Roundtrip in Costa Rica

From January 20. to February 1. 2018

Day 0 - Friday January 19. 2018

Oslo - Gardermoen

Then it was time for another holiday. Departure this time was very early in the morning of January 20th. So, instead of getting up in extremely early (or possibly not sleep at all), I chose to start the journey on the evening January 19th.

I had already packed most of the items when I got home from work. I packed yhe final items and then went out into the snow to take the bus. First the local bus and then the airport bus. And I was lucky with both, the local bus arrived just when I arrived at the stop, and then just a short wait for the airport bus. But within that, things had already developed.

On the local bus there was a lady who asked if I came from vacation. I replied that I was going on a vacation. That's how the talk started, even though there were not more than a few stops. However, she went off at the same stop. During the conversation she asked about my family and I responded that I was living alone. When we split she would like to give me her phone number for me to contact her when I got back home again ...

At the stop while waiting for the airport bus, there were people waiting for the local bus. When two of them came straight after each other, there were a couple of young boys who went to take the second one. However, he did not open the doors. At the same time, the first closed its doors and drove off. Thus the boys were standing there in the snowy weather while both buses drove off!

At Oslo Airport I checked in to the flight, but unfortunately could not drop my suitcase. Luggage drop could not be done until the next day since there were no security during the night. It even turned out that the flight departure were delayed - to 6:30 instead of 6:10.

Then I strolled the short way to the Park Inn hotel next to the airport where I had booked a room for the night. I checked in and set my luggage in the room and then went down to the restaurant and got something to eat and a glass of white wine until I early went to bed.

Day 1 - Saturday January 20. 2018

Oslo Airport - San José

Costa Rica is a country in Central America and borders in the northwest to Nicaragua and in the southeast to Panama. In the northeast is the Caribbean Sea and in the southwest is the Pacific Ocean. The country has three different mountain ranges. This means that the country has many different climate zones, and has one of the world's richest diversity in flora and fauna. Today, about a quarter of the country is nature parks and protected areas, which is the highest in the world as a percentage.
Politically, Costa Rica is relatively stable democracy, unlike its neighbors. It is also the oldest democracy in Latin America. The country has the highest standard of living in Central America. A reason for this is that they abolished the military service in 1949.
The population has basically been Mayan Indians as in most countries in Central America. Although Columbus arrived in Costa Rica in 1502, there was still little interest in the area since it was considered not to have any gold or anything else of interest. Though Cartago was founded by the Spaniards in 1564, it was only in the 1600s that Spain took control of the area. The country became independent in 1821, but soon became part of the Mexican empire before entering the Middle American federation in 1823. They left the federation in 1839 and have since been an independent state.
In the early years the military ruled the country. Especially the 1870s and the early years into the 1880s were a good period for the country. During this time, a railway was built from the Pacific coast via the capital to the Atlantic coast towards the Caribbean. There were grown coffee and bananas that accounted for 85% of export revenues to the country. From 1889, the country had democracy, except for the period 1917 to 1919 when there was a dictatorship. In addition, it broke out civil war in 1948 as a result of a controversial presidential election. After 44 days, the fighting ended. And as a consequence, the military was abolished in 1949. The same year, even voting rights for women were introduced.
As mentioned, the economy was based on coffee and bananas. However, the economic crisis in the 1930s was especially hard for coffee export. At the same time, several of the banana plantations were destroyed by diseases. It is nevertheless the most stable country in Central America. And has thus become a popular tourist destination. Today the tourism industry is the largest source of income together with coffee and bananas.

After a somewhat restless sleep, it was time to get up at 4:30. I did my morning routine and packed the suitcases and then went down to the reception to check out. After queueing a little I came through and then walked to the air terminal. There I met Kristen as agreed, and then we did our baggage drop before we went through the security check. Well through, I bought some dollars and then we continued to the gate. Some shopping of Fishermans Friend for me and a sun protection as well to Kristen, we just had to wait at the gate on flight departure.

We boarded the plane and departed to Paris, which was the first stop. Both Kristen and I slept most of the time at the flight. In Paris, next step was to locate the next terminal. After some passport control and bus driving, we finally reached Terminal 2E-M. Here we bought breakfast and waited for the next flight.

We had a direct flight from Paris to San José, so it was a big plane and check-in began early, even though it was delayed a few minutes due to late arrival of the plane. We boarded and found our seats and got installed. Unfortunately for us, the seat to Geir, who unfortunately had to stay home, had been sold. It would have been nice with a triple seat for just the two of us, but not this time. Then we just prepared for an 11 hour flight.

We settled the way we wanted, for my with a good headset and chose music from the offer on board, and then I was ready to start the flight. Underway we got some food, but otherwise I was just listening to the music and slumber a little.

One of the craters at the vulcano Irazu in the fog (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 21/1 2018).

After arriving in San José we got through the passport control and then picked up our luggage. However, that was not as easy as expected. My suitcase came eventually, but Kristen didn't get his. It had apparently stayed behind in Paris. While Kristen lined up to make a claim for his missing suitcase, I went out to the rest of the group who was waiting for us. I told them that Kristen was missing his suitcase and had lined up to report this. Then we had to waiti for Kristen to come through. But it took its time. Finally, we agreed that the local guide Kattia and myself should wait for Kristen while the rest went to the bus and back to the hotel. And the three of us to take a taxi thereafter. And of course, just after they left, Kristen came out. Kattia had in the while done a little errand, and when she returned, we just followed her to the bus with the others who had not driven yet. The next challenge was that the luggage space became too small for all the suitcases for a group of 22 persons ... Thus some of the suitcases had to be placed inside the bus, which did not have so many more seats. It was just seating for 27 in the bus. It was not long to the hotel, so after all it went fine.

