top of page

"Travel first leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller". - Ibn Battuta, Moroccan explorer and traveler


It's been a while since we last reported on our adventures. At the end of November, we were in Cancun getting ready to fly to Costa Rica to join the family. We had shared a few humble observations about Mexico. The magical Costa Rica episode is now behind us, so we'd like to share a few highlights with you, as we stayed there from December 9 to January 5.

 

Patrick and Jacinthe, Stephanie's brother and our sister-in-law, (Olivier, Megan and Gabriel joined us later in December) were waiting for us in Jaco in the province of Puntarenas. Stéphanie and Patrick's cousin Nathalie and her husband Yves were also with us for the first week.


It was incredible to see our great Michel-André, who joined us on December 22 after completing his first semester at McGill in Economics and Political Science. It had been six months since we had seen him in the flesh. Seeing his bright smile was such a lovely Christmas gift!

 

We were a great gang of 12 people, but some arrived later or left early, so it was a bit of a revolving door, but every moment was precious. When are we going to do another trip of this scale with our family?





I can't speak for everyone, but Stephanie and I don't think you really appreciate what biodiversity is until you land in Costa Rica. Despite its small size (0.03% of the earth's mass), Costa Rica represents 5% of the planet's total biodiversity! Incredible animals, insects and plants - we saw them all around us everyday!

 

Take, for example, our visits to the Mantas and Blanca beaches, where we bathed in warm, crystal-clear water and saw little black and white rays leaping out of the water to greet us. That white-headed capuchin monkeys and spider monkeys hung in the palm trees as we rested on the beach. They loved apples and weren`t shy about trying to steal them from our hands.



And what about our tour of the la Fortuna mountains to see the sloths with our guide, Rueben. He counseled us to be patient and respectful when we start this kind of tour. Sloths are sensitive to noise and smells. Forget the idea of picking them up and stroking them, we have to respect them in their environment.  Reuben told us that in places where you can hold sloths, it's often sloths that have been mutilated to remove their fangs and claws (for safety towards human handlers). That is really sad…



But biodiversity also means having ants and cockroaches in your condo... it's not as much fun, but we made to understand that it's normal in this tropical climate. But at least we did not see scorpions or gigantic spiders!

 

Birds are everywhere in Costa Rica, whether it's the Hara or Macaw parrots, who fly everywhere and are very vocal! We also saw Toucans and hummingbirds.  In fact, there were so many hummingbirds that we could see them perching in the trees, resting and cleaning their plumage.



You can also take a walk over a bridge to see gigantic crocodiles frolicking in the river near Tarcoles. We appreciated the distance...



And then, wherever you walk, you come across iguanas, some of them quite large....but herbivorous!




But biodiversity also means plants and vegetation, and you have to drive from Alajuela to Jaco to see this oppressively green plant cover. A visit to a family cocoa and coffee plantation revealed the multitude of fruit trees, pineapples, papayas, bananas, oranges and star fruits, as well as spices such as pepper, vanilla and sugar cane juice and homemade coconut rum. The handmade chocolate with vanilla and sugar cane was divine!








And then there's the impressive Volcan Arénal National Park and the zip-line excursions (for the bravest). Some of us even took on the zipline that passes over the top of La Fortuna waterfall...epic because the waterfall is like 200 m high, but Dédé, Olivier and Francis rose to the challenge!





You can also stop off at the thermal baths, hot springs that gush out of the Areal volcano and, as you can see, our visit affected the behaviour of our young people!



Or visit Tortuga Island and go snorkeling.



There's so much to say about Costa Rica with its multiple eco-systems.  It's very hot and humid in Jaco, less hot but rainy in La Fortuna and sunny and cool in Alajuela.

 

I'll end on a few scattered notes. Visiting tropical forests sometimes makes you "not happy", as my brother-in-law Patrick B. would say. It's hot and humid to the extreme, so much so that you can feel the drops of water falling on you without it even raining. Costa Rica's road system has a few stretches of freeway, but on the whole they're single-ways that are quite clogged at times. A 90-minute drive can quickly turn into a 3-4-hour adventure as some tourists slow down to see crocodiles and other critters. We also made a rather intense "off-road" trip back from la Fortuna, which roughed up our SUVs and gave us a bit of a fright...

 

The cost of living is quite expensive, which can be explained by the presence of many American and Canadian expats who settle in certain regions. In terms of accommodation, we were spoiled for choice, as we stayed in a condo in a gated expat community in Jaco, but also in a typical house in La Fortuna and finally in a house/condo closer to Costa Rican reality when we returned to Jaco. Many thanks to Jacinthe for finding these beautiful places for the group.



And what about the drinks... We sacrificed ourselves for Margaritas, Coco Locos (big coconut with ice and rum), Pinacoladas and other alcoholic wonders. What's special about Costa Rica is that it's made with fresh juice, and instead of getting you drunk, it makes you think deeply, as Stéphanie and Patrick B. can testify…



All good things must come to an end, and our adventurers left feeling very tired (one more than the others!). Our next stop is Panama, so we'll be back to tell you more about Panama soon.




N.B. It was quite surreal to listen to the Bye-Bye in Jaco while it was 30 degrees outside and then celebrate the year’s end by singing karaoke until the wee hours of the morning while fireworks blared in the sky. I'm sure there are a few Costa Ricans traumatized by this episode...(at least I am...).











P.S. The nice thing about coming back in June 2024 is that we'll be able to attend Megan and Gabriel's wedding next summer, what a beautiful couple and how great is youth!



25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page