Our memories of Costa Rica 2024:

Yet another great and interesting trip to Costa Rica, our 7th in the past eight years, with a number of wonderful memories, including:

  • becoming grandparents on Gayle's birthday
  • gorgeous orange sunsets at Dolphin Quest, Pacific Edge and Playa Matapalo
  • another wonderful meal and chat with Maite at Exotica
  • the sounds of the insects, birds and howler monkeys
  • Gayle getting up and out well before sunrise on a regular basis to listen to wildlife
  • returning to Jardin de los Monos where the monkeys are plentiful and playful and the sloths visit frequently
  • seeing and being able to take decent photos and videos of the sloths at Jardin de los Monos
  • dinner (especially the steaks) at the Matapalo Supper Club, as well as re-connecting with Daniel and Darlenny
  • Costa Rican 'Typico' breakfasts
  • delivering beanies to the students at Escuela La Carbonera
  • swimming in the Pacific Ocean at 7:00 am at Playa Matapalo
  • the cool crabs at Encanta La Vida, including one in the pool
  • Gayle's walk to / from Backwash Beach
  • Cheeky, the Dolphin Quest resident green parrot
  • hammock time at Pacific Edge and Encanta La Vida
  • the views over the jungle / rainforest to the coast from Pacific Edge
  • the laid back vibe at Pacific Edge, and re-connecting with Michaelynn and Sid
  • Sid's delicious banana pancakes for breakfast
  • dinners at Scala, especially the chocolate mouse, and Gusto
  • the dolphins seen on our boat ride to Dolphin Quest
  • the caiman on the path after dinner at Dolphin Quest
  • the over-all experience at Dolphin Quest, including our open-air cabina
  • the squawking Scarlet Macaws and dolphins at Dolphin Quest
  • Chef Richy and the beautifully presented and tasty meals at Dolphin Quest
  • the sea snake in the middle of Golfo Dulce
  • the 3-D web of the Golden Silk Orb Weaver spider
  • swimming in the warm calm waters of Gulfo Dulce
  • the early (5:00 am) wake-up call of the howler monkeys at Encanta La Vida
  • the howler monkey show we enjoyed in the tree adjacent to our 'Love Shack' at Encanta La Vida
  • seeing spider monkeys for the first (at Encanta La Vida)
  • our wonderful hosts Lettika, Sid, Michaelynn, Reymar and Alana
  • others met - CeCe, Sarah, Tammy, Andrew, Bex, Floyd, Tsering, Monika, Birgit,Claudia, Dustin and Betty
  • other Costa Rica staff we interacted with during our stays - Jerald, Darlenny, Dama, Teddy, Alana, Yolenny
  • daily fresh fruit and fruit drinks / smoothies
  • the surfing vibe of Cabo Matapalo
  • the crashing breakers at Matapalo beach, which goes on and on and on in both directions (13 km we were told)
  • the many birds and their early morning songs at Escondida Guacima, Dolphin Quest and elsewhere
  • the fact we spent so much time just relaxing and enjoying what Costa Ricans call 'Pura Vida'
____________________________________________________

A few 'animal's and 'birds' seen in trees.  The sloth is our companion NAGTA (Norm And Gayle Travel Abroad) while the Scarlet Macaw and Toucan are for our new grandson Jett and soon to be granddaughter. 


Expenses (based on average exchange rate 1 US$ = $1.3716 Cdn):

Here are the costs of our 24 day trip:

$    457           airfare, albeit we booked with Aeroplan; seat selection

$ 6,756           lodging ($281 Cdn $ per night)

$ 2,533           food ($110 Cdn $ per day for dinner etc. including wine); breakfasts are included in lodging)

$ 2,231           vehicle ($1,856 or $81 per day for the vehicle; fuel and tolls of $174; parking and taxis of $201)

$        0           souvenirs

$    492           tours (dolphin and bioluminescence)

$    110           miscellaneous - primarily tips

$12,579           for 24 days

The total cost excluding airfare and souvenirs (i.e. lodging, food, entrances, vehicle and miscellaneous) was $12,122 or $505 per day, with increased lodging and food costs. 


Following are the average costs of our four previous trips to Costa Rica.

  • $383 in 2017 (17 days)
  • $410 in 2018 (5 days)
  • $325 in 2019 (19 days)
  • $345 in 2020 (24 days)
  • $767 in 2022 (15 days) - reflecting the considerable costs at Golfo Dulce Retreat
  • $426 in 2023 (21 days)
  • $505 in 2024 (24 days)

Food and drink continues to be relatively expensive in Costa Rica, along with  vehicle rental.  One might expect in a Central American country food to be cheaper than here in Canada.  While there is the option to eat at less expensive local 'sodas', prices in restaurants and even supermarkets are generally comparable to, if not more than Canadian prices.  Vehicle rental, which was quite reasonable pre Covid-19, skyrocketed in 2022 with prices more than 3 x what they were as recently as 2020.  The vehicle rental costs decreased considerably the past two years year but were still nearly double what we paid in 2020. 

Lodging ranged from a low of $125 US$ (our last night near the airport) to a high of $209 US$.  All included breakfast (although breakfast is optional at Pacific Edge we have added the cost to the lodging rate).


Here is a list of where we stayed, the amount we paid (in US$) and a link to their website.  


$   67         Escondida Guacima             Guacima (SJO)                         www.guacimaescondida.com     

$ 252         Tiki Villas                            Uvita                                        www.tikivillas.com

$ 168         Pacific Edge                         Domincalito                             www.pacificedgedominical.com

$ 192         Dolphin Quest                     Golfo Dulce                             www.dolphinquestcr.com

$ 343*        Encanta La Vida                  Cabo Matapalo                         www.encantalavida.com

$ 154         Jardins de Los Monos           Playa Matapalo                         www.bnbbythebeach.com

$ 106         Escondida Guacima              Guacima (San Jose)                   www.guacimaescondida.com

*  total daily rate of $418; $75 allocated to food; $343 to lodging

     As is our practice we communicate and book directly with each place, and in doing so save the establishment the booking commission.  As well often we are known to staff when we arrive.

     A reminder of our observations if visiting Costa Rica:

  1.    always rent a 4 x 4 SUV if only for the greater clearance, and
  2.    if driving, never arrive for the first time on an unfamiliar road at night

 And finally as they say throughout Costa Rica ... enjoy the Pura Vida! (the Pure Life)



March 01, 2024 - Escondida Guacima to Montreal to Halifax


A smooth day.  With the delay in our flight we were able to enjoy one final breakfast before heading out at a civil hour of 9:00 am.  One missed turn but we easily got back on the correct road and made our way to the car rental return office where all went without any issues.  A shuttle to the airport, check in and we boarded our flight to Montreal, leaving on schedule.

With the nearly three hour delay leaving San Jose the connection in Montreal was a bit tight but we made it by 20 minutes before scheduled boarding.  Back to Halifax just before midnight (although 12:30 am before we got our luggage) and a taxi home where we were very very surprised by a warm welcome arranged by Bev (and Brian and Chris) who had been looking after Duke, our cat.

The photos below are a bit repetitious of yesterday's but the birds in particular were so easy to photograph I couldn't resist presenting them again.


Our very nice unit (the one on the left / end).                        The pool.


Our last breakfast 'Typico'.  We will miss them.


A Pale-vented pigeon.                           A couple of Clay-coloured thrushes.     Possibly a White-headed Vanga.


Another Clay-coloured thrush.                                               An Amazonian motmot.


We were welcomed home with streamers, a carrot cake and a gift for Jett, our new grandchild, all thanks to Bev.  So very thoughtful!




February 29, 2024 - Escondida Guacima, Guacima


Our last full day in Costa Rica.  Due to late arriving flights and morning departures out of necessity we have had to stay in the vicinity of the San Jose airport a number of times.  Where we have stayed have been 'ok' but we have yet to find the 'perfect' place.  Until now, at least before departing.  Rather than staying only one night as has been our habit we decided to relax and spend two nights (one full day) at Escondida Guacima.  Good choice.  The grounds are very nice, with an 'out in the country feel'.  There are many birds and even a few chickens.  It is particularly enjoyable waking up to the 'orchestra' of birds (even if at 5:00 am).  Our room was large with a beautiful outdoor shower, a nice terrace with comfortable chairs and a coffee-maker for us to enjoy an early morning coffee.  Breakfast is very good, there is a nice pool and a bar for drinks throughout the day.  Plus there is a 'basic' restaurant - nothing exciting but the availability of a few dinner offerings to avoid having to go out to eat.

The only downside is that Escondida Guacima is nearby to a park / racetrack and unfortunately today there was a motorcycle race nearby that generated a significant amount of noise.   But otherwise we were very happy with our choice and will return.

The communal breakfast area is ideal for meeting and interacting with other travelers.  Today we met two English couples (actually Bozena was originally from Poland) who while not knowing each other actually stayed at the same places twice on their trip and were flying back on the same flight.  We enjoyed a nice chat about travel experiences, including their stay in a home-stay.  Gayle and Bozena had a lot in common as they chatted about fungi, in that Bozena was somewhat of an expert on fungi in Poland.

Breakfast offered a number of choices but both of us chose the Typical - Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), an egg, tortillas, a piece of Costa Rica 'squeaky' cheese and plantains, along with juice and coffee.  Delicious.

Just off the breakfast / restaurant area papaya was placed on a post attracting a significant number of birds, wonderful to photograph in the morning sun.

We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon leisurely packing and spending time in the pool.

