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Costa Rica

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Costa Rica

Postby copeg » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:18 am

Wife and I just got back from Costa Rica. An awesome place to say the least. The people were incredible friendly (and incredibly passionate about their country), the wildlife incredible, the rainforests beautiful, and the beaches...well, you get the point.

We first visited Parque Nacional Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast, seeing all sorts of wildlife through the rainforest, as well as walked the beach at night in search of sea turtles laying their eggs. Both nights we were serenaded by Monkeys in the forest just outside our room.

We continued onto the cloud forest of Monteverde along the continental divide - a much different environment than the hot and humid lowlands, and a few more incredible days eco-touring. We finally landed ourselved onto the pacific coast just north of Tamarindo, where we lounged on the beach, played in the surf, and canoed a nearby estuary where we had the entire 'estero' to ourselves.

By and far, the most - um, well - 'interesting' part of our trip was our single engine plane ride back to San Jose (Costa Rica, not California). The events are still a little fuzzy. We heard thunder and saw lightning every day of our trip. That day, our flight was delayed due to bad weather over San Jose. When we got the go to proceed, we took off and made our way towards the capital as our pilots dodged the storm cells along the way. Being able to see all the controls in the cockpit of the plane, I watched the doppler radar as we passed by each storm cell. Noticing via the Instrument Landing System (ILS) that we were on approach to the runway, I also couldn't help but notice the purple on the radar just to our left. Watching the ILS every second, it then looked as though our pilot calmly aborted the landing as our descent flattened. But then, we were suddenly in a free fall for what seemed like days. Looking out the window, I saw a 757 below us on the ground :eek: (being hard to judge height from where I sat, I'd say it was a few hundred feet - someone up front noted the altimeter at around 300ft). Although I'm not a pilot, I have heard in the past certain noises I never want to hear in a plane. One of which is a stall alarm and another of which is "bitching betty". Amongst the many lights and alarms going off at the time, I swear I heard at least one of those :eek:. Still in what felt like a free fall, again looking out the window, I see rooftops below seemingly getting closer fast as we wizzed over them. Then suddenly, the blood drains from head. Ahhh, EUPHORIA! From nothing else but strong g-forces and knowing we were climbing, and climbing fast. The turbulence wasn't over, as we went through some more bumps and grinds, each one just as bad as the last. Finally it all seemed to end. At this point, someone in front later recounted that the pilots, upon gaining control, held hands for a brief moment, and one wiped his brow in relief. Flying back across Costa Rica to our alternate airport, I think everyone was speechless most of the way. Upon approach to our runway, another alarm goes off (again, I'm no pilot, but I'm guessing it was a low fuel warning). Safely on the ground, we all stepped off the plane and began to recount the ride of terror - all on the way to the bar :drinkers: . The airport in San Jose had closed, and we were left waiting. Finally, we had the green light again to head back to San Jose. A few people refused to get back on the plane, one of whom was my wife, so we all ended up hiring a shuttle to drive us 4hrs to San Jose (I think the airline silently confessed to how bad the flight was, as they will reimburse us for the cost of the shuttle, even though the flight was never even cancelled). One person in front recorded the whole event on his video camera. Hopefully I will hear from him so I can watch the movie, but I'm not sure if I want to watch it. Perhaps to watch just to show myself it wasn't as bad as I had thought it was. Or perhaps, watch to show myself it WAS as bad as I thought it was. Whatever the case, it may have been one of the scariest moments of my life.

A few photos:

Cayman Alligator - adjacent to our boat
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Poison Dart Frog - about the size of my thumbnail. Poisonous, it gets its name from the natives using the frogs to poison their darts
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The number and different species of Hummingbirds was beyond incredible.
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Thunderstorms and sunset over Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby Timberline » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:52 pm

Hola, Greg,
Read your Costa Rica post with great interest. I spent my Peace Corps service there, and stayed on to serve two more years just 'cause the place was so enthralling. A few times even camped out and went trout fishing up near Cerro de la Muerte along the PanAm highway; caught some nice ones for dinner, cooked over an open fire (a real trick in the drippy cloud forest). Can't remember the name of the stream now, but I recall it drained the western slope of the Talamanca Range. Your enthusiasm, conveyed in the photos, comes through, too, in spite of the plane episode. :eek:
Back in the day, roads were so few, and probably still are in remote areas, flying was the only way to get anywhere unless you took days and rode a horse. We mostly used a flying service called "AVE" that flew single engine Cessna 180's to the most remote villages and outposts. Tough airplanes, with ballsy pilots; and I can recall some moments like you describe, but we somehow made it through (or I wouldn't be telling you this, HA! :D )
Looking forward to seeing some more of your shots from there on your website!
Ole' amigo!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:58 am

Interesting report, great pics (no surprise there!). I spent a month in Costa Rica some 23 years ago; never made it to Tortuguero or Monteverde, but we did spend some time at Cahuita NP (east coast), Manuel Antonio NP (west coast), and a great little illage called Montezuma (Nicoya Peninsula). Plus daytrips to Volcan Irazú and Volcan Poás.

The flight from Manuel Antonio to San Jose was in an old DC-3, and we were flying in among the mountains. Not nearly as scary as your flight, but it was pretty interesting.
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby copeg » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:44 am

Thanks Timberline and Tom.

Timerbine, I had to look on my map to locate the area you mentioned. Looks pretty desolate.
Timberline wrote:Back in the day, roads were so few, and probably still are in remote areas, flying was the only way to get anywhere unless you took days and rode a horse.


Well, in some places its still hasn't changed. Actually, Monteverde has no airstrip, and the locals have prevented any paving of the roads into and out of....so that was a fun ride :D To get to Tortuguero, its either a plane ride or an hour long boat ride.

Tom, a month. Wow. From what I've heard, Manuel Antonio has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years (as have many places down there). We almost went there rather than Playa Grande, but decided on the more remote Playa Grande for a variety of reasons.

Sounds like I'm not the only one who has had a scary plane ride over Costa Rica.

Pura Vida! :cool:
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby hikerduane » Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:34 pm

Gracias! More photos please.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby copeg » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:56 pm

hikerduane wrote:Gracias! More photos please.


Still taking way too long going through the photos...a few more:

Howler Monkey (we had a few of these outside of our room one morning, gave us the chills to say the least)
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Green Iguana
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Copper Headed Emerald
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Re: Costa Rica

Postby hikerduane » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:04 pm

Wow! Great shot of the iquana.
Piece of cake.
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