Travels with Dick and Karen

Costa Rica, Part 4


costa rica
One last drive through Santa Elena. This time we turn towards Tilarán. We're taking a route that parallels Lago Arenal instead of dropping immediately back to the Pan American Highway through the construction road closures. Costa Rica

However, we alredy knew that this route was not paved for a third of its distance. A fine selection of potholes for our inspection.

Costa Rica

As compensation, this route stays high on the ridges and snakes through increasingly drier fields with bits of forest.

Costa Rica
... and (not-so) wildlife. Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
9km before Tilarán we met pavement again. From Tilarán we turned left to drop back down to the lowlands near the Pacific coast Costa Rica
In the city of Las Cañas, we grocery-shopped and then hopped on to Highway 1, the Pan American Highway, heading northwest. Traffic is moderate and mostly headed towards Liberia, the biggest city in the north. Costa Rica
But we're heading for Guayabo, which meant we turned off at Bagaces. We don't know how small Guayabo would be so we filled up with gas and had lunch at Bagaces' Pollolandia. (it turned out that Guayabo also had a Pollolandia, but we never ate at it) Costa Rica
Highway 164 north to Guayabo and onward is paved. Lava pierced by the road cuts reminds us that ... Costa Rica
... we're going up the valley between 2 volcanos. Costa Rica

Volcán Miravalles on the right (east) and...

Costa Rica

... cloud-shrouded Rincón de la Vieja, with its foothills full of windmills, on the left (west). Neither peak cleared completely during the week we were there.


Costa Rica
After a bit of a search we found the proper driveway ... Costa Rica

... and our cozy palace.

Mary Loly's "Wood Experience" on AirBnb.

Costa Rica
Hot water in the kitchen Costa Rica
There was a fun lichen-and-dried-flowers 3-d art piece on the wall in the kitchen area. Costa Rica
Two bedrooms Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
And a real shower! Costa Rica
plus a (cold water) laundry. The large sink has handy for really cleaning our new plastic boots before packing them in our luggage. Costa Rica
Some grand trees flanking the driveway (yes, it's windy) Costa Rica
The driveway was shared with a few apartments and truck parking. Costa Rica
The side yard was amazing. Costa Rica

We spent hours watching the birds and ...

Costa Rica
... across the fence was a Finca. It provided grand views of the weather (with windmills). Costa Rica
The great-tailed grackles (and jays) often hang out across the back fence. Costa Rica
On the north side the neighbor was planting his field efficiently using a planting stick. Poke hole, drop in seed, repeat. He probably doesn't have a sore back from bending over all day like Karen has when planting seeds. Costa Rica
Indoors we had a resident gecko in the bathroom
(and a second one in the laundry, but he hid too quickly to photograph)
Costa Rica

... and a spider about 2 inches across, hiding under the towels.

Not shown are the mosquitoes. When Karen got here she had 3 bites total from the first 3 weeks. After the first night here she had over 30. By patching the screens, stuffing paper towels in the warped screen frames and keeping the door to the bathroom shut (the wall seal to the corrugated roof didn't exist) we managed to solve the problem by the third night.

Costa Rica
Outside were several abandoned wasp's nests Costa Rica

and one occupied.

Costa Rica

We saw more birds in the back yard than on the whole rest of the trip. Flycatchers

