Monteverde

After sitting at the Costa Rican equivalent of a souped up Sunday dinner style KFC for 90mins, our pre-booked shuttle screeched into the parking lot under the burning midday sun, we threw our newly lightened loads into the back, along with our newly re-energized bodies and pulled off onto the highway. Two hours previously we had said our farewells to Han’s parents, Alan and Margaret, who had come over to Costa Rica for the festive period, and we set off on a sun bleached New Years Eve making our way to the cloud forest of Monteverde. We had had a wonderful two weeks with the Agers but were looking forward to getting back on the backpacker trail, as well as heading towards cooler climates as we made our way into the highlands of Costa Rica. We arrived amidst blowing winds and trouser wearing weather, checked into our hostel of choice and revelled in the fact that our bed had 2 large fluffy covers to keep us warm in the night. After backpacking for 3 months through Central America, often sweating through nights of restless sleep, having showers only to need another one shortly afterwards, positioning noisy fans to point at the optimal point to cool both of our bodies, the chance of being able to slip into a warm bed whilst the wind rattled the roof and cool air breezed through the cracks in the wall, was a welcome relief and recuperating rest. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery Moving away from the oh-so British proverbial talk about the weather, however, our time in Monteverde was a great restart for our backpacking lives. With an abundance of wildlife in the form of hundreds of species of birds, thousands of species of fauna,...

Costa Rica and The Agers

We touched down on Costa Rican soil excited to be only a couple of days away from seeing some familiar home faces, and only a couple of days away from Tetley tea bags and a supply of Cadburys Chocolate that even Han didn’t manage to consume in the first 48 hours. Han’s parents were making the journey over for the festive period to join us for 2 weeks exploring the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica, and we had arrived a day ahead of schedule in the capital of San Jose. We had originally planned to take a 22-hour bus all the way from San Salvador, through Nicaragua, stopping off for food at a Burger King (no, really) before clearing another border and alighting in San Jose a day later. However, due to Some miscommunication with our Spanish and the tellers English Some extremely heavy usage of buses just before the holidays See (1) We found ourselves stuck in San Salvador, knowing we had around 48 hours to find a way to Costa Rica. With options slowly dwindling, and the prospects of sitting on really bad buses for over 40 hours, swapping, changing, money altering, food finding, and more swapping of buses not really hitting the ‘this is how life should be’ big button of fun, I made the executive decision to buy Han an early Christmas present and to take to the airs. Around 1 hour after take off, a mid air meal, free beverages and a smooth landing, my mind was happy at it’s decision and we found ourselves taking the relatively clean and orderly Costa Rican bus service to the capital away from the airport. My first thoughts of Costa Rica were one of a developed country, with a large influx of American merchandise and money, buses that have designated spaces for large oversized backpacks and taxis that charge by the meter. It was a relative breath of fresh air to arrive in a country and not have to figure out by how much the taxi driver or bus driver was ripping off the white faced Gringo. Founded in 1738 and lying in a valley surrounded on two sides by imposing volcanoes, we spent a fun morning pottering around the markets, walking the streets and seeing the usual tourist sites of a theatre, some churches and an ex-fort-turned-museum. After a break for lunch, where cheesecake was found, and found to be tasty, we then went in search of a church that the Lonely Planet recommended and soon found that first impressions are like judging the proverbial book by its cover. Once we scratched beyond the surface, we delved deeper into packed streets, the markets, the darker alleys and the rubbish filled gutters; a chaos that only works because its chaos. Seen from above the packed non-pedestrianised streets would look like an army of ants marching forever in random directions with no apparent rules or purpose. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, milling, swarming, walking, shouting, bumping; cars honking, pushing, shoving through the human mass. We spent an hour in search of the church, which we eventually found, and quickly decided that it was time to try and head back to the relative calm and safety of our hostel. San Jose to me felt like a mixed bag of westernised changes that were attempting to boot polish a chaotic, over populated city with a national psyche that in parts still wasn’t ready or wanting to change. You had areas of big chain stores, wide streets, clean malls, brands that I knew and then you had the ‘real’ Costa Rica with packed markets, shouts, calls, fume churning buses and the usual array of cheap street food and haggling. The next day was full of excitement from both parts of the Ager Family. We held up our lovingly created ‘Alan + Margaret’ signs at the arrivals, wondered where...