Monthly Archives: April 2017

Monteverde – another great adventure…

Monteverde: You can get there from here, but you’ll need some pura vida

“Excuse me. Could you tell us how much further it is to the Monteverde Reserve?”

I stopped my stroll along the dirt road and leaned down to try and see the driver. It was one of the ubiquitous Daihatsu rental cars optimistically advertised as full-sized with four-wheel drive.

I smiled past the lady in the passenger seat, who looked nervous, and accidentally locked eyes with the man behind the wheel, who looked frazzled. A bead of sweat trickled down his temple and he tried, and failed, to avoid flinching in response to the kicks that the two small children tethered into oversized car seats in the second row were delivering to the back of his seat.

I’d been this exact guy about five years ago on our first trip to Monteverde. It’s a long, hard drive, particularly with your entire family and related luggage squeezed into less space than is typically provided by a mini-fridge. His eyes spoke panic, so I tried to keep my response short and simple.

“A little more than three more kilometers that way.” I pointed in the same direction he was already headed down the bumpy dirt road.

Read also: Monteverde dazzles – wet, wild, lush and teeming with life

The driver leaned towards me so that his head was just beneath his wife’s chin. “That can’t be right. We passed a sign about three kilometers ago that said it was only three more kilometers.”

I’d also been there and done exactly that. “You passed through the town of Guacimal on the way here?”

The woman, fighting for space, looked past her husband’s head at the directions in her lap. “Yes. And when we got back to the paved part of the road we veered right. That’s where we saw the sign.”

I knew the sign. We had often giggled about it and some of the other signage in the neighboring countryside, which, depending on your route, indicates that Monteverde is getting further away as you draw closer.

Sometimes three kilometers are not what they seem.

(Courtesy of Marshall Cobb)

“I understand. The sign is wrong. You’re about three kilometers from the entrance.”

“Why wouldn’t they fix the sign? Isn’t this the biggest tourist attraction in the area?

He had a good point, but he wasn’t grasping the situation. Pura vida, as I’ve come to find out over the last couple of years, means that you should be happy the sign is pointing the right direction. The fact that somebody might have mixed up which sign should go where from a distance standpoint wasn’t really material.

I wanted to say that all the locals know where the Reserve is and, like cat skeletons up trees, permanently lost tourists don’t exist. It was all going to work out. I didn’t say any of this but instead took the advice of comedian Bill Burr, treating the situation like you’d treat a large, nervous rescue dog: slow, calm words and no sudden moves.

“Yes, that’s correct. Just keep driving the direction you’re going. Once you cross the bridge stay to the left and you’ll see more signs–”

The driver grabbed the directions from his wife. “What bridge? I don’t see a bridge!”

Recommended: Dealing with climate change in Costa Rica’s treasured Monteverde cloud forest

The lady, equally tired and cranky but also taking the rescue dog approach, gently pushed him back to his side of the car and took back the now crumpled piece of paper, which she extended out her window towards me

“Can you please just show us where we are?”

I winced as a large tourist bus full of grey-haired, well-heeled tourists honked at the stopped car and blew by on the wrong side of the dirt road. The honk made the kids stop screaming and kicking, at least for a second. Locals often jokingly refer to the posh tour buses as the “five thousand year buses” due to the collective age of those therein.
I bent down and looked at the map. I’d seen a lot of horrible, completely not-to-scale maps produced by the hostels and hotels in the area, but this one looked homemade (criollo, as we now say in our family).

(Courtesy of Marshall Cobb)

She noticed my hesitation and smiled. “I did some research and put this together.”

In the background, the ever-antsy husband rolled his eyes.

I took one end of the piece of paper and tried to figure out her map. It mostly made sense, and I pointed to a spot at the beginning edge of what is called Monteverde. “You’re about here.”

She frowned. “I don’t understand. I thought we’d been driving through Monteverde for a while already.” She pointed to a spot further back on the map. “See, this is our hotel. And our hotel is in Monteverde.

This could have gone a variety of directions. I could’ve said that once the Quakers, who settled here in the 1950s and named their purchase Monteverde, leased a large portion of their land in the 1970s to help create what is now the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Eventually local businesses started cashing in on the tourism angle and hotels and restaurants that weren’t particularly close to the Reserve and had nothing to do with conservation proudly announced that they were located in Monteverde.

