Last Updated: 19-MAR-2016

Costa Rica 2013 - Part 1 - Flight down and the first few days around the house & El Toledo Coffee Tour

All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S90 10MP or a S100 12.1mp camera.
Any Video was shot with a Canon PowerShot S100 camera and converted with AWS Video Converter 6

  • Information on cameras used on these trips

    US Air from BWI to Charlotte, North Carolina then to San Jose

    Sunday - APR 07 2013

    Mary enjoying the legroom !

    Sanibel Island, Florida

    Marco Island, Florida

    Key West, Florida

    We were wondering of we would fly over Cuba. The answer is yes.

    Flying over Matanzas, Cuba which is east of Havana, Cuba

    Did not take long to pass over Cuba. Looking west on the southern coast of cuba. The point is Guines, Cuba

    Shallow areas around Isla de la Juventud.

    Our first stop in Costa Rica. Buying fruit along the road in La Garita

    Night shots from the house.

    The house that we rented was a bit north east of Athenas in a area called Quintas Don Pepe. We did not realize this when we rented it that we would have excellent views to the east and south.

    Looking East towards the western suburbs of San Jose. We spent many evening watching the planes apprach and land at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA: SJO - ICAO: MROC) airport 11 miles away. (This surprised me as I would have guessed 30 miles)

    Looking at Atenas. The bright area is the Estadio Municipal de Atena (soccer stadium). It was lit up some nights but usually went off around 10:00 The second photo is the same angle but with the Southern Cross above the right side of the stadium

    Southern Cross in the lower center.

    More stars a bit later

    Monday - APR 08 2013

    Days start early here.. 6am very sunny. The pool had an ongoing problem with pollen blowing into it, but it was fine. We told the owner and the property manager about it and they tried hard to correct it. Later when we looked at other homes in the area we saw that most of the pools had issues with the pollen.

    Not a cloud in the sky. Looking south at Atenas, Costa Rica

    Looking the 17 miles to the active volcano Poas (under the gutter) We would visit this in a few days.

    Attempt to stop birds nesting ? Did not work as I see a nest.

    View of house from 1/2 down the driveway

    The gate from inside. Walls and gates are common here. Not from a crime prevention but as a status and keeping up with the neighbors.


    So, its 8am. Late in the day.. Its time for us to go on our first walk. Mary and Judy & property views.

    Gate photos. All gates seem to have a flashing light on the gate that blinks when the gate is in motion

    Looking down our no-name dirt road.

    A new townhouse development being built across the street from our un-named road. (Residencial La Montana)

    Because we knew where the house was and we studied the overhead maps, we chose to take our first walk to where I figured we had a couple of small stores located appx. a mile away. So we walked towards Atenas on the Santa Eulalia road

    Coffee growing along the road.

    Looking at Poas Volcano

    Up the road another new development is going in called Villa Maya. Very steep.. And has an excellent (nighttime) view of San Jose. and the western end of the Central Valley.

    Walt & Judy wondering why we are so slow...

    Nice gate. Now we are walking along road 135. Various views

    Arrived at the store called Los Barriles, Very nice... Had basic foods and booze. None of these places could speak any English, but it was not a problem. We had fun figuring out how to buy things.

    We walked a bit further up the road to a place where some old locals were selling fruit. Mary bought a mango. Not sure what this town was called. In fact most places here don't even have an address. But, it was clean, well kept and felt very safe.

    Found this resturant called Bar El Guapinol. We would have lunch here in a few days and it was very good.

    Interesting yellow tree that we think is a yellow cortez tree. We walked by a few days later and all the flowers were gone.

    Interesting tree (need to look up)

    We see that they have Ant Lions here.

    Something growing under large covered areas. We asked various people but nobody knew what it was.

    Another interesting tree.

    Walt & Judy ahead of us again. This intersection (Atenas to the right) was very busy...

    Most of the cows we saw here where the Brahman type.

    Some utility photos. Concrete poles, phone switching equipment was always very secure (probably due to theft)

    Did not realize but this was probably our clearest day. The weather was great the entire time with only a few hours of rain one afternoon. But as our days progressed we would see the days start out clear and by lunchtime we would have storms around us. Then by 8pm it would be clear again. April is generally the last dry month.

    Tuesday - APR 09 2013

    Since our first night was Sunday we were surprised at the amount of noise that the locals (we chose not to rent in a gated expat community to see how it was) were making. We were told that many of the Ticos work six days a week and Sunday is the free day. So we had a good bit of barking dogs and party sounds. The other days of The week were much quieter. We were in their area so it was fine

    The packs of ear plugs and the sound machines in the bedrooms were an indicator of the neighborhood noise. But, it was not every night.

    The rented property (the green area along the grayish dirt road) was the property we rented. We were amazed at how dry it was and would later find out that it had not rained since November. You could really see the difference in the areas that was irrigated vs. areas not irrigated.

