Turtle Beach Lodge

After two visits to Tortuguero at the Laguna Lodge (2010 & 2016), I felt I needed a change or to at least see what one of the other lodges is like. After an internet search I chose Turtle Beach Lodge. Two out of a total of about 12 to 15 is not the total picture but I at least can compare these two and I like them both. Laguna is larger, housing about 300 people while Turtle Beach houses about 150, depending on how many persons to a room of course, but that is the dining room sizes. Larger is not always better.   🙂

Its been 3 years since at Laguna, but I vaguely remember their food being better or at least a lot more choices beyond the typical Tico food buffet at Turtle Beach where you get rice & beans at every meal plus “mixed vegetables” (boiled cabbage & a few other veggies) along with a change in meat from fish, chicken, pork and beef in rotation for both lunch and dinner and one little meatless pasta. Turtle’s salad bar is skimpier than Laguna’s and had more flies. So overall I remember Laguna having better food.

Housing is very similar in both with basic screened-in cabins, camp-like firm beds, and a ceiling fan plus basic bathroom. Both have a swimming pool and beach access, while Turtle also has a pool table in the bar and most of the buildings seemed newer or more modern. Both have WiFi only in the public areas (dining room, lobby, bar, etc.) They are about the same with the same tours, nature and wildlife offerings and jungle living experience. Though Turtle Beach excels on the canoe or kayak option with their private canal.

I would be hard pressed to recommend one over the other though I lean toward my most recent experience with Turtle Beach, being smaller where you get to know the staff better and I easily got a private birding tour that included the guide paddling me in a canoe while I photographed. I did not ask for that at Laguna but it is probable there too. I also like Turtle Beach’s private canal better than Laguna being on the main river. And I stayed 3 nights at Turtle Beach which really makes a difference over the one night or two night stays before! To get the most out of a place you need more time there and that is my approach everywhere now, with 6 nights more common at other lodges.

Bottom line is that Turtle Beach edges out Laguna Lodge in all but the food which was better at Laguna. Now here are a lot of shots from Turtle Beach Lodge in four slideshows by my categories:

My Room

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Lodge Facilities

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Private Canal & Boat Dock

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Art on the Grounds

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The wilderness is healing, a therapy for the soul.   

~Nicholas Kristof

 

EXTRA NEWS ON WILDLIFE OF COSTA RICA:

A Chat with Nat Geo’s “Untamed Costa Rica” Producer

“Costa Rica has one of the few places in the world where a wild ocean and a wild forest can converge simultaneously with one another.”          ~Filipe DeAndrade

¡Pura Vida!

Little Theatre in Atenas

The Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica, which Atenas Expats often travel to San Jose to see perform, came to Atenas today, performing for about 70 of the Atenas Men’s Club at the Barons Resort atop Vista Atenas after a fine lunch by Barons. Here’s just 4 shots to depict the experience:

“Fault Lines,” a comedy by George Sapio

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Performed atop Vista Atenas at Barons Resort
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After a delicious lunch by Barons in their hilltop restaurant.
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We adjourned to a Barons meeting room “Theater” for . . .
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FAULT LINES, a comedy by George Sapio, performed by The Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica

You can see and download these 4 photos full-size in my Gallery.

 

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

~Thornton Wilder

 

¡Pura Vida!

Flying From Tortuguero

Knowing from past experiences that the return trip by boat and bus to San Jose is more tiring and less of an adventure, I chose to try flying back this time and not that early 6am flight!  🙂   But rather I took the 12:40 afternoon flight – and here is

The Story in Pictures

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The Tortuguero Airport Parking Lot . . . A boat landing. My lodge “driver” dropped me off here and I walked over to the landing strip.

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The Tortuguero Airport Terminal. 🙂

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Just another bunch of tourists, European & Canadian.
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I love taking off alongside a beach! (Like in Limon)
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Up over the village of Tortuguero . . .
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. . . and over some of the rivers & canals I traveled this week.
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And the beautiful Costa Rican Farms.
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Our one stop before San Jose was at La Fortuna with Arenal Volcano towering above.

 

Sometimes I think I live a charmed life getting to see such beautiful sights! (Even though my suitcase did not make it on our overloaded flight and is suppose to be delivered by taxi sometime this evening.) I love being “Retired in Costa Rica” and I’m still processing the bird and other wildlife photos from this Tortuguero trip – but coming soon!

 

Turtle Beach Lodge, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

River Roads

Getting to and from anywhere in Tortuguero is only by boat with outsiders able to use the Tortuguero Landing Strip to fly here by small plane. All week I have been traveling around this rainforest park by boat including my private birding trip in a canoe this afternoon with Ricardo doing the paddling and me making photos!  🙂   One photo below is from that canoe trip. It is a different world, a water world! Tomorrow the lodge takes me by boat to the Tortuguero Landing Strip for my flight out which is a relief since the gravel roads between Guapiles and the boat dock are in bad condition right now. It is only the second time I’ve gone to an airport by boat with the other being at Drake Bay.

River Scene Shots

 

Wilderness is a necessity there must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls.

~John Muir

¡Pura Vida!

Tiny, Funky, Tourist Town

The first boat ride is through the jungle to the lodge in the river and canals of Tortuguero National Park.  “Tortuguero, One of Costa Rica’s most popular ecotourism destinations . . .   a study of Rainforest, freshwater and marine biology. The park and small town of Tortuguero are accessible by boat or small aircraft. When people think of Rainforest, the first thing that automatically comes to their minds is Tortuguero.”  For just the facts, see the Wikipedia Article on Tortuguero Park, there is no “official” website for the park. The previous park link & quote is from one of many tour companies here.

