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  • Monkeys
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    Insects

    by monica71 Written May 5, 2008

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    Favorite thing: Costa Rica has a countless number of butterflies, moths, ants, bees and other tropical insects. Nobody knows the real number of beetles and grasshoppers there.
    The most brilliantly painted insects are the butterflies. They vary in sizes from small ones to huge ones, as big as the palm of your hand. While in Arenal, I had the pleasure to see some very bright colored butterflies fly freely. I also had the unpleasant surprise to find myself being "attacked" while drinking a cup of orange juice on the hotel patio, by a huge grasshopper that caught me by surprise and landed on the top of my head. I was scarred since I did not know what creature landed on my head, but I started to laugh pretty hard as soon as I saw it jumping from my head to the window of my room. I went inside the room, grabbed my camera and took a picture of it.

    The grasshopper that scared me to death! And this grasshopper seemed HUGE to me! Flowers and Butterflies

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    Volcanoes

    by monica71 Written May 5, 2008

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    Favorite thing: Costa Rica lies at the heart of the most active regions on earth. It is the home of 7 active volcanoes (out of the 42 active ones in the whole world) and another 60 dormant ones.
    If you are one of the many curious tourists (like me!) that wants to peek inside the bowels of a rumbling volcano, you have no better option than Poas Volcano, where you can get close to its rim and gape down into the well-like vent, see lava bubbling and fumes of sulfur rising in the air.

    The type of magma that fuels most of the volcanoes in Central America is thick, viscous and filled with gases that the erupting magma often blasts in the air. I read that if it erupts in great quantity, it may leave a void within the volcano's interior, into which the top of the mountain crumbles to form a caldera.

    Poas Volcano Arenal Volcano

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    Lush Vegetation

    by monica71 Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Favorite thing: You will be amazed at the sight of lush vegetation! The green you see here is not the green we are used to seeing in North America or in Europe. It is a different shade of green, much deeper and greener!

    Costa Rica’s flora is protected by a large system of national parks, which makes up for at least 20% of the country’s area. Thanks to these extensive protected areas, Costa Rica boasts more than 9,000 species of “higher plants”, and at least 800 species of ferns. There are many more species, some of which are widespread in the country, and some which are limited to an ecosystem or a particular area.

    This region, which measures as much as the state of West Virginia, is responsible for the preservation of many of the world’s endangered species of flora.

    Me and a huge Aloe Vera plant

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    Try to pay your food bill using Colones

    by monica71 Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Favorite thing: It is a good idea to have some colones with you while traveling in Costa Rica. We run into situations when we wanted to pay in American dollars and the exchange rate varied from store to store or from restaurant to restaurant during the same day. The difference between the official exchange rate and the rate these places gave us was not that big, but it was bothering me to see how they try to get more money from you when you pay in another currency.
    I have no problem giving an extra tip (we did that several times while vacationing here because we really liked the service and we wanted to give them more than the standard 10% tip they added to the bill), but I want to give it because I feel they deserve it and not because they are trying to get it from me in a sneaky way.

    5000 Colones bill 1000 and 2000 Colones Bills Colones Coins

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    Paying with a credit card

    by monica71 Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Favorite thing: In Costa Rica, there are some places that charge you extra if you pay with a credit card. To be sure you avoid such a charge, ask before handing out your credit card.
    Rental car companies and big hotels do not charge you extra for this. Tour companies prefer you to pay cash and they even tell you that they need to charge you more if you pay with your credit card.

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    If God forbid you have a car accident

    by monica71 Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Favorite thing: If you are driving in CR and you are involved in an accident, make sure that you request and wait for the transit police to show up and fill out a report. You need to call the rental car company right away to let them know about the accident. They will send one of their inspectors to the accident site right away. If you can, do not move your car after the accident and lock it in order to protect your belongings.
    Make sure you get as much information as you can about the other vehicle and persons involved in the accident.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Birding tour company: Gateway Costa Rica

    by tropicalchris Updated Apr 27, 2008

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    Favorite thing: We customized a private 15 day birding and nature tour for 4 people with Gateway Costa Rica. They have sample intineraries on their
    website that you can use to get started and they customize them for you. We had all our ground transport taken care of. The drivers
    were great and always on time or early. We are so glad we had a driver. As far as we could tell, they are not many roads signs. (at least they drive on the right side of the road.) we stayed at six different lodges and hotels all over the country, it was great. They have links on their website to a lot of the birding lodges, so you can decide for yourself which is right for you. Saw at least 150 species of birds and lots of other animals too. We had almost all our meals included, which made things much easier. We also had private guided birding tours included in our intererary. We couldn't have been happier. The last 3 days we went to the beach at Maunel Antionio and even though these hotels were not ones Gateway Costa Rica were familar with, they were happy to include our request. We even changed one reservation at the last minute to 3 nights instead of 2, called the home office and it was all taken care of, no problem. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a birding and nature tour, especially if you don't want to go with 30 other people.

    Fondest memory: Best memory of Costa Rica was seeing the Resplendent Quetzal, Scarlet Macaws, Keel-billed and Chestnut billed Toucans in the wild.
    Magnificant birds, and endangered.
    Coati and monkeys, tarantulas (small ones). Really friendly people. Gallo Pinto. All our enthusiatic and knowlegable guides. Mangrove
    swamp at dawn.( with birding you see a lot of dawns.) Birding from the deck at Rancho Naturalista at 5:45 am with a HUGH pot of Costa Rican coffee, cream and sugar.