During the day we were notified our flight was delayed.  Rather than departing at 10:10 am, which would have necessitated us leaving at 6:00 am to return our rental vehicle, the flight was re-scheduled to 12:45 pm, still allowing us enough time to make our connection in Montreal to Halifax.  Beyond not needing to rush to get out as well we were able to enjoy one last Costa Rican breakfast.  

We again ate at the restaurant where we had simple, but quite tasty meals of vegetables and rice for Gayle and chicken and rice for Norm.

There were a significant number of birds at Escondida Guacima.  Here are some of them, with attempts to identify them thanks to Mr. Google. 

Blue-gray tanager.                                                                  Buff-throated saltator.


Clay-coloured thrush - the national bird of Costa Rica.          Rufous-backed wren.


Another clay-coloured thrush.                                                 A Melanerpes rubricapillus.


And an Amazonian motmot.


Fruits in the breakfast area.                   The Typical breakfast of tortillas, an egg, cheese, rice and beans and plantains.



A pair of couples from England (Bozena originally from Poland) with whom we had an interesting chat over breakfast, especially with Bozena re her interesting life.


   

Sandra                                     Jonathan                                 Bozena                                     Andy



Our nice outdoor shower.



The property has a number of chickens that wander about, including visiting guests on their terrace.



Ammar, the chef and drink maker with our Pina Coladas.



The 'infinity' pool.



Enjoying some afternoon time in the pool.



Pineapple smoothies.



Although they look similar Gayle had vegetables and rice while Norm had chicken and rice, both with fries.




February 28, 2024 - Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo
                                to Escondida Guacima, Guacima


Our last morning in Matapalo / Jardin de los Monos.  After waking up early to listen to the songs of the many birds we went down to the beach where we enjoyed a short swim (well more like a wade) in the ocean, jumping through the waves.  While on the nearly vacant beach a French woman, who had been carving out messages in the sand, just wandered over and offered to take our photo.  Very nice of her.

We returned to los Monos where we had breakfast during which we ended up chatting with a number of Germans.  First there was Claudia and then Monika (who Gayle had met the previous day in the pool) and her cousin Birgit.  While my telephoto lens is decent, allowing me to take some respectable photos of wildlife at a distance, you should see Birgit's lens, and some of the photos she has taken with it.  Stunning.  Along with their husbands they have traveled / camped in the south of Africa - South Africa, Namibia and an upcoming trip to Botswana.  Their travels make us realize that as much as we have traveled (and it has been a considerable amount) there are so many other interesting places out there still to see.

While we were still having breakfast Claudia returned to let us know the sloth and her baby were quite visible.  We are very appreciative she did as this was the best opportunity we had experienced for viewing the nearby sloths.  Most often they are camouflaged in the foliage of the trees.  But today they were quite visible and active, allowing for some decent photos and videos.

After a final chat with Lettika we finished packing and were on our way.  

Perhaps the most significant industry along this coast between Matapalo and Jaco is that of African palm oil, introduced by The United Fruit Company in response to the Panama banana plight of the 1940s.  Palm oil is a widely used vegetable oil in various industries including food, cosmetics and biofuels.  In Costa Rica the development of African palm farms gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Costa Rican government actively supported expanding the palm oil industry, considering it a lucrative economic venture.  Government policies, including tax incentives and subsidies, were implemented to encourage the establishment of palm oil plantations.  The introduction and expansion of African palm in CR has been met with praise (contributing to economic growth, generating employment and diversifying the agricultural sector) and criticism (negative environmental and social impacts, deforestation, habitat destruction and conflicts with indigenous communities).  The industry continues to be contentious in Costa Rica.

The drive to Escondida Guacima is more or less three hours, north up the coast and then inland towards San Jose.  Our lodging was very easy to find / access from Highway 27.  We booked a nicer room for this two night stay than when we arrived (not that the room then was not nice enough).  Normally we would simply stay one night but the place looked nice, at a good price point, with grounds and a pool so we decided to extend to two nights.  Good decision.  Escondida Guacima also has the benefit of serving food throughout the day and into the evening.  Nothing fancy but very convenient.

Gayle started with a plate of French Fries and a vegetarian version of Aztec soup while Norm had Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) followed by a burger along with a banana smoothie.  As said, not a five star meal but it was all we needed, and only a 30 second walk back to our room.

After a long day it was immediately lights out.


Jardin de los Monos breakfast area.                 A message on the beach.
             

The Pacific Ocean at Matapalo beach.


A single pelican fly past.                                                A video of Matapalo beach and beyond, both south and north.


Our photo taken by fellow early morning beach visitor.        Palm trees.


Matapalo beach to the south.                    Pelicans over the ocean.                         Matapalo beach to the north.


Momma sloth.                                     Baby sloth.


Baby sloth.                                                                              Momma sloth.



A couple of videos of sloths just outside Jardin de los Monos.


Claudia.                                                Cousins Monika and Birgit.


Tulip palms.                                             Pineapple smoothie.                                 Lettika.


Palm Oil pods.


An Elegant tern.                                                                      A Pelican.


The coastline just south of Jaco.


The views from our porch, first into our room and then to the grounds directly in front of our unit.


Bitterballen.                                               A burger and fries.                                  Aztec soup.



February 27, 2024 - Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo


Today, our last full day at Jardin de los Monos, was more of the same.  A leisurely breakfast after which we checked out the sloths in the nearby trees.  Photos are getting better but still wait (for even better photos).

We had two beanie babies left and where Dama's daughter was very soon to have another child it was a no-brainer to give them to her.  Dama is a very loyal staff member who Lettika tells us gets up each morning shortly after 4:00 am to catch the 5:00 am bus from her home near Quepos to arrive by 6:00 am to have breakfast ready for guests by 7:00 am.  And, other than during Covid, she never misses a day!  Very loyal and very committed to her job.

We again hung out around the property / pool, photographing butterflies, fruit, flowers and in the late afternoon the monkeys that regularly visit.

Soon thereafter we took the short walk to the beach where we waited for and enjoyed yet another very colourful sunset.  It never gets old.

Dinner our last night of course was at The Matapalo Supper Club where Gayle had the spaghetti in a cream sauce of mushrooms, carrots and gorgonzola while Norm had another large tenderloin steak.  After dinner we had a nice chat with Daniel who told us of his plans to take Darlenny to Greece in September / October, to some of the places he enjoyed in his youth.  The plan is to drive from Germany on motorcycles, camping along the way.  We are very fortunate to have developed such a great relationship with two restaurant owners in Costa Rica - Maite at Exotica in Ojochal and Daniel and Darlenny here at the Supper Club in Matapalo.

We returned to los Monos happy and full.


Welcome to Jardin de los Monos.



Dama with a couple of beanie babies for her soon to be grandchild.



Dama and Teddy.


Possibly a Mexican silverspot.


A Variegated fritillary.


Possibly a bamboo orchid.                                                      A passion fruit flower.


Mangos ...                                              ... and grapefruits.


This is why they call it The Garden of the Monkeys.


Racing down a tree.                                                        A short video of a monkey scampering across the property.


Monkey on a wire - the balance they must have.


The sloth photos are getting progressively better.  Here we can see the sloth's face and the arm of her baby.


Each day around 5:00 ish we head down to the beach to wait for and enjoy the sunset.


Progressive sunsets.




Darlenny prepping the fire and cooking the meat.             My tenderloin along with other orders.


Vegetarian spaghetti in a mushroom gorgonzola cream sauce. 


 A 400 g tenderloin with home potatoes.



Darlenny, Gayle and Daniel.



February 26, 2024 - Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo

Another similar day to the previous two, the only real difference today being that I took some photos of butterflies today and we returned to The Matapalo Supper Club.

As a result this may be the shortest travel blog post ever.

After a day of slothing around we again enjoyed a spectacular sunset.

Then it was off to dinner where Gayle had a mushroom pizza with mozzarella cheese, a touch or gorgonzola and basil, while Norm went with what turned out to be a heaping portion of spaghetti in a creamy mushroom sauce with shrimp.  The other option was repeating the huge tenderloin but that would make three nights as there was no doubt that was going to be the choice our last night.

During dinner we enjoyed a lengthy chat with Betty and Dustin from Kentucky.  They had just arrived from a number of nights in Puerto Jimenez and shared stories of their extensive travels.  Like others they expressed the view that they were looking at options in Portugal if the political winds in the US blow the wrong way.  Before we knew it it was nearly 9:30 pm - way beyond the normal time we have been calling it a night here in Costa Rica but it was worthwhile and interesting to have chatted.
 

Another day; another pancake design.                                    The sloth photos are getting better.


Some butterflies that stopped long enough for their photo.




Another Great Kiskadee.                                                          Dama's magic with the towels.


The pool from our balcony.


The Pacific Ocean at Matapalo beach.                                                                      Waiting for sunset.


We know these are a lot of sunset photos but they are SO SO nice.




Darlenny working the grill.                   The wood fire a roaring.                        A couple of glasses of wine to start.


Gayle's mushroom and gorgonzola vegetarian pizza.



Spaghetti with a mushroom cream sauce and shrimp for Norm.


Dustin and Betty.                                                                   Darlenny and Gayle hugging as we were about to leave.



February 25, 2024 - Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo

Another quiet day.  Gayle was up early to listen to the birds (no howlers) and then went down to the beach which was quite quiet at 7:00 am.  

Teddy, originally from Jamaica, los Monos' new hire served us breakfast this morning as Dama had the day off as there was a shower for her daughter who is expecting very soon.  For the same reason The Matapalo Supper Club was closed tonight as Darlenny was also attending the shower.  

For breakfast I had the Granola while Gayle enjoyed the Dutch pancakes.

