Wednesday, February 26th My sister Jean dropped us off at Dulles Airport at 3:25 a.m. for our 6 a.m. flight. There was no one there to greet us. It’s been a long time since I’ve flown, but I’m sure there used to be baggage handlers, security people, check-in people—apparently not at three in the morning though. Inside, off to the right there was very large floor polisher and a cart with cleaning supplies; the young man attending it was in the corner reading a book. He must have finished early. I felt guilty for encroaching on his solitude, and wondered if we’re in the right place until people started trickling in, then as if someone had opened a turnstile they all flooded in. Somehow, we the first people there, ended up 30th in line.
After carefully planning (entire lunch meetings with Sandy devoted to packing tips and not duplicating things we could share), so we can carry everything on, we discovered we were Group 4 for boarding. We had the cheapest tickets you could buy, so we would be the last ones to board, hence the last ones to stuff our things into the overhead compartments. We were asked to volunteer to check our luggage so many times that we finally figured out that they’re talking to us. Does “gang aft agley”* mean anything to you?
We consoled ourselves with coffee and granola bars, prayed our luggage arrived with us when we landed in Costa Rica, and stood in line to board. Inside, we listened to the bombardment of de-icer and were first in line to head off into the breaking dawn. Off to Miami, the immigration and customs lines at the San Jose Airport, and then the warm welcome of Mynor Segura, our Collette Tour Guide. Then it was off to the Wyndham Hotel on our tour bus, a fairly new Mercedes-Benz Diesel that seats 60. It was plush—TV monitors, a bathroom, A/C, huge windows. Nice enough to live on for the next nine days, which is a good thing, as some days we did.
*Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, gang aft agley.”
The Wyndham San Jose Herradura Hotel is very nice. We’ll be returning here twice over the next 11 days. Had a cheeseburger by the pool for dinner.
Thursday, February 27th Suitcases out by 6:30. Breakfast at the hotel’s Tropical Restaurant, poolside. How sweet is that? We had what is called a “Costa Rican Typical” breakfast: Scrambled eggs, fried plantains, rice and beans, muffins and croissants, deli cheeses and meats, cereal, yogurt, lots of fresh fruit and wonderful coffee. They had a great selection of fruit, but no mangoes. We were told that they are not in season until March, so we have two days to go. It’s off to the Doka Estates Coffee Plantation where we learn all there is to know about coffee. It was a wonderful learning experience—from seed and its components, to the life cycles of the bushes. Weather, harvesting, separating, roasting, distributing, vending . . . I will appreciate my morning cup of coffee so much more now.
It’s five hours to Tamarindo Beach. It’s the longest traveling day of the trip. Thankfully, it’s broken up by restroom breaks and lunch in a popular cantina that had scenic gardens and of course, a gift shop. I cannot find popcorn anywhere, however they have Pringles in flavors I have never heard of. We get to know the people on our tour; there are forty of us, from all parts of the U.S. There are several married couples, but most are women, a lot are clubwomen, but even more are retired schoolteachers. Sandy made instant friends as she used to teach in New Jersey and at Union Elementary in Brunswick County.
The view from the windows changed with each turn and was soon filled with quaint little villages and towns, orchards, farms, plantations, mountains, and bucolic scenes with the most beautiful vegetation. An interesting thing was that no matter the size of the home, manor house or tiny hovel, there was decorative wrought iron at the windows and doors. Even thatched huts had impressive gates that outclassed the modest dwellings behind them ten times over. It was strange to see. Our guide said it was a keep-up-with-the-Jones’ kind of thing (and some were very elaborate), but we couldn’t help but be skeptical. The last twelve miles were the hardest. A bumpy, dusty, pot-hole of a road that, as our guide said, would “massage our neck and back.”
Despite having a brand new tour bus, we all felt the jolting ride on the abominable road. I think we had a 30 or 40 minute massage before arriving at a beautiful beach resort. Truly, it was world-class. Tamarindo Diria Beach and Golf Resort, a jewel hidden at the end of a hard journey, just like Shangri-La was in the book and the movie. Mynor, our tour guide, led us through the impressive lobby, restaurant, and indoor and outdoor bars to the beach so we could see the sunset on the Pacific Ocean. It was stunning. Then it was off to our lavish rooms and then back to the largest Tiki hut I’ve ever seen for drinks and dinner.
