Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Leaving Manuel Antonio


Like most days here, we awoken to playful monkeys foraging in the canopy outside our windows. An unexpected new visitor joined us – a 3 foot iguana perched at the top of the canopy – 200 feet above the ground, basking in the sun

Jet skiing yesterday was the highlight of the trip. The land always seems to take on mystical beauty from the water.

Going up the estuaries and seeing thousands of herons and other birds, fishing monkeys, alligators, and huge trees whose roots above the water create an entire habitat that has been there, untouched for 100 years.

It is hard to leave this place, but alas, we are packing up to go. We drove down to the beach this morning but small wave conditions derailed those plans.. We are taking a final pass through the condo before loading up the truck to go to Jaco.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Exploration



Okay, so here it is…. Day eight, two fifteen in the afternoon, we decide to rent jet skis and I suggest we rent them for two hours so that we can head south to explore the coastline and river mouths (potential surf spots) past the National Park. We had to convince the owners that we actually knew what we were doing and that, had we not chosen our respective professional careers, we would most certainly be photo journalists or crocodile hunters, documenting the wilds of places such as this. He spit in the sand and scoffed but, after Victor slipped the skeptic an extra twenty, we were on our way! Out through the four-foot shore break we headed. We immediately turned south and gunned it to Punta Catedral, the most westerly point of Parque Nacional, Manuel Antonio. Jim and I headed into the shallows after passing the point, wanting to explore Playa Manuel Antonio. This beach lies on the southerly edge of the narrow isthmus of sand and trees that appears as the “neck” to the “head” of the elevated rock formation that forms Cathedral Point. It’s protected from the westerly winds and swell and, as a result, the water was quite smooth. We quickly realized that by hugging the shoreline, we could remain in relatively calm waters, at least until we sought an adrenaline rush by surfing the swells that were now approaching seven to eight feet in height.

Victor? Where the hell is Victor?! Not seeing him, Jim and I continue south past several additional rock outcroppings, towards the Boca Naranjo, the mouth of the river Naranjo. Seeing, and rapidly approaching the opening, we quickly analyzed the swell before we blasted into the river and beached on the north facing shore. We sat on some driftwood and waited for Victor. He finally appeared, after (according to him), being diverted by a renegade band of highly aggressive Howler Monkeys that had somehow suspended themselves out over a rocky outcropping, dangling, linked together in a chain, hand to foot, within grasp of the water. They were apparently grabbing for Rooster Fish that would leap out of the water at any given moment!

La Serena Video

video

stuck in the mud

video

Video post of Victor and Jim

video

Comments

There is a blue line under each blog post that allows you to make comments and ask questions. Feel free to use it. :-)

New Photos added

I have added a pile of new photos today, so be sure and check out the photo blog.

I wonder is people from Central America are as interested in our birds, rabbits, and squirrels as we are of their iguanas, sloth, and monkeys.

Blog http://menstriptocostarica.blogspot.com/

Photos http://gallery.mac.com/vicwavgroup#100008

Video http://www.youtube.com/user/victorlund

Victor is better

Monday has arrived, and my health is much better now.

I am pretty sure that my virus was the result of a bug bite. Mistakenly, I applied insect repellant after putting on my shoes and socks Friday, before the zip-line tour in the jungle. A lovely ring of bug bites grace each of my ankles ankle.

There is a bad virus being spread here by mosquitoes here called Dengue Fever. Fortunately that is not what I had. Nevertheless, I was able to relax here at Pacifico Colonial for a few days and be cured by the warm tropical breezes, and natures’ birdsong.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Victor is sick

Farmers Market in Quepos and Surf @ Playa Espadilla


Today we lost a tribe member. Victor is sick with the flu and never left his bed.

Robert and I headed to Quepos to refresh supplies at the local farmers market along the ocean boardwalk.

The market was well stocked with chicken, beef, and every fruit and vegetable we have become accustomed to in California. The produce was fresh and presented in your typical SLO farmer’s market style. The only exception was the diverse nationalities of those selling their products. The healthy selections quickly changed to fresh Quaker baked cinnamon rolls and chocolate filled pastries. The vendor was dressed in typical Quaker garb, blue bonnets and all.

While walking the market we noticed the slow three to four foot surf break right off the Pez Vela breakwater in Quepos bay.

The surf was perfect and Robert knew that we had very little time before the tide would change. We rushed back to the condo to check on Victor. Victor was out but starting to feel better.

After Robert and I consumed all the freshly baked Quaker food we headed to Playa Espadilla to rent a board for me.

The problem was Playa Espadilla was 7 kilometers south of Quepos and by the time we rented the board and returned to Quepos, the perfect break was now a perfect water ski lake.

We headed back to Playa Espadilla where we surfed until the mesmerizing tropical sunset closed out our last set to our day.

Victor is feeling better and we hope to see him in action tomorrow.

Hasta luaego,

Jim, Victor and Robert

Friday, December 7, 2007

Monkey for Breakfast



Monkeys for breakfast!

Not for us to eat, but for us to watch.


This morning offered lots of humidity and a friendly visit from squirrel monkeys in the canopy outside the house.

They move very fast and usually stay in the trees away from view. After much effort and frustration I was able to grab a few shots to share.

We seem to be stuck on the same restaurant – Bambu Jam. We went there our first night and fell in love with the Gnocchi made with plantains and morel mushrooms. They also prepare a variety of fresh fish with a selection of salsas – my favorite is mango with chipolata peppers and cumin. Tonight they have music so we have reserved a table – guess that you can never get enough of a good thing.

Jim and I are going on a canopy zip-line tour today. They have professional photographers so I will not be taking the camera. Hopefully they will get some good shots of us zooming through the trees.