We saw a sloth again today but once more he / she was buried amongst the branches making a decent photo not doable.  But wait a few days - some much better photos.

The afternoon was again spent working on the travel blog, relaxing and cooling off in the pool.

We went back to the beach shortly after 5:00 pm for the sunset that did not disappoint.  Beautiful colours!

Where the Supper Club was closed we went to El Ticanero for dinner.  A typical roadside restaurante that was not busy (one takeout pickup while we were there).  We each had a drink.  Shortly after bringing Gayle her Pina Colada our server brought over a second pitcher of 'leftovers'.  For dinner we each had a burrito - vegetarian of course for Gayle and res, or beef for Norm.  As well Norm had a Sopa de Marisco, or fish soup.  Not the best sopa de marisco I've had - I am convinced it was water rather than coconut milk as ordered, but good just the same.

It was a 10 km drive back from Hatillo to Jardin de los Monos after which we again called it an early night - lights out by 8:30 pm.


Teddy, los Monos' new hire.


Breakfast drinks, jams and spices.                                           Granola with fruit and yoghurt.


A Great kiskadee.                                                                    And a well hidden sloth.


Matapalo beach.


Matapalo beach looking south.                                                                           So intense on getting the perfect shot.


There is nothing to say other than sunsets here are pretty wonderful.





Tonight we ate at Restaurante El Ticanero.       By ourselves.



Crates of fruit at the Restaurant El Ticanero.


A Pina Colada with a second pitcher of 'leftovers'              Norm and a Margarita to have with his burrito.


Burrito.                                                                                   Sopa de Marisco (fish soup).




February 24, 2024 - Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo

A very lazy sloth day!

We started with Lettika's delicious breakfasts of orange juice, a fruit smoothie (watermelon today), coffee and a choice of 
  • Option 1 - ham, an egg (fried, scrambled or an omelet) and two large pieces of delicious homemade toast
  • Option 2 - a Dutch pancake - between a North American pancake and a French crepe, with egg, or
  • Option 3 - granola with fruit and yoghurt

While finishing breakfast we heard the sound of a toucan.  There were a couple in the nearby trees so off we went with our cameras.  Then Lettika spotted a sloth with her baby sloth, so again off we went.  The good thing about trying to photograph a sloth, as opposed to birds or butterflies or dolphins is that while they may turn about in their resting place you really don't have to rush, i.e. you can move slowly as the sloth itself remains mostly stationary.  Unfortunately sloths often will wiggle themselves between branches making photos sometimes difficult.  Those below are ok although not great.  Lettika mentioned to us that she is aware of 10 sloths in the nearby area - both two and three toed species.   


The afternoon was spent working away on our travel blogs interspersed with swims in the pool and perhaps a nap.

For dinner we reserved at The Matapalo Supper Club where upon arriving we were welcomed with huge hugs from Darlenny.  Gayle was not feeling the best so limited herself to the Tzatziki with German bread (Daniel the owner / chef is German).  I went full meal - a salad to start followed by a 400 g tenderloin with peppercorn sauce and home style potatoes.  The nearly 1 lb. steak was superb for $40 Cdn all in, well less than a comparative meal back home.  It was a lot but I did manage to finish it all. 


,
Flowers around the breakfast area - on the left Ixora or Jungle Geranium and on the right Wild Orchid.


A damselfly (not in distress).                                                                                       A bromelia.


Coffee and a watermelon smoothie.                    Breakfast for Norm was ham, an omelet and the most delicious toast.


For Gayle Dutch pancakes - with a monkey and palm tree design.


In a nearby tree were a few toucans.






And also nearby a sloth and her baby (so so photos - much better ones in a few days time).


Late afternoon we were visited by the Capuchin monkeys.

   

Good thing there are grates on the windows.


"Yes I'm looking at you."


For dinner we returned to The Matapalo Supper Club where we were warmly greeted by Daniel and Darlenny.


A salad to start.


Gayle, not being super hungry just had a bowl of Tzatziki while Norm had the large tenderloin steak with potatoes.




February 23, 2024 - Encanta La Vida, Cabo Matapalo to
                                Jardin de los Monos, Matapalo

After breakfast we said our goodbye's to Andrew, Bex and an American family from Seattle, Tsering and Floyd who we enjoyed a nice chat with, and their two sons R Grady and 16 year old Kalden.  I was especially honoured, and Floyd quite surprised when Kalden commented to his dad that our travel blog was "cool".

Alana had arranged a visit to the nearby escuela (elementary school) to give beanie babies / beanie buddies to the students.  Escuela La Carbonera in Cabo Matapalo opened in 1991.  There are two classes - a Kindergarten of six students taught by Linda and all other grades - 18 students - taught by the Director Alexandra.

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with every student (as well as those not in attendance today) receiving a beanie baby / buddy.  We first visited the Kindergarten class where the excitement was obvious.  Then it was on to the older grades where students chose from the large pile starting with the youngest, working up to the oldest.

This is the 5th time we have done this and although the 50 to 75 beanies each time do add weight on the trip down the reward of seeing the smiles on these students is well worth it.




We returned to Encanta La Vida where we finished packing and headed out for a just under  four hour drive from Cabo Matapalo to another Matapalo, this one between Dominical and Quepos.  

With a few short expected stops (for gas, groceries and to check out a possible lodging for a future visit) we arrived shortly after 4:30 pm.

This is the 4th time we have stayed at Jardins de los Monos (Garden of the Monkeys).  As Lettika was out we were met by the new staff member Teddy, originally from Jamaica.  When we opened out door we were so very impressed to see a huge Welcome Back in flower petals on our bed.  So thoughtful.

Our favourite restaurant The Matapalo Supper Club was booked solid so we ended up at La Esquinita, just up the road.  Gayle had the nachos, while Norm a huge serving of spaghetti with large tasty shrimp.

After a long day it was back to los Monos where we called it a night.


Today's fruit - papaya, mango and pineapple.                          Andrew excited to dig in.


Now we know what those nice looking buns we saw baked yesterday were for.  Delicious.


See we were not kidding - it is called the Love Schack.         With a beautiful hardwood roof.


And a nice back deck bordering on a huge tree where the howlers gathered yesterday and early this morning.


Alana arranged for us to visit nearby Escuela La Carbonera to gift beanie babies to the students.


Linda the kindergarten teacher.


Some of the kindergarten students with their beanies / buddies.


Alexandra, the Director of the Escuela.                           Linda, Norm and the kindergarten students.


A couple of very short videos.


Alana and Gayle.                                                                      First up to choose.


Students with their choice of beanie baby / beanie buddy.


Alexandra and most of the students.




All together now!


Tsering and Floyd.                                                                 Floyd with his two sons - cell phone focused.


On the drive on the rough dirt road back to Puerto Jimenez cows, flowers and a beach.


We were warmly welcomed back to Jardin de los Monos.


Dinner tonight at La Esquinita (who took over the Matapalo Supper Club space) where Gayle had nachos.


While Norm enjoyed spaghetti with shrimp.



February 22, 2024 - Encanta La Vida, Cabo Matapalo

After breakfast I joined Gayle on her walk to the beach.  There is a surf board swing on the grounds that became an opportunity for Gayle to show her form.  I'm convinced that in another life Gayle would have been a surfer, she has a huge interest in watching those out in the water practicing their surfing skills.  Cabo Matapalo is a huge surfing centre (as are a number of other locations along the Pacific Ocean of Costa Rica).


Yesterday we got to know Andrew and Bex, from Cornwall, England.  Andrew is 'working' at Encanta La Vida for two weeks leading yoga classes twice a day - early early morning, i.e. 6:30 am and then again in the afternoon.  His partner Bex was with him this, the first week.  We have met a number of people here including Alana, an intern working at the lodge.  Only 18 Alana has great ambitions.  Being fluent in German, Swiss, English and of course Spanish will provide here many opportunities.  She was very helpful to us throughout our stay, including joining us on our visit to the local escuela (school) - more tomorrow.  Then there were the two Lisas - one from the north-west and another from Rhode Island, a professor who has lived a very interesting life travelling / working extensively throughout the world.  And then Floyd and Tsering from Seattle with their sons.  All a joy to chat with.  Plus we got a great complement from Kalden, the 16 year old son of Floyd and Tsering who apparently described our travel blog as 'cool'!  Made my day.


Mid afternoon Alana wandered down to our cabina to update us on our school visit after which we had a nice chat about her move to Germany (in which she is fluent) to attend university.  Then Andrew, Bex and Lisa dropped by to check out the 'Love Shack'.  Again we enjoyed a great chat. 


Shortly after they left we heard the howls of the howlers, quite close.  Soon they were even closer, in fact in the huge tree that covers the roof of our cabina.  For nearly an hour they put on a magnificent show.  We had considered going on a sloth tour today, but being an hour plus drive each way, most along a rough dirt road, in the end we decided to stay put, which turned out to be a great decision.  The Howler Monkey show was something we will never forget.


A bit about Howler Monkeys.  They inhabit the forests of Central and South America, producing one of the loudest vocal sounds of any land animal.  They are one of the largest New World monkeys and are the most abundant species of monkey in Central America.


Howlers 

  • have side-opening, wide nostrils on their short snout
  • lack rump pads, as Old World monkeys have
  • use their prehensile tail as an extra arm to grip or hang from branches
  • have beards and long, thick hair that may be brown, red or black, with brown or blond saddles
  • can weigh up to 22 pounds
  • have a head and body that can be up to 3 feet long, with a tail that can be another 3 feet
  • have a big neck and lower jaw in order to house their super-sized vocal cords.