Friday, February 28th The last day of February, and what a way to celebrate it! Sandy and I opted to play hooky and blow off the optional catamaran cruise and tour of the nearby town. This is what we came to Costa Rica for—fun in the sun! We opted to spend the day at the most marvelous pool that was right outside our sliding glass door. But first, breakfast, at one of the most extensive breakfast buffets I have ever seen. The staff was courteous and very efficient. They handled a crowd of Internationals, speaking several languages and keeping the coffee cups filled with delicious Britt coffee, a huge national company that distributes coffee all over the country. There were a lot of young people and many families on vacation with children. As a surfing haven, the early buffets were surprisingly well represented with surfers eager to chow down before hitting the waves. I could easily see this place as a draw for jet-setting competitors for the sport. The surfers ate massive amounts of food before grabbing their boards and heading to the beach. I can see why the restaurant serves yogurt in massive bowls. Muesli, bananas, muffins, scrambled eggs, ham, sliced fresh tomatoes, potatoes fried with onions, papaya, every type of melon, chunks of pineapple that filled platters, and several types of oranges already pealed and segmented. We’re getting kind of fond of beans and rice for breakfast. I had mine with some kind of salsa sauce with peppers in it.
After breakfast, Sandy and I packed our beach bags and headed to the pool. It was one of the nicest pools I had ever been to, and I’ve been to some nice ones. And this one was their secondary pool; the main pool was on the beach side. But we opted for the less traveled path, the one less likely to have a lot of boisterous children and exuberant surfers returning for a swim. We found our paradise and started in full sun before parking ourselves in a nice little cove with our own waterfall and lagoon two steps away. They use the beauty of the tropics to create the most peaceful and charming places here in Costa Rica. The flowers are so lovely and colorful. We spent the whole day there, swimming up to the bar for drinks and even having cheeseburgers with fries for lunch served to our chaise lounges.
Sandy met a very wealthy couple from California, the wife was originally from her hometown in New Jersey. She struck up the conversation with them because the man noticed her e-cigarette, he’d left his “juice” at home for his and hadn’t been able to find it anywhere in Costa Rica. Like the generous person she is, Sandy offered to fill his “vape,” and they became bosom chums, even buying us drinks. They were there to buy a half-million dollar condo up on the hill behind the hotel.
Dinner was at Nibbana, a restaurant right on the beach in the sand. They had a man singing who could pretty much mimic any popular singer. The stars were out in full force and it was so romantic. Again, I’m with Sandy, overseas in a classic romantic setting. One day we must get our husbands to make these trips with us. We promise we will try harder next time to drag them along. We found out later that we left just before an amazing fire show. Oh well, we were tired. It takes a lot out of you to sit in the sun all day soaking up rays and eating cheeseburgers in paradise.
Saturday, March 1st Luggage out at 6:30 means we’re in for a very busy day. At breakfast this morning I stole a mango. Every morning there’s a lot of beautiful fruit all sliced up, but no mangoes. We’re told they’re just coming in season. Sandy is here for the mangoes. Her friends who have been here told her she must fill up on them. I see three being used as decorations on the lavish fruit table. I walk around it twice. Spot the one that’s ripe. Go back to the table, get up again . . . and snatch it. As nonchalantly as I can, I sit and peel it, then slice it as juice runs down my arm to my elbow. I dole it out to Sandy while I feed myself some. I get strange looks from the server who comes to refill our coffee. I don’t care. It is delicious. And I rationalize that it’s not really stealing. It was on the buffet. It just wasn’t sliced. I see the surfers taking whole bananas and sticking them in the pockets of their cargo pants. How is this different? The beans and rice are starting to get a bit tedious, but hey, it’s Typical Costa Rican fare. We head out to the bus.
Today we have a three-hour ride to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Which is amazing. We do lots of hiking, on “beaten” paths, in the jungle, which I really enjoy . . . burning off those beans and rice and fried plantains. Incredible flora and fauna. It’s an ecosystem that has to be seen to be believed. We do not see the elusive quetzal, but we do see the spot where Mynor saw an ocelot two months ago. Harrowing bus ride. Reminds me of my trip up the Zugspitze in the late 60s. Mr. Markay, the bus driver is amazing. He often has to back up to make a turn. This is a big bus. We arrive at our lodging which is actually a very modern lodge. El Establo (means the stable), rises above the cloud forest and has fabulous views . . . as well as heated indoor pools, a spa, a café bar, conference center, tennis courts, an orchid garden, etc. If this is rustic, well . . . I’ll take it. Founded in the 40s by a group of Quakers, it is primitive in some ways, but luxurious in most. And they conserve everything. You have to put your room card into a slot on the wall to make the electricity work, so that when you leave the room and take your key with you, you don’t leave anything on. We hear something howling at night. But we’re too tired to care.
