logoTRIP TO COSTA RICA 2011 © Ed Anderson

My Trip to Costa Rica. Went to Costa Rica December 2011. This trip was highly recommended by a friend, who has been on the trip . He loved the zip line. He told me that i had to like rice and beans. He did not tell me about the bumpy roads. This writeup, starts with Susanna's original notes, and with my observations added.

 Click here to view Photo Video Collection of trip on Youtube.

The tour was December 2nd to 12th 2011. Tour guide Susannah had lived in Costa Rica for six years and had our tour well organized .

Here's a you tube talking about how Costa Rica got settled by some Quakers >>

Friday, December 2nd
Arrive in Costa Rica, at the San Juan Airport (SJO) in San Jose, preferably by mid afternoon. Your taxi will be arranged to a nearby hotel. Villa Pacande. 506 2441 6795. Our good hostess Marcela had a good evening meal prepared for us. It was a good meal.

Saturday, December 3rd
Retreat begins 7:00 AM with an open-air breakfast at Hotel Villa Pacande. Saw my first of many hummingbirds there.



11:00 AM to 3:00 PM -- On board a comfortable air-conditioned charter van over scenic plains and refreshing mountains to the historic town of La Fortuna. Ate some special Palmito cheese along the way. It's tastes like mozzarella string cheese.




A popular tourist destination, the town is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and amid busy tourist attractions it has preserved a sense of reverence for nature, as well as quietness and safety on the streets. But beyond all this, La Fortuna and surrounding area boasts views of the famous Volcano Arenal, one of the world’s ten most active volcanoes. In clear weather you may see this amazing volcano in all her majesty.



Early evening dinner at a fun and tasty (awesome, actually) native-style outdoor restaurant called La Choza de Laurel in the center of town. It was a good meal.

Our next two nights were at Hotel Eco Arenal, a lovely eco-conscious hotel just a mile outside of town. The atmosphere here is serene. Acres of beautiful lawns and tropical gardens give space for quiet exploration. A river graces the property, its gentle sound adding to the peacefulness here. A swimming pool open 24 hours and comfortable air-conditioned rooms with views of the nearby volcano (on clear mornings) are a few more features to appreciate at Hotel Eco-Arenal. First bird we saw there was a red bird, a summer tanager.



Sunday, December 4th
We wake up to balmy breezes and a choir of birds singing us into a new day in the tropics of Costa Rica. The harmonious sounds of nature all around you speak best what Costa Ricans love to exclaim – “Pura Vida!”
8:00 AM Breakfast of fresh fruits, juice, toast or rice, eggs and hot coffee is served.
Each morning after breakfast we gather to begin our day with inner-wisdom reflections and a meditation.
10:00 AM Off to the Baldi volcano-heated Hotsprings Resort. Indulge your senses in rich tropical gardens, nature trails, waterfalls and over twenty pools of various artistic configurations, temperatures and depths. For those seeking more excitement and adventure, there are three different waterslides to play on too. I noticed that the middle one was the fastest and the roughest. I watch the group play, on the sidelines, because of my leg problem. The group really enjoyed these hot springs.
Lunch is at the Resort. At the highest point.

3:00 to 7:00 PM A guided tour and trail walks up closer to the Volcano Arenal including an evening viewing of the bursting red lava viewed from the comfort of a Volcano Overlook deck. I managed to hobble up to the lookout . I saw no lava. The volcano was not angry that day. I did not have to make a run for it. I did not continue on the long hike because of my leg, the lookout point was enough . As I went up the hill to the lookout , so was an army of Leaf- cutter ants doing the same except they were transporting their leaves.

Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. In a few years, the central mound of their underground nests can grow to more than 30 metres (98 ft) across, with smaller, radiating mounds extending out to a radius of 80 metres (260 ft), taking up 30 to 600 square metres (320 to 6,500 sq ft) and containing eight million individuals.[2]


At the lookout I observed turkey vultures, circulating. Had they seen me coming up using my crutch? I saw some yellow- bellied flycatcher birds, dive bombing catching flies. On my way down from the lookout I saw something that looked like a sensitive fern, mimosa plant. I touched it with my crutch . It sure was, it curled up fast. At the bottom, I saw some magpie bluejays, holding their usual territorial discussions , and a flock of white cattle egrets take off from a field nearby. I went to the gate house and started talking with the ticket collector who offered me his seat. Learned a lot from him . He had lived and worked all over Canada . As a logger, carpenter, maintenance man etc. The local lake was man- made , and provided 60-70% of the power for the whole country. They also had geo-thermal plants. Some wind turbines, but I saw none.

Then back to Baldi Hot Springs Resort to eat dinner.