At the hotel we checked in and got dinner by the tour operator TEMA. Some chose to drop dinner and just go to bed, but both Kristen and I chose to get some food. After the buffet dinner, the test went to bed, while Kristen and I obviously had to take a Gin Tonic at the bar. Then even we went to bed.

San José is the capital of Costa Rica. The town is located on a high mountain plateau in the country.
San Jose was founded in the 18th century by Spanish conquerors. In the start, people lived quite scattered, but in 1738 it was decided that the residents should be concentrated. It was not until 1812, however, the city received its first court hall and city status in 1813. However, the city status was canceled in 1814. Finally, San José received the city status first in 1920.
However, this has not been a barrier to being the country's capital. A few months in 1822. Then in the period 1823 to 1834. And then finally from 1838 until today.

Walking around in the orchid section of Lankaster botanical garden (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 21/1 2018).

Day 2 - Sunday January 21. 2018

San José og Cartago

After yesterday's long day, I woke up a little past 5. After that I rested in bed until the alarm clock rang at 6:00 pm. I took a shower and then got down and had breakfast with Kristen and one of the Swedish couples. Then we went back to the room and there I packed down what I needed for the day. After the morning routine I was ready for today's excursion.

Departure was set at 07:30 and then we went to the first stop which was the Irazú volcano. After about an hour's drive we reached the top of the volcano. However, there was a lot of fog and rain in the air. It had rained all the time we were on the road towards the volcano. We had to wear rain jacket and caps. We started the walk to the crater itself, That actually were three craters, two sleeping, while the third one still was active. But because of the fog, there was not much we could see. And when it started to blow, we went back to the parking lot. Of course, we shouldn't have done that, suddenly it was clear for a few minutes and then the fog again. But due to the uncertainity about weather at the the volcano at 3400 meters, we decided to move on.

We drove down from the volcano and continued to Lankaster Botanical Garden. The garden was given to a university on condition that the area should be botanical garden and protected. In the garden there was an opportunity to see a lot of the local flora, as well as a further large number of imported crops from far and near. We concentrated primarily on orchids and bromeliads, but looked even at palms, cacti and succulents and helikonidae. After a stroll of approx. one hour we went on to have lunch at the Continental restaurant on the outskirts of Cartago.

Inside the cathedral in Cartago with La Nuestra (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 21/1 2018).

At lunch there was some confusion. Lena had booked in advance, but it did not work as the order had been correct. That's why someone received a little different food than they actually had ordered. But the food was good. After lunch, we did a small tour of the Orosi Valley, but since we never stopped, it was not possible to get some good pictures from the valley.

Cartago is a city not far from San José. Cartageo is also located on a mountain plateau in the middle of the country.
Cartago was founded in 1653 and was the first permanent establishment of a Costa Rica society by the Spaniards. The town received its own city weapon in 1565 by King Philip II of Spain. Cartago was the capital of Costa Rica from 1574 to 1824.
The city suffered major damages by earthquakes both in 1822, 1841 and in 1910. In 1963, large agricultural areas around the city got major destructions when the volcano Irazu had an outbreak. However, the city itself escaped.
In Cartago is the basilica Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, the country's most important church. In the church the Black Madonna is exhibited. Many pilgrims comes to the church and the Madonna known as La Negrita with hope of healing.

Then we drove back to Cartago where we, as the last stop of today, looked at the cathedral. We walked to the cathedral and further into it. Inside it was sunday mass. We came to see La Negrita, which was a figure of a black madonna hanging in the roof above the altar. Since there was a mass in progress, I was a little uneasily, but tried to take my pictures as discreetly as possible. Furthermore, we walked out of the cathedral and around to the back. Here we could enter a kind of basement room where it was possible to see and touch the stone where La Negrita had been found. In the end, we also stopped at the water source which was supposed to be healing. Then we went back to the bus and were driven to the hotel.

Idyll ved El Ceibo (Foto: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 22/1 2018).

At the hotel, of course, Kristen's suitcase had not yet arrived, but even worse it was not possible to track it either. And when we were going to leave early next morning and the travel agency had mentioned the wrong hotel, some work had to be done by local guide Kattia to fix the issue. Kristen and I went to each of our rooms after agreeing to have dinner at the hotel and not take a taxi into town and back again.

In the room I wrote about the day in the diary and transferred the today's pictures from the camera. Then it was time to meet Kristen again in the reception area for a GT. At the bar there were certain language problems since the bar girl could only speak Spanish, which would become clear throughout the evening. While we had our GT and sat and talked, one of the Swedes came down to us. He waited for his wife, and took just a beer. Eventually we finished our GT and he spent a round of beer on us as a retribution for the day before where we had spent beers on him and the wife. We ordered food while still waiting for the wife. In the end, after paying, he went up to the room to see where she was. We finished our food and ended up trying a little local rum, but not quite local since it was from neighboring Nicaragua. A nice dry rum that tasted good. Then the wife came down, but now the husband had stayed at the room and gone to bed. She ordered some food in the bar just as we had done. When she was almost finished eating, Kristen and I ended the evening and went to each our rooms and in bed.

Day 3 - Monday January 22. 2018

San José - Tortuguera

This day was mainly a transport from San Jose to Pachira lodge at Tortuguera on the coast to the Caribbean Sea. The trip was going to take a lot of time, so we had to get up early, already at 5:30 to be ready for departure 1 hour later. Since we got up that early, there was no breakfast at the hotel, just a shower and then packing the suitcases.