Costa Rica
We think this is the same species Costa Rica
Great-tailed grackles. Very loquacious. One could duplicate a truck back-up alarm perfectly. Costa Rica
The females are brown like the one on the right. Costa Rica
In the evening they would hang out in a tree at the back fence. Costa Rica
The hummingbird was always in the cactus flowers in the afternoon. Costa Rica
The azure-hooded jays were more colorful than the brown jays of Monteverde. Quite elegant looking with crown and ... Costa Rica
... necklace but just as squawky. Costa Rica
The motmot spent time both on the ground and ... Costa Rica
... in the tree where he was surprisingly hard to see for such a colorful bird. Costa Rica
The pigeons would coo most of the day. Costa Rica
A flock of anis came through (note the beak) Costa Rica
... and a trio of spot-bellied bobwhites. Costa Rica
Turkey vultures like we have in the US, Costa Rica
... with these juveniles perched in the tree over the house. We also saw two other species but not in the yard (King vultures have an underwing pattern is that is the reverse of the turkey and black vultures have a white bar at the end of each wing).
Vultures would pass over our yard and dive for prey in the adjoining Finca.
Costa Rica
Besides the semi-resident dog and a cat or two, there were squirrels. He looks cute here but ... Costa Rica
... here he is about to jump on the metal roof and run across it. Not so cute when you are trying to sleep. How can something so small make such a heavy thump followed by an avalanche of sound running up one side of the roof and down the other? Costa Rica
Most days we would walk into town.
Guayabo is really a very nice town ... its main business district is about 1 km long, which made it "just right" as a stroll when we needed something. Not too small (three decent-sized grocery stores, a number of small convenience-sized ones), not too large (i.e. walkable).
The next few photos are some of the sights...
Costa Rica
Nearly across from our driveway were the Cabinas Primavera ... with a rather pink attempt at pre-Columbian statuary. Costa Rica
The south-end-of-town bus stop, eventually leading to Liberia via Bagaces.
The sign says that the rivers and volcanos provide more than 80% of Costa Rica's power.
Costa Rica
A house and garden with over-the-top statuary. Hidden among the plants were many more smaller creatures. Costa Rica
On the other side of the street this pony would occasionally appear beneath the coconuts. Costa Rica
The Pitburgesa burger and hot-plate joint we ate at on the last day. Costa Rica
Then came our most frequent stop: "Comidas Rapidas Chema". We hit it every day to satisfy Karen's daily coffee ice-cream cone addiction. Costa Rica
The church ... Costa Rica
... with always open door (sometimes decorated for a wedding). Costa Rica
The cell towers behind the ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) office. Our Guayabo house had no wi-fi but the good cell coverage handled our needs. Costa Rica
Like many of us, Guayabo hadn't quite taken down all of their Christmas decorations yet.... we were particularly charmed by these Candy Canes made of painted and stacked tops of plastic bottles. Costa Rica
Across the street was a typical assortment of stores. The one on the right (light blue) is a Liberia: books and student supplies. Next came Musi, a small grocery, bakery outlet, cold drinks and packaged ice cream shop. On the floor above the Musi is the town's Chinese restaurant. Then the "m express" is an appliance, furniture, tires and bicycle shop. Finally the un-named opening on the left leads to a real bakery. Costa Rica
The pharmacy staff was very helpful and patient with our halting Spanish (unfortunately Karen reacted to the cream purchased to soothe the mosquito bites) Costa Rica
At the north end of town (just before the bridge) sits Sotavento. Just as we'd been lucky in our two previous locales, we found a restaurant that served good food that Karen could safely eat. Dick could more broadly explore their menu.
Our second day in Guayabo was a Saturday... and half of the town was shut, including most of the restaurants. It turned out everybody was down in Bagaces for the "Verano Toreado": the summer(?) bull-riding rodeo (YouTube clip). But Sotavento was open, had a good menu, and we ate there. We returned twice more during our stay.
Their menu explained that they coined the word "Sotavento" from the Latin subtus (beneath) and ventus (wind). Sotavento means "the sector opposite from where the wind blows in relation to a certain point". No wonder the bar was always well-populated...
Costa Rica
Our first morning we headed northwest to the Pailas unit of the Rincón de la Vieja National Park Costa Rica
How to keep your load from bouncing out ot the back on the bumpy road Costa Rica
We were quite surprised to find the road was paved almost all the way to the park. It climbed the ridge that had the wind farm. Speaking of farms, we spotted the cow-in-road symbol... Costa Rica
... and they were. Climbing the other side of the ridge was this herd. A motorcycle was pushing them, but the last cow is looking for the ... Costa Rica

... (wait for it...) ...

Costa Rica

... cowboys following well behind.

(You did notice that the GPS in the previous picture totally failed to mention "cattle"?)

Costa Rica

A bit further along we spotted this sign.

But, unlike the cows, the animals advertised didn't suddenly appear.

Costa Rica
We decided the road paving was probably done to help get the windmills up into the hills.
Unlike the long-bladed windmills we encountered on the roads of South Africa, these had much shorter blades. Perhaps about 50 feet. Perhaps for higher winds?
At the Rincón de la Vieja National Park we got to photograph the map. We were asked which paths we intended to take (some went to other park gates many kilometers away). Costa Rica
We had a look at the model
(we were going to be taking the yellow loop)
Costa Rica
and the display of critters in bottles that made up the museum area Costa Rica
This is one of Costa Rica's 20 poisonous snakes... Costa Rica
This small one probably isn't poisonous ... Costa Rica

... but the labeling was not at all clear...