Howlers inhabit both lowland and mountain habitats.  They are less susceptible to the effects of habitat destruction than the spider monkey, and as such are not endangered.


Every child in Costa Rica learns how to imitate the sounds of howler monkeys.  It's tradition.  And while howlers are not particularly aggressive, they definitely sound as if they are.  The thunderous males address each other (very) early every morning, before sunrise.   The spine-tingling cries can carry as far as 3 miles in even the densest jungles.  They also call out at dusk and if a trespasser comes too close as a way of keeping rivals at a safe distance.  Females have loud wails and groans that usually signal distress or calling a stray infant.


Howlers live and travel in troops of 4 to 19 members, each having its own territory in which it feeds and lives; the size of the territory ranging from 3 to 25 acres.  Generally members of the group are not related because members of both sexes leave the group before becoming sexually mature.


The biggest threat to howler monkeys is habitat loss due to clear cutting and logging.  In many forests howlers experience fragmented corridors that prevent them from moving freely from tree to tree.  This may force them to relocate to areas that are less habitable.  Forest fragmentation, in addition to limiting food sources precludes reseeding.  Howlers play an important role in reseeding forests.  As they eat and travel through the canopy, they drop seeds or brush against them, or seeds pass through their digestive system, falling to the forest floor.


After the show came to an end we headed to the pool and then on to dinner where we enjoyed a squash ceviche and curry with plantain, rice, garbanzo beans, cucumber, pineapple, tomato and beets for Gayle, replaced with shrimp for Norm.  Dessert was a light cake.


Then back to our cabina to wait for the awakening of the howlers again in the morning.



Another day, another plate of fruit (pineapple, papaya, watermelon and mango) and eggs on beans with avocado.



In another life Gayle would definitely have been a surfer.



Pan Dulce Beach.                                                    Our Costa Rica hat.



Scarlet macaw in flight - best I could do.                                Looking across Pan Dulce Beach.



A huge lonely palm tree.                                                     Where the Pacific Ocean transforms into the Golfo Dulce.






Here we are at Encanta La Vida / Love Life.                           A Great curassow wandering about.



The pool and flowers nearby - likely Flor de Leche and Heliconia.



A lizard; another lizard; and a lizard in a tree (he/she hardly looks real).



A noodle dish for lunch with vegetables, sesame seeds and for Norm chicken.



Lots of these stone statues on the property.                             A nice table set on the edge of the rainforest.



Bex and Andrew.



Alana.                                                                                      Bex, Gayle and Andrew chatting on our porch.



Lisa.



Someone got into the spirit by decorating this rock just n front of the Love Shack. 



Bananas just outside our back deck.



Howler monkeys in the tree literally over the roof of our cabina..





A couple of videos of the howlers howling, eating and moving about (note the monkey's open mouth howling in Video #2)



Isn't he/she cute?



Pool time (photo courtesy of Andrew).



Full moon tonight.



Squash ceviche.


  


Curry with plantain, rice, beets, cucumber garbanzo beans, tomato and pineapple.



Norm's replaced the beets with shrimp.                                     A light cake for dessert.




February 21, 2024 - Encanta La Vida, Cabo Matapalo

Gayle was up early today to listen to the wildlife and then ventured off on a walk to the beaches.  She did reach her destination Backwash and Playa Carbonera, being popular with the surfers.  There were a few surfers out even at this early hour, although the waves were quite tame.  Unfortunately the shorter path back (towards Pan Dulce Beach) turned out to be somewhat confusing necessitating Gayle to retrace her steps.  Fortunately there was no need for a search party.

We were welcomed to breakfast by a number of Costa Rican jungle crabs scurrying about.  The one who decided to take a swim in the pool was somewhat less welcome (staff quickly fished him/her out once notified, albeit that was after Gayle had had her swim).

Breakfast was comprised of the fruit plate (watermelon, banana, pineapple and mango) followed by scrambled eggs with potatoes, avocado and a tortilla.

The rest of the morning was spent at out cabina.  Our correspondence referred to our very private, with the feel of having been transported into the middle of our own rainforest as the Honeymoon Cabina.  But the website and other materials identify the cabina as the 'Love Shack'.  Regardless, it is a beautiful accommodation - very large with front and back porches, including a hammock and a bench-swing on the front.  The shower has large screened 'windows' providing a great view of the rainforest.  It is a bit of a walk to the lodge, in parts along a gravel pathway and in other parts stones, but very doable.  We absolutely love this place. 

We then enjoyed a swim after which it was time for lunch.  We were served quinoa covered with avocado for Gayle and Mahi Mahi for Norm.

The afternoon was spent relaxing at our cabina with a visit of a few spider monkeys.

Another swim and dinner that started with beet soup, followed by a sweet potato mash covered with mushrooms for Gayle and Tuna with a mango sauce for Norm.  Again not only extremely attractively presented but delicious as well.  For dessert we had a refreshing pineapple and passion fruit sorbet.

During the day there were intermittent showers (this is supposed to be the dry season but ....) and again on our walk back to the cabina after dinner.  Having been up early we were again to bed early.


Backwash beach with a few early morning surfers nearby.                             Encanta La Vida pool with a non-surfer.


Say hello to a Costa Rican jungle crab - look at those protruding eyes and pinchers.

           
                                                                                                              Who actually likes to swim in the pool!


Today's fruit plate.                                 Scrambled eggs with potato, avocado and tortilla.


Not sure of the bird but he / she was certainly thirsty.


A couple of flowers Gayle saw on her walk to the beach.






Quinoa with avocado for Gayle and Mahi Mahi for Norm.


Correspondence called our place the Honeymoon Cabina, but it is known here as the 'Love Shack'.


Happy happy with her hammock.


Shower with a view of rainforest. 
 


Large windows to the rainforest.


The sitting area at the back of our cabina.


The path to our cabin.             Massive trees behind.                 Other trees in the rainforest on Gayle's walk.


Spider monkeys.


Beet soup.                                                                                Gayle's dinner included mushrooms.


Tuna on a sweet potato puree.                                                Pineapple and passion fruit sorbet.



February 20, 2024 - Encanta La Vida, Cabo Matapalo

We knew quite early on we were going to enjoy three relaxing days here.  We were going to also say quiet but it was obvious by 6:00 am that was not going to be the case with the howlers in such close proximity.

Gayle was up early spending her time on the bench-swing on our porch, listening to and watching for the wildlife.  A perfect start to the day.

We then headed over to the lodge for breakfast which each morning consisted of a plate of fresh fruit, a fruit drink and a main plate.  Today's was Huevos Rancheros on tortillas.  Again beautifully presented and delicious.

It was then back to our cabina - named the Love Shack where we relaxed and worked on the travel blog until we were off again for lunch.  On a couple of occasions we saw an agouti wander by.  An agouti (ah GOO tee) is a rodent from Central and South America that looks a bit like a really large guinea pig.  Its coarse hair is covered with an oily (and stinky) substance that acts like a raincoat.  The hair is longest on its rump (which Gayle has observed is particularly cute).  The agouti has five toes on it s front and three on the hind feet.  It walks on its toes, not flat-footed like many rodents, giving the agouti a dainty look, or so our research says.  Although it is hard to see the agouti does have a tail:  it is very small, looking like a dark jelly bean stuck on the rump.

Lunch was a plate of rice with chicken, a salad and some plantains for Norm while Gayle was served quesadillas with plantains.

In the afternoon we were treated to monkeys.  Costa Rica has four species of monkeys
  • the large and noisy mantled howlers, with the males weighing an average of 7 kg / 16 lbs
  • the slightly larger spider monkey
  • the white-faced capuchin monkey, and
  • the smallest being the squirrel monkey
The spider monkey is considered 'endangered' while the squirrel monkey is classified as 'vulnerable'.  There is currently no concern re the viability of the howler and capuchin monkeys.

Today we heard (but did not see) the howlers but saw both the spider and capuchins.  Monkeys are like birds in that it is often very difficult to get decent photos as they are often hidden by tree branches and leaves, and are usually at some distance.  That said I was able to get a few fairly decent photos (below).

After a late afternoon swim we had dinner that tonight started with carrot soup followed by avocado (there certainly is no shortage of avocados here) for Gayle and Dorado (a fish) for Norm on a mash of sweet and yellow potato accompanied by a variety of vegetables.  Dessert was a flan like cake (pineapple we suspect).

We finished dinner, made our way back to the 'Love Shack' and straight to bed.


On our large porch there is a 'swing bench' that is perfect for looking out into the rainforest, listen to the birds and monkeys and watch for animals.


Breakfast starts with a plate of fruit and a fruit drink.   

And a main plate - today Huevos Rancheros.


A lizard seen on our way back from the main lodge.                                                A stone statue on the property.


The seating area at the lodge.                                                 The pool.


Lunch - for Norm rice, a salad, plantains and a mango smoothie.  


For Gayle quesadillas.







Costa Rica has four species of monkeys.  Here at Encanta La Vida we saw three of the specie (all except the Squirrel). 

This is a Spider monkey.


A number of these agoutis passed our cabina                         A capuchin and her baby.


Mid afternoon a small troop of capuchin / white faced monkeys were playing on the roof of the nearby cabina.



And our spider continued to be hard at work.


For dinner we started with carrot soup, followed by (for Gayle) avocado and vegetables on a sweet and yellow potato mash.


And for Norm the same but a dorado fish rather than the avocado. 


For dessert we had a pineapple flavoured sponge-like cake.



