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 ....




For the past three years we ate at Exotica - great food; great ambiance; great staff and great owner.  No hesitation in returning again this year.

Of course at Exotica Gayle enjoyed an exotic drink.


For starters a drink for Gayle and Costa Rica Ceviche for Norm.


Cheese and toasted bread to accompany Gayle's Pasta Strogonoff.


Chicken breast cubes covered with Thai peanut sauce served with rice and vegetables.


Dessert (Bananas Flambe) presented by Maite with a sparkler, accompanied by 'Happy Birthday' music.


Enjoying a wonderful night out celebrating Gayle's anniversary of the day of her birth and Jett's actual day of birth.


With Maïté.





February 08, 2024 - Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge, Uvita

After two days of travel today is a do nothing chill out day.  That said we were awake early as the nature sounds, or as Gayle calls it Nature Theatre began very early, as in before 6:00 am.  While Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge has an excellent location in terms of views across the rainforest to the ocean for the most part the sunrises and sunsets are not particularly visible, although there is some nice colour in the sky.

We started the day with a large breakfast beginning with a fruit salad, fresh fruit juice - passion fruit today, coffee and a choice of half a dozen options.  Gayle stuck with the Costa Rican while Norm filled up on a large serving of Huevos Rancheros.

The rest of the day was relaxing - either by the pool - others must have been out on tours / activities as we had the pool all to ourselves, starting the travel blog, and having our obligatory nap.  It is definitely hot and humid here (yesterday it reached 36 C as we were driving south) although our room is air conditioned, which is real nice.

We debated going our for pizza but in the end, where dinner was quite good the previous night, decided to stay and again eat here.  Gayle had two half portions - first the Avocado Hummus - a combination of chickpeas and avocado hummus with cheese crumbles served with tortilla chips.  Then, given the Tropical Salad was so good last night Gayle repeated it again, and enjoyed it every bit as much again.  Norm had a large serving of pork ribs served with BBQ sauce accompanied by rice and vegetables.  Another very nice meal.

Back to our room and again we soon called it a night.  Perhaps it is the heat but we are beat by the end of the day.
 

One has to be up really early to catch the sunrise.  It was 5:45 am and I missed the best of it.  But the howler monkeys were howling which was nice to hear.


Breakfast - starting with fruit bowls and fresh passion fruit juice.





Gayle again had the Costa Rican breakfast while Norm the Huevos Rancheros.


The pool.


Enjoying a dip.                                                                        Enjoying a Pina Colada.


A short video of the Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge pool and views across the rainforest to the Pacific Ocean.


Rainforest bamboo trees.


Our lizard friend.


Avocado hummus.                                   Tropical salad.                                      Pork ribs. 


Torches at dinner add ambiance.                                           The night sky.



February 06, 2024 - Halifax to Toronto to San Jose  
February 07, 2024 - San Jose to Uvita (Tiki Villas Rainforest)

With Nova Scotia experiencing the most significant snowfall in 20 years, resulting in all flights being cancelled for two days and into the third we were somewhat apprehensive as to whether we would get out as scheduled for our trip to Costa Rica.  But fortunately the snow stopped, the airport plows were out and off we were. 

We had a leisurely stop-over in Toronto (where there was no snow at all) and left on time for San Jose.  We actually landed 40 minutes early and breezed through immigration, unlike previous trips where the lines were lengthy and it took a considerable amount of time.  Our luggage arrived and we easily found a taxi for the 10 km trip to Guacima Escondida ($35 US), our 'home' for the first night.  We have struggled to find that 'right' place near SJO (San Jose airport) but may have now found it.  We are also booked in our last two nights.

After a good sleep - it is not as hot and humid here just outside San Jose as further south down the coast - we awoke to nothing but sun.  There was coffee (the Costa Ricans are proud of their coffee, not shy to let one know it is the 'best in the world') in the room which got our day started.  After a walk around the property we met Paul, the resident dog.  Interestingly on the plane I watched the movie Paul - coincidence ... or not?  We then enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), eggs, plantains, some (rubbery) Costa Rican cheese and a tortilla, along with orange juice and coffee.  After breakfast Juliana arranged for an uber to take us back past the airport to the car rental office - only $10 and the driver was wonderful, in spite of his limited English - well worth the 50% tip.    

The car rental process again took longer than it seems it should (as it almost always does here in Costa Rica) but eventually we were on the road for a lengthy - nearly four hours direct - drive out to the coast and then south past Jaco, Quepos, Dominical and nearly to Uvita and our next lodging Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge.  On the way we did detour into Herradura to exchange some US$ to Costa Rican colones and enjoy an ice cream.  We eventually arrived shortly before 5:00 pm, checked in and enjoyed the view over the rainforest to the Pacific Ocean.

One of the reasons for choosing Tiki Villas for our first extended stop is that it has a restaurant, where we ate tonight.  Being quite hungry we each had two dishes.  Norm started with a Fish ceviche - white fish, aji paste, (way too much) red onions and cilantro, accompanied with fried plantains while Gayle had a colourful, refreshing 'half / side' (which seemed more like a full) Tropical salad of mixed lettuce, pineapple, strawberry, mango, sliced almonds with avocado dressing.  For our main courses Norm had the Costa Rican Casado - a traditional Costa Rican dish with chicken (or pork) rice, beans, salad and sweet plantains.  Gayle enjoyed a very filling serving of pasta with an alfredo sauce served with focaccia bread.  No room for dessert.

Back to our room where it was lights out and off to sleep.

                                
                  BEFORE  WE LEFT                                                                  AFTER WE ARRIVED.



Our first morning - waking up to artesanal Costa Rican coffee enjoyed on our balcony - it wasn't really cold - Gayle just wanted to cover up.


The flower of an African Tulip tree.                                       Here in Costa Rica.


The nice size pool.                                                                   And some guy by the pool.


Our room here at Guacima Escondido - great value for $67 (US$).


The fruit of a toona ciliata tree, of 
the mahogany family, native to south Asia but introduced in Costa Rica.

                                                                    

                                                     PAUL



Bamboo.


Bougainvillea.                                                                                                            African tulip.


Ginger plants.


Coconuts.                                                Mangos on the tree.                               Pineapple and papayas.


Of course we both chose the Typical Costa Rican breakfast with Gallo Pinto. 


There were lots of birds around the breakfast area (no doubt because of the fruit provided), including this motmot.


... and this Blue-gray tanager.


... and this Rufous-backed wren enjoying his/her morning meal.


Our route from San Jose, out to the coast and then south to Tiki Villas Rainforest Lodge.


Enjoying ice cream in Playa Herradura.


View to the Pacific Ocean from our room at Tiki Villas.


Tropical salad.                                                                          Fish ceviche accompanied by fried plantains.


Pasta with alfredo sauce and focaccia bread.                            Costa Rican Casado.



Back to Costa Rica - February 06, 2024 to March 01, 2024

This will be our 7th winter trip to Costa Rica in the past eight (missed 2021 due to COVID-19).  We will again be returning to familiar territory along the Pacific Coast (Puntarenas) of southern Costa Rica.

And we will again be returning to a couple of places we have stayed before, along with three new lodges.

We have found a new place near the San Jose airport.  We arrive quite late but will stay at Guacima Escondida the first night and for two at the end.  We will pick up our rental vehicle and head to the coast and south, where we will be staying

Can't wait.