Costa Rica – 1983, ’87 and ’90


Costa Rica – 1983, ’87 and ’90. Costa Rica … what a great country! As raft company owners, we were invited to take advantage of an offer being made by an American-owned company that had been established in Costa Rica – Costa Rica Expeditions. As part of the offer, the government of Costa Rica was subsidizing air travel there and the company subsidizing raft and other trips. The package was very affordable, and in exchange we would solicit business for the company in the USA. The idea was to put Costa Rica on the ecotourism map … and, as we now see, this has occurred.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica. This is a Google Earth map, annotated by myself, to show places mentioned in this post.

The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose, which enjoys a marvelous climate, thanks to its altitude of 3845′.

SanJ.AirportMural#12'87T

Airport mural

SanJ.HotelEuropa#3'87TD

The Hotel Europa

SanJoseBldgs#35'83

San Jose, from the hotel window

Travelers' Store

Travelers’ Store

La comida

La comida, San Jose

CatholicParade#37,'83-Edit

Religious parade

CatholicParade#2'83-Edit

Religious parade

Crowd#3'83

Parade spectators

The Mercado Central, in San Jose, in 1987 (and a few photos from 1990). It was very crowded. I had my passport in a pocket of a shoulder bag, which pocket got slit with a razor, and bye-bye passport. “It’s the Colombians who are the thieves”, say the “Ticos” (nickname for Costa Ricans).

Two men, at the entrance to the Mercado Central

Two men, at the entrance to the Mercado Central

Mercado#28'90

MercadoFlowers#32'90Sim.17

MarketBananaSkins#5'87T

MarketFlowers#34'87TDBz

MarketHerbs#4'87TD

MarketBirdCages#36'87T

MarketFlowers#35'87TBz

MarketGeese#8'87T

MarketGuaria#7'87T

MarketMachetes#11'87TD

MarketSpices#2'87TD

MarketTrinkets#10'87TD

MarketUruca#7'87T

Also, in San Jose:

SanJ.NobelPrize#9'87

Poster: The Presidente, Oscar Arias, wins the Nobel Peace Prize

A steep mountain range runs northwest to southeast through the interior of the narrow country, with rivers running down to both coasts. The highway from San Jose east passes through Cartago, on the way to Turrialba. From there we boated two rivers: the Rios Pacuare and Reventazon. The former is a Class 3 and 4 overnight trip, the latter was a very popular day trip, until the year 2000, when it was dammed.

BusToPacuare#19'83

Town along the way to the river – Rio Pacuare

BarPacuare-Edit

Town along the way to the river – Rio Pacuare

We ran the Rio Pacaure on each of our visits.  Survey work for a proposed dam was seen on those trips, but the dam has yet to be built, and hopefully, will never be built.

Rio Pacuare, 1987

Rio Pacuare, 1987

Pacuare#27.87

Rio Pacuare, 1987

Rio Pacuare, creek

Rio Pacuare, side stream, 1987

Rio Pacuare, canoe

Rio Pacuare, canoe

White flower

White flower, 1983

Pacaure, at the campsite, 1983

Campsite, 1983

Rio Pacuare, buttressed ceiba tree at campsite, 1983

Buttressed ceiba tree at campsite, 1983

Rio Pacuare, Campspot, 1990

Campsite, 1990

PacuareShelterFernando#35'90

The campsite in 1990 now had a tin roofed shelter – for cocktail hour, food preparation and dining, and dancing! Fernando (center) was very sauve, and later came to ski with us in New Mexico.

Rio Pacuare, bromeliad

Bromeliad, campsite, 1983

PacuareSpider#32'90TD

Rio Pacuare, Spider, 1990

PacuareForestHillside#6'90

Forested hillside opposite camp

PacuareRock#34'90

Rock with moss

Scouting Upper Huacas Rapid, 1987

Rio Pacuare, scouting Upper Huacas Rapid, 1987

Above Lower Huacas Rapid, 1987

Above Lower Huacas Rapid, 1987

Rio Pacuare, waterfall between Upper and Lower Huacas rapids, 1987

Waterfall between Upper and Lower Huacas rapids, 1987

At the waterfall between Upper and Lower Huacas rapids

Waterfall between Upper and Lower Huacas rapids, 1983

Lower Huacas Rapid, 1987

Lower Huacas Rapid, 1987

Farm on the hillside above the canyon

Farm on the hillside above the canyon

PacuareLunch#17'83Sim.17

Lunch

PacuareKath#28'90

Kathy

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983

PacuareDosMontanos#34'83Sim.17

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983. Vines hang down to the river