February 19, 2024 - Dolphin Quest to Encanta La Vida, Matapalo

After five wonderful (albeit hot) nights it was time to leave Dolphin Quest.  We had breakfast again with Sarah and Tammy (who is somewhat camera shy) before spending the morning enjoying the property, beach and warm Golfo.  Then lunch and our goodbyes - to Reymar, his brother Jahza, CeCe, Richy, Yolenni, Tammy and Sarah.
 
We hopped into the boat to cross the Golfo Dulce back to Puerto Jimenez.  Normally a half hour crossing the gulf was unusually choppy today resulting in a 45 minute bumpy boat ride.

But we did arrive in Puerto Jimenez with no problem where we picked up our rental vehicle (again no problem) and continued on our way. 

Only a couple of kms out of Puerto Jimenez the pavement ends and it is a rough dirt road (max speed 40 kph) to Cabo Matapalo, about a 45 minute drive.  We had taken this road in 2017 to Carate with nothing having changed.  

We found Encanta La Vida (Love Life) reasonably easily, a half km down an even worse dirt road.  Thank goodness for the 4WD with the additional clearance.

We checked in late afternoon into a very nice isolated cabin nestled in the rainforest.  We were told there would be animals and birds that regularly visit, which turned out to be the case.

Our booking included three meals a day.  Unlike the buffets at Dolphin Quest dinner was comprised of a soup, a main dish and dessert.  The main dish was modified for Gayle.  For example tonight Norm had chicken with vegetable and potatoes while for Gayle the chicken was replaced with avocado, but otherwise the dish was the same.  The meal was very attractively presented and very good - a sweet plantain in coconut milk broth to start, the main as mentioned and pie de limon for dessert.

It is a relatively short walk back to our cabina (albeit we are the furthest from the lodge) often over a path of stones.  Like Dolphin Quest we turned in almost immediately after returning.


Sarah does look happy here in the rainforest.                           Today's selection of morning fruit.


Breakfast included zucchini and a frittata.


Not surprisingly rice and beans.


Even dogs are hot in this climate.                                             A coconut on the beach.


A nicely painted mini surf board in our Cabina.


In the vast majority of Costa Rica, due to narrow pipes, toilet paper must be placed in bins rather than flushed.   These signs were very clear.


Jicaro or Calabash, often hollowed-out and dried to serve as a typical utensil across West Aftica.  The shell is used to clean rice, carry water and as food containers.


A yuplon is a type of plum.


Through the property were these informative signs.                A final visit from Cheeky.








Colourful Hibiscus flowers in the rainforest.


Gayle and Sarah.


Last swim in the Golfo Dulce.


A couple of  butterflies seen at Dolphin Quest- apparently a Julia butterfly on the left and a Banded peacock on the 
right.


Our lunch, and last meal included a salad, egg fritters, more vegetables and more beans.


And a tasty fish ceviche, rice (to have with the beans of course) and lots and lots of fresh made chips (a selection of plantain, potato, sweet potato and yuca).


Before dinner at Encanta La Vida we started with drinks - a Margarita and a Pineapple smoothie.


Sweet plantain in coconut milk.



Avocado (for Gayle) and chicken (for Norm) with vegetables and potatoes.


We were joined at dinner by a couple of locals - well they were nearby adjacent to our table.

A grasshopper.


A golden silk orb-weaver.




February 18, 2024 - Dolphin Quest, Golfo Dulce

Our last full day at Dolphin Quest.  Last night two others arrived, both having participated in a surfing school near Pavones.  Tammy is from Oregon and was extending her family trip a couple of weeks by serving as a volunteer (like CeCe) here at Dolphin Quest for two weeks.  Sarah, from just outside Chicago will be here for three nights.

We had a number of nice chats with each of them, including their experience seeing three snakes on the way back to their cabin last night, and the more significant number of bats they were encountering as compared to us.

We again enjoyed a swim in the Golfo, ate well, we took lots of photos of flowers and trees, and of course birds including a number of scarlet macaws who were reasonably visible in the trees near the beach.

Reymar's brother Jahza arrived providing us the opportunity to meet and chat with him.

After yet another gorgeous sunset we enjoyed a dinner rice noodles with tomato sauce (either mushrooms or beef) and some sailfish, named due to their large dorsal fin, or 'sail'.  The sailfish is one of the faster of the marine creatures and very popular with recreational fishermen, despite the meat apparently being of little value (although this was quite tasty).  The highly recognizable fish can grow to be over 10 feet long.  For dessert we had a crispy pastry drizzled with a tasty hibiscus reduction.

After dinner we went out on a Bioluminescent Tour, as we had done two years ago when staying at nearby Golfo Dulce Resort.  After sunset the Golfo Dulce is host to a natural phenomenon where the disturbance of the water from the passage of a boat, a hand or swimmer in the water or jumping fish leads to a unique biological light show where minute organisms produce their own bioluminescence.  Best seen on a moonless night unfortunately we were only two days from the full moon, i.e. it was quite light on the Golfo and as such the bioluminescence was for the most part a dud.  But we did have a nice time none-the-less sitting out in the Golfo with some wine / beer and chatting with Sarah and Tammy.

It was very strange to not go to bed until nearly 11:00 pm - normal bedtime here is between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

All in all a good day.


Starting the day with fruit is standard here in the rainforest.

 
Rice is a regular staple, always including beans or with the beans as a side. 

 

And there is plenty of avocado.


Richy's  version of Huevos Rancheros.                                     Plated.


Another Cherrie's Tanager.                                                     Colourful hibiscus.


A Lipstik palm tree that sharply turns from green to red.                        Brunfelsio latifolia (it appears).


The Dolphin Quest beach. 

One of a number of stone artifacts at DQ.


A number of scarlet macaws (or perhaps the same one a number of times).








Coconut soccer any one?                                                         Brothers Jahza and Reymar.


Fruit, coconut, beans, spinach and rice were just some of the lunch servings.


Paola, the kitchen help, and Richy.    Paola and Yolenny.                             A video of the lodge at Dolphin Quest.


Another night ... another gorgeous sunset.


A short video of tonight's sunset.



Dinner included a salad, a spicy onion ceviche and vegetables.


Along with rice noodles, tomato sauces, one with mushrooms and the other beef, and of course beans.


And in addition to all that there was sailfish and a puffy dessert drizzled with a hibiscus reduction.


After dinner we went on a Bioluminescence Tour with Tammy and Sarah.


Generally the bioluminescence was disappointing due to nearly full moon although there were moments of sparkles.


Another Brown Booby.



February 17, 2024 - Dolphin Quest, Golfo Dulce - dolphin tour

After breakfast, including a visit by Cheeky the green parrot, we headed out on our dolphin quest / search / tour.  Alejandro drove the boat allowing Reymar to spend more time explaining stuff to us.  We were also joined by CeCe which was real nice. She was very helpful throughout the tour.

Within five minutes of pushing off we came across a couple of bottlenose dolphins.  They never came super close to the boat but were always around.  They are so quick to surface and then plunge it was tough to get great photos but there are a few.  We then meandered along the gorgeous coast with emerald green waters, past a number of roosting Brown Pelicans.  Then it was out further in the Golfo in search of spinner dolphins.  We did find some but they were even further distance from the boat.  Afterwards we circled back, passing a number of seabirds including an Atlantic Brown Booby that landed on the top of our boat for a bit of a rest.  We returned towards the shore where work was being done to rehabilitate a coral reef here in the Golfo.  Past some nice shoreline with beautiful palm tree and we were back after a three and a half (3 1/2) hour tour.  You will notice in one photo we are in long sleeves, quite unexpected given the heat and humidity.  However we were advised that even with sunscreen it was advisable to wear long sleeves in order to avoid getting sun burnt.

Immediately upon returning it was straight into the water for a refreshing swim.  Wonderful!  While in the water we could hear and see a significant number of scarlet macaws in the trees along the shore.  I was able to get some decent photos of them in the trees although was not as successful when they were in flight.  They are so quick.

Dolphin Quest has a pretty decent soccer / football pitch, made all the nicer with a fresh mow.  A number of fellows, and one girl, from nearby eco resorts got together for a game.  We could barely stand the heat on the sidelines watching, and cannot imagine how hot it must have been to play.

Afterward we met Tammy, a volunteer here for two weeks and Sarah, a guest here for three nights.  After being the only guests here last night (although Reymar, CeCe, Richy and other staff joined us for dinner which was really nice) it was equally nice to meet and chat with a couple of other travelers.

Tonight was 'pizza night'.  Who expected pizza here in the jungle?  But pizza we got, and excellent pizza at that.  We each had our own pizza after choosing whatever toppings we wanted from a large selection.  The pizzas were delicious as was the dessert of chocolate and coconut on a pineapple ring.  Again we went back to our Casa very content.

A more active day than most for us but very enjoyable.  Other than the heat it is real hard not to love Dolphin Quest.
 

Upon arriving for breakfast we were greeted by Cheeky!


Breakfast included avocado, scrambled eggs with spinach, rice and other stuff.


Apparently a brown basilisk.


Crepe - ginger.


.
Perhaps a Fabacaea Orchid Tree.





Alejandro prepping the boat for our dolphin quest / search.


The Golfo Dulce has both bottlenose (these) and spinner dolphins.







The gorgeous coloured water near the shoreline of the Golfo Dulce. 



A small waterfall, with little water in the dry season.


Pelicans roosting in the trees along the shore.





On the lookout for dolphins - thanks CeCe for the photos.


We were encouraged to wear long sleeves, in spite of the heat, to avoid sunburn.


Possibly Brown Boobies.


An Atlantic Brown Booby landed on the roof of our boat.


Reymar on the lookout.                                                           Reymar on the phone.


