SOAR trip Costa Rica
04/21/05 to 04/30/05
On April 21st, still celebrating
Richard's 60th birthday, we
stopped at the Denny's by the
airport for our customary 2 egg
value breakfast.  We needed a
bit of U.S. cooking, we were
both getting a little tired of the
gallo pinto.  (Rice and beans,
mixed together with spices,
served everywhere for
breakfast.)  Then we met our
group at the airport for our big
tour.  We hopped in a nice air
conditioned tour bus and
immediately got out of the city.  
We took the same route we had
taken the day before past the
Poaz volcano.  We stopped
along the side of the road for
this breathtaking waterfall.
Our first hotel was
called La Quinta.  
We had a private
patio with
hammock.  They
had a walking
trail, and backed
up to a pineapple
farm.  Of course,
we had to squeeze
through the hedge
to get a closer
look.  I had never
seen pineapples
growing before
either.
The next day we went down the Puerto Viejo River.  Two Ticos who also
own SOARS met and floated with us.  We were about a half hour into our trip
when we had to stop and wait for dump trucks to cross the river.  It was the
craziest thing I had ever seen.  They were up past their tires in the water!!
Bridges?  We don't need no stinkin' bridges!!
We met our driver half way down the river and ate a picnic lunch, then
proceeded on and met "Tim the Islander."  This man had come down to Costa
Rica in the 70s, and bought land-which is considered an island since a small
section of river had cut his 2.5 acres off of the main land.  He drives to his
bridge, and walks across to get home.  His "house" is a round pavilion looking
building.  The part facing the river looks like a bar, which is what prompted our
guide to stop and check it out.  Tim gladly invited us in for ice water and a
quick look at his garden and his birds.  The back of his "house" is a huge stone
bathroom.  It was all open, no shower door or anything, you would just stand
there and take a shower.  He and his 12 year old son sleep in a loft above the
center bar area.  The crazy thing was that there were no windows or screens or
anything.  His "kitchen" was a separate shed looking thing, also open to
everything.  This wouldn't have been so bad except that because of his beautiful
garden, Tim had a ton of mosquitoes.  He didn't seem to notice, but I sure did.
Day three of our tour we
rafted down the Sarapiqui
river. There were a lot of
rapids, so we had to wear
helmets.
When we finished floating,
we went to La Selva
biological preserve where
we ate lunch and hiked
through the jungle.  
Everything was beautiful.
Then we went back to La
Quinta to pick up our two
new guys, and then headed
to La Fortuna for dinner,
and finally to a beautiful
hotel on Lake Arenal where
we were finally able to
shower off the river water.
Arenal Volcano--That
is steam rising, not just
clouds.  At night you
can see the red lava, if
it's not too cloudy.
Day four of our trip, Richard woke up to the sound of howler monkeys.  I
however, woke up to the sound of Richard asking me repeatedly if I could
hear the howler monkeys.  We floated a very easy river, just enough current
that we didn't have to paddle and we didn't have to wear life jackets or
helmets.  We saw a lot of wild life, monkeys, birds, bats, snakes, lizards, etc.
 After this river, they had arranged for us to be able to "shower"  (Richard
held the hose for me) before we headed into La Fortuna for lunch and a
quick walk around town.  We waited until it was dark so it would cool down
a little bit, then we headed to the hot springs.  I was expecting man made
pools with small waterfalls of volcano-heated water flowing into them.  What
we found was a raging river.  The water felt great, but it was tough to stand
in one place against the current.  Some of the sections had slimy algae on the
rock floor and the water would push us along as if we were on roller skates.  
We tried to take pictures, but there was so much steam rising off the water
that very few of them came out.
We took another cold "shower" (a tube hanging from the ceiling, no shower
head, but still better than my husband holding a garden hose I guess.)  Then
we went to dinner at a steak house.  The dining room was a covered outdoor
patio, but the crazy part was that there were these cute cows grazing right next
to the patio.  You could literally reach out and touch them.  I made a few
comments about how it was like picking out your own lobster at a seafood
restaurant, but it didn't stop anyone from ordering a steak.
Day 5 we rafted the Tenorio and the Corapici rivers.  It was a slow river, with
a lot of the same wildlife we had been seeing, but what made it exciting was
seeing a caiman and our guide saw a crocodile.  No body fell out of the boat
that day!  We "showered" behind the restaurant where we ate lunch, and then
headed out for the long, crazy drive up to Monteverde.
