Costa Rica

Story of a traveling Sim Card

Having an unlocked phone enables you to buy a sim card in each country and have a local number and local phone service.

In Panama City, I met the bright, personable, and trustworthy Karol. Karol was headed up to Costa Rica so I gave her my CR SIM card.

Service with CR’s ICE is so inexpensive that I had plenty of service left on the card and it might come in handy for her. I insisted she take it. A few weeks later she returned — with stories of how that sim helped make her trip a great one.

Downsizing in a backpack

A tiny bit of backpack downsizing

As you quickly learn when you travel with just one bag — for any amount of time — every bit of space matters. As I was packing to move from Costa Rica to Panama, I had one of those moments of celebration… The celebration when you gain a bit of space, when you get to downsize even just a tad. Most of you will laugh at this one. I did. But my finally! grin was ear to ear at the time. The moment? When I finished a pack of dental floss and was able to fit the floss from my bigger container into the smaller one. I know you’ll wonder why I’d I brought two. It was because I had them when I left LA, each was partially used, and I was sure neither would last long. I am seriously amazed how long each lasted.

Bus from San Diego to San Jose, 60 cents

I loved this sight… a bus from San Diego to San Jose for about .60 cents. This is the fun of visiting places that have the same names as other places you know. In California, San Diego is the south-most city, while San Jose is in the north. The ride between the two is at least 7 hours. But in Costa Rica, these are areas of greater San Jose. Anyway, when I noticed this bus one day I wanted to take a photo. So, one day, the bus was parked right in front of me and I had my opportunity.

A friendly ride in Costa Rica

The other day as I was rushing to be somewhere in San José, Costa Rica, a large dark car pulled over and the front passenger door opened. Each time I have walked this route I have noticed the cars pulling over and picking people up. With each car that pulls over I look and wonder for a moment if that car is someone from the synagogue pulling over to give me a ride but it is a silly thought; I am not well known and few people make this drive. This time I glanced at the car that stopped and suddenly realized that I recognized the man and the car HAD stopped for me. It was a nice feeling to be recognized and to have someone stop for me.


Being out of the United States, I barely realized Thanksgiving was coming, But the message did come through and I must admit it was a lonely feeling to realize I would be alone and not have a Thanksgiving Dinner. And then a huge surprise – an invitation from a CouchSurfing hostess who lives near my hostel. She invited me on Wednesday night. Of course, the dinner was delicious. Turkey, stuffing, and more. Something new for me: Costa Rican sweet potato mixed with orange juice baked and served in orange halves. Topped with marshmallow, of course. I really enjoyed the company too. I even learned a new game sort of like charades. Are you wondering how I realized Thanksgiving was coming? For one, via TV. (Gotta keep up on the Middle East and I have been catching a couple of my old Soap Operas while working online during some days. Also, […]

My bed in San Jose, Costa Rica

I think some of my friends will get a kick out of this, This is the bed I had in a small home hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica. There were three bunk beds in the room. Most of the time I had this room to myself. A few nights there would be another woman in the room. This room would have been a children’s bedroom before the house became a hostel, but the room has no closets. As is typical, bunk beds in hostels double as closets for clothing in use. Notice the flower. Flowers were a gift from my friend Kidron. Having a flower in my room was a unique travel experience. It isn’t too often that I sleep in a bunk bed, but at least when I do I typically get the bottom bunk!

Volcán Poás, Costa Rica – in the rain

On November 19, during the raining season, but on a day that was beautiful in San Jose, Costa Rica, a couple of brothers, another guy at the hostel, and I set out to see Volcán Poás, in Poás Volcano National Park, in Costa Rica. It wasn’t necessary to take a tour as there is a $7 quite comfortable (clean and in great shape) public bus that takes you there from downtown San Jose, gives you a few hours as it waits for you there, and then returns you to San Jose on the very same bus. Unfortunately, we forgot to realize that when you travel to the top of a volcano, you ascend into the clouds – and rain. The bus driver didn’t mention this to us, but of course we didn’t ask. Then at the entrance to the Poás Volcano National Park, we all willingly got out of the bus and paid our $10 […]

Granola in Costa Rica

When able to shop and have a clean bowl and spoon, I have been buying Granola for breakfast. At times that granola has been lunch or dinner instead or as well. This is today’s breakfast granola. I selected this brand — alin: Alimentos Naturales — because it is made in Costa Rica. The 250 gram (8.8 ounce) bag sells for 710 colones ($1.42). One of the fruits and something else (a nut?) in it are hard and a bit of a shock to the teeth, but it is a good mix anyway. I bought this same one once last week and it was a great late night smack eaten out of the bag slowly. This is the first time in all of my Central America travels that I have purchased milk in a “regular,” not the new box style container. This Costa Rican-made Coronado brand 1 liter milk was 505 […]