Play in the water until 9 PM, then back to the Hotel Eco-Arenal.

Monday, December 5th
8:00 AM Breakfast and morning Retreat Program gathering.
9:00 AM to 1:00 PM -- Optional $50 "Safari" river rafting and wildlife tour. I did not go. The group saw crocodiles and blue herons and turtles.

White Water Rafting Opportunities Near Arenal > https://www.arenal.net/rafting

This tour is guided, very relaxing and includes a mid-morning stop for a delicious native-food version of brunch and hot coffee. The lunch stop takes place at a historic farmhouse dating back to the 1930s which has no electricity and is owned and occupied by Pedro, age 97. Pedro is bright and eager to visit with guests. His two daughters prepare the food – and relish the company. This is a remarkable opportunity to experience the rural lifestyle of Costa-Ricans from the last century.

2:00 - 6:00 PM A one-of-a-kind trip in boat taxi across beautiful Lake Arenal . This is the man-made lake that provides all that abundant power for the country. Its a big lake. Then a minivan ride up through spectacular scenery , on very bumpy roads, to reach the beautiful, misty cloud forest mountain town of Monteverde. Some local dogs chased our tires along the way. At an elevation of 4500 feet, Monteverdi has its own sub climate and is refreshingly cooler. It is a tourist town that caters to mostly outdoors-loving naturalists from around the world but is also complete with shops, bars and restaurants.

We will be staying about a 20 minute walk from the town center at the Monteverde Inn which is a precious family owned Bed and Breakfast set atop the mountains of Santa Elena Nature Preserve.

It is quiet and peaceful here with exquisite mountain views, large private grounds and a network of walking trails to explore. The Pacific Ocean can be seen in the distance from your patio and the sunset view is something to cherish for life. Enjoy a lovely native cuisine at Monteverde Inn tonight, followed by our usual evening Retreat Program.

Tuesday, December 6th
Are you ready? This is the day to explore the spectacular cloud forest that lies above the town of Monteverde
7:30 AM Breakfast. I was able to get my 2 hard-boiled eggs. A local animal called a white- nosed coati sitting in the tree observed us through the window . I think he was used to getting fed by previous guests.

Coatis, genera Nasua and Nasuella, also known as the Brazilian aardvark, Mexican tejón, hog-nosed coon,[1] pizotes, crackoons and snookum bears, are members of the raccoon family (Procyonidae). They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America, and south-western North America. The word "coatimundi" ( /koʊˌɑːtɨˈmʌndi/) is a commonly used misnomerapplied to solitary adult males of N. nasua.[citation needed] The term is reported to be derived from the Tupi language (Paraguay).


Also saw some agoutis.The Agouti looks like the bigger version of a guinea pig. It feeds on fruits and seeds which it stores in the ground, thus helping to disperse the seeds. When frightened, the agouti will erect his long hairs on his rump, thump his hind feet on the ground, or run away with high-pitched barks.
Though frequently seen in former times, agoutis are becoming rare nowadays.

Wild running dogs kill agoutis, anteaters, coatis and other native wildlife. Dog owners should act responsible.


Breakfast was followed by quite possibly the most thrilling of our tours , a day to walk through cloud forest tree tops on suspended foot bridges, visit butterfly and hummingbird gardens and for the most adventurous, an optional $40 tour on a phenomenal zip line canopy tour and "Tarzan" jump. This is a life changing thrill not to be missed! I saw the hummingbirds. There's about 50 plus varieties in Costa Rica. They were very busy going from feeder to feeder , coming dangerously close to ones face. I think one flew between my legs .

I did not see their butterfly garden , because it was too cold for the butterflies. I don't think this is a good location for a butterfly house. Saw the snake, frog, lizard house. Had no Iguanas , or Geckos. Saw the most dangerous snake , the Coral. Bands of red and black separated by yellow. I did see the Jesus Lizard that runs on water.

Basiliscus is a genus of large corytophanid lizards, commonly known as basilisks, which are endemicto southern Mexico, Central America, and northernSouth America.




Lunch is served at a beautiful, restaurant in the midst of the Nature Preserve. Who says you can’t have it all!
Afternoon and evening are open for relaxation at Monteverde Inn or to walk the property's peaceful trails. One may also walk or take a taxi into the town of Monteverde
6:30 PM Dinner is an experience all its own at the Tree House Restaurant, a two-story dinning arrangement built around an amazing ancient tree in the middle of town. I think the tree is a fig tree, called Ficus .

Ficus is a genus of about 850species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. TheCommon Fig (F. carica) is a temperate species native to southwest Asia and the Mediterraneanregion (from Afghanistan to Portugal), which has been widely cultivated from ancient times for itsfruit, also referred to as figs. The fruit of most other species are also edible though they are usually of only local economic importance or eaten asbushfood. However, they are extremely important food resources for wildlife. Figs are also of considerable cultural importance throughout the tropics, both as objects of worship and for their many practical uses.