Riverbots at La Pavona (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 22/1 2018).

Half past seven we went off in a large good bus. The weather was brilliant sunshine unlike the previous day. We drove north across the mountain plateau through jungle and national parks and some cultural landscapes, after a few hours we arrived at El Ceibo. Here we stopped and got breakfast. We had plenty of time since we were going to continue in a convoy. Thus we could use some of the time to explore the surroundings. A fairly high segoia tree stood on the property, but first and foremost most people were looking for a little poison dart frog. And when one was found many people gathered to get some pictures of it.

After about an hour it was time to continue to Pavona. Here we should change the bus for a river boat as a mean of transportation. The first part of the road was a paved road through cultural landscapes with plantations of different kinds, and not least banana plantations. The last part of the road was bumpy and relatively poor. There was still a cultural landscape we drove through, and we even had to stop letting a banana tranportation getting past the road. A man in front with a line in his hand and loads of banana lasers on a tow in a cable car. Eventually we arrived at La Pavona and unloaded our items from the bus. The bags were moved in a wheelbarrow over to a waiting riverboat. The wheelbarrow was necessary since close to the water there was a lot of mud. Fortunately, the skipper moved the boat meaning we would get a less muddy part to cross to enter the boat. However, the young Swedish girl behind me slipt a little and down she suddenly came at quite good speed, but we managed both to stay on our feets. On board the boat, everyone found a free seat and wear the mandatory life jacket.

Then we started the boat trip through the canal at first and then in a small river or fjord. However, it was not possible to see much since the skipper drove quite quickly. It was only when we had come to the river that he was willing to stop for us looking at monkeys and birds. But typically, most had disappeared when we had to passed them and then had to turn back again. The only exception to this was a group of Howler monkeys in the top of some trees. And, typically, the guide Lena when we were almost arrived said that this trip had gone quickly ...

The main street in Tortuguera (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 22/1 2018).

Arrived at the lodge, we received a welcome drink that of course included orange, so they had to make a special one for me based on coconut - which was very good. We strolled to our room and then Kristen and I went to the restaurant to have lunch. We were the first two in the group to arrive, but it didn't last long before the whole group had entered. While we were sitting there easting a rain shower poured down. A warning of what to come later. After lunch we strolled back to our rooms and now it was not raining any more.

A little less than an hour later we would gather again to travel to the village Tortuguera located on the other side of the river. And now it had begun to rain and rain and rain. You almost got wet just watching the rain. But we were on tour so just had to dress properly. We finally reached the city and started with a visit to the Sea Turtle Conservatory, a research center to preserve and research on sea turtles. We went through the exhibition and then were shown a video. Then we went to the town itself via the beach where the sea turtles lay their eggs. Now the rain had stopped. In the small town of Tortuguera we had half an hour on our own, which was more than enough since the whole city was just a single street of a few hundred meters. I bought the trip's obligatory t-shirt, while Kristen had bought a few more shifts, the suitcase was still on its way somewhere.

After driving the short trip back to the lodge we went back to our room. And, of course, the rain had more or less stopped ... We rested for an hour in the room until Kristen and I met at the bar to take a GT before dinner. Eventually with a some Swedish company too. There we sat and talked - at least made a try through the music of the bar - until it was time for dinner. After dinner we went back to the bar and had a Caipirinha, and then we ended the day and went back to our rooms and into bed.

A tiger heron (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

Day 4 - Tuesday January 23. 2018


Tortuguero is a small village on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The city has also given name to the national park that surrounds the village.
The town is located on a small island with a large sandy beach which is the birthplace of several different species of turtles. The village therefore also has its own research center for the study and conservation of turtles. Then the name Tortuguero means "Land of the Tortoise".
In the national park, it has been dug out a number of channels, originally to harvest the trees for the wood processing industry. The park is today known for its unusual rich wildlife.

This day we should not move, so we could sleep a little longer. Kristen and I got up at 7:00, and after a shower, we went away and had breakfast. We were the last two in the group for the breakfast table. After a good breakfast, we went back to the room and brushed our teeth and got ready for departure at 08:30. Today, we would only travel by boat on the river and its canals to look for animals of different kinds.

A blooming Pachira flower (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

We left and were very pleased that the weather was sunny and clear, but with some clouds. We went to the national park office to pay the entry fee, and while waiting we got a tiger heron strolling at the water's edge. This was a promising start. When all the paperwork were finalised, we continued with the group split on two boats. Kristen and I sat in the boat with Kattia as a guide, naturally in English, while another part of the group sat in the other boat with Lena as guide, in Swedish. The number was 10-12, thus fairly evenly.

The next thing we saw was a green lizard in a tree. It was incredibly hard to spot as it had almost the same colour as the leaf on which it was standing. Then we saw a cormorant and a new heron before we discovered a leguan on a branch. We continued and passed an American crocodile laying on a rock in the water before we drove to the wateredge and watched a Pachira flower. We continued on the canal and then discovered a blue heron on a branch just above the water. Soon after it flew away, instead, a couple of swift birds came and sat down on the same branch. Thus, we drove back a little to have a look at these. Further through the canal we discovered a small cayman, which was laying quiet in a bush. Then the boatman pointed up in the forest and there was a sloth hanging in a tree, but it was almost not visible. Furthermore, we came across a larger cayman and a couple of water running birds. Until now, all the animals had been largely at rest and perhaps only marked when we got too close. But the two water running birds moved quickly through the river plants at the river bank. And while we sat there, a Morpho flew by, but of course without anyone being able to photograph it. Along the way, it had now started to come a few rain showers lasting a few minutes before it ended again.