The Dos Montanos gorge, 1983. Vines hang down to the river

Rio Pacuare, 1987

Rio Pacuare, 1987

Pochotel, Turrialba

Pochotel, Turrialba, with Michael, the owner of Costa Rica Expeditions, 1990

PochotelMariano

Pochotel, Mariano

PochotelOrchid#22'87

Pochotel, orchids

Yellow-naped parrot, at Pochotel

Pochotel,Yellow-naped parrot

More flowers at Pochotel.

Impatiens, at Pochotel

Impatiens

Red leaves

Red leaves

Gorgeous flower

Gorgeous flower

PochotelDinnerTable#5'90

Dining room at Pochotel

turrialba-edit

The valley of the Rio Reventazon and the town of Turrialba, from Pochotel. Turrialba Volcano is seen on the skyline to the north (10,738′), and has been active lately.

After our 1983 Pacuare trip, we visited Manuel Antonio National Park, on the west coast, near the town of Quepos. The easiset way to get there was by air from San Jose, and we flew there and back in a DC-3 – a twin-engine tail-dragger, vintage WWII.

DeadTern#6'83

Dead tern

Beach at Manuel Antonio NP

Beach at Manuel Antonio N.P.

Beach at Manuel Antonio NP

Beach at Manuel Antonio N.P.

Guide and Kathy, at blowhole

Guide and Kathy, at blowhole

Man.AntonioBlowhole#13'83

Blowhole, Kathy

ManuelAntonioKathy#7'83

Kathy likes it.

Manual Antonio N.P.

Manual Antonio N.P.

We next visited Monteverde, a high-altitude cloud forest preserve, known for its golden toads and the Resplendent Quetzal (a bird). We saw neither, but it was a nice forest to hike around in. The evening after our hike there, an earthquake made the lamps swing at the hotel.

Kathy

Kathy, 1983

Impatiens

Impatiens, 1983

Hotlips

Hotlips, 1983

Human-shaped orchid

Human-shaped orchid, 1983

In 1987, we first took a day trip to the Gulf of Nicoya, from Puntarenas.

Bus

Bus – “I Love Guanacaste”

A bus named Oscar

A bus named Oscar

Fishing boat

Fishing boat, Gulf of Nicoya

Kathy

Kathy

Palms on the beach

Palms on the beach

Playing the marimba

Marimba

The frigatebird gets my vote for most elegant in flight

The frigatebird gets my vote for most elegant in flight

Frigatebirds-Edit

Frigatebirds

We did two trips on the Rio Chirripo  in 1987 and ’90. The Chirripo drains to the west, and the route to the river crosses over a mountain pass at 10,892′, called Cerro de la Muerte. The first town we came to, on the other side, was San Isidro, and known as a place for older American men to find and marry young Costa Rican women.

All loaded up and ready to go!

All loaded up and ready to go!

CerroDeLaMuerteRestaurant-Edit

In the clouds and rain, at La Restaurant Georgina, near the Cerro de la Muerte, at 10, 125′

At the Cerro de la Muerte, La Georgina Restaurant

La Restaurant Georgina

Sign at hamburger joint

Sign at hamburger stand, San Isidro

MormonMissionaries#4'90TDeN

There is no mistaking these Mormon missionaries, San Isidro

The Rio Chirripo. Sheltering from the rain.

The Rio Chirripo. Sheltering from the rain.

5. Ceiba tree

Ceiba tree

Ceiba tree, Kathy

Ceiba tree, Kathy

 

Big rocks ahead

Big rocks ahead

Chirrippo Grande rapid

Chirrippo Grande rapid

Screaming Left-hand turn rapid

Screaming Left-hand turn rapid

Screaming Right-hand turn rapid

Screaming Right-hand turn rapid

Screaming Right-hand turn rapid

Screaming Right-hand turn rapid

Boulder Dam rapid

Boulder Dam rapid

We came to a spot where, on river-left, a ledge of rock extended into the river. Not far from shore, this ledge  created a very smooth pour-over. Below the pour-over, a powerful shear between the eddy current (going upstream) and the main current (going downstream) created a large deep whirlpool on the eddy line. We all eddied-out to watch, play and photograph the action. This was the largest play-able whirlpool I have ever encountered on a river.

