A Travellerspoint blog

Wonderings Answered; Thanks Moms!

overcast 2 °C
View Pura Vida - Costa Rica Dec'14 on otisandma's travel map.

Before we left for this trip, I’d wondered about many things and I seem to have reached conclusions:

  • Time difference - yup - no big deal
  • How Tico’s prepare for Christmas? Some decorate with lights. Nativity scenes are big. We even saw nativity scenes on roofs - with light-up reindeer! Many families put their Christmas tree on their front porch!!


  • High school Spanish - remarkably, I did pretty well. I’d reviewed some things before we left - lots of food words and a few phrases. Juan, our driver to Boruca told me that I actually knew More than ‘un poquito de Espanol' - and he told other people the same!!
  • What fruits were in season? an important question for making the jams I did. Pineapple, mango and papaya. I’d hoped to find guava but none.
  • the coffee - Bill LOVED it! He was drinking it black it was so good. We stopped at a Hortons on the way home from the airport and he wasn’t impressed! ;)
  • Sun or rainy season - you already know that :(


We were pretty happy with the activities we did. Sportfishing, canyoning, chocolate factory, vanilla farm, Boruca, rescue ranch were all wonderful with many memories. Disappointing was the ability to have some beach time and time on the hiking trails. But, we can’t control the weather so we’ve got to focus on all the fantastic things we did and people we met. Phil and Thierry at the Airbnb places were terrific, Cees at the Safari Ranch was an amazing host, Leslie and her rescue animals were fantastic. Julio at Sibu, Captain Eric and his fishing crew, Alex & Junior at Canyoning, Roy at the vanilla farm, Lourdes & Harol at Borucs...Lots of people passionate about sharing their work and lives with us.

Much thanks to our moms for this trip. We lost both of our mothers in 2013 and this trip was part of their legacy to us. I know for sure that my mom would have loved some of the activities (no, Not the fishing or the canyoning tour) and I don’t think it would have been Bill’s mom’s type of vacation but, no matter - we had them in our hearts with us!
Mom.png large_531708_Jean.jpg

Arrived safe & sound in Acton about 2am this morning (Saturday) and yes, our bed felt lovely - warm, dry and just the way we like it!

Thanks to all of you for reading along, checking my musings along the way. I’m happy with my diary - this trip will stay with us for a long, long time.

IMG_9793.jpg IMG_9751.jpg

Oh, Auntie Em! There’s no place like home! Dorothy Gale

Posted by otisandma 18:32 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Babies

semi-overcast 24 °C
View Pura Vida - Costa Rica Dec'14 on otisandma's travel map.

Our trip is winding down. With all the anticipation in the months prior to leaving, it’s almost over. :(
Today saw us travel from the south of CR back to San Jose for our flight tomorrow. Instead of taking a 4-5 hour bus ride, we took a 45 minute flight on Sansa Air, a local Central American airline. Small plane - sat only 12 - but it was a pretty smooth flight with beautiful views of the coastline, the central mountains and some of the places we visited.
IMG_9995.jpg IMG_9993.jpg
We saw Quepos and Manuel Antonio. We could see almost all of the spit that forms Marina Ballena park - a national park based on the ocean with a spit that at low tide, forms the shape of a whale tail.

IMG_9996.jpgFrom the air, it’s clear how mountainous the country is. Also visible are the acres and acres of palm plantations, made by destroying much primary forest. :(