"Salsa Chunky Suave"??

Costa Rica
We dutifully read the sign... Costa Rica
and walked off into the woods. Costa Rica
We found big trees in various stages of being encased in fig roots. Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Little orange milkweed flowers, Costa Rica
the red hybiscus that never really opens... Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
And passionflower leaves of a kind Karen had not seen before. Costa Rica
The habitat was getting drier but there was still water in the stream Costa Rica
As the trail moved out into the open, we saw a puff of steam in the distance Costa Rica
There were lumps of lava in the grassy spaces (maybe vegetation can't deal with the occasional hot ground?) Costa Rica
Most of the plants had thorns and spikes Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
The epiphytes tended to be cactus. Costa Rica
The gold tree we had seen in the lowlands Costa Rica
The pink tree: looks like a legume Costa Rica
Yellow flowers that look like fat pipecleaners Costa Rica
... and other yellow and purple flowers speak of more insect pollinators (red flowers are often a sign they are bird pollinated: insects don't see red well) Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
But there were still some red ones Costa Rica
  Costa Rica

Don't step off the path

"Temperature range from 192 F to 248 F"

Costa Rica
The guidebooks are quick to mention those who have gone wandering and have been parboiled. Iceland had similar signage. Costa Rica
New signs marked each scenic side-path.
"Smoking Pool"
Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Yes, it was windy Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
"Pails of Water"??  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Bubble, bubble, boil and bubble....
(with more than a hint of sulfur in the air)
  Costa Rica
"Pails of Mud"  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Squirting hot mud...
  Costa Rica
plop, plop sounds of bubbling mud Costa Rica
... a quite active pool...
A few moments in the trees between hot spots...  Costa Rica
"Small Volcano" (affectionate)  Costa Rica
Up the steps to... Costa Rica
the "small volcano": a steaming pit of rocks Costa Rica
Very busy steam being whipped by the wind...
  Costa Rica
... steam drifting by in the forest...  Costa Rica
... as we come to a fenced overlook...  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Roiling boiling clear water instead of the previous mud pots...
Circling back into the more forested area, we came across an agouti poking around in the leafy debris... Costa Rica
... trying to keep him in frame...   Costa Rica
Hey, he's hanging around long enough to kick the camera into video mode....
"Seasonal Waterfall"  Costa Rica
... up the trail a bit...  Costa Rica
were these lovely peaceful falls... Costa Rica
(reality) Costa Rica
Oh, well.... that's it for geothermal features on this loop, we head back through the forest to some more amazing figs Costa Rica
with character Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Do you get the faintest impression that's Karen's a big fan of butressed root systems?  Costa Rica
Here's a cross section: you can see where the host tree had been. Costa Rica
Buttressed roots help hold against the wind Costa Rica
Fallen flowers Costa Rica
Overhead there's a goose-sized bird (crested guan), walking along the branches... Costa Rica
... munching something Costa Rica

... as were the monkeys.

As we were walking along the trail, we heard a distant sound. Another hundred feet along the trail allowed us to locate the source... this Howler Monkey high in a tree, sounding his call. Eventually other monkeys in the distance answered. Our still camera took the photo, our cell phone served to capture the audio...

Finally we met a lizard that posed long enough for a photo. Costa Rica
Returning to the park's building, we encountered the local lawnmowers. Costa Rica
We reported that we had returned so they could check us off the list. Costa Rica
The parking lot has filled up quite a bit. We asked other visitors and they reported that the usual entry road from near Liberia was not paved. We lucked out coming directly from Guayabo. Costa Rica
On the way home we got some shots of the geothermal plants and piping scattered about in this part of the landscape Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Both geothermal and windmills were under the auspices of ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad), whose trucks we often met on the roads in the area. Costa Rica
Despite this being the "dry season", there was still water in the rivers. Costa Rica
When we were almost back to Guayabo, Karen managed to get a nearly clear photo of these really red bromiliads (mid-photo). The red is to help them cope with so much sunlight. The same species is much greener where the sun isn't so bright. Costa Rica
Volcaán Miravalles to the east is almost showing its top. Costa Rica
The next morning we went back through the forest of windmills to go to the nearer entry of the park, the Santa Maria unit of Rincón de la Vieja. Part of this unit was a ranch donated by former US president LBJ (oh, the joy of a paved road).
As you can see, the Volcán is pretty clouded over.
Costa Rica
The LBJ ranch, which serves as the sign-in booth. Costa Rica
This is a much less developed property. There is a campground for tenting, but that's about it. Even the ranch building has no power beyond what a small solar panel supplied. We head off down the path Costa Rica
actually more of an abandoned jeep road. Costa Rica
"These forests belong to all of humanity, to the current and future generations for they all have the right to enjoy them but also the obligation to protect them." Costa Rica
Sugar cane processing apparatus left over from the early 1900's. Costa Rica
The hearths for boiling the sugar. Costa Rica
The history.  Costa Rica
An anthill complex. Costa Rica
yes, leaf cutter ants again. Costa Rica
We branch off onto the recommended path... Costa Rica
... but the water seems too deep and swift. We couldn't see the path on the other side ... so we turned back to take the other half of the loop. Costa Rica