The Ledge

The Ledge. The eddy is below the exposed part of the ledge, on the right. The pour-over is to the left.

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak and canoe

The whirlpool, canoe

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak. The raft sits quietly in the eddy.

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, kayak

The whirlpool, raft

The whirlpool. Kathy is captaining the paddle raft, which has too much volume to get sucked any further down into the whirlpool.

The campsite was just downstream and across from the Ledge.

Log raft

Log raft, 1990

Youngster in Halloween mask at camp

Youngster in Halloween mask at camp

Dugout and horse

Dugout and horse

Campsite

Campsite

Guides (and little dog)

Guides (and little dog)

Ceiba

Ceiba, 1990

Ceiba and adornments

Ceiba and adornments, 1990

Boa

Boa

Canoe surfing in Chacalaca Rapid

Canoe surfing in Chachalaca Rapid

Canoe surfing in Chacalaca Rapid

Canoe surfing in Chachalaca Rapid

Chachalaca, kayak

Kayak surfing in Chachalaca Rapid

Chachalaca, kayak

Kayak surfing in Chachalaca Rapid

Grapevine Rapid

Grapevine Rapid, 1990

Flor de la Sabana, at trip's end

After the trip, and on the way home – cold beers at Flor de la Sabana

Cartago is a small city located 16 miles east and uphill from San Jose, at an altitude of 4,707′. We visited the orchid garden and cathedral ruins there.

CartagoBromeliad_#20'87TBz

CartagoBromeliad#13'87TBz

CartagoFlower#19'87T

CartagoFlower#23'87TBz

CartagoOrchid#2'87TD

CartagoOrchid#4'87TD

CartagoOrchid#5'87TD

CartagoOrchid#13'87T

CartagoOrchid#14'87TD

CartagoOrchid#25%2287TD

CartagoOrchid#27'87TD

CartagoOrchid#30;87T

CartagoOrchid#32'87TD

CartagoOrchid#35'87T

The ruins of the Cathedral.

Cathedral#31'87TD

Cathedral#32'87TD

Cathedral#34'87TD

Cathedral#36'87T

Cath.#9'87

Barva Volcano is located 13.6 miles north of San Jose, and is the centerpiece and high point (97oo’) of Braulio Carillo National Park. We hiked to the two summit crater lakes.

Roadside flower shop

Roadside flower shop

Barva headquarters

Barva headquarters

BarvaBirdBook#7'90TD

Tanagers

BarvaRiceBags#32'90TD

Rice bags

BarvaFlowersLeaf#6'90T

The Poor Man’s Umbrella plant

 

BarvaTreesFog#36'90TD

Cloud forest in the clouds

BarvaAltitudeSign#25'90T

BarvaSign#4'90TD

BarvaForestHikers#8

Hiking in the cloud forest

BarvaLake#1-#14'90TD

The first summit lake

BarvaLake#2

The second summit lake

Poas is an active volcano (8,885′) located 54 miles from San Jose.

PoasPeruvianTrumpets#30'87

On the drive to Poas Volcano. Peruvian Trumpet trees, living fence posts and coffee (?)

PoasPinkFlowers#10'87Sim.26

RedFlowerPoas#13TD

PoasPoorMansUmbrella#21'87TDBz

Poas, Poor Man’s Umbrella

PoasCrater#22'87

Poas main crater. You have to arrive early to see the crater before it fills with clouds.

Poas, cloud forest

Poas, cloud forest

Poas, summit lake

Poas, summit lake

Tortuguero National Park, and the Tortuga Lodge, is another great destination, which we visited twice – in 1987 and 1990. One of its foremost attractions for us was the fishing for tarpon, snook and jack crevalle. We fished both in the river- the Rio Tortuguero – and in the ocean just beyond the mouth of the river (the “boca”), and on one occasion motored north to the mouth of the Rio San Juan (which river is the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua). We would be fishing at sunrise and sometimes at sunset. When fishing the river, we either trolled plugs or cast plugs at the boca. In the ocean, we jigged. I started with fly tackle until a jack broke my 9 wt. rod. We never landed a tarpon, but hooked a number, some of which were huge. In the ocean, a hooked tarpon would leap up right next to the boat, since we were jigging straight below the boat. That was exciting! We caught snook, as well. You could also cast from the dock, and night was a favored time for this activity. A hazard of such fishing, however, were the large fishing bats that might (and did) get tangled up with your line. The staff at the hotel were, for the most part, English-speaking blacks, which made things easier.