Further, as I learned from Lucille “Lucky” Guindon (one of those early Quaker settlers), the Costa Rican government got in on the act and eventually named the entire district Monte Verde (though why they made it two words remains an unsolved mystery).

I could’ve said all of that, but the driver likely would have resorted to violence. Instead, I smiled and said, “Your hotel is actually in a small town called Cerro Plano. I know it’s confusing but all you have to do is drive about three more kilometers that way.” I again pointed the same direction they were already headed.

Read more: Resisting climate change feather by feather in Monteverde

He wasn’t going for it and again tried to hog the map. “We’re going to have dinner tonight at this nice restaurant with gardens. They said they’re in Monteverde but it’s before our hotel — close to the sign that said three kilometers until the Reserve.”

“That’s actually Santa Elena,” I finished for him. “That’s the name of the larger town you first entered when you got back to the paved road.”

He looked with disgust at their homemade map. “So that’s not Monteverde?”

I gently pushed away from their car, smiling as I went. “Yes, at the end of the day it’s all now Monteverde.”

No one looked happy, and the kids began bickering in earnest. The man grumbled under his breath and put the car back in gear, grinding it a bit, like a lot of other folks who aren’t used to a stick shift.

She smiled at me and then turned as best she could to address the children. “If you don’t behave we won’t go to the Quaker Cheese factory for the tour and ice cream later on.”

I watched them drive off, fighting the impulse to let them know that the Quakers had sold the cheese factory to a Mexican company several years back, and the new owners had eliminated the tours — though you can still buy ice cream.

I continued my morning walk back towards our house, which is tucked away in the woods in the hamlet of Cerro Plano. Our move here was an unexpected development that evolved out of what was supposed to be a one-year sabbatical. I had been just like that driver: Type-A, rules-oriented, demanding.

Pura vida has not completely changed me, but I suspect the walking and the reduced stress level may gift me a few years I would otherwise not have seen — unless I end up getting run-over by one of the tourist buses flying by in the sidewalk-free portions of the Monte Verde district.

Marshall Cobb and his family moved to the Monte Verde district in 2015. He takes breaks from working on his novel by posting blogs on his website and can be reached at:

Costa Rica budget savings tips


Heck, these ideas apply to travel and residency.  We’ve found hitchhiking around our area pretty easy.  Just use common sense.

1.- Use the Colón, the local currency

You can pay anywhere in Costa Rica with American dollars, and there are many who live daily with this currency. However, I recommend using the Colón, (the local currency) because with it you are much less likely to be taken or treated as a tourist anymore. In addition, the dollar has more value so the rounding is always upward. However, with the Colón you can make much more controlled and accurate payments. With this trick, you will not save much money, but everything helps in a country with such high prices.

2.- Pay cash better than with a card

If, something caught my attention about Costa Rica is that almost anywhere can one can pay by card. However, if you carry a visa from another country it is very likely that with each payment you make you will incur a commission and in the end, you end up leaving a bit of money in commissions. That is why I recommend running with cash. Important, whenever you are going to withdraw money, look for a cashier where a commission is not charged and use a credit card for the trip that does not charge you fees for using it abroad. For example, the Evo Bank card.

3.- Buy a local SIM card for your phone

If something is cheap in Costa Rica it’s cell phone service and having a SIM (chip) with local number can get you out of many troubles. When I arrived in Costa Rica, I bought a prepaid mobile card (from the Kolbi company) and I put in 3 Euros, of which I did not spend even half after a month of travel. In addition, I thought I sent many messages and made more than one call. As footnote…make sure you bring and unlocked cell phone.

4.- Soda, the cheapest option to eat

Fundamental. Eating in sodas is a lot cheaper than doing it in restaurants. For us to understand, the soda is a type of restaurant in a basic plan, without too many luxuries but home cooked and freshly made. It is a good place to eat dishes of the day (the equivalent of the Spanish menu) or the Casado, which is a dish, composed of rice, beans, banana and other ingredients to choose from. It’s ideal to fill the stomach with a lot for little money. I never spent more than 5 Euros eating on a soda and I always came out perfectly satisfied. Eating in sodas is a great way support the local community.

5.- Shopping in supermarkets

This rule is useful for Costa Rica or for any other country in the world. The cheapest option to eat is always to buy your food in a supermarket and prepare it yourself. Generally, hostels have kitchens at the disposal of the tenant. Now, I can also tell you that the savings of eating via supermarkets in Costa Rica are minimal (the shopping cart is expensive) so many times it makes up or works out to eat in a soda and save you the effort of cooking. Buying in supermarket is a very good option if you travel in large groups since you can cook for more people for less price.

