We just returned from a trip of a lifetime—two weeks in Costa Rica, and I’ve fallen in love again—with Costa Rica and its people. It was perfect with twelve people in our tour. We traveled in a van, and our luggage followed in another van whenever we moved to a new hotel.
Enrique Dodero, a Costa Rican native, guided this group that lovingly became known as “The Dirty Dozen.” His knowledge was endless about his country, history, animals and more. He carried a worn book about all the birds in Costa Rica, and he knew the names of so many.
Victoria Zempel, a native of Costa Rica, organized the group from the USA with people from Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia. Most of us didn’t know each other before the trip but became a cohesive, agreeable group that grew into a family!
She originally planned this trip for some church friends, but it didn’t work for them. Victoria was ready to throw up her hands and forget it—after several months of planning with Enrique.
Her husband, Greg, stopped and suggested, “Call your friends. I bet you could get a group together,” and that’s how this adventure happened! Thank God for the couples that it didn’t work! After we confirmed the trip, there was a space open for one other couple, and we invited friends from Albuquerque who came and enjoyed the trip.
The couple days we spent time around San Jose seeing sights near there. Then we drove to both coasts—the wet and humid Caribbean and the dry and hot Pacific. We also saw the mountains of Costa Rica.
Here’s our awesome itinerary:
- January 7 – flew into San Jose
- January 8 – visited Waterfall Gardens and Sarchi
- January 9 – drove along the Pan-American highway going south to Savegre Lodge and took an amazing hike to water falls
- January 10 – went on Quetzal bird watch. Drove to the Caribbean slope to Guapiles
- January 11 – 13 – went to Torreguero by boat and stayed at Mawamba. Enjoyed three different excursions seeing so many animals on the canals
- January 13 – drove to La Fortuna
- January 14 – stayed in La Fortuna. Saw Arenal Hanging Bridges. Arenal Volcano was cloud-covered. Visited “The Springs Resort,” a beautiful place with lots of hot water pools in the middle of the forest
- January 15 – stayed in La Fortuna. Experienced the Arenal Sky Tram and Zip Lines—unbelievable experience soaring over the canopy of the rain forest in the rain. Returned to “The Springs Resort” and soaked some more
- January 16 – drove around Arenal Lake to El Coco Beach on the Pacific side
- January 17 – stayed at Coco Beach and drove to La Playa Las Prisas. Afterwards drove to Tamarindo—beautiful sunset
- January 18 – stayed at Coco Beach. Enjoyed shopping and the beach. Went to Country Club and swam and had Greek food. Celebrated Victoria’s birthday with food, dancing and laughter
- January 19 – stayed at Coco Beach. Shopped and went on catamaran and snorkeled. Delicious meal and then breathtaking sunset on the ocean
- January 20 – sadly flew out of Liberia home
I was asked at the end of the trip what was my favorite part. It was hard to answer. We saw so much, but I did come up an answer: the Quetzal bird watching tour!
I’ve been going to Mexico and Central America for forty plus years, and I first learned about the Quetzal bird in Mexico, studying Mayan folklore and mythology.
“The Quetzal bird of Central America (Ket-zal) and the rattle snake shared the position of most revered creatures by the ancient Maya. The feathers of the iridescent Quetzal were used in Royal costume and ceremonial garb for kings and priests. The Quetzal symbolized the movement of Creation and the will of the Creator come to earth. As the Serpent moves side to side on the ground, the Quetzal flaps and glides through the jungle. That is it moves up and down in it progression. The Maya knew that Creation moves from Day to Night or Creation to Destruction in a wave like pattern.”http://www.mayanmajix.com/quetzal.html
On this trip, I finally saw a Quetzal bird after forty years! What an experience that was!
It rained and rained the first day, and we were soaked as we hiked. We saw the beautiful Caribbean ocean where it was humid and wet. The Dirty Dozen traveled through the mountains where I was cold. Heading towards the Pacific Ocean coast, the climate changed to hot and dry!
This group spent several hours in our faithful van with laughter and lots of stories. Our driver, William, kept us safe and sound on a variety of road conditions. We rode in a boat in the Torteguero Canals seeing crocodiles resting on the shore. As we walked in the rain forest/jungle at night, the sounds overwhelmed me. We soared above the canopy on zip lines. Some of the group had the opportunity to ride in a ox cart. This experience went beyond and above my expectations!
We saw so many animals: macaws, toucan birds, iguanas, sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, eyelash viper and coatamundis. I’m sure I forgot some!
So, over the next couple weeks, I will share my Costa Rican love affair with you! I won’t do it day-by-day but give you the highlights! Have you ever been to Costa Rica? What was your experience?
~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/
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