Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Costa Rica...

Checked my last night and noticed that the flight is only at 7:00 PM in the evening. that leaves me with an entire day and nothing to do..
I had already said my good byes last night... and was not prepared for this extra time suspended between the closure of a farewell and the start of the next phase.
I wake up early like i have every morning here.. am up with the sun and stand in the little balcony sipping my tea watching the light fall over the little village behind it ..
The wind blows and its lovely here..
I will miss this place- The morning Sun, The delicious Spanish accents :)..
The hotel really is a piece of art. I don't think i could ever afford to stay in a place like this if I were holidaying by myself..
I order breakfast.. For the last time I'll get to look at the menu .. Look a all the choices ..Debate on what to order and at the end of it all order the same thing :)
All my bags are packed am ready to go....Wait for 'Fire and Rain' to stop playing and pack my laptop too. I like to travel Light... Say my good byes and leave to the airport early..
This one week has been out of a fairy tale.. Have had the opportunity to live my own travel show. I felt like I had wings...Nothing can match the heady feeling of being free..
I will miss this place..! :)
love you Costa Rica.. Muaaaaaaah!..
the next time I visit South America it will be Chile!
-Meena Venkataraman

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Costa Rica..

Breakfasting , with a view of the Pacific in a distance..
The tour Brochure says - 'The best of the Pacific'. Costa Rica has 2 coasts - the Pacific and the Caribbean. ..
And today am going to be seeing the Pacific.
Our group for today is small. Six in all with the guide and the guy who is driving.
Typical Costarican Breakfast
We leave San Jos'e at around 7:00 AM. And we stop at this place at the way side. You can see the coast from up here, A faint line on the horizon...
Typical Costa Rican Breakfast consists of fried rice and beans - called 'Gallo Pinto', Eggs, Cheese, Plantain fried and Sweetened and Coffee....



The route we take is supposed to have been in use by the Spanish since 1606. Our first stop is at the Tarcoles river. This place is supposed to be teeming with crocodiles. I am told that National Geographic put the estimate at 25 crocs per SQ Km
Cruising along the Tarcoles River..
We take a boat. The person maneuvering the boat - Jason is supposed to know the river like the back of his hand..
The Bait..
He stops and with bait in his hand he gets out.. I thought they were just joking when they said they would feed crocodiles in the wild. At least I have never seen anything like this before..
The Crocodile Cometh..

He was immediately approached by one croc. Her name is supposed to be Monica. She is a 40 year old female. For easy identification the crocs have names like Osama , Hugo chavez, bill Clinton and the like..

Closer..

The croc drew closer. It was huge..
And Closer..




This was the scariest part , when it reared its head up and ate the fish..







Contented after the meal..She swam away. Like it was everyday business :)




Got to see some birds on the way. Pelicans, Osprey ..
Pelicans..
Closer Shot of Pelicans sitting amongst the Branches..






They let me sit right upfront. It was great cruising along the river with the wind on my face...
You can see the ocean in the distance.
We get off. There's a strip of sans separating the river from the sea. The river joins the Sea around this strip. So This is like a little beach.
Painted Stork walks along the shore..




Its beautiful here..


So what did Red say in The Shawshank Redemption.. "RED: I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain... I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. "



We get back into the boat and visit the mangroves.

this place is teeming with crabs..


Really Pretty. Ages since I've been to a beach.Used to go often in Chennai.
Walked by the shore all the way till then end and came back..
-Meena Venkataraman

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Costa Rica...

Visited the Turubari National Park. 595 Acers of Tropical rain forest preserved...


'Canopy' is a famous Costa Rican Activity. It involves being suspended by Pulleys and going through the rain forest from one Tree top to another. The longest lines is about 700 metres. Here I am all strapped up and good to go..

You can see the canopy line to your left . That's how high it is


Here I go..






