Our vacation in Costa Rica starts out with a rough drive from San Jose up to the Monteverde cloud forest and the small town of Santa Elena, founded by quakers who refused to have anything to do with the US Korean war.  After checking into Hotel Fonda Vela in Santa Elena, we saw a three-toed sloth on a night tour, did some zip lines through the forest canopy, checked out a frog pond (Ranario), and a beautiful orchid garden.  Late one night after dinner at the Tree House Cafe, after an amazing meal among the branches of a Higueron Tree, Ryan proposed to Beth and she said “yes”.  The next morning, we drove the very bumpy road back to San Jose to stay briefly at the Casa de las Tias.

The next morning, we caught an early morning flight to a small airstrip on Tortuguero National Park.  We were greeted at Tortuga Lodge with a tropical drink and breakfast.  We took a boat tour of the nearby forest canal system.  We saw howler monkeys, caimans, and toucans.  The lodge fixed us an amazing steak speared with sugar cane for lunch.  That night we ventured out on the beach with a local guide to see a Green Sea Turtle digging a hole and laying eggs right in front of us!  The national park organizes the viewing in order to minimize the impact to the turtles’ nesting.  They have spotters on the beach to identify when it’s the right time to approach the turtle.

Two short flights later, we landed on a small gravel landing strip on the beach near Corcovado National Park where a burro and cart were waiting to carry our luggage.  There are no roads leading to our lodge, so it’s a 3km hike on the beach to get to the Corcovado Tent Lodge.  Our tent was 30 feet from the beach and there were monkeys in the trees around camp.  We would occasionally hear a distant bird call followed by a fly-by of beautiful scarlet macaws.  A spider monkey was just 10 feet away from me sampling the tree leaves.    We saw a coati raiding a turtle nest on the beach (eating baby turtles), and a white faced capuchin monkey (shown on right) while on an early morning bird watching tour.  Before catching our plane back to San Jose, the lodge arranged for a civilized breakfast next to the “Aerodromo”.

Back in San Jose at the Hotel Pura Vida, (we needed showers badly) we had a wonderful dinner and breakfast followed by a brief visit to the Gold Museum which features various artifacts from pre-Columbian culture.  There were very nice pieces depicting animals from the forest as well as people.