Breakfasts are hectic here. They also have a marvelous breakfast buffet, but it seems everyone here eats at about the same time, so it’s crowded. We end up seated next to some German and French people, who all speak English. We, as Americans, are so spoiled. The beans and rice taste a bit bland, when I ask about a sauce, I’m offered ketchup or Lizano (which I know from research, I do not want to get addicted to—too much sugar and sodium, but everyone goes home craving it). No mango whole or otherwise on the buffet. They may have been tipped off about me.
We ate lunch at Restaurant Tree House, which has a tree growing through it. I understand it’s been featured on many travel sites. They had a lot of American food and specialized in some very fancy salads. Not that I had one.
Sunday, March 2nd The day from hell, as I recall it. It all started out nice enough. A nice, massaging ride to Selvatura Park where we are treated to a five-mile hike up and then down a mountain, walking on pavers so it was impossible to lose the way (good thing, or I would not be home typing this). We were in the heart of Monteverde, in a special reserve where they have hummingbird aviaries and one of the world’s largest butterfly greenhouses. We walked over hanging bridges where you were so high it made you dizzy to look down. On most of them you couldn’t see the forest floor we were so high. No one was allowed to rock the bridges. Believe me, no one wanted to. They were metal and they creaked and I wondered how often they maintained them. I found myself fast-walking to get off them as soon as possible while other people were hanging over the sides with foot-long lenses trying to get the perfect picture of Lord-knows-what.
After lunch, of which we were advised to do a lighter version, it was back up the mountain to zip lining, or as they prefer to call it here, a canopy tour. Sandy and I had been sort of dreading this from the git go, but as everyone back home had urged us to do it, we didn’t want to wimp out. She took four Imodium that morning. I prayed heartily on the long bus ride. And on the hike. And while talking to the butterflies and hummingbirds. Turns out, unbeknownst to us, we had managed to sign on for the Extreme Canopy Tour—11 Platforms (most only have three to six, and start much lower). Ours also had the longest single cable ride—1,000 meters. I’m afraid to find out how much that is in feet. Suffice to say it felt like a mile. I was terrified and even refused to buy the promo picture they took of me when I was sent off the first platform. Who wants to frame the combination of deer-in-the-headlights look with falling-down-into-the-dark-abyss look? They tell you to enjoy the view. Are they crazy? The only thing I concentrated on was the approach to the next platform so I could get off.
The longer, higher cables had brakes that stopped you before you got to the platform. It was a sudden, sure stop that jolted you back. But on several cable rides you were responsible for the speed you came into the platform with, so the “catcher” was supposed to advise you by putting his hand up to indicate you should slow down by gripping the cable while wearing what amounted to a garden glove. My catcher apparently did not think I was going as fast as I was and did not signal me to slow down. He and I careened into the tree the platform was built on. I was shaken but fine, however I sported a bruise on my shoulder the next day. One to match the one on my hip where I kept tightening the belt as it kept coming lose. The very young guys who outfitted us and clipped and unclipped us, and then pushed us off, were all very good and painstakingly patient with me. They kept up a friendly banter, tried to relieve my anxiety and kept telling me to enjoy the experience. But I was never happier than when I was all the way down the mountain and out of that harness. I am not afraid of heights, but I guess I am afraid of getting stuck and dangling on a thin wire 150 feet in the air.
We went back to the hotel to a Foundation Conservationist meeting about the project to save the Two-waddled Bell Bird (I am not making this up). Then we had an Italian dinner at Tramonti Restaurant where I had Pesto Pasta and Hearts of Palm Salad. It was our youngest tour-member’s birthday (Stephanie turned 17 and had LOVED the canopy tour—had even done the optional Tarzan Swing over a huge chasm). I had a big piece of her cake to reward myself for the hike, the hanging bridges, and the canopy tour.