There were not very many remarkable plants -- the land is recovering from its past commercial use and it will probably take a few more years.

Costa Rica
Karen wonders if this fungus glows in the dark? Costa Rica
Costa spirals like this are always fun Costa Rica
Back on the road-like path and come to a broad shallow ford. It was probably the same stream, but more docile. Costa Rica
Since we hadn't brought our wading boots, we decided to head back to explore another trail. Costa Rica
The ranch house, with well-manicured lawn. Costa Rica
There are bees here. Costa Rica
and very tiny flowers in the short grass. Why is the grass so short? Costa Rica
Living lawnmowers again. Costa Rica

We hike up another trail towards "the viewpoint"

(oh, the temptation to add a "thought bubble" asking "???Where???"

Costa Rica
...why Costa Rica
We spot a few galls Costa Rica
small flowers Costa Rica
passion flowers ready to bloom Costa Rica
mushroom Costa Rica

and a small white insect (about 2 inches long).

The trail became rougher and more vertical so we turned around ...

Costa Rica
and went back to the parking lot. The narrow groove in the grass under the tree is ... Costa Rica
... another ant trail heading off into the distance. Costa Rica
The trees nearby were full of bromiliads (note the flower stalk) Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
and orchids (yellow, mid-photo Costa Rica
two different pink ones. Costa Rica
On the way home we got a group portrait of the local oxen, volcano and windmills. Costa Rica
Miravalles was still not showing its crown. Costa Rica
Day 3: Despite our next goal being only 12 as-the-vulture-soars miles away, it was over 75 km (46 miles) away by road. We went back down to the Pan American Highway, and then a bit southeast.
Along the way, Karen achieved her best-photo-of-a-fruit-vendor-taken-at-speed so far. Yes, the other attempts were worse (traffic and lack of warning precluded a dedicated stop).
Costa Rica
There were a couple of very straight irrigation canals. Costa Rica
From the Pan American Highway, we turned left and went up Highway 6 into the next valley east. It runs between Volcán Miravalles and the more easterly Volcán Tenorio. Highway 6 had some very straight sections, pointed at Tenorio. Costa Rica

with strange cement animals

(... writes someone who lives in the home of the "Hat'n'Boots" drive-in and the Fremont Troll)

Costa Rica
and rock-walled terraces. Costa Rica
In the town of Bijagua, we turned off Highway 6 to follow a gravel lane towards Volcán Tenrerio in the clouds. Bijagua seems about the size of Guayabo, but with tourism as a major "industry". Costa Rica

Our goal: Heliconias Rainforest Lodge (and nature trails with hanging bridges)