Wednesday, December 7th
7:30 to 8:30 AM Breakfast and morning inspiration hour. Then leisure, personal time or trail walks until departure.
10:30 AM to 3:00 PM charter bus , we came down off the mountains, via very bumpy roads , to the warm, beckoning white sand beach at Manuel Antonio National Park. I saw a few blue morpho butterflies along the way.

A Morpho butterfly may be one of over 80 species of butterflies in the genus Morpho. They areNeotropical butterflies found mostly in South America as well as Mexico and Central America.[1]Morphos range in wingspan from the 7.5 cm (3 inch) M. rhodopteron to the imposing 20 cm (8 inch) Sunset Morpho, M. hecuba. The name Morpho, meaning changed or modified, is also anepithet of Aphrodite and Venus.


I saw only one goat. For some reason goats are not popular here, cows are.

When we reached sea level, palm oil plantations were abundant. These plantations started when there was a disease with the banana crops back in 1940.

The African palm (elaeis guineensis) was introduced to this area by The United Fruit Company (Chiquita) as an experimental response to the Panama banana plight which was decimating crops during the 1940′s. In the two decades prior to the outbreak of the disease, the town of Quepos had firmly established itself as a significant banana port. Railways for the transport of fruit from more than 14,000 hectares of plantation (mostly in the Parrita valley) crisscrossed the land and eventually merged into tracks that paralleled the Quepos waterfront and came to an end at the dock. The United Fruit Company was heavily invested in local banana production/exportation and stood to lose a substantial amount if they didn’t come up with an alternative plan to counter the banana plight. To make a long success story short: United Fruit Company was able to make the transition from banana production to palm oil processing in so many brilliantly cost effective ways (example: they used disassembled rail tracks to make the bridges over the now necessary irrigation ditches) that by the time the Panama banana disease was fully eradicated some twenty years later, the African Palm fields were successfully entrenched and profitable.

By the 1970′s the African Palm oil industry was prospering in Quepos, Costa Rica. Consequently, because palm oil is easily transported overland by tanker truck, Quepos declined as a major shipping port. In 1995, the local African Palm business was sold to private investors (Palma Tica) and thus a very influential period in the history of modern day Quepos, United Fruit Company era, came to an end.

African Palms produce pods of palm oil kernels (also known as oil dates) that contain rich oil. Processed palm oil is used in a variety of products. Every day items such as lipstick, cosmetics, candies, margarines, industrial lubricants, and soaps are just a few of the many commercial goods that contain African Palm oil. The pods are harvested when the fruits are bright orange-red. A new African Palm will produce its first pods after about three years, and then regularly thereafter if properly maintained. The African Palm can live to be over 200 years old. After a couple of decades, non-hybrid African Palms grow to tall to be properly maintained by workers and therefore become much less productive. For this reason, non- hybrid trees are being systematically killed off and almost all of the African Palms being planted today are hybrid clones that produce shorter trees that are more easily maintained.


Manuel Antonio National Park - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia >

The main exports of Costa Rica are Dole bananas, coffee, pineapple, palm oil to Mexico, sugar.

No lunch is provided today. There will be opportunities to stop for snacks and breaks on the four-hour drive to the beach. The surprises along the way were some good ice- cream, a place where they had wild macaws outside in the trees, and a place where you could see crocodiles basking in the river.
6:00 PM A delighting dinner by the beach at "Restaurante Mar." (Ocean Restaurant) followed by the evening Retreat Program and leisure in the small town of Manuel Antonio.
Our hotel here is Hotel Pura Selva. Now called Jungle Beach Hotel.


Hotel Pura Selva, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Surrounded by trees and tropical plants this place is also home to monkeys (you may hear them playing games on your roof in the morning) and many beautiful birds. It is a short walk to the beach. Yes , I saw some monkeys. White-faced Capuchin Monkey Photos > http://www.wildnatureimages.com/White-facedCapuchinMonkeyPhotos.htm

Thursday, December 8th
Feel the power and embrace of Pacific Ocean!
7:30 AM – An early morning (you'll be glad as it gets really warm later) guided jungle walk and exploration of the National Park with native guide, William. Its a 3 hour hike. I will sit this one out also . It is a fun time and great learning as William spots details in the jungle life and sets his high-power scope to bring it in close. You will see several different kinds of monkeys in the wild and , yes, some rare three-toed sloths. My room- mate Lynn saw a sloth hanging from a rope crossing the road, close to the hotel. These ropes are for monkey crossings, not zebra crossings.