Decked out in (CeCe's) Dolphin Quest ballcap.                                       


A small snack of chocolate and apple bananas.


A sea snake, apparently venemous - in other words no swimming in the middle of the Golfo.


An Eastern Brown Pelican.                                                      A flock of seabirds.


The beautiful gulf near the coral reefs.


CeCe enjoying a short swim.


                                                                                                A research vessel rehabilitating the coral reef.


A tourist photo spot!


Beaches and palm trees along the shore.



After the tour we had a swim and then just watched (and listened to) the scarlet macaws in the trees nearby.


So colourful.



After the tour, Reymar + headed into town for supplies and to pick up other guests.  One of the lodge's dogs clearly did not want them to leave.


Lunch, including drinks of cold coffee and chocolate / banana.



Lunch was 'make your own' on either flour or corn tortillas.


Prepping the soccer pitch.                                                       The game is on.


Why anyone would want to play football / soccer in this heat is beyond me.


Pizza night!  Quite unexpected but certainly excellent pizzas.  Check out the videos.


Chef Richy spread out the dough and covered it with sauce before having each person choose their toppings.


Only a portion of the topping options.


The final product - pizza in the jungle.                                    Dessert of chocolate and coconut on pineapple.



February 16, 2024 - Dolphin Quest, Golfo Dulce

Today we planned to go on a dolphin tour / quest but it turned out that Reymar had a number of other things to do so was going to have another one of his staff take us out.  Our preference was to defer a day and have Reymar with us.  Not only is his English and knowledge better but with someone else to captain the boat it will allow him more time to explain things to us.


Dolphin Quest offers a number of tours including

  • dolphin and whale quests - in the Golfo
  • fishing - further out in the Pacific Ocean for sailfish, marlin, tuna and dorado.
  • hiking - behind the property to a waterfall up in the Piedra Blancas National Park
  • snorkeling - on local reefs of the Golfo Dulce
  • bioluminescent night cruise - to experience the glow of light created when algae clashes with oxygen or motion, and
  • yoga - to the sounds and sights of the scarlet macaws, toucans, hummingbirds and butterflies.

Dolphin Quest is located within the Piedras Blancas National Park that protects rainforests and beaches near the Golfo Dulce.  It used to operate as part of the the Corcovado National Park under the name Esquinas Sector from 1991 before becoming its own park in 1994.  Until the mid-90s much of the forest in the park was severely endangered by logging, hunting, illegal fishing and the threats of an ecologically destructive paper mill, all dastard endeavors in which Dolphin Quest played a significant part dissolving.


Another success story is the cooperation of Reymundo and Zoo Ave founder Dennis Janik to address the issue of illegally poached animals, who once confiscated by authorities were simply kept in cages until their death.  Zoo Ave purchased land adjacent to Dolphin Quest with Reymundo and Dennis who created a Release Project.  Over 20 years later the project is a thriving success story.  Confiscated animals are now given to the release project for rehabilitation and re-introduction to the wild.  A variety of bird and mammal species that were practically extinct to the area are now successfully re-populated and reproducing.  This has generated enormous pride, with the only downside being the need to endure a few more squawking macaws and parrots each morning.


Just before lunch Reymar invited us to join a small group visiting Dolphin Quest for an explanation of the various health elixirs - many of which he has to start each day.  There is Kambucha, Tumeric Tonic, Fermented Noni, Starfruit Wine and Gavilana (Jack Fruit Bitters).  We then joined the small group (of four) for lunch.


The afternoon was spent enjoying the macaws in the nearby trees, working on the travel blog, napping and enjoying a swim in the Golfo, where the water is apparently consistently between 80 and 85 degrees. 


Dolphin Quest runs an intern program where volunteers come to work on the grounds for the price of their meals.  Cecelia, originally from Mexico, had been here for a couple of weeks but enjoys it so much she is extending her stay.  Then there is Vlad from South Africa who captains a fishing boat but had a few days off during which he joined his bud Reymar to help out..


Although two other couples had left Kate and Maddi were still here, along with Reymar for dinner.  Reymar shared his story of the sinking of his boat a few years earlier during a considerable storm.  He and other divers searched and searched the waters of the Golfo with no success.  Then 18 months later someone noticed a boat surface.  Apparently the motor broke away resulting in the boat surfacing without its weight.  The boat was filled with lobsters, all of which were shared with those who helped Reymar salvage his pride and joy.


Tonight's meal consisted of a carrot (and some other stuff) salad, avocado, mashed potatoes, a dish of cooked vegetables and flank steak.  For dessert a tray of Lobi-lobi on bread, dehydrated bananas, chocolate and figs.


After which the short walk back to our cabin, a quick check of emails, lights out and soon to sleep.



For breakfast always a plate of fruit - here apple bananas, orange, papaya and pineapple.


And today a bowl of fresh avocado to spread on the toast (Gayle was in heaven).



The hammocks on the front porch of our casa.                      Yolenny, our housekeeper.



The Dolphin Quest beach / Playa San Josecito.



 Guanabanana / Soursop.                       Noni.

                                


The Dolphin Quest lodge as seen from the soccer field.         Gayle relaxing in the lodge.



More scarlet macaws.






Fruit (apple bananas, papaya and (star fruit) as well as coconut.



Fresh made chips (plantain, sweet potato, potato, and yuca).




Coconut ceviche.



A noni.                                                  Avocado dip.



Vlad.                                                                                         Cecelia.                                   Paola.



The focus here are at Dolphin Quest is medicinal herbs and home-made elixirs.



Reymar explaining some of the medicinal shots (sorry the video is a tad dark).




Lunch, including delicious breadnut hummus.


Local spinach, rice and other tasty stuff for lunch.



Reymar explaining today's lunch serving.



A few random photos - of Richy serving Lobi-lobi jam on bread, some of the items around the lodge, and catching a little afternoon shut-eye.



A Cherrie's tanager.


Basking in the sunlight of the setting sun.

Enjoying the sunset from the Dolphin Quest beach.


And again another day and another spectacular sunset.



Yes, the same guy (or gal?) in all three photos - but he / she is so cute.


Paola, the kitchen help.                                           A carrot + salad.                                                  Dinner buffet. 



Avocado.                                                    Mashed potatoes.                                   Vegetables.




Flank steak.



A selection of desserts, including Lobi-lobi, dehydrated banana, chocolate and figs.




February 15, 2024 - Dolphin Quest, Golfo Dulce

Being the first day of a five night stay we knew today was all about enjoying the property.  The day started very early, perhaps shortly after 5:00 am first with the crowing of the roosters, then the howls of the howlers and finally the cawing of the scarlet macaws interspersed with the songs of other birds.

Most of the day was spent in our cabina where the internet is excellent - so nice to be be able to sit on our porch listening to the birds and insects as we work away on our travel blogs. 

A bit about Dolphin Quest.  Raymond (known as Reymundo) Klochko, from Detroit, knew from a young age that he was meant to live in Costa Rica.  However Dolphin Quest was in large part inspired by his late daughter, Taisha, who became sick and passed away at the age of four.  Taisha's favourite activity was visiting aquariums where she developed a special connection with the dolphins, so much so that the dolphins would deviate from their training to visit the side of the tank where Reymundo and Taisha sat.  The memory of the duo's experience with the dolphins inspired Reymundo to explore further.

Shortly after he purchased the first 10 acres of Dolphin Quest land before ever seeing the property.  With no money but a great deal of hope and determination Reymundo traded his purple '69 BMW for the land.  A year later he arrived on the beach clutching a photo of what would become Dolphin Quest.  It was an emotional moment, culminating a year since Taisha's passing and his arrival in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.  He collected crystals and rocks from the beach and built an altar in remembrance of Taisha.   Later while practicing Tai Chi, a sprouted coconut floated from the ocean to land between his feet on the shore.  This became the perfect final piece in Taisha's memorial garden.  The following year, Reymundo committed to bring his idea of Dolphin Quest to life and brought a converted bus, with four people, a dog, a boat, a guitar, a motor, dive compressors and fishing gear from Northern California to Golfito through the Contra War ... a story for another day.

In spite of the heat and humidity we're not sure we are going to lose any weight here.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner, all served buffet style so one can have as much as one wants are all both delicious and filling, 

During the afternoon a flock of scarlet macaws visited a nearby tree providing the opportunity for a few photos of these beautiful birds, although unfortunately none in flight.

We both enjoyed a nice swim in the Golfo prior to the sunset.  It is so relaxing and peaceful to swim in the very warm, calm gulf waters and then enjoy the colours of the sky resulting from the setting sun.

After dinner what will no doubt become common practice, it was back to our cabina and straight to bed.


The coffee, tea, and hot chocolate table.                                  A large, juicy, delicious omelet this morning.


Breakfast also included, fruit, cheese, tomatoes, granola with yoghurt and a porridge concoction.


Reymundo, Reymar's dad.    Musical instruments.             A selection of herbal health drinks.


Enjoying a coffee before breakfast, made the traditional Costa Rican way. 



The communal table at which all meals are eaten.


Scarlett macaws in a nearby tree - playing and squawking.




Coconut, sponge coconut, sugar cane and other fruits            A coconut ceviche.


A local spinach.                                                                           Rice.                                      Another fruit drink.


A nice display in the lodge - the white oblong fruits are Noni.                 Beautiful wood carvings - these of dolphins.


Signs on the property.


Approaching our Casa Verde                                                 One of our hammocks.


The kitchen area and bedroom of Casa Verde.


Another night, another gorgeous sunset.



Chef Richy (left).

