Christ lizard running over the water at high speed.

We flew back to San Jose continuing on to Dundee Ranch Hotel near Puntarenas (7.5 miles from Puerto Caldera).  There, we mounted horses (modified Western saddles with no buck, a coarse rope for reins and closed-footed stirrups).  We soon found ourselves at a huge broccoli tree full of colorful birds and families of holler monkeys – so named because they “holler”.

At Manuel Antonio we stayed at Si Como No (“Yes, why not?) and relaxed overlooking the valley below and the Pacific Ocean beyond.  In the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, we boarded an aerial tramway (4 passengers per carriage) moving quickly like a magic carpet over the verdant paradise below.  The abundance of flora and fauna beneath us took our breath away, and it was as though time was standing still…Costa Rica can be like that, and so much more. www.visitcostarica.com

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