At this point, we've actually crossed the continental divide to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica
They were at the forefront of developing sustainable tourism. The original owners retired and the new folks took over 3 months ago. Costa Rica
You can tell they've been working hard to replace worn drainage Costa Rica
steps Costa Rica
...and will get to the signs soon. Being on the catches-it-all weather side of Tenorio accelerates the erosion. Costa Rica
Fallen trees give a chance to see if this tiny orchid has a bloom under the leaf (no). Costa Rica
Hurricanes and storms provide a lot of that kind of opportunity.  Costa Rica
Better luck here Costa Rica
More trees with figs Costa Rica
...and buttresses.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
No, these aren't walking trees. Can you see where the old fallen log they germinated on used to be? Costa Rica
We've been almost a month, and are still finding flowers we hadn't seen before. Costa Rica
A giant cecropia leaf Costa Rica
Heliconia, the namesake of the lodge Costa Rica
That sign is in good repair Costa Rica
the little red gentian (?) we've seen before Costa Rica
also the "kiss flower" Costa Rica
and large club mosses. Costa Rica
Round fruits looking like sea urchins (a whole pile was buried under the leaves) Costa Rica
One split open, the seeds are gone. Costa Rica
The main reason we came all this way is their hanging bridges. Costa Rica
Karen's death grip on handrail. These felt less secure then the ones in Monteverde (little did she know what lay in her future) Costa Rica
But we did enjoy again getting our noses in the treetops. Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Well, the lower treetops. There were still some giants tantalizingly out of reach. Costa Rica
The middle bridge, of what had been 3, was destroyed in the hurricane six months ago. Costa Rica
They cut a new path up and around the valley at about the same elevation and added a small bridge to take you over the stream. All welded aluminum and extremely sturdy. Costa Rica
Near one end of the destroyed bridge, Dick spotted this vine holding things in place. Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
The red is probably mold decaying the peel after something ate the fruit. Costa Rica
There was even a viewpoint out into the clouds Costa Rica
The third bridge looked even narrower. Luckily we had the bridges to ourselves. Costa Rica
Dick tended to use the "capacity" signs as an indication of how strong the builders thought the bridge was ... many years ago when it was built.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Camouflaged butterfly. How did it know that bridge cable was a match? Costa Rica
Views from the bridge: yellow orchids Costa Rica
white orchids Costa Rica
Looking down upon yellow flowers in the top of a tree Costa Rica
and another view of the giants the hurricane spared. Costa Rica
Back on the ground (with buttresses) Costa Rica
blooming palm tree Costa Rica
unrolling fern Costa Rica
this liverwort looks different from previous ones Costa Rica
No, not a fern. I've seldom seen vascular plants with paired opposite leaves at the terminus. Usually there's an odd leaf at the end. Costa Rica
another familiar red flower Costa Rica
a new yellow one Costa Rica
New growth catching the light. Does this really look like dead foliage to those that might eat it? Maybe the red signifies higher toxin levels? How would you test which theory is more likely? Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
There were "ghost trees" that had very white bark Costa Rica
In keeping with every valley having unique characteristics, we met this... Trees with what looked like sausages growing out of the trunk. Those weren't tiny... they're the size of decent-sized zucchinis. Costa Rica
They're probably bat pollinated. Costa Rica
well worth the trip, if only for this curiosity. Costa Rica
It had started raining by the time we got back to Heliconia's restaurant. Costa Rica
Sitting (dryly) indoors, there was a nice view down the valley Costa Rica
... and then it started to pour. This butterfly hung out on the window under the eaves. Costa Rica
The sign telling about their devotion to sustainable tourisum Costa Rica
We watched the clay-coloured robins hop around on the ground Costa Rica
and peck at the bananas. Costa Rica
A woodpecker appeared and would hop around and peck and hop and peck Costa Rica
Then the toucan showed up ... Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
look at that saw blade bill.
Facing due north, we were told one could see Lake Nicaragua from here on a clear day. Not yet. Costa Rica
and the mountain isn't showing either. Costa Rica
Nicely timed with the end of our lunch, the rain stopped.
So off we went on the shorter "easy trail". First it went past the guest buildings and through the formal plantings...
Costa Rica
... and led to mostly un-exciting second growth and muddy trails that hadn't been repaired yet. Costa Rica
But we did find out how and where they were getting the wood to fix the other trail. Lumber hewn while you wait. Costa Rica
It was a pleasant biome.  Costa Rica
Back in the parking lot we think we can see the lake. Costa Rica
Dropping back down through the Bijagua side road, we came across an interesting road. The car stops to chat with the family. The cow eventually gets bored and kicks over the bucket of what is probably pig-slops. The roadblock clears as the people run to try and save some of the spillage. Costa Rica
In Bijagua, the Vultures were waiting for something. Costa Rica
We were told there was a passable road up and over the saddle on the north side of Miravalles. If so it would save many miles. Costa Rica
But there was evidence of a major river wash out... Costa Rica
... and a bit further on so did the road. Costa Rica
Back on Highway 6 it still very windy... Costa Rica
... on the way back down to the Pan American and around. Costa Rica
This friendly rainbow ... Costa Rica
... followed us home (Guayabo is just around that corner and down a couple of hundred feet). Costa Rica
The next day we took a short-cut that did work (and was paved) to nearby La Fortuna.
Just north of La Fortuna is "Las Hornillas", on the near slopes of Volcán Miravalles for geothermal features and two hanging bridges. "Hornilla" is "burner" (like a stove).
Costa Rica
Our rainbow was with us this morning, too... Costa Rica
We could see the volcanic area we had come for. Costa Rica
Again we were a bit early for the attraction, and had to wait a few minutes for someone to come and sell us admissions. The troupe of dogs was ready and willing. Costa Rica
The peacocks seemed to be waiting too. Costa Rica
The cleaning person said we could go into the paths and pay when we came out. Yes, it was raining quite heavily... and (for once) we even had our Agricola Raincoats with us! Costa Rica
Even with the rain, you could still see the steam. Costa Rica
Molded cement railings (wood wouldn't hold up) Costa Rica
Steaming pits and waters...  Costa Rica
bubbling mud... Costa Rica
copper? Costa Rica