As we moved on, a black vulture came flying above us, which would be common all day. The other boat had stopped and when we got there we saw both a black river turtle and a yellow-headed heron sitting on a log and a branch respectively. We went further through the narrow canal and found a cormorant that dried its wings in the sun and then a new river turtle.

A young cayman in a little bush (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

We went under a branch and when we got to the other side we discovered that there was an ibis stork sitting on the branch. Further ahead we came across a big spider on a tree lumber. There we turned around since the canal seemed to be ending and started to travel back again. Almost back at the lodge we saw a couple of terns sitting on a branch in the water and on the shore an egrett heron was walking. But now we hurried to get home - because the rain was on its way. And this was not just a breeze in a couple of minutes, but a shed that would last some hours and whit a lot of water to come down ...

We went to our rooms and rested a little before we had lunch. After lunch, we were looking forward to an afternoon excursion in the same manor as the morning tour. When we met for the excursion, the worst of the rain seemed to have ended, but not it should prove. Not long after we sat in the boats and started the excursion, it poured down again. And it would be like this for a while with a little sun and then a rain shower. It was not until we turned back the rain actually ended. On the excursion we came across several of the same animals we had seen earlier in the day, starting with a yellow-headed herons before we got a new acquaintance with a kingfisher. Then there was a leguan, a sloth that this time was easier to see allthough rolled into a ball, a egrett heron and a bunch of black vultures. Then we drove to the boat house to another lodge and saw some swallows, and some bats in the roof of the boat house. Back upwards the canal we came across a broad-winged hawk that was sitting in the top of a tree. We drove further up a narrow side canal, and the boatman discovered a boa constrictor laying in a bush. This was not common to see. The reason was that it had rained so much that there was a very high water level, which drove the animals on the ground up in the trees and bushes. Furthermore, we discovered a thermite stack in a tree, a cormorant drying its wings and a new yellow-head heron. Then it was time to turn and go back home. Then we discovered a yellow-beacon toucan in the top of a tree. It was not so happy with the attention and flew its way. The other boat went on as we tried to look further for the toucan. This without any luck when it came to the possibility of getting some good pictures, although we could follow it for a while. We went after the others but stopped when we discovered a capuchin monkey in a tree. Even this one almost looked for teasing us by constantly moving to the other side of the bush it actually sat in. Then we drove back but stopped when we saw a new kingfisher and another stop when we saw a new hawk.

A snakehead cormorant drying its wings in the sun (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

Back at the lodge we had some time for ourselves in the rooms before we had to meet at the bar for a GT, Kristen and myself. There some of the Swedes already was sitting whit whom we settled down. After the drinks was emptied and some talk, we went to the restaurant to have dinner. After dinner there was an optional evening walk to look for frogs. A group of just below the half of the group joined Kattia on the frog walk. But not many frogs was found. The first frog was one we knew about since it had been sitting in the same spot all day. Then we found a few grasshoppers and a few small lizards, but no frog. Thus we turned and walked back to the lodge - we had now entered the lodge number three of those who laid side by side. Kattia made an extra check on way back and finally found a new frog. Back at our lodge there was someone who knew about a lizard just next to one of the rooms and it was still sitting there. And thus this evening's excursion was ended.

I left the camera in the room and went to the bar where Kristen was waiting, he had chosen to drop the evening excursion. Instead, he had borrowed my mobile due to having forgotten his own back home, to check if there had been new information about the missing suitcase. At lunch time, he had been told that the suitcase was on its way to Amsterdam ... We ordered a new GT each and then we ended the day and went back to our rooms.

Day 5 - Wednesday January 24. 2018

Tortuguera - Selva Verde

Then it was time to move on. And since we was in no rush with the departure due to a fixed time in La Pavona, it became possible for a longer sleep in the morning. However, it became not that late since Kristen and I chose to have breakfast at 07:00. After breakfast, we still had plenty of time to pack our bags and get ready with our luggage to 9am. This way we came early with our suitcases and just waited for departure, which would be 09:30. Thus, there was an opportunity to find something to photograph. The spider monkeys that had been there early in the morning had both Kristen and I missed. So while Kristen spent the time to check if something had happened with his suitcase, I photographed some lizards that were nearby.

The boat trip itself was done at full speed as just a transport leg, not much to see. At La Pavona, we went ashore and switched to the bus. We drove back the same road as we had driven earlier until we arrived at El Ceibo for lunch. This was the same place that had previously had breakfast on the road. After lunch it was time to spend some time to look for poison dart frogs again.

A capuchin monkey (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

Then we continued to the next place we were staying overnight. It was not more than an hour and a half until we were at Selva Verde Lodge near Chilamate. We checked in and had a couple of hours before dinner. I went to my room and after unpacking the wet clothes from yesterdays afternoon tour and spreading it out to dry, I just had to relax a little and laid down on the bed. Fortunately, I'd been smart enough to set the alarm clock, because certainly I fell asleep. When the alarm clock rang, I still had 15 minutes until I should meet Kristen in the bar for today's medicine, ie a GT. I went down to the bar, and there Kristen already was in conversation with a couple of the Swedish ladies. And wonders above all wonders, he had even got his missing suitcase!

