So, I finally figured out how to put pix on this site, so now I just need to do that with a few of the dozens of photos I have been taking every day!
Apologies if most of what you see here you may have already seen in a blast email I sent earlier, but there will be a bit more detail here if you are interested.
So, first, a little background for those of you who may not be familiar with Costa Rica. It is a small (four million population) country which abolished its army in 1948. It has incredible biodiversity, as it has coastline on both the Caribbean and Pacific, with volcanic mountain ranges in between.
Known as "The Switzerland of Central America", Costa Rica has the largest percentage of its land mass devoted to national parks of any country in the world, and it is a beautiful, friendly placed, with almost 100,000 full-or-part time American residents (and I am told a million of the four million living here are actually Nicaraguans, who do the hard, manual jobs).
My point of arrival is the capital city, San Jose, which I have visited in the past. It is not much to write home about, so I won't...
I went right to Quepos, which is the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park, a beautiful coastal park about a three-hour drive from San Jose. Unfortunately, its proximity to the capital has made it very popular; the beaches were crowded with tacky businesses.
I had enrolled in a language school, planning on four hours of instruction (los verbos!) in the morning, and surfing in the afternoon. but the language school did not
overly impress me, the homestay was VERY HOT and marginally comfortable( what did I expect for $100 a WEEK, two meals a day included?!). and the surfing sucked.
I even drove 2 hours south on the day after my arrival (to Dominical), which was a crashing beach break and a miserable drive on a VERY dusty dirt road which they have been literally working on getting paved for ten years.
So, newly empowered by the fact that, on this trip, I really can go where I want, when I want, (try that after 32 years of travelling with wife and/or family--it's disorienting!), I drove the next morning north along the Gulf of Nicoya, passing the port city of Punta Arenas, then crossing the new, very beautiful, Termisque River Bridge. and moving west into Guanacaste province.
The area around the town of Nicoya (55 km from the Pacific coast) was very beautiful-- looked like Central California ranchland, with spectacular tamarindo trees (pink flowers) and lots of palm trees incongruously dotting the hillsides.
Six hours after leaving Quepos, I pulled into Nosara at dusk, got a room in a brand nwew french-owned hotel that was super high-tech/high design (the last thing I expected).
It seemed pretty windy to me, and, whaddaya know, for the next three days, there was a "dry hurricane" with 40 mph+ offshore winds. Made for some interesting surfing, to say the least!
Nosara has a very large gringo population (but, oddly, no decent language school), and lots of nice amenenities, including proabably THE MOST attractively designed and built yoga facilitty I have ever seen, anywhere.
It is called the Yosara Yoga Institute, and it is owned and run by somebody who used to be CEO at a famous yoga place in Lenox, Mass. Awesome classes; perfect counterpoint to 3-4 hours a day in the water!
To further add to my delight, I signed for an intensive series of surf lessons with a bunch of very together Brits at Innocent Surf School (Ru and Gem are the owners). Thanks to Ru, I improved more in five days than I have in five years!
Met a bunch of folks in Nosara, either in the water, or in the local restaurants and bars (everybody follows a set pattern; reggae at La Banana Thursday night, sushi at La Luna Friday night, etc.). Makes it easy to find people you saw earlier in the day or week, as there is no cell service.
Off to Antigua, Guatemala today, to connect with my stepbrother Peter, his wife Gillian, and theiir two adorable kids for a few days of spanish immersion-- classes every day, and living with a family (live chickens in the house, I am told...!).
The followiing week, we are looking Granada, a colonial city on Lake Nicaragua, about an hour south of Managua. Managua is apparently pretty sketchy, but Granada is supposed tto be pretty nice- it's certainly cheap enough; a homestay is $60-80 A WEEK, with three meals a day!
Watch for updates as I find time and decent internet connections!