The internet and telephony networks here are all government controlled, and very unreliable – I love that.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Daily video post

View on YouTube

Surfing

We just got in from Surfing. It was my first time. I was happy to get up once.

I did not realize how hard it is to paddle out, fall down, paddle back, fall down, paddle back, etc.

No photos this time. Will go back to it tomorrow.

Word to anyone who is going surfing for the first time. If you do not wear a rash guard shirt, your chest gets torn up!

The water is really warm and feels great. This afternoon a mild storm has rolled in and is blocking the sun and sprinkling a little bit.

Have a great day! More later or tomorrow.... Victor

Drive to Quepos and Manuel Antonio

The drive to Quepos/Manuel Antonio was wonderful. We were able to see the Country. The civil engineer, Eric rode along with us, answering our questions about the country.

The roads are well paved but only 2 lanes. We were introduced to the Robert Anderson school of Puerto Rican driving – which made the ride a total adventure. The trip took about 2 hours or so. When leaving San Jose the road traverses a mountain offering views of the metropolitan area on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. There were a few amazing homes with both views – a rarity found in only a few special places on the planet.

The small towns and roadside stands were very quaint. In many places along the road there were painted rocks, which were really well done. Most vistas were too expansive to photograph successfully, or we were driving through dense jungle lined roads.

Travel to Quepos only takes about 25 minutes by plane from San Jose for $50. Travel by car is more difficult but a new road and 2 new bridges will reduce the drive time from 2 hours to 45 minutes opening up easy access to this jewel of South American coastline. You can see the photos of the 2 bridges, which only accept 1 direction of traffic at a time. Wait times can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes.

Upon arrival we went directly to the Ranch, La Serena. The backhoe was working for a couple of days to improve the road to provide access for the soil surveys. The clay mud was super deep - made it through the first fence before burring the wheels.

First we called the horse, and then we called the Cat.

My first impression of La Serena was excellent. It is a sanctuary ranch positioned above the town of Quepos offering views of the Pacific Ocean along with hidden valleys of tropical jungle full of parrots and monkeys. Robert’s vision for the development is perfect. Connected to the town in the foothills will be a shopping and restaurant area. On the south side of town will be the condo/hotel. Discrete passages will allow access to the resort and development amenities with ponds, pools, golf, spa, yadda yadda. I look forward to riding through the property on horseback later in the week.

Today we are going surfing in Manuel Antonio and I look forward to my first lesson. It is hot and humid and the water is warm. Sunburn, here I come!

Photos

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Things we forgot about on Day 1

We went to the mall - where every major corporation has a company store. Apple reigned supreme as did LG.

Like Europe - the grocery store is at the mall - which is the true reason for that visit. We now have a variety of snacks and beverages to tide us over during the day. A couple of things that were interesting......

Coke supplied the Christmas tree and all of the decorations.

There were McDonald ice cream booths. Our fast food companies are everywhere here and Costa Rica, like America is a plump society. There are no organic options or health food stores.

They had a really cool train that would carry families with children and Christmas packages around the mall.

Playskool provided a children's play area.

P.S. 20 days 'til Christmas.

San Jose Costa Rica

We spent our first day in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.

The Hampton Inn is at the airport so we drove into San Jose – 30 minute drive.

The lack of city planning and city beautification is rampant. The homes are very poorly constructed and have been positioned next to factories spewing toxics into the air. The air smells like pollution.

Every street is congested – there are 1.6 million people living here. We toured some key city landmarks in the afternoon. We noticed that there is a lack of good architecture – it is really not a pretty place at all – just a sea of people – which is the beauty of this area.

Everyone is very warm and friendly. Jim (at 6’1”) is the tallest man in the country.

We started out at the Cathedral – parking was non-existent. We dropped Jim off and parked a mile away and hiked back. The church is under complete renovation, but is still in use.

From there we walked into the ciudad central. The Banco Central de Costa Rica is another landmark that we stopped at. The building was in very bad shape so we moved on. Walking the streets among the crowds was overwhelmingly or favorite element of the area. We ended up at the National Theatre where we stopped for a coffee. Costa Rica knows coffee ☺.

Perhaps the best thing about a guys trip is the guys. The three of us began to discuss what comes naturally to men – politics, philosophy, and sociology – what is right or wrong with this country and our own.

Robert attended a meeting with his development team while Jim and I continued to walk the streets. Every store here is poorly merchandised and packed to the gills with American products. We met back at the Grand Hotel de Costa Rica for evening cocktails. The Grand Hotel is very much what you would expect in terms of facilities (Like a Ritz Carleton) but the service, food and drink quality was below par. We have taken a pass at the mixed drinks here – mojitos, etc. They do not understand the art of the cocktail so we agreed to only order vodka for the rest of the trip. The good folks from Absolute have found 3 great new friends. (p.s. Patron is $18 per shot here ??????)

We went to the very popular neighborhood of Escazu for dinner. One of the interesting things about Costa Rica is the lack of street signs – there are none. Locations are identified by landmarks – so the place we went in Escazu is literally called the Outback (after the restaurant!). Aside from the Outback and Hooters, there were 5 or 6 different restaurants that were genuinely pretty good. In the European custom, we were greeted by the manager at the door who reviewed the menu – they helped in our search for local sea bass. We landed on a true Spanish tapas restaurant where we ordered plenty and shared a lot – they served perfect Absolutes!

The jet lag finally caught us with us today as we all slept in until 10. Robert ran into San Jose for another meeting this morning and when he returns we will be driving to the south west coast to begin exploring the beaches and jungles that make this country so unique and attractive – San Jose was a bit disappointing and depressing.

I have 2 cameras, so this is only half of the photos. Enjoy.

Victor, Jim and Robert

Photos of the day can be viewed here.

More information about San Jose can be found here.