The second activity was something called as the sensational cable. Its a little scary because you are suspended through the length of your body and you slide down suspended by a pulley.
You travel 1200 ms this way and it takes about 45 seconds. Its scary before you take off. Once you do its a wonderful feeling. Feel like a bird.. and you really do get a bird's eye view.
Am Off..
We had lunch there. The group I travelled with today was very interesting. There was this little kid who would volunteer first for any activity. Her Dad had no other option but to follow. Though vexed he was really proud and was bragging about how his daughter was fearless. He went on to say how in his youth he had served in the army and how terrible it was because you cant get out once you are in.  Wit and Sarcasm are an explosive combination ! :)
Then there was this couple who stay in Costa Rica who were also touring with us. And the lady fainted because of the sun. She was being treated for dehydration and this guy started taking pictures.. :D.. Apparently he wanted to remember it all.. :D:D .. I found it so funny..People do strange things when in love I guess!
We were back by 6:00. Traffic here is just as bad as it is in India.
Meena Venkataraman

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Costa Rica...

Will be visiting another volcano today. Mt Arenal. It's the most active volcano in Costa Rica.

The drive to the volcano takes us about 4 hours. It's a boring drive. We stop at a town just before the volcano and click some pictures.



A Shop selling Costa Rican Accessories
We get to the resort where they have the hot springs. It looks more like a swimming pool to me. I ask the guide when we will get to see the volcano up close. And he points to the volcano from the resort and says u can watch it from the pool....
Craters from the first Eruption
Come on I didn't drive up here for 4 hours to watch the volcano from the pool..So I argue a bit and he finally agrees to put me on another tour which takes you into the Volcano National Park. I get to go with a totally different set of people and It was wonderful fun.

 The guide explains that the first eruption happened in 1968. You can see the crater from the eruption in the picture.  agrees to put me on another tour which takes you into the Volcano National Park. I get to go with a totally different set of people and It was wonderful fun. The guide explains that the first eruption happened in 1968. You can see the crater from the eruption in the picture.
It had remained inactive for 400 years and was considered extinct. The first eruption killed 78 people and buried 3 villages in the vicinity and resulted in the formation of three new crater. Since this is an area of volcanic activity we were forewarned that an eruption could occur at any time and we were to be prepared. The guide form the previous tour told me it would be dangerous , but then again so was sitting in that stupid swimming pool watching the volcano. I'd rather watch the volcano up close. If the volcano were to erupt we would all be dead anyway .. No???????

The guide has our absolute attention :)
We had to hike through the national Part. The group was a lot more fun . There were two kids one aged 10 who walked with me for most of the hike. Most times I get along really well with children. I find their candor refreshing and the conversation was extremely interesting.

Leaf Cutter Ants

Our Guide..
On the way we saw some of the flora and fauna of this habitat. In the picture you see the fighter ants carrying leaves
The guide explains how some of these plans have adapted themselves to this terrain.

Apophyte
As we walked through the park the guide points out and tells us intresting bits about the fauna there.
Mt Arenal
The water that accumulates in the stem is something that the monkies drink when they are thirsty
Mid way through the hike we hear the volcano rumble and we can see the ash sliding off the sides. It was one of the most breathtaking sights I've seen. Mixture of fear and excitement..What if it did erupt?
Ash and Smoke from the erupting Volcano..
View of Arenal
Hiking our way into the park..
We continue on our trial. The trail is actually the site of the first eruption. So you see craters, volcanic soil, rocks, ash and other souvenirs from the first explosion on the way.

Arenal in the background. The closest I ever got to a smouldering active Volcano :)
Finally we stop at a point close enough to the volcano. Any firther is dangerous the guide warns. Someone asks what happens if we go all the way. He says you'll be dead before you get to that point.. pointing to a place in the distance. The group laughs. And then more seriously he explains that the sulpher and poisonous gases would kill anyone who tried..
The scenery is breath taking. Pictures cant do justice to what I saw. Grey smoke filled skies. The imposing Volcano. The distant rumble. The Brown Earth and the wonderful green all around speckled with yellow. And the smell of rain..
The group rests a bit..
We were standing there taking pictures and it began to pour. I was like.. Camera Camera.. ! :)
Scenes from Arenal National Park
The green and yellows made for some lovely scenes along the way
It poured for 3 minutes or so and then stopped. I was told this is pretty common. It rains all year round .The locals call the yellow trees 'Broccoli'

Broccli
The view of the  Lake (which happens to be manmade) from Arenal National Park
The lake in the picture is man made. It is used to generate hydroelectric power.After about two hours of hiking we head back. I had the time of my life.And I feel so alive ..
- Meena Venkataraman

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