6.- Sleep in hostels and cabins

If you want to travel cheaply through Costa Rica, the best lodging option is to use hostels or cabins instead of hotels. For those of you who have never been in this country, I would say that cabins are a type of accommodation often found in Costa Rica that can be a simple room, with its own bathroom and a few more luxuries. I mean do not expect room service, hot tub and that sort of thing. However, despite its simplicity, it is easy to find cabins with a lot of charm. The difference between the hostel – youth hostel and the cabin is the one that usually includes common spaces, rooms of several beds and other elements that favor the interaction between the members. The cabins usually have more privacy. The average prices in both types of hotels are usually similar but the hostel you can usually find rooms with many beds which are always the cheapest option.

7.- Stay in Tico houses

Of course, there is nothing cheaper than free, so of course I invite you to look for accommodation in local houses. For me it is still the best way to travel and there are websites that facilitate this search as Couch surfing. If it is true that in Costa Rica, despite traveling alone, I found it particularly difficult to find a bed in this way. Moreover, it is distant or beyond San José and other cities, the community of Couch surfing is small, inactive and dispersed. However, this is not the only way to open the doors and that sometimes honesty, sympathy and a good attitude is the best key.

8.- Buses for locals, the cheapest transportation in Costa Rica

As tourists, we usually seek the most comfortable way to the sites and we find it much easier than a private minibus, a taxi or a car that takes us from one destination to another. However, in Costa Rica the difference in prices between private and public transport is enormous, so if you are encouraged as much as possible to abandon the comfort and bet for savings. The public bus in Costa Rica is very cheap. In this sense, I encourage you to read my blog post on bus transportation in Costa Rica, with all the keys to travel by bus in this country and save a lot of money on transportation.

9.- Hitchhiking in Costa Rica

In fact, hitchhiking is not a common practice in Costa Rica, let alone in the main cities. However, the lifestyle of some coastal towns such as Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Montezuma and Santa Teresa share much with this practice so you will not spend more than 5 minutes with your finger raised before someone picks you up. To optimize your results “pulling your finger”, I recommend you read our guide to hitchhiking.

10.- Be nice and mix

This advice applies to Costa Rica, to any country in the world … and to life. If you remove the tourist layer, you get your best face and try to mix with the local people for the maximum, prepare for many good things to happen. I did my entire trip and I never missed anything. Ticos are wonderful people.

If you apply all these tips, it is easy to travel cheap in Costa Rica. Now, as I have explained, Costa Rica is a very expensive country for the tourist so, avoid travel with a loose budget. Of course, do not forget that, no matter what, Costa Rica is a wonderful country and every euro, dollar or Colón that you invest will be worth it.

What the press is saying about Tamarindo

This article definitely presents the highlights!

Playa Tamarindo Costa Rica a Paradise in Central America

Tamarindo is a lovely shoreline town, which is similarly tropical heaven and also a Multicultural meeting point. Called by the Forbes Specialized Magazine as the Most Famous Beach in Costa Rica. The city has developed from a lethargic angling town to the Mandatory Parade of visitors with a blend of abnormal state of shops, eateries, nightlife and openings joined with the Costa Rican season.

Individuals from Costa Rica, the United States, France, Germany, Italy and different countries work Businesses devoted to Tourist Need as Gourmet Restaurants, Bars, Casinos, Clothes Shops, Surf Shops, Fine Craft Shops, and numerous others More situated to go to the requirements of travelers. In foundation, Banks, Pharmacies, Post Offices, Internet, Dentists, Car Rental, Supermarkets, Video Stores, and so on.

Since Tamarindo started to draw such a large number of individuals from everywhere throughout the world, it is coherent and reasonable the expansion in air activity at Tamarindo airplane terminal and its development step by step. Situated in the city and behind the Private Golf Course, it gets day by day approaching and active flights from national carriers Sansa and Nature Air. At the point when Robert August recorded the portion about Tamarindo in the motion picture “Perpetual Summer”, Tamarindo turned out to be universally known for surfing.

Playa Tamarindo a Great Location for Surfing Movies

Furthermore, for a justifiable reason, there is no less than 5 world class surfing spots inside simple driving separation of downtown. These incorporate Playa Grande, Playa Avellanas, Playa Langosta and, obviously, Tamarindo itself. Tamarindo has been the area of different movies, for example, Wild On Channel E and one more of a similar Entertainment Channel, which has been recorded around the city.