We sat there talking while we had our medicine, and then it was time for dinner. We ate it in the restaurant next to the bar. And this day the dinner ended with a cake in honor of Britta who became 80 years this day. After dinner and birthday celebration we gathered in a room next to the reception for dance classes. The dances we would get an introduction to were typical latinos, Merengue, Salsa and Bachata ?. And when we were wantaed onto the floor, not everyone was happy about that. After the dance we went back to the bar and had a beer and a local rum, and then the day ended.

Day 6 - Thursday January 25. 2018

Selva Verde - La Fortuna

La Selva is an exploration station located in a protected area of ​​lowland rainforest. The area was established in 1953 as a research station. In 1968, the area was purchased by the Tropical Studies Organization and became a protected area. Since then, many areas have been purchased to increase the area.
Selva Verde is also a private park which is a protected area. This was established in 1972.
Both areas are next to the Selva River, but they are not connected to each other, nor are they bound to each other, even though there is a short distance between them.

A little frog (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 23/1 2018).

Then we had come to another day were we would move on. But before departure we would have a two-hour walk in the jungle at the research station La Selva. Departure for the walk was 8:00 meaning that we had to wake up at 6:30 pm, having a shower and then breakfast at 7:00. For the walk I chose an easy luggage with only caps and camera. Most others was prepared with rainwear and much more. We drove the bus a short while until we arrived at La Selva, which was both a nature reserve and a research station. Here it was were we should have our walk. We were told to put on mosquito repellent, since there was a lot of mosquitoes in the area. Since I didn't bring it with me, I borrowed some of Kristen.

The group was so large that we were split into two smaller groups with each our local guide from the research station, Albert and Octavio. We started the tour by looking at a Boa constrictor that lay quetly at the root of a tree, and this one was a lot bigger than those we had seen before. Then we started the tour after watching a couple of hummingbirds swirling around. We crossed a foot bridge where we got to see both leguans and a toucan. And across the river, a blue morpho in flight. On the other side, we proceeded to the research station itself and then into the jungle. But at the station, a group of picatos appeared. Inside the jungle we came across an agouti and a glass-winged butterfly before Octavio stopped us and found a stick that he used to fish a little. What he saw was a big fire ant who walked back and forth on the stick. And Octavio was very careful not to get bitten ... Further on we came across a group of howler monkeys and then a eyelash viper. There we turned and went back again, but even on the way back, animals appeared. First another couple of picatos and then a toucan. Back at the research station, it started to rain a little, and just before we returned to the reception a real shower came pouring down. But then we largely had come to safety.

We boarded the bus and drove back to the lodge. Back we washed off the mosquito repellent, packed our suitcases and then we were ready to travel on. Today's transport leg was not particulary long, just an hour later we arrived in La Fortuna, where we stopped for lunch.

A picato (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 25/1 2018).

This day the lunch wasn't included, so the whole group split up. Kristen and I went together with a Swedish couple to a restaurant called Inspira where we all had pork ribs with BBQ sauce and a beer. Kristen and I had to try each our local beer from a smaller brewery and were both pleased with our choices. After lunch we shopped a little at the supermarket before we bought each our ice cream for dessert. Then we boarded the bus again and drove the last short distance to Montana de Fuego lodge just outside La Fortuna.

We got our keys to the rooms and went to our room, or rather, cabins. There was no more program for the day except for dinner, Kristen agreed to each take a beer which we had shopped, sitting on his terrace and discussing what we would do the rest of the day. I brought my beer to his cabin, but when Kristen was going out, the door had gone in a lock. He simply could not get out! After much trying and discussing, I finally got hold of his key card and could open the door from the outside. After the beer, when I was about to go back to my cabin, we tried some more attempts to open the door. And finally we found out the trick to open it from the inside.

After going back to my cabin, I updated the diary. Then I switched to the swimwear and went down to the pool. After a cold shower I could slide down into the hot water. Some of the Swedes were already there, we talked a little and relaxed until it started to rain. First a little, but eventually it just came more and more. It was obviously time to go back to the cabin.

Not long after, it was time for our medicine before dinner. I was about putting my schoes on when Kristen came walking. Then I got the next episode about the cabin door. Kristen got after a while trouble to get in, so he had gone down to the reception and complained about the room. One person from the reception had come up with him to take a look at the door. He had recognized that there was a problem, but still asked if Kristen would stay in the cabin. Kristen had replied no, and then he would send a person from the maintenance department. The repairman had arrived and concluded quickly that this door was broken. Meaning that Kristen had to get a new room, so he was upgraded to a suite with a living room, a separate bedroom and a large bathroom.

One of the streets in La Fortuna (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 25/1 2018).

We went down to the bar and ordered two gin tonic. We got our GTs eventually, they just had to find a bottle of gin first ... Later, more and more of the Swedes arrived and Kristen told his story several times. Just before we went to the dinner table, I was told that they could not put the GTs in the room unless I registered a credit. I went to the reception and got my credit card registered and thus opened a credit. After dinner, Kristen quickly went to his suite and I to my cabin. But first I would try to send my first travel letter, but could not get connected to the net. No link to email, I had to go with undone business.

Day 7 - Friday January 26. 2018

La Fortuna

We would be staying at the same lodge for several days, no packing this day. We had just a walk in the rainforest and a drive a gondola above the forest. In addition, those who wanted to do a canopy could be hanging in a line across the tree tops in full speed from one platform to another. Naturally, both Kristen and I chose not to, especially since the maximum weight was 98 kg.

I got up at 6 o'clock, took a shower, packed what I needed for the day and then went down and had breakfast. Departure by bus was set to 07:15 so no time returning to the room. We drove off with the bus and after less than half an hour we were at Sky Adventures where all the activities were going to take place. We left the bus and was then informed that we had to start with the gondola since the guide for the walk was arriving late.

