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!

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!

Manuel Antonio National Park Tour

Yesterday, 23rd, was a full day with tour of the park and the night hike here at hotel wildlife refuge – thus I did not get photos all processed until today, the 24th, the anniversary of me living in Costa Rica four years now.

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I think I have said this before in the blog, but I will repeat that Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited of all 28 or so national parks in Costa Rica and thus generally my least favorite because it is “loved to death” with too many people (think Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the states with the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge mess). My last time here was in 2015 with Kevin Hunter and the park tour was different in that we saw some different animals and probably had a better guide who grew up in the area. We saw squirrel monkeys then which we did not this time nor the parrot snake I photographed on that visit, but otherwise similar. And this time we went to all three beaches in the park, while only going to the one main beach last time.

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If an animal is spotted by one group, all the other converge on that spot. Too many people!

And this time there are now more trails and a really nice series of bridges or elevated walkways through the mangrove swamp, handicap accessible with braille signs! Though behind the U.S. in handicap accessibility, Costa Rica is moving fast in that direction!

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I go mainly for the wildlife, so that is the main slideshow below, but many people come here for the three different beaches inside the park and pay the $16 admission just to spend the day on one of the beaches, so a shot of each of the three beaches is in the second slideshow. Overall, Manuel Antonio is just too “touristy” for me and I have no desire to return here. The hotel with its own wildlife refuge is nice and I love the views from the hillside, but it too is rather “touristy” and overpriced, so I don’t see myself returning here either. But glad I’ve had all these experiences! The Costa Rica tourists see.

Manuel Antonio Wildlife

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Beaches of Manuel Antonio

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“Adventure is worthwhile.”

-Aesop

 

See this TRIP GALLERY   2018 December Si Como No.

Is the Color of Christmas Red?

Last year after Christmas I took the potted Poinsettia I had had inside and planted it in my garden. When I recently asked my gardeners to “thin out” my garden, well . . . they really thinned it out including the removal of my poinsettia which was not doing well anyway.

So today I looked for another poinsettia in town and found only one little plant store that had any and they were expensive, but I got two anyway. They add to the “Christmas Spirit” around my house and I already had in mind putting them immediately in my garden, which I did. Well, the rain seems to have stopped (we might get 1 or 2 more) and the wind has started blowing (think March in the states). The petals or really leaves on the poinsettia are be thrashed by the wind and already look weathered.

Oh well, I meant well and in my thinned out garden there is not much color now, so they have been added to my two other now-blooming red flowers: Red Ginger and Torch Ginger or in Costa Rica El bastón de emperador. So maybe all this red in my gardens is my Christmas color for this year!   🙂

 

See the Photo Gallery of My Home Gardens for more of my flowers and they’re not all red!   🙂

 

“What is the colour of Christmas?  Red? 

The red of the toyshops on a dark winter’s afternoon,
Of Father Christmas and the robin’s breast?
Or green?
Green of holly and spruce and mistletoe in the house,
dark shadow of summer in leafless winter?
One might plainly add a romance of white,
fields of frost and snow;
thus white, green, red- reducing the event to the level of a Chianti bottle. 
But many will say that the significant colour is gold,
gold of fire and treasure, of light in the winter dark; and this gets closer, 
For the true colour of Christmas is Black.
Black of winter, black of night, black of frost and of the east wind,
black of dangerous shadows beyond the firelight.

― William Sansom

¡Feliz Navidad!

La Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit / Pitaya

“Pitahaya” is not a Spanish word but rather a word from the indigenous people of Costa Rica and what everyone calls this unusual fruit or flower growing on a cactus plant. It is used most popularly in bebidas or fruit drinks like American Smoothies and the fruit is called “Dragon Fruit” or “Pitaya” in the states. The inside is gelatin like and pink in color with tiny black seeds and very sweet.

The photo is of one David brought to Spanish class the other day and I thought I would share another one of out unusual foods here in Costa Rica (and all over Latin America and in Asia). Read about it on Wikipedia (en español) or  in English as pitaya/dragon fruit.

¡Pura Vida!

Will Costa Rica Become the only Chocolate Grower?

Will Costa Rica become the only source of chocolate by 2050?

Roasting cocoa seeds

The above link is a really interesting article in one of our online English newspapers. Chocolate comes from the cacao tree which will only grow 20 ° north or south of the equator and in the correct amount of humidity. Central America and particularly Costa Rica are perfect for that. West Africa has been good for cocoa, but global warming, higher temperatures and the desertification of West Africa along with some plant diseases there may someday, possibly by 2050, eliminate all cocoa farming in West Africa. They are experimenting with hybrid plants there says this month’s National Geographic magazine, but already people are saying the resulting chocolate is not as good.

Cacao is grown all over Costa Rica as small family farm businesses and by some of the indigenous peoples as I described in my recent visit to the Bribri Watsi village and earlier from my visit to Bribri Yorkin as we watched their children suck the sweet white stuff from around the cacao beans and we tried it ourselves.

If you ever visit Costa Rica there are many chocolate tours you can take to learn the complicated process for making one of the world’s favorite sweets.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

¡Pura Vida!

Lunch at Watsi Village

Experiencing the simple life of an indigenous people is a true blessing and learning experience!

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Live a simple life; you will own the most beautiful treasures of the world!

~Mehmet Murat ildan

¡Pura Vida!