Likewise MTV certifiable order one of their groups to show them to surf in the Bay. The premises have as of late been shot in the film FE DE AGUA to exhibit at worldwide celebrations and in the well-known novel Meine Wunderbare Familie. Seen by Millions consistently.

The shoreline of Tamarindo has an incredible adequacy of tide so in the morning is a gigantic shoreline of clear and fine sand, with a few reefs on the drift yet toward the evening the tide rises and the shoreline gets to be smaller as we set up a Magical evening in some of its bars with great music to give us the best of consistently, its dusks in the ocean.

In the event that the water of the Pacific ocean was similarly as sublime that in the Caribbean would be a standout amongst the most lovely places on the planet to live. The water is warm so you can spend the entire evening penetrating waves however it is not straightforward, it looks a considerable measure like the Argentine ocean or southern Brazil in shading.

To arrive, it is important to travel only 19 km north of the town of Tamarindo yet for 3 unique courses from the condition of Guanacaste, 152, then 155, lastly 180. We needed to ask a couple times where to turn. The shoreline of Brasilito has waters much clearer than a similar shoreline of Tamarindo, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t have a similar wonder in its shorelines.

It is extremely pleasant at any rate and tranquil as should be obvious and from the same toward the south you can stroll to Conchal shoreline which has quiet waters to repair a projecting to the Pacific Ocean.

Surfer’s Paradise

Costa Rica has a large number of surf breaks with waves originating from all bearings on two coasts. There are populated breaks for those needing organization or a crowd of people, normally circumscribed by discharge breaks inside strolling separation. What’s more, on the off chance that you need to get remote and outlandish, there are a lot of impeccable waves available just by watercraft or long climbs.

This minor Central American nation has turned out to be a standout amongst the most prominent goals for voyaging surfers around the world. Travel to Costa Rica and you will rapidly observe why – warm water, extraordinary nourishment, reasonable hotel, neighborly individuals and a wide assortment of waves.

Costa Rica is additionally a wonderful and quiet majority rules system. The way of life is one of the most astounding in Latin America, and instruction and education rates are high contrasted with different nations. Costa Ricans are pleasant, upbeat and very much mannered. And keeping in mind that Costa Rica is still a nation battling wrongdoing, savage wrongdoing is uncommon.

You likely been asking yourself when is the best yo appreciate this superb shoreline?

There are two seasons in Costa Rica: wet and dry. Amid the dry season (December to April) the surf is, all things considered, littler on the Pacific drift and bigger on the Caribbean. The wet season (May to November), otherwise called the ‘green season’, surf conditions switch, so the Pacific surf is greater.

The dry season matches with Costa Rica’s high season. This implies it’s more costly to go here this season of the year, because of heavier tourism that leans towards drier climate. It’s likewise more hard to secure cabin, which means you’ll have less flexibility to meander freely. Costs begin dropping not long after Easter (you can even arrange room rates) and it is significantly less swarmed. Indisputably the least expensive time to go to Costa Rica is amid the times of September and October.

Different Facts About Tamarindo Beach

The act of surfing in Tamarindo is straightforward, particularly for apprentices and families. The shoreline has numerous breakers inside strolling separation so you don’t have to take your vehicle. For the most developed and experienced surfers, Tamarindo has 2 superb principle surfers: Peak, a rough point before the Tamarindo Diría Hotel and the estuary El Estero.

Despite the fact that this city has turned into a world-renowned hub for surfers, Tamarindo is likewise a most loved goal for eco-sightseers. Encompassed by National Parks toward the north and south, and mountains overflowing with untamed life and plenteous foliage, Visiting Tamarindo is a delight. Toward the north of Tamarindo shoreline, isolated by a characteristic saltwater estuary, is Playa Grande. Playa Grande is known for being one of the fundamental settling purposes of the Baula Turtles, which has turned out to be a standout amongst the most earth neighborly attractions in the district.

The shorelines in the territory are normally spotless, and late endeavors by the legislature and neighborhood associations are being put under a magnifying glass. In spite of the way that the shoreline has not recouped the Status of Blue Flag Ecological, of 2008, got an endorsement of the soundness of the Government of Costa Rica.

So If you’re wanting to have a getaway of a lifetime tropically, simply book those flights immediately! Say no more, come visit this extraordinary Paradise in Central America.