We stopped just outside
of town to get gas, and
saw a beautiful parrot
flying around.  We all
piled out of the van and
were taking pictures of it
up in a tree when a girl
across the street started
calling him.  She owned
three parrots, and lets
them live in the trees
around her house.  This
one had flown farther
away than he was
supposed to.  When he
finally flew down to her,
she invited us to come
over and hold him.
The road to Monteverde was
horrible.  We bounced along
over the worst gravel road
ever, half the time our driver
was in the oncoming lane,
trying to avoid potholes.  I
tried to take a picture, but
there was so much dust
coming off the road that it
blurred the view.  The next
day we went to see the cloud
forest.  See, our luck had
changed for this trip, not a
single drop of rain, clear
skies, it was wonderful.  
However, that also meant
that we had no clouds in the
cloud forest.  We had a great
view, but the guide kept
apologizing.  Most people go
to "walk through the clouds."
Richard got to play
Tarzan, although
with his hat, it
might be better to
call him Indiana
Jones.
Day 7 we drove all day to get from Monteverde in the north, down to Manuel
Antonio on the pacific side.  At about 11:00 we got into a traffic jam.  There
had been an accident, with fatality, and in Costa Rica the police can do nothing
when there is a fatality.  A judge has to come and determine fault before
anything can be moved.  We were three kilometers back from the accident,
and sat there for an hour and a half.  Not bad considering the people three
kilometers up had been there for near three.  None of the Ticos seemed
bothered by the delay, to them it was just a fact of life.  When we finally
started moving, our side was allowed to go through first, since only one lane
was cleared.  We passed 8 kilometers of oncoming traffic waiting to go through.

Day 8 was probably the most exciting day.  The night before we had to vote on
that we were going to do.  There are three sections on the Savegre river.  Our
Tico guide was concerned about the skill level needed to run the first section,
and the third section was infested with crocodiles.  Our guide was pushing for
running the middle section only, but Larry was pushing to run the top two.  I
figured that if our guide was worried, he had a good reason, so I was with him.
 I was the only one with him.  So, we got up early, got into a 4WD taxi to haul
us up to the put in point, and away we went.  First we posed for a group
picture.

Dan, Me, Richard (a.k.a. Napoleon) Andy, Josh
Bridgette, our Tico guide Fofo, and the local river guide Mechas
Then off we went.  Not only were the rapids totally exciting, but I was also
hopped up on adrenaline since I was under the impression that this section of
the river was super dangerous.  We had a great time, and did fabulous as a
team.  We did have a little snag however.  We got to a rapid called the
"Washing Machine."  We cleared it just fine, and were waiting along the rock
wall for the rest of the group to clear, when the river decided it needed a little
taste of Napoleon.  The water surged up under our boat and we started tipping.  
I held on, but Richard fell right out.  Very funny.  He hung on to the boat and
swam while I paddled towards the bank, where Mechas grabbed him and the
boat and pulled us on up.  As soon as we were out of the washing machine,
Andy and Josh entered, immediately flipped over, and their boat was caught in
spin cycle.  Mechas jumped on and rode her until he could reach a paddle and
bring her on in.  See where his head is, the wall behind him.  That is where we
were waiting, minding our own business, when the river got Richard.
Anyway, we made it through the
rapids called the "Gringos
Eater"and "Oh Shit" with no
problems.  The funniest part
about "oh shit" was that it was
not announced to us, and when
we got there, and I saw about 10
huge boulders lined up in a row
in front of us, I instinctively said,
"Oh shit."  I was laughing,
wondering if that really was the
rapid called "oh shit" as I
directed us through with no
problems.  It was definitely the
best river.  We stopped right
before meeting our driver for
lunch to walk up a small side
creek to see a beautiful waterfall.
 Good thing they didn't tell me
this was our "shower."  We had
lunch where our driver was
waiting, and proceeded down the
second part of the river.  It
definitely was not as fun, and I
am very glad the rest of the
group voted to do the upper
section.
Day 9 we were waiting to
meet the group to go to the
Manuel Antonio park when
we saw a huge gang of
spider monkeys playing
above the parking lot of the
hotel.  I took tons of photos
of wildlife throughout the
whole trip, but these
monkeys were the cutest,
and least shy.  Of all the
animals we saw, these were
my favorite.
The Manuel Antonio beach is gorgeous.  I think it's the most beautiful beach I've
ever seen.
We had all put our stuff down under a tree on the beach and were sitting
around when a lizard decided to come over and check us out.  He walked right
up to our group.  Wildlife was everywhere.
That was the end of our tour.
 Day 10 was spent driving
back to San Jose.  We did
however, make a stop along
the way at a bridge over one
of the rivers we did not float,
to see why?