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Costa Rica – The Rest of the Story

 

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It is day-4 in Costa Rica, and today we are leaving La Fortuna for the Monteverde cloud forests. Along the way we stopped at the Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal (Arenal Volcano National Park) for a jungle walk to the base of the volcano.

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A coatimundi, roadside.

Everywhere you looked was something fascinating, whether it was the leaf-cutter ants marching in long lines each carrying a large section of a green leaf, to spiders, and plants, and mosses. But the jackpot was an anteater spotted high in a tree by Mark.

The road to Monteverde was narrow and winding with several one lane bridges. To be fair, the roads were never designed for this type of traffic, but our bus driver was a true professional and the ride was smooth and comfortable.

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For much of the ride we were circumnavigating Lake Arenal. Situated at the base of the Arenal Volcano, the lake supplies 12 percent of the country’s hydroelectric energy. While on the opposite side of the lake, wind farms utilize the strong winds that whip across the Tilarán mountain range, whereas the Miravalles Volcano Geothermic Plant taps into the area’s volcanic activity for electrical power.

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When we arrived at our accommodations in Monteverde the afternoon was upon us, so we settled in and then prepared to go out for a drink and dinner. The evening was cool and breezy, with an amazing sunset and we saw several other couples from our group. Eventually, in the bar, we joined Mark and Kelli and family, also on the tour. We had a delicious meal together and wonderful conversation. As the evening wore on, we said our good nights and returned to our room.

That’s when I felt that … tickle.

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Then by morning, chills, congestion, occasional cough, body aches, pounding headache and a fever. Then I self-tested positive for Covid. It was soon obvious that I/we should not risk continuing with the tour lest others might get ill. Thus, as mists and a light drizzle rolled through, we began our isolation, missing the hanging bridges walk.

It was our final night in Monteverde when Jeannie’s symptoms began to worsen. The next day, the tour was moving on to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, and we would go back to San José.

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We had notified José, our tour director as soon as the self-test results came back, and he went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable, and he arranged for our private transportation from Monteverde to San José, a 3.5 hours drive, and a place to stay in San José, though the room was only available for one night.

Soon after we arrived back in San José, we needed to go to a hospital to get an official SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) / INFLUENZA test, (as per our travel insurance). It came back positive for us both, and the next day we not only had to change hotels but had to see a Doctor to verify that were indeed sick (also per our travel insurance). Get travel insurance, and always read your policy, if you don’t comply with their timing requirements, don’t expect reimbursement of expenses.

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Satisfied, that for insurance purposes, we were certified as sick with covid, as well as being fully prescribed with drugs to combat any symptom that might come up, we relocated to our new hotel at the airport and settled in for the next three days and nights. Being trapped in an exotic location and feeling as poorly as we did was no fun … even with room service.

Eventually, we arrived back home in Florida, and are returning to a version of normal relatively quickly. And between writing and editing photographs, and filing the insurance claim and balancing the budget, we have some thoughts.

20240216_073930.jpgCosta Rica was stunningly beautiful, but we saw so little of the country. The onslaught of big tourism presents many challenges to this small country. But ultimately beyond the pretty pictures of the place, it is the people we encountered, before, during, and after our illness that will be remembered.

MG_6472.jpgThere was one aspect of Costa Rica that was pleasantly surprising, “Pura Vida” – a Costa Rican phrase, that literally means “pure life”. For a moment, it was easy to think that “Pura Vida” was the result the result of a clever marketing campaign. The phrase is casually used as a greeting or farewell or even to just say “all is good. No worries.”

But when you hear beyond the slogan, it is a phrase of the street, of the people. It reflects a philosophy of enjoying life to the fullest, embracing life’s simple pleasures, and finding joy in the little things. It kind of explains the smiles, even when they don’t know you’re looking.

And in spite of the challenges, meeting fellow travelers, making new friends, sharing experiences, getting recommendations for more travels… it’s why we travel


This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Thank you for this right up! Helps me remember what we saw and what I forgot 🙂

    -Mark

  2. Enjoyed the photos. Sorry COVID interrupted the travel but I glad you both recovered without any issues.

  3. Great Pics!!

  4. So glad that y’all recovered and that you were able to share your experiences with us. Beautiful pictures, as always.

    1. We’re glad to be recovered as well. At our age…it could have been worse. Glad you enjoyed the photos!

  5. I am always looking forward to reading about your latest adventure and Costa Rica being at the top of my bucket list, this one was of particular interest. So sorry about the COVID, but at least you survived. We experienced a similar situation last year just a few hours after landing in…L.A.
    Hope to hear from you again soon. And you will still be welcome in Réunion Island but make it quick, we intend to move to Madrid in the next couple of years.
    Best
    Jean-Marie and Maria

    1. Hello traveler friends from our Norway adventure! Sorry to hear of your rough arrival in the US. Oh the challenges of travel. Don’t think we’ll make it to Réunion Island, but Spain could be on a future itinerary. Have you been to Florida? We’d love to see you here!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I’m so sorry that you both were sick. But I’m glad that all went well and as usual, your photos are awesome!

  7. I’m curious as to your thoughts on your travel with a tour group vs on your own, as you always done in the past. Did you find you had significant time to see all that you wanted at different stops or did you feel “like I’d like to stay here an extra day and check x,y & z out”?

    1. Mo, and others,
      First, I have to say that the Gate1 tour (https://www.gate1travel.com/) was outstanding. Not only was everything well organized, but the quality of our guide, food, and lodging, were excellent, and at a competitive cost. They and their product are great.

      Our fellow traveling companions on the tour were delightful as well. And that is a big plus for tours. However, gravitation to your group can draw you away from being immersed like you are when you are traveling solo or with one other person.

      That said, other than one more semi-tour later this year, we do not plan to book any land-based tours in the foreseeable future. Just as our style of travel – long-stays in one place – are not for many, the tour groups are a bit rushed and don’t allow for as much time to simply “be there”, as we prefer.

      Oh, yeah, the bus will not stop for a great photo-op no matter how nice you ask.

  8. Pura vida indeed. We are all the richer because of y’all.

    1. And our story is more fulfilling when it enriches the lives of those who travel with us!

  9. Wow, what an adventure! Glad you came out OK!! Good to know about travel insurance… looking forward to the next adventure and living vicariously through your travels!

    1. It’s always a relief to have a good ending when something goes awry. This is not our first experience with travel insurance, and as we continue to travel, it may not be the last. Won’t say we’re expert but definitely experienced!

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