We fly from San Jose to a grass strip just across the river from the lodge. There is no road access to the lodge.

Our plane, San Jose

Our plane, San Jose

River&Clouds#25'90

From the air, river and clouds

Canal to Limon, looking south

Arriving at the coast. This is the canal to Limon, looking south. This canal parallels the coast north to Nicaragua.

RioTort&Canal#1'87Sim.17

The canal enters on the left, joining the Rio Tortuguero, which makes an 180 degree bend here. The village of Tortuguero is located just under the plane. This photo was taken on the return flight to San Jose.

The grass landing strip is seen ahead

With the plane at about the same position as in the prior photo, the grass landing strip is seen ahead, and beyond it is the boca, with the river curving into the ocean. Also seen is a conspicuous hill, about 300′ high. It, and another behind it, are the only hills in the area.

Boat dock

Boat dock

TortFishingGuide#24'87

Fishing guide. The landing strip is in the cleared area directly across the river.

Rod rack at the dock

Rod rack at the dock

Lodge

The lodge

Lodge

The lodge

Dining room

Dining room

The grounds

The grounds, with ginger plants

Ginger flower

Ginger flower

Critters seen around the grounds:

Tort.PoisonFrog#34'87TDeN

Poison dart frog

Tort.PreyingMantis_#10'87TD

Well-disguised praying mantis

Tort.Iguana#4'87TD

Small iguana

One of the great things about fishing is seeing the sunrise while on the water:

Dawn, on the river

Dawn, on the river

Dawn, on the ocean

Dawn, on the ocean

Dawn, on the ocean

Dawn, on the ocean

Motoring out, at dawn

Motoring out from the boca, at dawn

Fishing, at dawn

Fishing at dawn, Kathy

Craig fights a big snook at the boca, which got away right at the boat.

At the boca (note the surf beyond), Craig fights a big snook. It got away right at the boat. It had a huge mouth!

Kathy brings in a jack crevalle

Kathy brings in a jack crevalle

Kathy fights a jack crevalle

Kathy fights a jack crevalle. She’s laughing at how hard it’s pulling.

Kathy brings in a jack crevalle

Kathy brings in the jack crevalle

Kathy and jack crevalle

Kathy and jack crevalle. That’s one tough fish!

What's going on here? There's a fly in the fish's mouth, but my fly reel is mounted on a spinning rod. And what's that other thing, in my hand? Well ... the jack broke my 9 wt. fly rod, so we transferred the reel to a spinning rod. The thing I'm holding is the broken off piece of fly rod, which remained on the line.

What’s going on here? There’s a fly in the fish’s mouth, but my fly reel is mounted on a spinning rod. And what’s that other thing, in my hand? Well … the jack broke my 9 wt. fly rod, so we transferred the reel to a spinning rod. The thing I’m holding is the broken off piece of fly rod, which remained on the line.

TortSnook#10'87

Snook, caught on the river

Sunset, Kathy and guide

Sunset, Kathy and guide

Sunset

Sunset

There’s dense jungle in the vicinity of the lodge:

Cruise upstream on the river

Cruise upstream on the river

A Rufescent Tiger Heron (I believe)

A Rufescent Tiger Heron (I believe)

And we saw some howler monkeys along a narrow channel.

We walked the short distance to the hill down by the boca, seen here:

RioTort.Mouth#25'87

The boca

Tort.Canoe#24'87

View from the top of the hill

TortSpider&Web#27'87TD

Spider

Tortuga means turtle, and this is one locality where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. They lumber onto the beach at night, and so we visited at night.

Turtle#12'90TD

Big mother turtle

Turtle#13'90TD

Eggs drop into a hole that the turtle has scooped out with her flipper. When she is done, she’ll cover them up.

Tort.DolphinSkull#20'87TD

Desiccated dolphin skull

SanJoseFromAir#26'90-Edit

San Jose from the air, on the return flight.

Plaza in the evening, San Jose

Plaza in the evening, San Jose

We had three great trips to Costa Rica, but have yet to go back. The world is a big place, with lots of beautiful places to visit. Those who follow this blog already know that.

 

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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