(note soggy shoe...)
Costa Rica
Fallen tree in corroded rock Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
the view down river. Costa Rica
Some of the water is piped to pools for a thermal spa experience... Costa Rica
... with interesting showers for the folks using them. Costa Rica
The person who took money finally showed up and told us we could only go to the hanging bridges with a tour and the next one was in an hour. So we waited and took pictures of the local area.

a yellow flowered tree.

Costa Rica
probably horticultural rather than local flowers Costa Rica
the orange milkweed again Costa Rica
a large cactus Costa Rica
an even larger anthill Costa Rica
a geothermal plant in the distance (and the rain stopped!). Costa Rica
Yet no mountain top for Miravalles. Costa Rica
Our tour vehicle showed up Costa Rica
Two other families were booked for this tour, so we waited for them all to appear. 3 or 4 of the dogs from the ticket office showed up, too.
We all (wet dogs too) clambered aboard and drove off.
Costa Rica
The tractor took us up through pastures via a rough road that was ICE's access to some of their geothermal installations. The rain came and went as we rode along, our Agricola coats served as lap-tents for us front-row sitters. We parked at a wide spot in the road and were let through a locked gate to the forested hillside.  Costa Rica
These bridges merely served to cross raging rivers and were windy. Karen didn't stop in the middle of the bridge to take a photo.
Her cohort was more willing...
Costa Rica
... it was a rushing river.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Then we (and dogs, under foot and between legs) climbed up ... Costa Rica
... along with the other members of the group. Costa Rica
Karen saw some new blue flowers but was not given much time for botany Costa Rica
Along the edge of the river (with dogs) Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
The guide led us to lots of waterfalls. Costa Rica
The dogs found something to dig for so they were now sandy too. Costa Rica
There is a lot of power raging through here sometimes Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
and landslides are probably frequent Costa Rica
back down the hill Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
following the water. Costa Rica
These were some of the steepest trails we were on in Costa Rica.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Back in the vehicle we head for the second trail and hanging bridge Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Again, a river crossing... a long one...  v
...on a bridge that was very steeply slanted.  Costa Rica
No one stopped to take a photo on this one... Costa Rica
At the far end of that bridge, the trail simply dropped down a couple of steep switchbacks to ... Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
... a destroyed viewing platform that (had) hung out over the river.  Costa Rica

Karen and one of the other tourists had forgone that last steep bit and had wisely waited at the end of the hanging bridge.

So now (except for the smart two), it's back up the slope to the bridge we have to go back across

Costa Rica
The dogs underfoot were not helping Costa Rica
Then we tractored back to the base where it had finally stopped raining. Costa Rica
The geothermal area steams showed much clearer Costa Rica
There were now three peacocks in the bar. Costa Rica
The menu at Las Hornillas didn't offer anything Karen could safely eat, so we decided to go back to Sotavento in Guayabo for lunch Costa Rica
where it was raining. Costa Rica
And once we were home it really let loose.

So we read until dinner and went to bed early.