Monday, March 3rd Bags outside the door at 6:30. This is an efficient system of getting the luggage on and off the bus, if wholly trusting. Seems to me that it would be so easy for a thief to walk by and roll a bag right off the premises. But I suppose it must not happen very often as every hotel and tour was doing this. It must be why they stressed not bringing anything you wouldn’t want to lose. Today we visited a nursery. Learned about reforestation, and planted a tree for the GFWC (General Foundation of Women’s Clubs). My chapter is the South Brunswick Islands Woman’s Club.
With all I did yesterday, I had not misstepped once. Today, I walked ten feet from the bus and slipped and fell down a rock-covered hill. I scraped my knee up a bit and it bled some. After two and half years of leading tours like this, Mynor had never had anyone hurt on one of his tours. I had everything I needed, first-aid wise, but it was all in my suitcase, under the bus. Lesson to be learned here, it should have been in my knapsack. Anyhow, with many cleansing wipes (which all the women carried in their purses), I was ready to go again in no time. But at the lunch stop half an hour later, Mynor borrowed someone’s motorbike and went to the nearest pharmacy and got me a strong antibiotic, numbing cream. It took the sting away before I had recapped the tube. I thought that was sweet of him. Within two days my foot had bruises all over it and had swollen considerably. But it never hurt, so I just kept going. I now had bruises in four places. But we were on to the Lake region; soon I would be basking in the sunshine admiring a picturesque volcano. Just a few “massaging” miles to go.
We arrived at Lake Arenal and had lunch at the Mountain Paradise Hotel, where I had a cheesy picture of me taken with a cut-out gorilla, and then we took a boat ride where I took many pictures of the majestic Arenal Volcano.
In the late afternoon we arrived at Lake Arenal Spa & Resort. I had read in my guidebook that they had filmed The Bachelor here for an episode in season six. I noted that a room went for $425/night. We would be here two nights. Having only paid $2000 for the whole trip, including airfare, I wondered how Collette could be doing such fantastic prices. I know they get huge discounts and buying in bulk, in advance, saves a lot, but still, this was 9 days with only a few lunches that we had to buy for ourselves. (I would find out the answer to this on Wednesday).
On check-in, I asked the staff member who was assigning wristbands (they use these in all the resorts so they know who is entitled to what), to please put it on my ankle. I hate things on my wrists and was really bothered by the one they had put on at Tamarindo Beach. He obliged and smiled up at me, saying in six years he had never had anyone ask to have a wristband put on their ankle.
Sandy and I had a beautiful bungalow with an amazing view of the volcano. It is active and still has lava flows. In fact, there was an evacuation guide in case of eruption in each bungalow. We had a cooking demonstration for Pica Dillo and learned about Sour Sop, a concoction made from Guarno, a fruit grown there that is showing remarkable properties for curing cancer. We bought a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne at the bar, and carried it to the class and then on to dinner. We were the naughty girls. But the next night, almost everyone was emulating us. To us, it made more sense to buy a bottle and take the rest back to the room. A bottle cost as much as two glasses of wine, so that was surely the cheapest way to indulge. And of course, we shared.
Tuesday, March 4th Breakfast was the standard fare we’d become accustomed to, only this buffet had a waffle and omelet station. The beans and rice were a tad dry. And I really didn’t want any more fruit. I was getting a canker sore on my tongue of all things. I had some yogurt, but I really didn’t like their yogurt, it’s more liquid than I like. And I really like my own individual container. I had some cereal and a croissant. The coffee is sublime though. Can’t get enough of this and some mornings I worry if I’m going to get shaky if I take more than 3 cups. They are small cups though . . .
Talk about naughty girls . . . we did it again. We played hooky from the tour to spend the day at this beautiful resort. So while the rest of the group went on a guided riverboat trip (accompanied by another long massaging ride), we sat by yet another gorgeous pool and swim-up bar. This one had fancy pergola-type things, draped on the sides with white fabric that floated in the light breeze, probably used to shield lovers tucked into alcoves from prying eyes. Again, the romance of it all made us miss our mates. Next time, they simply must ante up! Anyway we had a lovely day swimming in the thermal springs, languishing under the waterfall, looking up at the smoking volcano, and relaxing and reading in our little tropical lagoon. A yellow bird actually flew right by me! You know, Yellow Bird of the song, and the drink. Life is good. Which is what the national motto means: Pura Vida! It’s said as a greeting, an acknowledgement of both bad and good news, as an apology, and even as a sheepish way of laughing at yourself. I could have said it when I fell down the hill and skinned my knee instead of “Oh, clumsy me!”