    Views of the dry part of our property

    Our Tico neighbor enjoys burning.

    Mini wasps that would constantly take water that was splashed out of the pool. We got along ok.

    Mary enjoying the lower level porch. We ate all our meals here.

    The pool. We later realized that this is one of the largest pools in the area.

    Flight path of the planes going into the international airport in San Jose. At night we could see the runway strobe lights.

    The internet antenna. I was impressed with the internet connectivity. It was never down, worked the day we got heavy rain and the speed was fine. These antennas aim towards what looked like cell sites. The only issue I saw was after power bumps it would take a few minutes to sync up. But, I was on vacation so I did not care. If I lived here a low cost UPS would solve that power issue.

    Lizzard trails in the sand and pineapples along the wall.

    Various property views. Lots of variety

    Views from the upper deck

    The gated expat communities south of Atenas going up the hills.

    El Toledo Coffee Tour

    On the web at: El Toledo Organic Coffee Tour

    Our first adventure was to go to a active coffee plantation a few miles west of Atenas (located at 9.9969N 84.4295W) Because we did not rent a vehicle on this first trip to Costa Rica we had Marian & Aad Veltman take us on this tour. This was excellent (the trip advisor rating is perfect) and it was the first time Ken ever drank coffee in his life. We went for a hike thru the plantation where various plants were identified and the coffee growing process was explained.

    We then watched the roasting process and were able to sample the coffee.

    Interesting way to garden

    Hen in a basket


    Sampling the coffee and the other snacks of local food.


    Walt enjoying the coffee

    Cashew tree The cashew apple, also called cashew fruit, is the fleshy part of the cashew fruit that is attached to the cashew nut The cashew apple is a soft fruit, rich in nutrients and contains five times more vitamin C than an orange. It is eaten fresh, cooked in curries, or fermented into vinegar as well as an alcoholic drink.

    Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs.

    We went for a short hike looking at various trees, plants and coffee bean drying racks

    Mary with the Coffee guy

    Various views.

    Various views

    So, the next stop was a true Costa Rican lunch at a person's house. It was less than a mile up the road at 10.0010N 84.4301W

    Interesting tree on the property

    I was a bit worried at first. But, it was very good and I would definitely go back again !

    Just like home with the cats

    Views from the dining area. We are a bit higher than the rental house

    Critters under the tree out front


    Various road views of Atenas

    We needed groceries so Marian dropped us off at the big market Coopeatenas R.L in Atenas. She had an appointment so she set it up that a taxi would take us back to the house. We liked this store. Good selection and very clean.

    The only thing that concerns me about food is the way they store eggs. The supermarket has some A/C but not much. They just stack up the eggs on shelves and that's it. Also, they only seem to have brown eggs. We noticed that the shells were much thicker. But, we all ate them, with no issues during our trip. In fact, none of us got sick.

    Many things we don't have in the states

    More Brahman (cattle)

    Lots of snacks

    Check out time. Just like home scanners and TV's

    Wednesday - APR 10 2013

    Today was a stay home day for us. Walt & Judy were going to take a taxi over to visit Judy's uncle in the expat town of Escazu. Mary and I planned on hiking into the wooded area south of the house at the end of our dirt road. Looking at the maps it looks to be a large area with a stream running thru it.

    Our place is in the top center with the long pool. Wooded area is in the center of the photo.

    Along the road

    Black Vultures. Looks like the same kind we have at home.

    This area was marked out as building lots. Also, it looked like they had a water or sewage line running thru the area. Lots of big trees and very dry. Again, it had not rained here since November

    The ground then sloped down another 200 feet or so to a dry stream bed. Looks like a good bit of flow in this area during the rainy season

    A small gray fox was watching us from its den

    Leaf cutter ant paths

    Now down at the bottom. No water. Some type of fruit.

    Terraced by the cows (we hope)

    Would hate to run into this tree. It had no leaves on it during the dry season. We think its the Pachira quinata, commonly known as Pochote

    Pochote, is a species flowering tree in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It inhabits dry forests in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras Panama, Venezuela, and Colombia. Pochotes bear large, stubby thorns on their trunk and branches and are often planted as living fenceposts with barbed wire strung between them. Those thorns are also often used to make small house-like sculptures that are believed to bring protection to someone's house since the Pochote is believed to be sacred.

    Blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momota). About an inch LEFT of the 04 on the date line. Not a good shot but we saw it.

    Worked putting in sewer lines below the development we walked past on the first day. This area dropped of a couple of hundred feet with a good view to the west.

    Leaf cutter ants. Looks like the crew that takes the leaves into the nest is not working as hard as the one that get the leaves.

  • On to Part 2 -- Poas Volcano, Peace Lodge - Lapaz Waterfall Gardens, Checking out Atenas

  • First Costa Rica adventure

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