(One of our discoveries in Costa Rica was lactose-free cream cheese. We hadn't known such existed. Karen came up with broccoli with cream cheese as a sauce. Since returning to Seattle we've adopted it here, too)

Costa Rica
The wind howled all night and in the morning there was no power. Dick discovered someone was removing a branch from the wires. Costa Rica
By the time we drove out the remains were stacked in the yard. Costa Rica
Today's plan was to head south to the lowlands to see a well-reviewed waterfall, the Catarades Falls de Bagace, and then continue on to the city of Liberia. Costa Rica
Route 164 towards the Pan American Highway.  Costa Rica

Access to the falls is from the southbound lanes of the Pan American Highway ... which we reached by driving north 5km and taking a designated U-turn to head south. That allowed looking at/for the intersection (which was (ahem) subtle... a dirt road at a tiny farmer's stall).

A bit along the dirt road was this sign advising us that the falls even had a (nearby) sometimes (it was still closed when we left) restaurant.

Costa Rica
The Falls had an entry gate that used to ask for donations. They had recently paved the path and upgraded the parking lot to include flush toilets. Thanks to the upgrade, the donation had jumped from $2 to a mandatory $7 ... but wasn't going into effect until the weekend. Today was free. Costa Rica
Being early on a weekday morning meant that crowds were miniscule.  Costa Rica
An apparently brand new cement path led down ... Costa Rica
... to promising sounds.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
A quite idyllic grotto...  Costa Rica
Obligatory short video...
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Then back to the Pan American Highway (southbound), an exit-assisted U-turn in Bagaces, and then north... Costa Rica
Rincón de la Vieja from a distance Costa Rica
and into downtown Liberia. Costa Rica
We wandered around for a couple of hours. Liberia has about 60,000 people, making it not too much larger than Alajuela, but it certain felt livelier. We found fun artwork in a parking lot. Costa Rica
The church Costa Rica
... and the park facing it. Costa Rica
Going back towards Bagaces, we noticed puffs of steam on the flanks of the volcano Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Given the nearby building, perhaps venting from the geothermal electricity plants.  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
This bull may look like the others but it is cement Costa Rica
For lunch we finally tried Pitburgesa Costa Rica
people were very nice and the food tasted good (but Karen later regretted it) Costa Rica
Then we went next door for the final coffee ice cream cone of our trip ... all of that for only 500 Colones. Costa Rica
Karen washed the car to give a better impression when we turned it in. We'd heard horror stories of other rental agencies claiming hidden scratches beneath the dirt. Costa Rica
Dick watched the sunset... Costa Rica
and the vulture soaring past the wind farm. Costa Rica
Our final morning dawned with a misty rainbow. Costa Rica
A last walk into town. Very little was open but these two were hard at work widening the entry of a neighbor's home Costa Rica
We loaded up and said goodbye to Guayabo. Costa Rica
Near Bagaces, Dick had been seeing this stonework tower and wondering what it was. With a door in the base it wasn't a water tower. He stopped and finally got a good shot of what turned out to be the top of a cement waterslide. In reviewing the photos for this travelog, we noticed that Las Hornillas also showed a "250 meter waterslide" on their sign... but we didn't notice it at the facility. Costa Rica
Route 164 ... this week's "commute route".  Costa Rica
Karen tried for more photos of street-side fruit and veggie vendors, but we were too early in the day. Costa Rica
Bagaces provided some interesting diversions as we passed through.
The entry ramp for the Pan American Highway offered ... let's see ... Pasteles are pastries, Frescos are cold drinks, Burros are probably burritos, and our dictionaries haven't got a clue what a bigoron is.  Costa Rica
Some vendors are less formal than a booth.  Costa Rica
One on the side of the 55 mph divided Pan American Highway.  Costa Rica
We returned the very clean car to Vamos Car Rental ... no muss, no fuss. Their Liberia office is located directly across Highway 21 from the airport, a bit south of the Hilton Garden Inn. Costa Rica
Being ridiculously early-arrivers, we sat around the airport for several hours. As is typical, we couldn't check in until three hours before the flight, so most of our time was in the arrivals hall, not the shop-filled after-security departure lounge. Costa Rica
We took off about sunset... Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
... which gave some spectacular lighting.  Costa Rica
We saw lots of lights at one point in Mexico, the pilot announced it was Veracruz. Costa Rica
Then we had a city tour of LA circa 9pm their time. Costa Rica
Karen stiffens up during long flights. So we had a pre-arranged wheelchair ride through customs and around the terminal. The distance between International arrivals and Terminal 6 for Alaska domestice flights is about a mile... and includes having to pass through security again. Our wheelchair helper knew both the ropes and the way. We wouldn't have made our flight otherwise. Costa Rica
The lights of home about 2 am. Costa Rica





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