So we traded the crocodiles, river otters, turtles and sloths, seen from a panga canoe, for sunshine and drinks called Sex on the Volcano, which kind of tasted like Hawaiian Punch. And according to the adventures who came back late, we made a good trade as they saw none of those things and had another long, massaging ride instead.
Wednesday, March 5th Today we traveled to the charming town of Zarcero, well known for its whimsical topiary gardens and its unusual church with the lovely grotto in the back. Unfortunately, today Mynor had his second tour victim get hurt, only this time much worse. One of the older clubwomen, a president from Michigan, named Marty, fell and had to be hospitalized. It was not certain when she fell if she had stumbled or simply passed out. There was a woman EMT not four steps behind her so they had an ambulance there within minutes as the stationhouse was only two blocks away. The rest of the tour group stayed at the park surrounding the church while Mynor accompanied Marty to the hospital. We were several hours waiting before he came back to tell us she had no memory of the day, year, or even her name. She had a concussion and tests showed she also had a blocked carotid artery that required surgery. She could not fly with it as the pressure could make things worse, so it was decided she would have the surgery in San Jose where they took her by ambulance. They had called her daughter stateside and she said she would be there the next day. We all prayed. Her outlook had improved by the time the tour disbanded and her daughter was with her.
So . . . here we were, over two hours in a place where we really should have only stopped over for about thirty minutes. We hadn’t had lunch, although many of us had wandered and found ice creams cones. We had three more stops before arriving back at San Jose for the farewell dinner for the tour (note: Sandy and I had opted for the extra three-day excursion tour, so we wouldn’t be leaving Costa Rica until March 9th). That’s when I learned something about the tour business. We all thought something would be dropped, because time-wise we just could make up all that time by skipping the factory. We were wrong. On the tours, each place tourists stop along the way, locals make money—on food, on souvenirs, and at two places, we even had to pay to use the restrooms. We were told that Collette was under contract to bring us to each location so we could spend our American dollars at local shops, restaurants, factories, plantations, etc. Mynor seemed upset enough over Marty, so we were not about to complain about this. So even though we were all tired and hungry, we quickly toured the unusual brick-red metal paned church in picturesque Greica, had lunch at San Jose’s colorful Plaza de Cultura, and then we toured the factory that makes all the souvenirs. We all did our duty; we shopped to make Mynor happy. I didn’t see anything that was a bargain. We had been told throughout the tour that prices would be cheaper at the factory, but I did not find that to be true, they certainly had the best selection though.
After that it was off to downtown San Jose to see the National Theatre, a magnificent post-Baroque building that is so splendid you can’t take it all in, especially not as fast as we had to. We had a nice, late, farewell dinner back at the Wyndham and said goodbye to our tour group, our guides, and our bus. There were six of us left, six adventurers off to see the jungles of Tortuguero. A couple from Toronto, Mary and Dominic; Theresa and Dan, brother and sister from Maryland, and Sandy and me . . . the odd couple from North Carolina. Or as we’re often fond of calling ourselves: Lucy & Ethel.
Thursday, March 6th Today will be another long bus ride as we travel to the Caribbean side to the Amazon region of Costa Rica. The hotel has packed a bag of food to tide us over: juice, a muffin, and an apple. This time the bus is not quite as nice, it is older, but still comfy and large. The new tour guide also talks jokingly of neck and back massages, it does not bode well. He is not as personable as Mynor, doesn’t seem to love his job or his country as much as Mynor. But he could just be having a bad day. Or three.
We had breakfast at a private, gated restaurant that has a Sabo tree over 150 years old. It looks like one of those trees you see in Avatar. People point out two Poison Red-Dart Frogs and we stand back and take pictures. They are very tiny. So deadly for something so small. Ubiquitous beans and rice for breakfast again. Where is the bacon? Sausage? Dare I say grits? They do have a generic version of a Thomas’ muffin. The bus ride continues and we see a Delmonte pineapple and banana plantation from the bus windows. We can see the production line and the small private plane in the hanger that the manager uses to get around in as we’re in bush country. We have to take a 90-minute boat ride up the river to get to this place as it’s too remote to get there any other way. Hmmm. So much for my afternoon latte and strawberry scone. It is hot and the boat ride is long. Lots of jungle, not much stirring as it’s so warm. We arrive at Evergreen Lodge in the late afternoon. It is beautiful here. Rustic yes, but easily a great place for a retreat. A wonderful way to get away from civilization—with a nice pool of course.
