Category Archives: Guanacaste and Nicoya

Exploring tide pools and the tropical dry forest

May 30:

Today we had two exciting activities to do. The day started off with some of the guys surfing, of course. After breakfast we split up in the two groups. One group went hiking to a waterfall. The three girls that didn’t go went horseback riding up a small mountain.

Two of the guys stayed back and relaxed. They went on a little adventure along the beach. The waves were small, but plenty of sea creatures to see. Tide pools were filled with them. The water clarity was like looking into an aquarium.

The hiking group got to encounter many different exotic species today. While hiking to the waterfall through a rough terrain they observed birds, huge trees, cacti, livestock, and local farmers. When the group got to the waterfall the view was beautiful with a lush green background. The water was cool and referring on this hot sticky day. Jumping off the rocks was a thrill.

For the girls who went horseback riding they went through a small mountain. A very small path way out lined the way up the mountain. Once the group reached the top the view was breathtaking. Green vegetation all around. The horses were cool calm and collected they seemed to be all friends. Going down the small mountain back to the hacienda was kind of scary. The horses were very cautious about the small rugged path back. When the horses saw the open hacienda they were so excited and all wanted to gallop back to the barn. Getting off the horses an trying to walk was a struggle.

After everyone had lunch and got themselves together, we headed into Tamarindo. When arriving to the surf  town they were so many shops to choose from. The ice coffee was the best we had.  Visiting many shops two of the girls worked up an appetite for some American pizza. They found some, but here is Costa Rica the Ticos take “Tico Time” to make “fast food.” The locals of Tamarindo are very different from the people of Costa Rica we are used to seeing. Plenty of Americans.

– Nonnie Walter

Guanacaste & Tamarindo

May 29:

Today we had a variety of activities to chose from. Some of the group went to the beach at 5 am to surf. Some of the group decided to relax and hang out at the beach for the day. They were amazed how the different terrain on the coast and ocean floor was composed of volcanic rock whereas North Carolina’s coast contains sandbars. The different substances play a huge role in the strength of the wave, volcanic rock creating the best surfing waves. They also noticed how geothermal heat affects the waves. During the surf session, they spotted several waterspouts during an approaching storm. They observed that the spouts were all located outside of the storm. At the mouth of the river, there was a man meditating. After observing the encounter, they reported back to the manager of our hotel to find out what they had seen. They learned that the man was probably trying to bring positive energy to the mangrove because of the last major earthquake. It caused the volcanic rock to elevate, essentially locking the the water in the mangrove, driving out the animals, and harming the environment.

Playa Avellanas.

Playa Avellanas.

In the afternoon we went into Tamarindo. There were many locals there surfing and tanning on the beach. We walked up and down the street and visited several shops. The locals in the shops were so welcoming and full of life. They had amazing coffee and fruit juices at this small cafe we stopped at. During the bumpy ride home we saw a dog almost get run over by another van.

Today we encountered many animals. The surf group met a puppy named Jackie on the beach as well as many marine animals. They observed a huge silver fish jumping out of the water, several types of crabs, pelicans and a sea slug. Other members of the group also saw a hooded, blue and white large bird. There are many Howler Monkeys around the villa that make loud noises that “sounds like a Great Dane who has been smoking Newports for 20 years”,(Kyle). There are many lizards, bats, iguanas, frogs and insects around the hotel. The group that tried to go horse back riding saw horses, cows, donkeys, and other typical farm animals.

— Taylor Daniels

San Jose to Guanacaste

May 28:

The day began with a visit to the National Museum where we learned about pre-Columbian peoples and viewed an exhibition of beautiful paintings by contemporary artist-environmentalist Gerardo Valerio. We then returned to the Central Market downtown to explore further its offerings before checking out of our hotel and hitting the road for Guanacaste, which lies in the northwest of Costa Rica.

Our route out of San Jose took us first west through Escazu, a former coffee region now undergoing suburban development, and Oratina, an important fruit-producing region. Fruit and vegetable stands offering mangos, pineapple, plantains, avocados and water squash line the road. We then turned north on to the Pan American Highway and very quickly observed a dramatic change in vegetation typical of a tropical dry forest. Teak plantations, grazing cattle and dry rice fields permeate the landscape, and our guide tells us that pineapple fields have recently made an appearance as well.

Roadside soda (cantina) near Tamarindo

Roadside soda (cantina) near Tamarindo

Guanacaste is the land of Costa Rican cowboys – its history of cattle production is about 200 years, and the region is one of the most deforested regions in Costa Rica as a result. After some time we again turned west and traversed the Nicoya Peninsula, crossing the Rio Tempisque, to arrive in Tamarindo — on the westernmost part of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. En route it rained heavily, and a flooded, unpaved road gave us a bit of an adventure, but we finally reached our hotel, Cabinas Las Olas, around 7:00 PM where we were fed well and housed in very comfortable cottages.