A fresh salad and a bean with chicken dish.


Pineapple and some root vegetable.          Rice (of course).                                     Cauliflower patties.


Beans (of course).                                       Norm's dinner.                                     A chocolate something.


A Caiman in the Caiman pond.                                              A Caiman not in the Caiman pond.


A Smoky Jungle Frog.



February 14, 2024 - Pacific Edge Eco Lodge, Dominicalito to
                                 Dolphin Quest, Golfo Dulce

Our last morning at Pacific Edge included, surprise another chat with Sid, photos, including Boruca masks, breakfast (fluffy banana pancakes again) and packing.  Unfortunately Michaelynn was out so we weren't able to say good-bye but no doubt we will be back.

The drive from Pacific Edge to Puerto Jimenez is a tad under three hours during which we made three stops.  The first was just south of Palma Norte when Gayle saw a flock of scarlet macaws.  We pulled over and I got out to get photos.  A few not so great ones of the birds in the trees while patiently waiting for 10 to 12 minutes (Gayle thought it was more like 20) until I decided enough was enough, put the camera away and began to cross the road back to the vehicle when of course a dozen or so brightly coloured macaws flew out of the trees in formation.  Spectacular sight but no photo.  Gayle, and the grave-digger nearby had the biggest laugh at my frustration.  


About a half hour north of Puerto Jimenez we stopped to check out La Perica Sloth Farm, a place we had read about.  While staying in Caba Matapalo in a week's time we will make this a day trip and do the sloth tour.


And finally we took a narrow road in to Playa Sandalos where we packed in order not to have to open the trunk where we are going to leave the vehicle in Puerto Jimenez.  We easily found Miguel's adjacent to the dock where we were told we could securely park our vehicle (for $10 per night) and shortly thereafter were met by Alejandro and another Dolphin Quest fellow at 3:00 pm right on schedule.  They transferred our backpacks and bag to the boat and we were off for the half hour crossing of the Golfo Dulce.


Only minutes out of port we were fortunate enough to see a couple of dolphins, and then a number of sea birds (terns) during the crossing.


We arrived at Dolphin Quest where we were met by Reymar, the owner of the Jungle Lodge.  Just offshore was a National Geographic cruise boat with 95 guests wandering the Dolphin Quest grounds.


Reymar took us across the soccer field, past the lodge where meals are served and on to our cabina.  Casa Verde is a one-story bungalow closest to the beach.  It was the first rental built at Dolphin Quest, being the most popular with the most character.  It was built over 30 years ago of local hardwoods and bamboo harvested seasonally from the property.  The space features a front porch, a back patio and a living room.  There are hammocks, a kitchenette, basic solar electricity and especially great for us Wi-Fi - the only cabin with Wi-Fi.  Casa Verde offers one double bed and two twin beds in an adjacent room, all with mosquito nets.


After settling in to the completely open-air Casa, taking a number of photos and catching up on emails it was then to the beach / golfo for a swim and sunset.  The Golfo Dulce water is literally bath temperature, it is so warm.  While waiting for what turned out to be a gorgeous sunset we met 'Cheeky' the resident green parrot.


Dinner, created by chef Richy, is served buffet style with guests eating together at a communal table.  Tonight's dinner consisted of a salad, beans (of course), rice (of course), vegetables and fish in coconut milk, served with a beer or glass of wine along with flavoured water and a local fruit (e.g. nona) drink.  Food - breakfast, lunch and dinner is $50 (US) each per day for as much as one wants of very tasty, interesting, well prepared and presented food.


Although only 8:00ish when we finished dinner, upon returning to our cabina it was straight to bed after a busy day.



 Sid chatting with us before breakfast.                                     A colourful sink in the lodge banos.


Our porch.



A video and a number of photos of the Boruca masks. 




The Pacific Edge pool.


Lots of choice for breakfast, all made fresh by Sid.                    We both again had the fluffy banana pancakes. 





Our route south from Domicalito past Palma Norte to Piedras Blancas and then over the top of the Golfo Dulce to Puerto Jimenez where we were met to boat across the golfo to Dolphin Quest.



A couple of women along the road when I stopped for the scarlet macaws.  The one on the right actually was picking a few branches off the tree, not sure what for.



Really hard to get any decent photos but there were a number of macaws in the trees.



Solanum mammosum (or at least says Mr. Google).                                   Heliconia.



Cows along an access road to a beach just north of Puerto Jimenez, where we went to pack for the boar ride across the Golfo Dulce.



Welcome to Puerto Jimenez.                                                                    Small fishing boats in the port.




Our captain and his mate.

Gayle all settled in for the crossing of the Golfo Dulce.


Dolphins in the Golfo.



On our way across Golfo Dulce to Dolphin Quest.



A number of seabirds - possibly Gull-billed terns - resting on logs in the Golfo.



Coming upon the shore line.



Flowers and art greeted us in our cabina.                                                                The second bed.



The shower.                              The toilet.                                 And the bamboo forest beyond.



The sitting area.                                                                      The bedroom.



Quail Grass (we think) on the shore.                                      The National Geographic boat.







The beach.                                                                               Enjoying the very warm Golfo Dulce water.



Nona fruit.                                                                               Coconuts on the beach.



Sunset over the Golfo Dulce.




'Cheeky' then green parrot.



Dinner is explained by Chef Richy.



A wide choice of salads, vegetables, beans and rice.



Fish in coconut milk.   



A chocolate cake with orange rind and nuts. for dessert.
Happy Valentine's day.



February 13, 2024 - Pacific Edge Eco Lodge, Dominicalito

Pacific Edge began its story in 1992 when two sailors dropped their anchor and put down roots in Costa Rica.  They chose the property while on horseback (there was no road at the time), designed and built four cabins using local carpenters and the hardest of the tropical hardwoods in order to protect against termites. With no electricity all the original work was done by hand saw and hammer, with pre-drilled holes necessary for the nails due to the wood being so hard.  The main house was completed in 1999 with extensions built on the cabins beginning in 2006.

Sid and Michaelynn Vandiver had been guests at the property since 2008, and when the time came for the original owners to 'retire' they purchased the Eco Lodge due to their love of the simplistic natural beauty of the property.  Sid and Mica took over March 2021, living full time at Pacific Edge.  They have retained that 'Keys' Jimmy Buffet vibe (from where Sid originated).  Michaelynn has re-opened a Boruca Art galley with a large selection of authentic traditional masks, and soon will add a gallery of local artwork, jewelry (including her own), photography and other local artisan gifts.

For breakfast today we both chose burritos, Gayle's with onions and Norm's with chorizo sausage.  Excellent.

There was not much reason to leave the property during the day ... so we didn't.  We thought of going to a beach but with a nice pool and majestic views we ended up staying put.  We again had a nice long chat with Sid, and later on Michaelynn, including late breaking updates on the drama involving their Homeowners Association.  

After a refreshing swim we headed to nearby La Parcela where we had a few issues with dinner last year.  The manager responded well, including an offer of a free dinner that we decided to take him up on.  Unfortunately he was not there and his wife, who was tending bar had not got the message.  As a result we were first seated at a table adjacent to the speakers - one of our issues last year.  Fortunately we were moved.  We were very pleased to see a number of our issues re the menu had been addressed.  But after we finished our meal the bill came with no adjustment.  We mentioned it to the waiter - Chris was excellent - who quickly had the bill adjusted.  Not perfect but all in all good.

The ambiance and food were both very good.  Gayle started with a creative Ceviche de Aquacate - Avocado Ceviche - avocado marinated in orange juice, mango and fresh herbs with Patacones.  Norm had the traditional fish ceviche, this one using Black Marlin.  Gayle then had the Quesadilla - melted mozzarella cheese, red onion, jalapenas and chopped cilantro inside toasted flour tortillas, with crispy fries, while Norm the Sopa de Marisco, a mix of shrimp, crab, squid and octopus in a broth with herbs and spices in coconut milk.  Again way too full for dessert. 

It was a short ride back to Pacific Edge after which we did what we normally do - crash straight to bed.



Our day started with a burrito (Norm's with chorizo sausage).


There is nothing better than hammock time.


A selection of flowers on the Pacific Edge property (names based on Google searches):

Red Ginger                             Turnera                                   Ixora                                       Yellow Ixora


Heliconia                                                    Blue Porterweed                                   Arundina graminifolia


Gayle enjoying some pool time.           Lots of bamboo and palms overlooking the rainforest beyond.


Some of the sights at Pacific Edge Eco Lodge.


The beautiful lookout deck.                                                      With a Mirador at the end.


A video of the view to the rainforest and coastline from Pacific Edge.


Sunset on our way to La Parcela for dinner.



A Margarita 'Gold'.

  

A Guanabana / Soursop juice.


Pondering over the menu - decisions, decisions.


Ceviche - avocado for Gayle with patacones.                         Black marlin for Norm with chips.


Quesadillas                                                                               Sopa de Marisco in coconut milk / broth.



February 12, 2024 - Pacific Edge Eco Lodge, Dominicalito

Our day started early (as it always does here in Costa Rica) with the howlers howling and the sun rising a bit before 6:00 am.  We enjoyed some wildlife just outside our cabina - a squirrel and a number of birds included a hawk.

We then went for breakfast where we both enjoyed Sid's banana pancakes.  We had fond memories of them from last year and were not disappointed.  Again light and fluffy, and tasty with the bananas.

