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Jun 5, 2004

The decision has been made: it’s going to be Rio de Janeiro.

Things are moving at lightning speed.  Maggie was able to arrange quite a few things: tickets, etc.  She is also going to help me dispose of most of the stuff in my apartment.  I told her if she helps arrange that, she can keep just about anything she wants.  She can keep things for herself, or sell things and keep the money.  She’ll also help coordinate the process involved in giving up my apartment.

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Jun 3, 2004

I’m now back at my apartment at Le Triomphe, but it’s going to be a very short stay.

Deciding where I want to go next after leaving New York is high on my list of priorities.  I’ll need some help giving up my apartment and disposing of some of the things I had bought to furnish it.  But getting things lined up for what is going to be the next phase of my life is most important.

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Jun 2, 2004

I had the most extraordinary experience on my return to the US this morning.

I’ve entered the US several times and, although it is sometimes a hassle with long lines and unnecessarily rude and overzealous immigration agents, you just learn to grin and bear it and know that it will be over soon and you’ll be out the front door of the terminal.

This time, I thought things were going as usual until I was escorted to a room for questioning.  This was disturbing, but I kept my cool.  What made it so extraordinary was that I ended up being locked in that blasted room for over four hours!  Four hours!

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Jun 1, 2004

How could I visit Panama without seeing the canal?  I took care of that this morning.

Juan, the driver who took me yesterday to see the Amador Causeway and Panama Viejo, had told me he’d be happy to show me the canal.  So, after breakfast, he picked me up at the hotel and we went to the Miraflores Locks, part of the Panama Canal.

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May 31, 2004

I’m now in Panama: my final country in Central America.  After this I’ll be heading back to New York.

I left Manuel Antonio on Sunday, yesterday, and took a taxi to the airport in Quepos.  From there I flew on the little prop plane to San Jose and returned to the hotel where I had stored my belongings.  I spent just one night there, and then flew from San Jose to Panama City this morning.

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May 29, 2004

I’m still in Manuel Antonio, on the west coast of Costa Rica, enjoying the outdoor activities as well as vegging out.

Yesterday I went white water rafting on the Savegre River.  We were picked up at our hotels and taken in a minivan to the river.  The trip took a little over an hour, and we passed through palm plantations and forests.

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May 27, 2004

Manuel Antonio is more or less a paradise for people who like outdoor activities.  There’s so much to see and do here: hiking, fishing, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, white water rafting, ziplining, and the list goes on and on.

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May 26, 2004

I’ve been hanging out in the central and the northern parts of Costa Rica, and so I thought it was time to find out what it might be like along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.  I’ve been reading good things about a place on the coast called Manuel Antonio: this is the name of Costa Rica’s most famous and popular national park, as well as the small town that is located at the entrance to the park.

I left most of my things at the hotel in San Jose this morning, because there were very strict limits on the number of bags and their weight on the flight from San Jose to Quepos.  And when I saw how small the single propellor plane was, I understood why.  It only seated 12 people, and we were fairly cramped.  We more or less popped a wheelie during our dramatic take off down San Jose’s tarmac.

It is only a 20 minute flight from San Jose to Quepos on the west coast, but we saw some incredible scenery along the way.  Costa Rica is absolutely full of natural beauty: it’s quite amazing.  It is also world famous for the huge biodiversity of its plants and animals.  I found out later that almost 25% of Costa Rica is made up of protected forests.

It is a short ride from the tiny Quepos airport to the town of Manuel Antonio.  The road meanders through the mountains above the Pacific Ocean until it descends and finally brings you to Manuel Antonio and the national park.  There are some more eye-popping views during this brief ride, especially out through the trees towards the ocean.

I was happy to find that the “Hotel Manuel Antonio” is only a stone’s throw from the beach and from the entrance to the national park.  It’s nothing fancy, but then I wasn’t expecting a five star hotel in this little town that is full of surfers, hikers, and bird watchers.  The rooms are simple and clean, and there’s a small restaurant that is attached to the hotel.

After checking in, I did a little work, ate dinner, and then went to bed.

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May 25, 2004

I’m still based in San Jose, but I took a two day trip to Fortuna.  It’s a six hour drive from San Jose, so I left on Monday, yesterday; stayed overnight; and then came back to San Jose today.

Fortuna is a small town in northern Costa Rica.  The full name of the town is La Fortuna de San Carlos.  I had enjoyed the volcano trek up Pacaya Volcano outside of Antigua, Guatemala, and then the Poas Volcano the other day here in Costa Rica.  So it seemed natural to continue my “Volcanos of Central America” tour.

Visiting Fortuna was recommended because of another volcano, this one called Arenal Volcano, as well as Lake Arenal and Fortuna Waterfall.

I left San Jose early in the morning, because the tours of the Arenal Volcano start in the early afternoon.  At the beginning of the tour we hiked for about an hour over lava rocks until we reached a place called, “El Mirador.”  This is supposed to be the best place to see the lava flows from this active volcano, and they are best seen in the evening after the sun goes down.

We were told that clouds often move in and hide the lava flows, but we were in luck last evening.  The bright lava against the black volcano and black sky made for some fantastic photos.  It was quite cold, so I’m glad I had been told to bring a jacket.

The next morning I took a cab to the Fortuna Waterfall.  It’s just a ten minute walk down from the road, and there’s a nice pool for swimming at the bottom of the waterfall.

I didn’t stay long at the waterfall, because I wanted to take a boat trip on Lake Arenal.  There is a fishing boat called the “Rain Goddess.”  You go out on the boat with other tourists and you can fish.  I went mostly for the scenery, because there were spectacular views from the boat.

But everyone did some fishing, and if you caught anything, there’s a chef on the boat who cooks the fish.  You can’t eat fish any fresher than what’s just been pulled out of the lake.

I returned to San Jose in the afternoon and had some time this evening to do a little work and to finish writing about my day.

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May 23, 2004

I’m enjoying Costa Rica a lot: I’m starting to understand why there are so many foreigners living here, and why so many people retire here.

Ronald had shown me Heredia: he suggested I visit Alajuela, but he wasn’t able to take me there.  It’s a small town not far from San Jose, so I just took a taxi to get there.

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