    Scarlet Macaws Birding at Savegre lodge Violet Crowned Wood-Nymph Hummingbird Violaceous Trogon - Selva Verde Lodge White-nosed Coati

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    cultural ambiguities

    by mongo2 Written Apr 5, 2008

    Favorite thing: Nicaragua is an extrememely impovrished country,small bands of children work the tourist centers[Grenada,SanJuanDelSur]hustling change to buy solvents[glue,spray-paint]which they openly inhale out of mason-jars.Prostitution is the only source of income for many unwed mothers,it is a sad,tragic country.Costa Rica,is,by Cent.Am.standards,extremely prosperous,it is for this and other reasons that many Gringos find it distastefull,they would prefer that all of Central America be an impovrished slum,they believe this condition to be "culturally authentic".

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Road Trip

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    No English...No problem (in Costa Rica)

    by rjweber21 Written Apr 3, 2008

    Favorite thing: A lot of the "Ticos" seem to speak English - definitely in the more popular areas. I was in Costa Rica last year, and didn't have a problem with not knowing much Spanish (I know about 10 words). You should email some of the member who live there. They usually are willing to meet up with you and give you a locals tour. Have fun! Ross

    Fondest memory: Beetle Bar - no just kidding. That place annoyed me. I really liked the birds and the monkeys, as well as the beaches. My best days were spent just hanging out at the beach in Punta Leona.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Beaches

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    Basilicia de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles

    by JaQT Updated Jan 3, 2008

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    Favorite thing: My ultimate thing to do is to take pictures of the countries architecture. The picture of this church is the original pic of the church of "our lady of angels" which as you can see has been destroyed but I still seemed to see it's beauty.

    The new "Our Lady of Angels" is strikingly beautiful both inside and out.

    Fondest memory: I will miss the Ruins.

    inside the ruins/church

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    Going to the rainforest

    by ArenJo Written Nov 16, 2007

    Favorite thing: If you are going to spend time in the rainforest, take malaria medication because there are a lot of mosquitos. Wear long sleeve shirts and pants even though it is hot, because you don't want to rub up against something and get a rash. Wear rubber boots (simple kinds from Wal Mart only cost around $10) because they'll protect you from water as well as snake bites.

    Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Costa Rica was when I was walking near the El Zota research center and as I looked up, a howler monkey was hanging down into my face, studying me.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Backpacking
    • Safari

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    One of the best beach

    by s.luceri Written Apr 24, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Costa Rica is the country with more aerotaxi in the world. Don't rent a car but travel with pioneer flight: with less than 50USD you can go everywhere!

    Fondest memory: The beach of Manuelantonio National Park is one of the best I've seen in my life for the richness of the nature besides you, meanwhile you stay with the Pacific Ocean in front of you. Wonderful!

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    Costa Rica National Flag

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Apr 15, 2007

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    Favorite thing: The National flag of Costa Rica consists of five horizontal strips in red, white and blue, modeled after the colors of the French Tricolore. The blue and white are the original colors used by the United Provinces of Central America.

    Some, but not all of the renditions of the flag include the country's coat of arms on the central red panel. The coat of arms features the three volcanoes representing the three volcanic mountain ranges of Costa Rica, and the seven stars represent the Costa Rica's seven provinces.

    The official flag designed by the First Lady, Pacífica Fernández Oreamuno, and officially adapted on September 29, 1948. It was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution - freedom, equality, and brotherhood - and the colors of the French National Flag.

    Flag of Costa Rica Costa Rica National Flag Costa Rican Flag over San Jose

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    The Tico Times Newspaper

    by bpwarne Updated Mar 1, 2007

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    Favorite thing: If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica (or even if you are not) you may like to take a look at the Tico Times, an English language weekly newspaper which claims to be Central America's leader, it may very well be. They have a web edition of The Tico Times which contains a small amount of the weekly articles from thier print edition as well as some, if not all, of the classifieds. The editorials are sometimes downright laughable. We subscribed to the print edition by mail for a year or so but delivery was always sporadic, some issues arriving more than a month after publication. Still, you can garner a lot of info/ideas from it and it is also available now as a .pdf file, a more timely way of receiving it, but not for free.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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  • Canadian Travellers Never buy Costa Rican Colons i

    by sishab Written Feb 26, 2007

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    Favorite thing: I usually purchase my foreign currencies from “Guardian International Currency Corp.” located in Toronto. They usually offer a competitive price for US dollars and since I have been a trusting client of them for years, without researching the rates, I made a purchase of 400 Canadian Dollars worth of Costa Rican money on February 14, 2006 for the exchange rate of 0.0028325. My 399.38 CAD (Canadian Dollars) was exchanged for 141,000 CRD (Costa Rican Colons).

    When I arrived to C.R, I figured how I was ripped off!

    The real exchange rate on February the 14th has been 0.002178 / 0.002346 (Bid / Ask). So had I gotten the proper rate, my 400 CAD would have been equal to 170,000 CRC! This means that my loss was 29,000 CRC which is about 70 CAD!

    Isn’t this ridiculous? In a 400 dollars transaction losing 70 dollars!

    I contacted the “Guardian International Currency Corp.” and asked for an explanation. I was told that this is their rate. I was also told that “ALL EXOTIC CURRENCEIS” (like CRCs) are sold with similar ratio (Sold with very high rate and bought with a very low rate!).

    Long story short, NEVER buy Costa Rican Colons in Canada. Even in San Jose (San Jose, CR) Airport you can find much better rates. Exchange your money in a bank in Costa Rica. Nonetheless in Costa Rica you can always spend American Dollars you don’t really need much CRC, maybe in rare cases.

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