We are on our way to lunch when we come upon our friends from our original tour. Seems the lodge screwed up the reservation and Daniel and Theresa have a king bed. As brother and sister that won’t do. The lodge is fully booked and cannot change out rooms for him but have offered a pullout cot. Daniel is livid and ready to hire a boat to take him “up river” to the next encampment. Sandy and I offer to switch as we have two queen beds, and endear ourselves to Daniel. We are his new best friends.
We have a nice lunch, and then, you’re not going to believe this, but Sandy and I decide to play hooky again and forego the turtle nesting station. We have turtles at home. I see them all the time. And besides, it’s not time for them to hatch or lay eggs, and neither of us are in the mood for a lecture on green turtles. You’ll never guess what we decide to do. Yup, we opt for the pool again. Although this one is very nice, it is not of the caliber we’re used to. But we’re both into our books, and they have a bar. We have to walk to it though. Maybe ten steps. This sure is rustic. Daniel and Theresa come by and buy us drinks for agreeing to the swap. This is great. We give up vape juice, we get free drinks, we give up queen beds we get free drinks. Pura Vida! There are howler monkeys living in the trees over our cottage, they wake us up at 4:30 every morning. I take a picture of one not two-feet from my face and one of an ant carrying a flower blossom three times his size. He’s moving so fast it’s blurry. We are living in nature! Why do I assume it was a he ant? It was probably a she ant.
Friday, March 7th Dreaded beans and rice for breakfast. Not touching them. They have some nice oatmeal though and as my tongues is still a tiny bit sore, it works for me. I must remember to stay away from fruit drinks today. Today it’s out to the rainforest to see all manner of wildlife. We’re going to the Tortuguero National Park and it requires a short boat trip. Over the next several days we see it all: sloths, monkeys of all types, toucans, aquatic birds—some that remind us of home—bats, caimans, macaws, all manner of migratory birds, and some lizards. Big lizards. We do not see any snakes, tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, cougars, river otters or manatees. And we’re okay with that. It’s very primitive here. It’s like “Survivor” only we have a pathway back to the boat. And the pool.
Saturday, March 8th Tried the beans and rice for breakfast, but just shoved them around the plate. I’m ready for American normal breakfast food. When I get home I’m going to make a ham and cheese omelet with lots of bacon, hash browns and a pile of wheat toast on the side. But boy, do I love their coffee. It’s primo. After taking final pictures of the lovely flora that surrounds the Evergreen Lodge, it’s time to go home. First a long boat ride, then another long bus ride and we’ll be back at the Wyndham in San Jose. The travel is wearing. We’re glad to see the Wyndham and all its conveniences. We have dinner with Mary and Dominic, and Daniel and Theresa, who have become such good friends. We laugh about the things that happened on the trip. We finally told everyone what Sandy and I had been laughing so hard about one day on the bus. We were literally crying in the aisles as we were bumped around in our seats. We were dubbed the naughty girls after that. Then the same thing happened on the boat ride at Tortuguera. We decided to share the story:
On the long bus rides, when I could manage to read, I would often read to Sandy from one of the tour guides I brought from home. One day I was reading about the wildlife and the things we could expect to see at our next stop, and the last thing on the list was the Jesus Christ Lizard. I said, “I wonder why they call it that?” And she said, “Because when it falls on you, that’s what you scream!” You had to be there to experience our uncontrollable laughter. We just could not stop. So a week later, when we were on a boat tour and the guide pointed out a lizard high in a tree, he said, “There’s a Jesus Christ Lizard in that tree. They call them that because the baby lizards are so light they can run across the water.” Well, it started all over again. We could not stop. I guess you had to be there.
We loved Costa Rica. If I went back, and I would dearly love to, I would pick one place and plant myself for a while. I cannot understand why a place so dependent on tourism would not pave more of its roads. They have their part of the Pan American Highway that they’re very proud of, and some other nice roads circling some of the mountains, but there are so many that need work. I was disappointed in the food, not that it wasn’t good, most was—I just expected it to be spicier with more flavor. Collette Vacations did a wonderful job and had a great value; I can hardly believe all we did for about two thousand dollars. It was a great vacation and a wonderful way to celebrate my 60th year. And yes, for those reading this on my website, I got a great idea for a new book.
Here’s a few additional photos from my trip: