Costa Rica Travel – This Central American country offers more than its fair share of natural delights and adventures. As well as looking for sloths, we enjoyed seeing plenty of other wildlife, a little time at the beach and some pretty simple and terrific meals.
Go for a walk in the woods: The trick to walking in the forests of Costa Rica is to keep your eyes open to see the astonishing biodiversity everywhere around you. Also try to keep your mouth closed so you are better able to hear the delicious cacophony of all those critters. Also, take your sweet time. “Walk slowly and wait for things to show up,” the guide advises. “If you walk fast you will miss the whole thing.”
Grab a towel and hit the beach: Costa Rica has beach towns on two oceans, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Just south of the Sloth Sanctuary, on the Caribbean side of the country, you’ll find the little town of Puerto Viejo. It has the requisite beautiful beach and surfers on the water or heading to the waves, carrying their boards while riding their bikes. It’s also got tons of funky little beach bars and tourist stands.
Check into a cabin: Marco Otlio and Aurora Gamez started Almonds and Corals hotel near the beach in Manzanillo with one room in 1993. There are 25 cabins now. You’re serenaded to sleep by the sounds of the rain forest and wake up to howler monkeys. It’s not the place for anyone who wants a TV in their room or has “phobias of animals,” but it’s great for those who get a kick out of the owner showing you a yellow snake, green frog or spider monkeys in the trees.
Might as well go for a soda: You’ll find sodas, little diners, all over Costa Rica. At Soda Mirna in Puerto Viejo, I enjoyed a healthy portion of fish, Caribbean style, along with the ubiquitous rice and beans. Sodas usually make their own hot sauce and guard the recipe. As I picked it up to douse my rice, my Costa Rican companion warned: “be careful.” Wash it all down with Hiel, a concoction of ginger, lemon juice and brown sugar, or a nice cold Imperial beer.
Eat like the locals at a cafeteria: In the Central Valley, on the way back to San Jose, Costa Rica, we stopped where the locals do for a bite to eat. Bar Y Restaurante El Yugo, a cafeteria on Highway 32, serves up all kind of traditional Costa Rican fare. My companion enjoyed a massive steak. I had chicken with fruit and rice of beans with a chaser of sweet Guananana. We also had a bonus wildlife spotting: A pretty beetle the size of my thumb was climbing on my companion’s boot.
By Jennifer Allford, The Star