Lake Arenal (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 26/1 2018).

We first took the gondola through the woods and then we approached the top of the tree until we reached a platform with a good view of Lake Arenal and the volcano Arenal. Together with us in the gondola was a group who should do the canopy, since the route started from the platform. Thus we got the opportunity to see how it worked. But not long after, it was time to take the gondola down again.

After the gondola ride we went down and met the guide we would have on the walk - Dahlia. However, the group was so large that we yet again had to be split in two groups, some of which went with Dahlia and Lena, while the other part went with Kattia. As we walked through the rainforest, we moved slowly up in the terrain, where we were introduced to some of the flora in the forest. The forest was so dense that there was little wildlife to see other than insects and once in a while a bird. At one point we went wrong, but soon we got back again. It turned out that they had changed the route since last time Kattia had been there.

After a couple of hours we arrived at a view point where there was a toilet. However, we had spent so much time that those who were doing canopy had to leave with Dahlia and Lena and continue in a much higher pace simply to get back on time while the rest of the group continued with Kattia at a calmer pace. We continued the walk and arrived at a waterfall, but now one of the Swedish ladies started to get some back problems. Still, she wanted to continue. It turned out as well that this other half of the tour was much tougher than the first half, despite the fact that the view and resting point with the toilet was the highest point of the walk. The reason was that the trail here went on steeper slopes. Several places throughout the tour there were foot bridges across some of the gorges as well as additional bridges across more narrow gorges. At the final foot bridge the lady with the back problems had to stop. The rest of the group went over the foot bridge to the other side, while Kattia and I stayed with the lady. Kattia called for help, and while we waited for help to arrive, she sent me down to the others to make sure the group waited and noone started walking on their own.

On a walk in the rain forrest (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 26/1 2018).

We waited and after a while the rescue crew came. Four strong guys with a stretcher. At the end of the foot bridge there was a spiral staircase, meaning they had to carry her on the stretcher around the other road. Thus Kattia came back to us and we could continue the walk. After a while, even Dahlia came and we had two guides, but Kattia was still responsible for the guiding. The final part as well was in very hilly terrain, going up and down. After being out for four hours, we finally returned to the starting point, tired but still satisfied with the tour. And hoped there was nothing serious, but only exhaustion with the lady who had to be helped back. And it turned out to be the case and she actually went the final part on her own legs, though with some support.

During the whole trip, it had shifted from sunshine to cloudy, to slight rainfall, to heavier rainshowers. But since we had been mostly in the forest, we did not notice so much of it other than we could notice some dripping.

Those of us who didn't do the canopy gathered in the bus and were driven back to the lodge. Then the bus drove back to pick up the rest after they had finished the canopy. Kristen and I left our belongings and then went to the restaurant at the lodge and had lunch. Thereafter we had a drink in the bar, Kristen a drink he had received as a bonus due to the trouble with the room and door, while I had a glass of local rum. Then we each went to ours.

I switched to swimwear and went down to the pool and soaked down in the hot water. After half an hour I went back to the room and took a shower. Then I sat down and wrote the chapter of the day in the diary.

A waterfall in the rain forrest (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 26/1 2018).

La Fortuna is a small town near the volcano Arenal. La Fortuna, which means happiness is said to have arisen when the city was spared at an outbreak from the volcano, but probably has originated in the fertile land around the city.
La Fortuna was founded once in the 1930s with the name of El Burío. However, the name of the city was changed to La Fortuna before 1968. This year, Arenal had an outbreak that would change the landscape on the west side of the volcano. Around La Fortuna there are several natural hot springs where the heat from the volcano is the source of heat.

Later we had agreed on a time when we would go to town for dinner, and it was apparent that most of the group attended the visit to the city. In the city we stopped at a supermarket to look for a rum to Geir. They were sold out for the rum we wanted so we had to get settled with a bottle of the best they had. Then the bus drove us into the city center. On the way to a restaurant we went into another supermarket, albeit a lot less, but here they had the rum we were looking for. Then we had to hope that Geir would be pleased.

Then we strolled further in the main street of the town to find a dinner place. There were not many people in the restaurants, presumably we were a little early. After a while we found a restaurant where there were many guest and a lot of local people. Thus we went in there to get us a dinner. The dining place was named Los Volcanos and had a microbrewery which we thought was a pre. We ordered our dinner and a couple of different local beers. Later some of the Swedes came to another table, but two of the single ladies sat down at our table. The food was lovely and the beer could also be recommended. Kristen and I took a GT after dinner, and then the Swedish ladies payed and left. We had got what we wanted, when it was time to return to the bus, we paid and left.

Back at the lodge we agreed to taste the rum we earlier had bought. So we were sitting in my room and having a good drink each allthough just the one. We sat and talked and when the glasses were empty it was time to go to bed.

On a walk in the rain forrest (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 26/1 2018).

Day 8 - Saturday January 27. 2018

La Fortuna

This night I had trouble sleeping properly since my neck began to hurt and it all resulted in a headache. Even though we didn't leave until 10:00, I dropped out of todays excursion.

However, Kristen participated on the excursion which was a visit to a farmer's family. There they had been shown around and explained what was grown, they had planted some trees, learned to make maistortillas and in the end had lunch.

I got some sleep, rested a little in a rocking chair on the terrace of the cabin and worked a little with the diary on the laptop. Along the way, the water had disappeared and my key card stopped working. Then I had to walk down to the reception to get a new card. At the same time, they informed me that the water was gone for all but would return in about 10 minutes. I rested on the bed when Kristen and the group returned and they decided not to interfere. Not long after, a rain shower came with 2-3 really hard sheds. When it was over, the sun shined again!

Volcano Arenal (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 26/1 2018).

Later in the afternoon I walked to the Kristen's cabin and there we drank the final two beers we had bought earlier, while he told me what they had experienced and received the latest information from the guide. Then I went back to my cabin and found my swimwear, not long after we would gather together to go to a bathing resort with geothermal sources.

We arrived at the seaside resort - Ecoterminales Fortuna, and got our towels and keys and bracelets. And then it was just to change, locking in our clothes and shoes and gett into the water that probably held around 40 degrees. Amazingly delicious just to slip into it. After a while, it was up in the bar and buying a couple of GT and then enjoying the hot water again. After having bathed for a couple of hours, the luxury ended and we changed back again. But before we left we had a group dinner at the restaurant.

Back at the lodge we said good night and went to ours.

Day 9 - Sunday January 28. 2018

La Fortuna - Monteverde

A kingfisher at Lake Arenal (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 28/1 2018).

Arenal is the name of both a volcano and a lake.
The volcano has an altitude of 1633 meters above sea level. It lies as mentioned near the town of La Fortuna. It was believed that the volcano was inactive, but on July 29, 1968 it had a major outbreak. And many more eruptions was to come later with the latest in 2010. Arenal is considered the most active volcano in Costa Rica.
The Arenal lake close by is an artificial lake, which however has its location where there originally was a small lake. But in 1979, it was made much bigger. This to provide hydropower to the country. Originally covered this power plant as much as 70% of the nation's needs, but today the volume is down to about 17%. The lake is also a popular recreation area, especially popular for windsurfers due to the stable winds.

Then it was time to say goodbye to the Arenal area and travel further on to Monteverde. I got up at 6:30 and packed my suitcase. It should be at the bus at 07:00. Part of the journey we would do by boat across Lake Arenal, but the bus would have to drive a longer route around the lake and would leave in advance. We had breakfast and then made ready for departure at 9:00.

Down to the lake we were transported in a minibus where we were sitting tight. Luckily it was not that long a stretch. Close to the lake we boarded the waiting boat and were then transported to the other side. But it was not just a transport leg as the boat drove along the banks and stopped several times to watch some animals. There were a lot of birds and a few leguans, as well as an otter, which, when I looked at the picture I took, turned out to be a whole family of otters.

Passenger boats at Lake Arenal (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 28/1 2018).

On the other side of the lake we got a new minibus that would drive us further. The road from the lake was a bumpy gravel road and quite steep uphill. And at the top of the hill the wind turbines stood in a row and produced power. After a while, we stopped at a restaurant called El Trapiche to get something to drink and use the restrooms. After everyone had availed themselves and had something to drink, we continued the drive on the bad roads to Santa Elena. Here we should have lunch and the big bus would pick us up as well. Kristen and I had lunch at a restaurant that was built around a big tree and was naturally named the Tree House restaurant. We were very pleased with the food and it was a short way to the meeting placwe so we enjoyed an extra beer. Even this beer seemed to be a local brew.

After lunch we were picked up by the big bus and drove to a plantation that both grew sugar canes and coffee plants. The plantation was named El Trapiche, the same name as the former restaurant. Then Trapiche was the name of the traditional sugar cane mill. Here we had a tour where we were shown mostly about the production of sugar and coffee, but also from cocoa to chocolate, although this was not something they cultivated themselves. And, of course, the tour ended with a cup of coffee and a glass of lemon juice with local brown sugar.

After the tour where we had been divided into two groups, we were driven to the hotel Fonda Vela. Here we had about an hour to settle in the rooms before we would leave again for dinner. We had dinner at the restaurant Bratoni, which was an Italian restaurant with pasta and pizza, and some fish dishes and some meat dishes. After dinner we went back to the hotel where Kristen and I ended the day with a GT at the bar.

Day 10 - Monday January 29. 2018

Monteverde - Tamarindo

Tour at El Trapiche with the process of drying coffee beans (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 28/1 2018).

Monteverde is an area most famous for Monteverde biological reserves. This reserve was created in 1972 and is best known for its fog forest. As a fog forest, it is one of the best preserved areas with this type of rainforest. Thus, much of the biological diversity here is quite unique.
Fog forest means that the forest is almost always covered in fog, although it is strictly not fog, but water evaporates from the forest. This along with a location along a mountain range and the altitude of the ocean which makes the fog lying and not drifting away.

This day we would travel on, but first we would do a walk in Monteverde's fog forest. I got up at 6.30pm, packed the most and had breakfast at 7am. And again, Kristen had got in trouble when he broke the key locking the door to go for breakfast. After breakfast we had some time before leaving for the excursion at 08:00.

It was not that long to drive from the hotel before we were at the Monteverde reserve. Here it was always moist due to the location of the forest and the type of vegetation. Then it was also called the fog forest. We walked about three quarters of an hour inwards and then we turned and went back. What we had seen was mostly plants and some birds. The reason was that we went on a path in the forest floor and the rainy weather at sometimes. All the trees were well covered with moss on the log, and the whole log, not just on the north side.

Back at the starting point of the walk we went into a cafe where hummingbirds were fed. Then someone said they had seen a quetzal, and then the whole group was on their way to see if it still was there. And yes, it was still there, together with another one. Eventually, there were so many spectators that the birds became troubled. They changed positions several times, just to see that all spectators followed. Thus, they eventually became tired and flew their way. But at least we had seen it!, which was absolutely not usual.