We flew into San Jose with quite a cross wind on the approach but had a beautiful landing - kudos to our pilots!
IMG_9998.jpg IMG_0009.jpg
Sansa Air’s lounge in the airport had a nice nativity scene set up - hey! it’s only 2 weeks ’til Christmas!!
Our next transport was via taxi again, to the area we started our trip - San Isidro de Heredia and this time we’re staying at a place called Toucan Rescue Ranch. Leslie and her husband Jorge started in CR working with Macaws in one of the rescue programs already set up. After a year, she discovered that Toucans, although not as endangered, were being abused or injured and there was nobody caring for them so she offered. Over the years, their relationship with the wildlife officers and veterinarians have led them to care for a wide range of birds and animals - IMG_0032.jpg Oncilla, owls, an otter, parrots, macaws, toucans, an anteater, spider monkeys and SLOTHS! Both two and three-toed sloths. Weird but cute animals.
Most animals come to Leslie either as babies who have lost their mothers or as injured animals. The hope is that many can be returned to the wild but there are some that will never. Either injuries are too severe or they are too used to humans to be able to survive again in the wild.
Leslie gave us a tour of all the animal enclosures, the new clinic and she fed some of the baby sloths! Britt, Latte and Mocha are 1 month, 1 1/2 month and 2 month-old two-toed sloths.
After our afternoon tour, we returned to the Sibu Chocolate company for an early dinner and to purchase the chocolates we were afraid would melt had we taken them further south with us.
No rain in the South, but back here in San Jose area, we’re again getting those damp misty-rain breezes off the mountains. The air is cool and people are saying it’s not been a typical start to December.


Like them on Facebook!

Posted by otisandma 08:07 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)


sunny 30 °C
View Pura Vida - Costa Rica Dec'14 on otisandma's travel map.

Isn’t this an AWESOME mask?!!
It’s the one we bought today in the ‘Territorio Indigena Boruca.’ Today’s post is likely going to be longer than usual as we learned so much and want to remember this one for sure.

Boruca is one of the 8 native groups still living within Costa Rica. The three in the North of the country originally came South from the Maya of Mexico. The 5 in the South of which Boruca is one came North from Columbia. They inhabited the whole of the southern part of what is now Costa Rica until the time of the Spanish conquests. The Boruca are proud of the fact that their carving skills helped to keep the Spaniards at bay. Their intricately carved masks, usually depicting animals, helped to scare off the invasion. It’s these masks and how the Boruca are beginning to flourish is what drew us here today.
Getting to the village wasn’t easy. It’s about 50 kms from our lodge and we hired a local taxi driver (with help of our host who also arranged for a tour in the village). The 3kms down from the lodge was easy compared to the road to Boruca. The village is about 9kms up a mountain and the dirt road is full of ruts from the rains. I was half afraid of narrow, winding roads hugging the side of the hills with nothing but drop-off below…it WAS narrow and winding but there was width so we never felt like we were in danger of going over the side. Phew!

Like many indigenous groups worldwide, Boruca is a smaller group with much less land than history shows. Government handouts don’t feed the soul. However, masks were still being carved over the years, father teaching sons the skills, painting them with natural charcoal, achiote and leaves.

Masks are made through the year for one purpose - the Dance of the Diabolitos - Dance of the Devils. These masks don’t celebrate the devil, they’re for the protection of the people. This three-day long celebration takes place over Dec 30 to Jan 1 each year. The first day is a dance with just masked Boruca visiting from house to house, enjoying food and Chi-cha - the local alcoholic drink. On the second day, the toro (bull) appears to represent the Spaniards terrorizing the Boruca who eventually succumb. Third day, some of the villagers, dressed with masks and robes as the women, give strength to the fallen warriors who rise to vanquish the bull. The bull’s mask and costume are burned in the village plaza and everyone retires to food and drink. Throughout the days of the dance, musicians with drum, flute and conch shell signal the various parts of the dance and are even able to let people know where in the village the dance is taking place.

About 30 years ago, university students visiting the village found out about the masks and as word got out, tourists began visiting to get masks. These were usually ones that had been used during the dance. Seeing opportunity and with new tools and acrylic paints available, the mask carvers began expanding their art, carving masks specifically for tourists. Now, a group led by local women is spreading the message of the Boruca even wider, inviting people to the village for a discussion of the masks and of the traditional weaving done.