And since most have to pay for entrance to the National Park (my resident old man status gets me in free) the lodge boats stop at the park headquarters first which is at the little village of poor people that all lodges seem to be required to take tourists to and our guide got it over with along with park tickets before we ever got to the lodge. We were given an hour to wander and though with nothing there I needed (food & souvenirs) I used the time to make photos. Yes, I came here for the jungle, birds and other wildlife and that is what I have been doing since leaving this village, but I will still be longer processing and presenting my wildlife photos. This was easier to put together on another busy day with two boat trips and one rainforest hike.

Funky Village

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Village Murals

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3 Village Birds

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Of course there are more birds in this village in the jungle, but these are the only 3 I got photos of!    🙂

 

¡Pura Vida!

Cariari – Colorful Travel Stop

When the lodge in Tortuguero tells me their van they will pick me up at any hotel in San Jose at around 5am and I live at an hour+ away, getting up at 3am to get there is not appealing, thus when I go to Tortuguero (my 3rd time now) I usually use my Hilton Honor points from an American Express Card to spend the night at Hampton Inn Airport. Well, Hampton Inn was full this time for the night I needed and thus the next closest Hilton Hotel was DoubleTree Cariari, at the Cariari Country Club, also called an airport hotel (5 miles). But it used to be an independent, locally owned unique Costa Rican Hotel Cariari. And I’m glad I couldn’t get in the “cookie cutter” Hampton Inn which is an identical building/room as all Hampton Inns in the U.S. Nothing unique or Costa Rican about it except the coffee and staff!   🙂   And the Cariari is the favorite hotel of my new friends from Durango, Colorado.

My favorite transportation from Atenas, Walter’s Taxis & Tours, brought me here midday and I’m enjoying the exploration of a new hotel to me. Here are a few my cell phone photos made here:

ART

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GARDEN

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HOTEL

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Tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM I leave for Tortuguero National Park on the North Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.

 

¡Pura Vida!

Informal Concerts

are common in both Alajuela and Atenas Central Parks – this one in Alajuela the other day. There doesn’t need to be a reason, just sort of a jam session. It is one of the many things that keep Costa Rica’s small town Central Parks alive and fun to visit!

See my photo galleries:  PEOPLE, FIESTAS & ARTS for more music & cultural events.

¡Pura Vida!

 

And tomorrow’s edition will be written at the DoubleTree  by Hilton Cariari Hotel San Jose where I spend a free night (Hilton Honors Points) to be ready for a 5:30am pickup the next morning for my trip to Tortuguero, Turtle Beach Lodge on “The Amazon of Costa Rica.” It’s my 3rd time to Tortuguero but in a new lodge for me this time and staying 3 nights this time for a more relaxed visit. New adventure every month!    🙂

And this morning I met a couple from Durango, Colorado who have been staying in “The Cariari” since 1980 when it was a private hotel before Hilton Hotels made it a DoubleTree. They just love it as their hotel near the airport for a stay before an early flight as “snowbirds” who come and go all winter. So I will find out what makes it special!  🙂 And let you know. It was a substitute for me since Hampton Inn had no vacancies. These American hotels are only in San Jose and on a few big beaches. Most Costa Rica hotels are locally owned and operated which I generally prefer.

¡Pura Vida!

Cell Phone Garden

The other morning before breakfast I just walked through my garden using my cell phone to snap a few happy sights. This slide show of 14 shots shows just one reason I like Costa Rica so much – year-around!     🙂

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I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.       ~Georgia O’Keeffe

🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

And oh yeah! My flower galleries:  Flora & Forest

First Day of School

Yep! School year starts in February after an almost two month summer vacation. Both the public primary school and the high school started today, 6 February and while walking to town early this morning it was obvious! The majority of students walk to school with nearly all primary school kids walked by their mother or a grandmother. Rural kids living outside of Central Atenas ride a bus to school and a very few kids have parents with cars that drive them to school. But even with fewer cars, it’s a massive traffic jam. Click image to enlarge.

Mothers walk children to school.
Uniforms & Backpacks
Traffic Congestion – Blue shirts at left are for high school

 

International Storytellers Fiesta

UTN-logoOn a walk through Central Park Alajuela the other day I was captivated by a series of large pieces of art about familiar stories in different Spanish-speaking countries. I looked up the title of exhibit (en español) online and discovered that it is part of the XIV International Storytellers Festival sponsored by UTN here in Alajuela with storytellers coming from around the world to share stories in Spanish of course!   🙂

The following is the Google translation (not the best translator) of the short article online at this website:

Within the framework of the Senük Meeting, the Headquarters presented on Wednesday, January 30, a storytelling show as part of the XIV International Storytellers’ Festival Alajuela Ciudad Palabra (FICU).

StoryTellerThe International Storytellers’ Fair included 130 artistic shows this year with the participation of 7 international guests and more than 60 national artists who performed at venues in the city of Alajuela, San José and Atenas.

The FICU is organized by the Alajuela City Word Association and the Regional Office of Culture of Alajuela, which is part of the Culture Directorate of the Ministry of Culture and Youth.

Precisely, the headquarters of the UTN was included for the first time, to host one night, the presentation of two outstanding storytellers, who made people laugh and amused the audience with their stories and occurrences: Wilmer Oconitrillo (Costa Rica) and Benjamín Briseño (Mexico).

Oconitrillo presented stories of the Costa Rica of yesteryear, interpreting the way of speaking of our grandparents, with the desire to rescue our roots.

For his part, Briseno, delighted the public with legends and stories that are told in the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico.

The Festival Facebook Page has one post about this exhibition of paintings for the festival. I think I photographed all the large paintings about storytelling in different Spanish-speaking countries representing a favorite story in that country, displayed on trees throughout Central Park Alajuela. As always here, a photo in a gallery can be  seen larger by clicking it, which is why I’m not doing as a slideshow:

 

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.”

–Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights