Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Costa Rica

I do not think this blog was posted - sorry if I am duplicating!

Costa Rica (meaning "rich coast" in Spanish), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Seato the east.

Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949. It is the only Latin American country to have been a democracy since 1950 or earlier.

Costa Rica was cited by the United Nations United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index.

In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) also ranked Costa Rica in 2009 as the greenest country in the world. In 2012, Costa Rica became the first country in the American continent to ban recreational hunting after the country’s legislature approved the popular measure by a wide margin.

Spanish is the main language of the 4.5 million population. San Jose is the capital of this over 19,000 sq mile country.

Coffee was first planted in Costa Rica in the early 19th century, and was first shipped to Europe in 1843, soon becoming Costa Rica's first major export. Coffee production would remain Costa Rica's principal source of wealth well into the 20th century.

It was a non eventful flight to Costa Rica. We flew from Victoria to San Francisco where Air Force 1 came in and all the runways were shut down for one hour. Since we only had 1.5 hours between flights in Houston it made running from one gate to the next a necessity. Donna (Michelle's mum and I) left Victoria at 6:30 am and landed in Liberia at 9 pm that night (Liberia is two hours ahead of pacific time zone).

Since our Costa Rican adventure tour was to leave Wednesday morning from the Hilton Garden Hotel on we decided to stay in that hotel one night before the tour was to begin. The hotel is near the airport and is not within walking distance of Liberia especially with the humidity. The options were to take a taxi or a public bus for $1 - we opted for a public bus adventure which dropped us off in the middle of town.

A few things about Costa Rica they use the US $ and colon so best to have both currencies. 500 colon is approximately one dollar. Bank cards with a chip do not work in all bank machines - you must use an ATM and not an ATH - however since they both look the same how would one know! We found a Citi Bank and Scotia Bank where cards work just fine. I was able to get a SIM card for my unlocked iPhone - must have a passport to purchase a SIM card for approx $2. Then I was able to purchase 5000 colones ($10) worth of time that can be used for calls, text or data - calls anywhere in the country are 35 colon per minute.

The Costa Rican people are very honest, extremely helpful and friendly! They recognize the value of tourism to their country and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Lots of people speak English so I am not getting much of a chance to practice my Spanish.

Liberia is the capital and largest city of Guanacaste province, Costa Rica, located 215 kilometres (134 mi) northwest of the national capital, San José. Liberia is often called "la ciudad blanca" (the white city) by its residents because of the white gravel once used to make the city’s roads and the whitewashed colonial houses that once made up a large part of the city. The city has a population of 63,000 people (almost the same as Victoria) The city is very old and not particularly picturesque.

In Donna's Costa Rica tour book she found a write up for Cafe Liberia located in an old mansion. Without much effort we actually found the cafe and started with a cafe con leche and then ordered chicken fajitas (similar to our fajitas but with real corn tortillas and fresh guacomole). We found out the cook was from France. Delicious lunch. After doing a bit of browsing in the stores we stopped for a mango, banana, pineapple yougart drink - what a way to top off the afternoon.

Beautiful ceiling of mansion
French chef


As dusk comes around 5:30 pm we decided to make our way back (by public bus) to the Hilton (somehow the sound of Hilton and public bus do not match). A fellow bus rider showed us where to get off the bus (on the side of the highway) and told us to be careful crossing the highway! We could see the Hilton Gardens in the distance.

After a quick clean up we decided to have dinner in the hotel - because of where we were located there was really no other choice! We has a chicken breast stuffed with spinach and bacon - fabulous meal at a cost of $15. Costa Rica is not as cheap as Mexico - most prices are similar to what you would pay in Canada or US. I did look at souvenirs and a number of them were similar to what I saw in Southeast Asia but at about 3-4 times the price. A bottle of water is around $2 in the supermarket - $6 at the Hilton!

Great first day in Costa Rica!

My next blog will not be posted until late next week after Sean and family arrive as I left my device to download pictures from my camera at their house. The pictures in this blog were taken on my iPhone. Believe me you will want to read my next blog - it was quite an adventure!

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