For three days Gayle has struggled with a loss of hearing in her right ear.  On Friday the ear blocked with only muffled sounds being heard.  We went to a pharmacy where we bought some ear drops.  They may have softened up the wax but still no sound so we went to a nearby medical clinic where the doctor confirmed the ear was blocked, and then did his magic to remove the blockage.  Not only can Gayle hear but the anxiety and concern over asking people to repeat themselves, selectively sitting so I was on her left side, and the prospect of flying all disappeared.  Happy Happy!

We then spent the afternoon working on the blog and expecting to have a swim but ended up chatting with Sid for a considerable amount of time.  That's the great thing about many of the small (Pacific Edge only has four cabins) boutique hotels we stay at in that we often connect with the owner (and other guests).  No question we feel like family here with Sid and Michaelynn.

Again we saw no particular reason to leave the property.  We are beyond needing a bunch of activities - both due to age and the fact we have done most of them - but rather enjoy relaxing where-ever we are staying.  Give us a pool, the feeling of being in a rainforest, a little wildlife, expansive vistas, good Wifi and the opportunity for an afternoon cocktail and life is perfect.

For dinner we went down the road to an Italian restaurant - Gusto.  Located on a hill with a wonderful view to the ocean and a decent angle on the sunset we felt like we were actually in Italy.  The Italian accent of our server was so strong there were responses to questions, like what is in the gnocchi, neither of us could barely understand, and that is with Gayle's now good ear.  We treated ourselves to a bottle of Italian wine - a Morellino di Scansano that we quite like before starting with Crostone, two pieces of homemade bread one covered with garlic sauce, honey and pecorino sardo with the other avocado and parmesan cheese.  Norm then had the Mezzemaniche Amatriciana, a pasta with tomato sauce, guanciale (cured meat from pork jowls) and pecorino.   There was no question what Gayle was going to have once she saw a Bufalino pizza on the menu - a simple combination of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil.  Everything was delicious.  And as much as Gayle wanted the Tiramisu for dessert she (and I) were just too full to even consider ordering.  It may seem a bit strange to come to Costa Rica to eat Italian but our meal was eccelante, provided by immigrants from Italy, in this case just north of Rome.


This morning's wildlife, beyond the howls of the howlers and the songs of the birds.

The squirrel was only a few feet from our cabina while the hawk sat in a tree in front of us. 



A 'unique' garden here at Pacific Edge.                                   Breakfast of delicious banana pancakes.


Last Friday (today is Monday) one of Gayle's ears stopped functioning, i.e. it was blocked.  She could not hear a thing out of the right ear.  It was quite troubling let alone frustrating as she could not engage in conversations.  We went to a pharmacy for some ear drops but the issue persisted.  So we went to a nearby medical clinic where a doctor confirmed Gayle's ear was completely blocked.  He did his thing, removing the blockage, and she feels like a million dollars.  Well worth the $180 US. 

Pacific Edge with its beautiful display of Boruca masks.


A couple of afternoon drinks while chatting with Sid.              Gusto for dinner.


Views to the ocean from the grounds and restaurant at Gusto.


And of course sunset.



Ready for dinner with a glass of wine.


We splurged tonight and bought a bottle of wine.               House flat breads to get us going.


Crostone to start,.                                                                      Norm's Mezzemaniche Amatriciana.


Gayle could not resist the buffalo mozzarella pizza.


  

February 11, 2024 - Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge, Uvita to
                                 Pacific Edge Eco Lodge, Dominicalito

Another early morning with another colourful sunrise.  We packed up and left Tiki Villas for our 'lengthy' 9.9 km drive north to Pacific Edge Eco Lodge just south of Dominical.

Upon arrival we were met by Michaelynn and Sid as old friends.  They even arranged for a troop of monkeys to greet us!  The view from the property to the coastline is something that will never get old.  Looking across the top of a dense rainforest to the waves crashing on the shoreline is hard to describe, and something photos just can't quite capture.

After a relaxing afternoon, including a swim we enjoyed a beautiful sunset before heading out to Scala, a very nice restaurant we ate at twice last year.  It was surprisingly not very busy (perhaps due to it being Super Bowl Sunday?). 
The food is not only delicious but very nicely presented.  Gayle started with Vegan Cauliflower Croquettes with peach palm sauce and citrus threads while Norm had the Scala Ceviche - the catch of the day, onion, avocado, bell pepper and tree tomato.  We chuckled when after finishing Norm asked what the fish of the day in the ceviche was to which we were told "white fish".  That much we could tell.  Upon further probing the waiter said 'catfish' although I'm not so sure he didn't just make up something.  For our main meals Gayle had the Vegan Curry served with tumeric sauce, coconut and spices, vegetables and rice, with Norm having the Chicken Ballotti - a chicken roll stuffed with goat cheese (or at least so is said but I couldn't find any) vegetables and 'anchiotada' mushroom sauce.  As we had last year we finished by sharing a Chocolate Mousse, which was every bit as good as we remembered it.
 



To the left a bird captured during sunrise.

Below dew drops on the hedge in front of our villa.


Looking down to the reception / restaurant from our entry.


Our unit, very private with the hedges.


Lots of light green - foliage, Gayle's top and the passion fruit juice.


Norm had yoghurt, granola, fruit and honey for breakfast this morning.


No doubt should have had the Tiki Villas signs at the beginning but better late than never. 



Upon arrival Pacific Edge we were greeted by a troop of white-faced monkeys.


Good afternoon.


The vibe here at Pacific Edge is fully captured by this sign ... 'relax'.


Pacific Edge have a nice mini-gallery of Boruca masks and a few other crafts.


The colourful inside of our cabina, along with the kitchenette.


The spectacular coastline from Pacific Edge.                          And the dense rainforest.


Pacific Edge's pool as the sun sets.


Sunset at Pacific Edge.



Cauliflower croquettes.                                                           Scala ceviche.


Vegetable coconut curry.                                                          Chicken Ballotti.


Chocolate mousse - a great way to finish the meal.  
                           


February 10, 2024 - Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge, Uvita

Today is blog 'light' as we never left the Lodge, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and later dinner, relaxed, worked on the travel blog, watched for and listened to the birds and pretty much did nothing.  Kind of felt like a Seinfeld episode.

Even breakfast was not overly exciting with both of us again ordering the traditional Costa Rican breakfast, served with a bowl of fruit and freshly made passion fruit juice.  We guess when we like something we are good repeating.

During the afternoon there was of course pool time in water that is more bath temperature rather than that of a traditional pool.  Work on yesterday's 'celebration x 2' travel blog, and simply chilling here in the rainforest was pretty much it ... and of course a mid afternoon nap, or two.

For dinner Gayle had a Falafel Sandwich, pita bread with falafel, served with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado aioli and yoghurt mint sauce while Norm enjoyed garlic shrimp with rice and vegetables.


A perfect capturing of our day.


Freshly made passion fruit juice along with a bowl of fruit.


The traditional Costa Rican breakfast for both of us.


An Oropendola near the breakfast area.                                    The rainforest beyond the restaurant.


More celebratory drinks for baby Jett.                                                                       A mango smoothie.


A Falafel Sandwich for Gayle.                                                 Garlic shrimp with rice and vegetables for Norm.



February 09, 2024 - Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge, Uvita

A day of celebrations!  The first we expected, that being the anniversary of Gayle's day of birth (aka her Birthday).  Gayle always enjoys celebrating her birthday here in Costa Rica, waking up early to listen to and see wildlife.  Although there has not been any animals to see here at Tiki Villas there are howler monkeys to hear, birds to watch and an orchestra of insects, with cicadas very prominent.  Nothing super special planned other than sunset drinks just outside Uvita and dinner at our favourite restaurant in the area - Exotica in Ojochal.

But then late morning our daughter Katrina messaged us to tell us she had given birth to Jett Jacksen Forbes earlier than expected.  All is great - Jett and mom are both good.  Of course the arrival of Jett is very exciting but all the more so in that it is on Gayle's birthday.  The news called for a bottle of bubbly which we enjoyed by the pool.

Before dinner we returned to Don Roger, a restaurant we stopped in last year just south of Uvita with a great panoramic view of the Whale Tail (although not actually visible due to the tides) where we enjoyed drinks while watching, along with many others, the colourful setting sun.

We were warmly welcomed at Exotica by Maite who we have gotten to know quite well, this being the 4th time we have eaten at Exotica.  The ambiance of the restaurant is wonderful, the service excellent and the food beautifully presented (every dish with edible flowers) and delicious.  Norm had the Costa Rican Ceviche to start while Gayle sipped on a tasty strawberry Margarita.  Norm then had the Chicken with Peanut Sauce while Gayle ordered her regular Pasta Strogonoff - smothered in a vegetarian creamy tomato sauce with fresh mushrooms, white wine and vodka sauce - for the 4th consecutive time.  If you love something why not continue to enjoy.  The same goes for dessert where we again had the Bananas Flambe with ice cream, delivered by Maite with a sparkler to the music of Happy Birthday.  We chatted at great length with Maite before taking a number of photos by and with her.  It is so special to have connected with someone who has taken such an interest in us and our travels.  Beyond a doubt if we are back in the area we will be back to Exotica.


First the morning coffee, and then fresh juice with breakfast - today strawberry and papaya.


Gayle had the Huevos Rancheros today while Norm the Continental breakfast.


Lots to celebrate today - both Gayle turning 68 and the birth of Jett, our first grandchild.


Celebrating with a bottle of bubbly.


Before even getting to Don Roger the setting sun turned the sky yellow.


For drinks a soursop and passion fruit smoothie and a Margarita Especial.


Everyone taking photos of the setting sun.



Views from Don Roger - first to the 'Whale Tail', hidden by high tide, and the orange sky over the Pacific.


Ah the colours of the setting sun ....