Easily mistaken for Gallo Pinto in restaurants by travellers, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, a dish of White Rice & Red Beans, simmered in coconut milk has a similar name, but a very different flavour.
Nothing says Cost Rica quite like the famous Rice & Beans dish, Gallo Pinto. The biggest challenge is finding the Salsa Lizano, the signature flavour of Costa Rica.
We then headed 10k north to Punta Uva a lovely white sand beach to relax a bit.
It had rained all night, so the start of the surfing lesson was pushed back a half hour due to the weather. When we got there we were loaned a rash guard (long sleeved t-shirt) given a lot of instructions on safely and then split into small groups, each with an instructor and taken out into the surf.
We then reached the Bribri village and did the chocolate and medicinal herbs tour. We were shown various plants used for natural lipsticks, glue, mosquito solution and other things. Highlighting just how practical indigenous people have been with their environment. Nothing is wasted because waste cannot be afforded.
Once we were changed and had snorkels on, we took a small, somewhat overloaded, boat out to ‘the point’ to swim around the coral reefs. The water was very shallow, most of us got a scrape or two from the rocks but visibility was excellent and we saw some great fish, the highlight being a manta ray.
We then had a 3 hour drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where we checked into rooms with mosquito netting on the beds before all meeting at an open bar space with wood tables by the small pool.
We were not expecting much from the lodge as it was in the middle of the jungle; we were told there was no fresh drinkable water, limited bar, meals made by the guides and generally had our expectations set low. However it was incredible...
The alarm at 4:30am signalled the start of one of the main adventure elements of the trip. We would white water raft down the river to a lodge in the middle of the jungles of Costa Rica. We would then spend some time hiking and doing various other activities on the second day and then do some grade 3 and 4 rapids on the final day.
This was a longer transfer down some rough roads but we arrived at an old farmstead and stables. We were quickly geared up and paired with on horses. Mine was a mare called Tarzan.
The mountain bike tour started when we had disembarked from the boat.We started with a tough uphill journey, which was hard work and showed I do not cycle nearly enough. It was about 20k all on gravel roads.
“The experience was adrenaline fuelled, by the end we were all twitching with nervous energy.”
We climbed aboard a flat bottomed boat and sailed along the lake toward La Fortuna and the volcano. The lake is dammed at one end and used as a hydroelectric plant which provide 50% of Cost Rica’s power.
It was a short low ride to 100% adventure, home of Central America’s longest zip line, or at least so the tag line to the venue said.
After we’d finished the walk, and had a beer, we moved on to the night walk/ Starting few miles out of town, a smallish hut marks the beginning of the night walk. Assigned a guide we follow a trail into the forest after a brief induction to what would occur.
Walking across the eight bridges of the cloud forest was a bit of a disappointment from what we were expecting. Advertised as a solid two hour walk we were done in 55 minutes; including time to take photos, and I take a lot of photos. To be fair to the guide, we were the ‘active adventure’ group and so would take a walk like this more briskly.
After refreshments, it was direct to Montverde, through some incredible terrain, Costa Rica is stunningly verdant and even at higher altitudes there are tall trees and lush grass. The town of Monteverde itself is quite small but well served by shops and restaurants aimed at tourists.
Sunday was an early start though easy to manage as we had all had and early night the night before. Breakfast was very local, and something we all later found out we’d need to get very used to, Gallo Pinto, Costa Rican Rice & Beans, a stable of breakfast and several other meals. Once we were full of rice and beans it was then on to the bus for the 4.5h drive to Montverde.
The flight Miami to Costa Rica had some lovely views as we traveled south, although we were nearly redirected to Liberia due to bad weather which would have been a bad start to the trip. They made it down on the second attempt; to the wild cheering and applause of the Americans who get very excited by ‘airplanes’.