Weaving - using cotton grown on trees within the village, many of the ladies, after learning the skills from their families, now make and sell cotton purses, belts, hats and placemats. Everything is done by hand and the dyes are all sourced from the world around them. White or a coffee cream are natural colours. Blue comes from a green leaf that changes after a time in hot water. Yellow comes from a tuber/root similar to turmeric. Green dye is made from a combination of the blue & yellow. Orange is from the seeds/fruit of Achiote, black from a bark.
The rarest, most difficult is the purple dye. The people need to take the white cotton to the ocean where they search for a particular mollusk (sea shell creature). They blow into the shell and the mollusk releases a white excrement that is put onto the cotton yarns. By then leaving the yarn in the sun, the purple colour emerges. (The Spanish were particularly interested in purple for royalty and heads of church.) I bought a gorgeous bag to use for work :)

Our tour was conducted by Harol Rojas, one of the first of Boruca to attend university. His major was Tourism and he’s part of a collective started by his mother, Dona Lourdes, called ‘So Cagru’ (so = wise mature woman; cagru = warrior). Families within produce masks and woven articles to sell. Harald accompanied us to visit one of the weavers; his brother was one of the carvers and he told us the stories of the masks. Harol also showed us typical Boruca homes contrasted with government-provided pre-fab homes. The pre-fab homes get hot and damp in their environment and of course there was no consultation with the people as to what type of home would suit them. Hmm, sound familiar?

Our tour finished with a typical Boruca meal (rice, pork, platanos, beans, mango salsa) served on a leaf and eaten in the traditional Boruca manner - by hand.
Boruca has both elementary and secondary schools and the children learn basic mathematics, reading, writing, etc but part of each day is also devoted to Boruca culture. The native language was almost lost but children are now learning.
What an amazing day, full of hope for a proud people.
Oh, and the weather? It was amazing until we got back to our tent…the rain began again and we were deluged all evening. Good thing we’d asked our driver to stop at the local ‘supermercado’ where I bought some simple supper fixin’s on our way back from Boruca.


Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. Asian Proverb

Posted by otisandma 15:44 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Photos...Dec 9

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Pura Vida - Costa Rica Dec'14 on otisandma's travel map.

Internet connections have been spotty here further south in CR. Here are photos that I would have added to my previous post:
Poison Dart Froggy:
Prettiest soap dish!
Glamping and Riverside location
IMG_9910.jpg IMG_9909.jpg
Cascada El Pavon - The Waterfall!
IMG_9927.jpg IMG_9939.jpg

Posted by otisandma 05:05 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

On the Move

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Pura Vida - Costa Rica Dec'14 on otisandma's travel map.

Today we moved from Quepos about 1 1/2 hours south by bus and taxi. Before we left our B&B, we had a little time in the sun to watch some Poison Dart Frogs. Cute little things, about an inch+ long. They’re not poisonous to touch but apparently would do harm if eaten.

We’re at a really cool lodge called Rio Tico Safari Lodge. Although there is a guest room in the main building, most of the rooms are actually tents. This however, is no ordinary camping. It’s Glamping! Perched high on a platform with King-sized bed, nice bathroom with shower, lots of lighting and a beautiful porch overlooking a river rushing over rocks. And flowers! Not only in the gardens/property, but in our tent - isn’t this the prettiest soap dish?

The owner is originally from the Netherlands and he’s built this place from scratch over the last 6 years. There was no water, electricity or anything. Today he was trying to get a higher-speed, more consistent Wi-Fi installed. Not totally successful. No signal in the evening :(
The sound of the river is loud, but actually quite peaceful. Looking forward to sleeping here.

We took a short walk down the road to find a path to Cascada el Pavon. This is a 50’ or so waterfall opening into a pool of cool, sweet water. Some steps hewn into the rocks on the approach were a little nerve-wracking but one we determined the steps weren’t slippery, we made our way down. There’s a huge boulder wedged between rock walls immediately in front of the waterfall - very cool indeed! A lovely afternoon break.

Dinner was at a neighbouring restaurant. Now, our lodge is located about 3 km up from the main road on the way to a village called Punta Mala - off the beaten track to say the least. Our host at the lodge said he’d call over to let the restaurant know we’d be coming for dinner as they sometimes close at 5pm. When we got there, two other families were having their dinner. No written menu - they have Tilapia or Chicken; Tilapia can be whole or filet. But with the main entree of the meal was a shredded lettuce salad, rice, plantain and potato - Delish! With bellies full, we walked back up the 150m to the lodge, stopped for a coffee and back to our tent.

And best thing of all today? NO RAIN!!

Sorry - will add photos later Folks! Internet connection very slow!


Don’t be a Tourist, be a Traveller

Posted by otisandma 05:34 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 14) Page [1] 2 3 »