Pressing of sugar canes at El Trapiche (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 28/1 2018).

Then we gathered again and drove back to the hotel. After a brief rest we once again gathered and finished packing, and then we left for Tamarindo, which was the final stop before we returned home. Since it was a long drive we stopped in Santa Elena not long after to have lunch. Kristen and I and several of the Swedes in the group went to the Tree House restaurant and had a quick lunch there, for our part with a hamburger. After lunch we gathered and could then continue. After a couple of hours drive we stopped at Mi Finca where we had a short stop with visits at the restrooms and something to drink. Thereafter we still had a couple of hours drive before we arrived at Diria hotel in Tamarindo.

Well at the hotel we checked in and went to our room. Since it now was afternoon and the sun was on its way down, Kristen and I went down to the beach and took some pictures of the sunset, as well as the full moon.

Tamarindo is a small town on the Pacific coast in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. The town is a seaside resort with long sandy beaches, though with some areas of rocks. It is a popular holiday resort and the beaches are suitable for surfing.

Later in the evening, the whole group gathered to have dinner together, although it was not part of the tour as such. Kattia took us to La Palapa restaurant where we got a long table down at the beach. While we were sitting there, there was a show of fire dancing on the beach. I did not see so much since it was behind my back, but the others in the group were impressed. After the show and the usual round for tips, we were served our food. I got a whole grilled red snapper that was very good. Kristen and I ordered extra drinks and eventually became the last ones left. Then we strolled back to the hotel where we ended the evening with an 18 year old rum in the bar before we went to bed.

Feeding of hummingbirds in Monteverde (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 29/1 2018).

Day 11 - Tuesday January 30. 2018

Tamarindo - San José

This day was the final day in Costa Rica before departure. And there was no program for the day until the afternoon when we were going back to San Jose. Kristen and I had agreed on breakfast at 8:00, so I stood up half an hour before. We met outside the rooms and then we went down and had breakfast. After breakfast, we split when Kristen took a walk in the small town while I took a quiet morning in the room. When the breakfast had come in a little distance, I switched to bathing pants and went down to the beach for a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

A few hours later, Kristen and I had agreed to meet for lunch. We strolled a little and then sat down at Patagonia restaurant where both ordered spareribs. After lunch we strolled back to the hotel. Now we had a couple of hours before departure which was set at 16:00. This gave me the opportunity to listen to Hereford's evening match. I prepared and packed the suitcase while listening to the match. It looked promising at halftime, but a bad second half made the team lose in overtime. Disappointing!

Sunset at Tamarindo beach (Photo: Terje Pettersen-Dahl, 29/1 2018).

Afterwards it was just to collect the belongings for departure to San Jose, where we were staying at a hotel close to the airport. We drove off and as on the journey to Tamarindo, stopped after about two hours drive at Mi Finca where we ate our final dinner together. Then we drove to the Wyndham hotel where we arrived late in the evening, just a little before ten. We were to get up early in the morning so we just found the room and went to bed.

Day 12 - Wednesday January 31. 2018

San José - Amsterdam, via Atlanta

Then it was time for the flight home. I got up at 4:15 am and packed the few things I had used, and adjusted my packing a little for the return travel. Then there was to check out and gather at the reception. There was a packed breakfast for everyone, but I chose to drop it. The bus service was set at 04:45 and then we were driven the short trip to the airport in San Jose. At the airport we all said farewell to Kattia and Lorenzo, and with Lena who had a later flight.

We found our suitcases and then went into the airport. Here we checked in our return journey and came through the usual passport control and security check. It all went pretty fast due to plenty of staff. On the boarding card everyone was sorted in groups and of course, Kristen and I ended up in Zone 3, that is, the last group to board. We found our seats and I sat in the middle with Kristen against the isle and a nice young American lady against the window.

Well in Atlanta, we eventually came through the passport control. Here it took some longer time. Then we picked up the checked baggage, just to deliver it again. Then it was through the security check with a cheeky system that no one understood. And then we finally got through after about an hour and a half. Well in the airport we found the gate where our plane would depart and then we found a restaurant. Since I had my fasting day today, only Kristen was eating. But a GT in the bar both of us could have ...

After food and drinks we went to the gate and boarded the plane to Amsterdam. It was only to prepare for the long flight back home. On board we had the final GT and then I concentrated on watching some movies and listening to music, as well as sleeping a little.

Day 13 - Thusday February 1. 2018

Amsterdam - Oslo

When we arrived in Amsterdam it had become next day. And here we only had an hour until the next flight would departure. Kristen and I went as fast as we could through the airport until we came to passport control. Here they perceived that we were in a hurry and let us into the fast queue. Along the way, we said goodbye and thanks for the company to the Swedes who went to Gothenburg. (The Swedes who went to Copenhagen or Stockholm, returned via Paris.) Eventually we came to the gate where the plane to Oslo would depart and there we had to wait a little before we could board. In between, the Swedes had caught up with us, because the plane to Gothenburg should leave an hour later from the same gate! Thus we got time to say proper good bye and thank you for a nice tour. Eventually it was time to board the plane, and we found our seats in the back. However, the plane was delayed half an hour since it was snowy in Oslo. After a while, the plane could lift and we got back to the old country again. At home Kristen and I thanked each other for the tour and I took the airport bus while he was taking the airport train. After switching to a local bus and dragging the suitcase through the snow, I finally had come home again. And thus this holiday was ended.