Sloths are the six species of medium-sizedmammals belonging to the families Megalonychidae(two-toed sloth) and Bradypodidae (three-toed sloth), part of the order Pilosa and therefore related to armadillos and anteaters, which sport a similar set of specialized claws.

They are arboreal (tree dwelling) residents of thejungles of Central and South America.

I understand they come down to the ground once every 1-2 weeks or so, to use the bathroom >


Iguanas scamper about the jungle looking for a sunny spot to park while toucans overhead show off their colors and tropical birds of many tones voice their presence. I don't think they saw a toucan. They saw blue morpho butterflies. I saw a few back at the hotel.
The tour goes for three hours but after William completes his guided portion you can go off on your own along many more Park trails and hidden beaches that are accessible only through the Park. You will have an all-day pass.
Lunch is on your own today.
I sat on the beach under an umbrella , people watching. The local dogs were looking for shade also .Watched the local hobiecat skipper taking people out for a nice 90 minute sail.
5:00 Everyone gathers for evening Retreat Program Hour on the beach and a group-watch of the sun setting over the splashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.
6:00 Dinner at Restaurante Mar by the beach. There are several native shops, bars and restaurants a short walk from the hotel for those that want to explore the town at Manuel Antonio in the evening.

Friday, December 9th
I hear some howling monkeys doing their thing at 230am in the early morning . The local dogs object, and bark loudly,
This is a day for personal leisure time, reflection and journaling , a special gift to you to design after your own creative imagines. Lunch is on your own again.
5:00 PM Gathering on the beach followed by dinner and the evening Retreat Program hour.
Dinner as usual near the beach.

Saturday, December 10th
7:00 - 8:30 AM Breakfast and sunrise gathering for Retreat Program Hour on the beach , our final farewell ceremony and thank you to wondrous ocean energy, balmy beach air and laughing monkeys.
9:30 A large, comfortable public bus will give us transportation back up over the mountain range to the Central Plateau area of San Jose and the airport city of Alajuela.
By noon we will have arrived, and after settling our bags in at nearby Hotel Villa's Pacande we'll find hardy lunch in San Jose's famous indoor market called Mercado Central which spans an entire block. The group feasted good on the local fare, and I asked our driver to pick me up a whopper at the local Burger-king on the way back. In the city, it was a Saturday, and it was crowded, there was festivities, parades, because the Christmas season was being kicked off.

This is same hotel where we started . We will be staying there for 2 nights . Sat and sun nights. 50624416795 >


Mercado Central Central Market San Jose Costa Rica.

There will be time to enjoy a unique experience of touring, shopping and coffee tasting here.
Evening dinner and the night's accommodations are back at Hotel Villa Pacande, where we started our journey from.
Tonight's gathering on spacious hotel porches is devoted to heart sharing, thanks giving and a retreat completion celebration.

Sunday, December 11th
7:00 AM Breakfast at Hotel Villa Pacande.
Those who are returning home today will be assisted with airport transportation which is a 15 minute taxi ride from the hotel.
Those who have elected to go with me on a day-tour (cost: $50 plus extra night at hotel and dinner) of my farm will board a charter bus to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica to spend the day in the lush and peaceful country-side of my sister's Barbara's organic dairy farm and ice cream processing plant in Siquirres, Limon. I am going. I want to see her cows, see her milking setup, and hear about her cattle breeding program. She Is into genetics in a big way, using Holsteins, and other breeds. She uses a breed of African cattle , called African Watusi, to make her herd more heat tolerant. Other breeds she introduces are German Red Angler, and Texas Longhorn. She gets into multiple ovulation, and inserting the embryos that she flushes out into other cows. She is breeding a dog there, called Louisiana Catahoula Leopard. It's a good guard dog that she likes. She raises white silkie chickens , for eggs, pets, and for sale. Her pet parrot holes up in the nearby tree. A remarkable four-course lunch is served at the farm in lovely native open-air tranquility. I ate plenty of her fried cheese. Of course there will be the delicious opportunity to sample freshly made ice creams and cheeses produced right on the premises, and the promise of a memorable time in the simplicity of rural tropical life. It was raining good that day. The vehicle could not cross the river bed of this swollen river. We got there on the final leg, crossing a narrow foot bridge. On the way back we saw some smaller palms called heart- of- palm, that we had eaten at Barbaras place.
An evening meal ($10.00) and night accommodations ($20) at Hotel Villa Pacande awaits the returning Caribbean Day-Tour group.
Taxis to the airport will be arranged for Monday morning.

That's the end to a very informative, exciting and enjoyable Costa Rica trip. Thank you Susannah, Soma, Barbara, Marcela, everyone.