We didn’t know what to do in La Fortuna as we heard there were many things to do here. Many came here to view Volcano Arena.
It was actually a short distance from San Jose to La Fortuna but we stopped at a recommended nursery and garden to look for export opportunities. The manager was helpful to recommend us another nursery, because they only do fresh flower cutting export.
We rode to the other town which was along the way to La Fortuna, asked around with our fifty cents Spanish and managed to locate the nursery after some wrong turns, dirt roads and lonely avenues. Well, this nursery does not do export but do have a very good collections of Bromeliads and the manager gave me their supplier’s contact which was in China. BINGO!
We tried to stop for lunch as we could see the dark clouds approaching. After a 2 hours lunch break, which was not usual for us, we rode into the countryside of Costa Rica.
The day’s ride was lucky as we could also stop for a coffee break while another cloud of rain started to pour. Even after we had our shower in the hostel, it started raining again. The dinner was with an elderly American couple traveling with their yacht from North America to Panama. They anchored their yacht in Panama and took a bus here. 36 months was their traveling period. Not for us being in the waters….
We spend the next day going around the area and found the best place to view the active volcano. Paid 4000 colones and we could walk around the resort, attached was a huge hiking area while we could hear the boiling of the volcano.
Dusk approached with clear view of few red hot lava rocks thrown out from the volcano entrance. I wondered if there were any ants crawling around that area. We have to ride in the really dark dirt road back to our hostel. Couldn’t afford to stay in that resort. It was about 8 times the cost of our current lodging.
We headed to Costa Rica’s most favorite and touristic area: Monteverde where it settled one of the world most famous cloud forest and tropical wildlife watching area. This place was flooded with North American visitors and immigrants. From our budget, we would squeeze out S$50 for the park entrance as I always would not say no for nature watching. We packed our sandwich and drinking water for the hike as I knew that a plate of local food (rice, beans, 100gms of meat and vegetable) in the park would cost US$9.00 (S$14.00) each.
Waking up early (not usual for me) to catch the bus, we walked in the park quietly hoping to spot some unusual wildlife BUT noisy group that walked with their guide we like marching troops on their morning run. Guide was cheap (for some visitors would consider) where it cost US$17 per person. So 2 of us would need to pay for one guide, talking to 2 people at cost of US$34.
Sometimes I would overhear the explanation of the guide to the visitors, which I think I could do a bit better than them. We walked for 4 hours and sad to say, Bukit Timah hill and Pulau Ubin of Singapore would be able to charge US$100 for the entrance.
Anyway, I felt what I wrote from the above is boring. If you feel that such writing is boring please feel so. Writing about what I do, what time at where, who we met, how much it cost…. I think it is boring… sorry for the non-intelligence blogging for the above. Leave me a comment that if you would like to read about what we do, where we went OR our feelings, our findings and observations.
hmm, what I would share more is the life here:
Costa Rica is about 40% the size of west Malaysia with population of 4 million. This place is flooded with North American coming here for retirement or settlement as Costa Rican was generally peace loving human beings. Crime does happen but not as much as other Central America countries.
Prices of food here is affordable, again not for us. A family eatery with furniture and decorations from the 60s would be similar to the price of S$6.50. It is not that kind of fancy eatery where tourist or foreigner would go. For S$6.50, we were served with a rice, beans, raw vegetables and about 100grams of meat with a glass of fizzy drink. That’s the price for 1 portion. Else, we have the option to eat fried chicken, the cheapest food here which cost S$1.50 for a wing only. Not a wing that is as big as Honda Goldwing but a CHICKEN WING.
We went to the supermarket to buy food to cook and certainly we could only afford chicken only. If u want to know about the price of meat here, let me know and I will go and survey tomorrow and give u the actual price. I do not know how much it cost in detail but 1 KG of pork would cost not lesser than S$10.
How do the folks survive? I don’t know. Then I read from a travel book, that the author spoke to some North Americans setting up business here, complaining about their Costa Rican staff, saying:
‘These people just don’t like to work, they are just lazy.’
They came here to share the pie or set up business to ‘snatch’ away customer from the locally grown company own by Costa Ricans and yet they would complaint about the staff (Costa Ricans) they had.
Hey, this is Latin America. Is it because there are too much foreigners coming here to live and the government had tax on all products and made the cost of living higher? Making us, the Asian, coming here and feel like spending the money as expensive in northern Europe?
19% tourist tax imposed on every tourist business including lodging and restaurants. Usually they would include the price of food and room with the tax.
Coming to Monteverde, Costa Rica’s most populated touristic area, we had to ride Hope Too 40km of real dirt road with some motocross obstacle that include mud slide, rocks pour in blind corner, hide and seek holes that will sent Hope Too into state of coma. Then the only paved road here is in the town only, in total that is less than 1km paved road.
Most of the major roads in Costa Rica were paved but I do accept the fact that unpaved road would happen to villages where traffic is not heavy but this place, Monteverde is populated with tourist! Where does the 19% tourist tax go? After 10 nights in Costa Rica, the only police we saw on the road was:
1) 1st night where the policemen were in their truck, stopping by a group of guys hanging out at a dark corner shaking hands with them.
2) San Jose: sitting in their Toyota Hilux watching people
3) On the way to La Fortuna, a road leading to a small village where the police set up road block.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the policemen are not working here or they are lazy or crime rate is high. Maybe the country is so safe that they do not need many policemen around BUT why would a fast food restaurant, book store or electronic shop need an ARMED SECURITY GUARD WITH PUMP GUNS or SUBMACHINE GUNS?
In San Jose, while walking back from the embassy, we passed by a shop selling hand guns, knife and stuff like that. I walked in, browsed around the shelf and saw a Negro man, with the Bob Marley hairstyle and big gold bracelet and necklace checking the handguns with the owner, like in those Hollywood movies where they made some gun check without the bullet. How would you feel? Anyone here could buy arms and what kind of people are they?
Again, don’t get me wrong about the black man I saw, it doesn’t mean the outlook seems that he is a bad person or he might be organizing some crime, he might be a government official coming to this shop to make sure everything runs well.
Last night after dinner, we met an Asiatic looking girl in the Hostel. She was born in Taiwan and raised in Canada. Her name was Jennifer Wu Wan Ping. 吴婉萍. This was the first time I met a person along the trip that had the same surname as me. Jennifer shared with me that when she went back to Taiwan and spoke to the folks with her Mandarin mixed slang with English, the Taiwaness mistaken her for being a Singaporean. We also met Mauricio, a Costa Rican coming here for holidays. He shared with me a lot of views and internal affairs of the country:
Costa Rica is known as the Switzerland of Central America and they feel that how Singapore runs the country is worth an example.
Costa Rica is trying to make a free trade agreement with Singapore.
Costa Rican need not do national service because they do not have an army! Why a country would needs an army? The main reason is to defense. If every country in this world does not have army, then who will we be defending against?
War? If there are no valid reasons for a war the UN and USA would step in to help the armless country.