Cooking fish in Costa Rica

Last night I walked (about a mile) to the supermarket. First stop, the fish counter. Fish has been all too rare in my diet on this trip. They had some very nice looking fillets. One was Tapia, which is too bland for my taste. There was another white fillet that was less money. As I am not traveling with my spice cabinet, I preferred to gamble on the flavor of the other. So here is my mystery fish of choice. These two pieces were 967 colones. At an exchange rate of roughly 500 per dollar, this was a $2 gamble and each piece was $1. I do carry an excellent Spanish/English dictionary (by Ascendo) with me so I could have looked up the name of this fish. I considered doing so, but I wanted to keep the adventure aspect of this shopping trip alive. Plus… I trusted my judgement that […]

Tasty Sour Cream in Costa Rica

If you like American Sour Cream, you might love this sour cream in Cost Rica as well. To me, it was like having either Sour Cream or Cream Cheese, only not as sweet. It was also somewhat reminiscent of the fresh cream I loved so much while living on a working farm in Tasmania, Australia years ago. (I ate that cream out of the tub! The Australians found that rather entertaining.) I actually found this next to a liquid Cheddar Cheese, not beside the plastic tubs. I have seen and enjoyed a plastic container of “American Style Sour Cream” when a friend bought it. That was a creamy sour cream just like we eat in the States, but without sugar. It was also more fresh tasting. This bag is the same – but less costly as it comes in a bag. I have been using it as a pasta sauce, […]

More Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

Funny how things happen. At 10am I took a walk down the road from the hostel where I spent last night. On that walk, I discovered Bagelmen’s and wrote about it here. At 11am, I checked out of the hostel because I felt the manager’s behavior toward me became uncomfortable for me after I told him I was robbed at one of its owner’s other hostels and I didn’t feel at home there. I was told, I needed to leave exactly at checkout time. No problem. I had been welcomed at Bagelmen’s so I went there and relaxed while I looked online for a new hostel. I found a hostel that had excellent reviews and sounded perfect for me, called, and found my way there (in Spanish via two buses). Feeling at home, relaxed, happy and excited about my new albeit short-term home, I asked my friend of what is […]

Bagelmen’s in Costa Rica

I am at an eatery called Bagelmen’s in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am sitting amidst fantastic smelling bagels that although not as large as NY style, are very tempting looking. There are 6 locations. This owner owns three. curious, I asked and learned the owner isn’t Jewish. I am pretty sure none of the upscale clientele here is either. I knew bagels had come a long way in NY, LA and other US cities, but until today hasn’t realized they’d become so well known or desirable elsewhere.

Two days without rain

As I have traveled south from Honduras to Costa Rica, I have hit rainy season over and over. I am not sure if I had any 100% rain-free days since mid-May. (Until yesterday.) I was in Guatemala, in the rains, when I told my friend I would arrive in his country in days. Loving Guatemala (specifically my friend Terre and her family), but tired of the rain, I asked how the weather was in San Salvador. The answer — sunny and dry. The day before I arrived it rained there for the first time that season. Then, just as my bus pulled into the bus stop to let us off in San Salvador, the rain came pouring down. We all had to make mad dashes to get our luggage from under the bus and into the small doorway with minimal damages. (Wet boxes, luggage and backpacks are not fun.) I […]

Costa Rican Monkeys

Look who I met as I hiked along the green-lined beach side jungle path of Cahuita National Park. I didn’t being my camera as I was focused on getting back into the Caribben Ocean. These photos were taken by a hostel friend, Daniel Peraza. (I used to link to his website but it’s gone now in 2021.)   First we watched this little guy eat.       Then we noticed this mom and baby.

Cooking Plantains in Costa Rica

In San Salvador my friend Frida served sweetened yellow Plantains with each meal she served to me. All through El Salvador, sweetened yellow Plantains were a part of my meals. Later, Oct 19, in Costa Rica… I asked the fabulous Alonzo (he runs a hostel I stayed at) to show me how to cook them. He used a touch of salt instead and I liked them better than chips. So throughout Costa Rica and into Panama, I started cooking slightly salted yellow Plantains as a filling staple part of my meals — and as a favorite snack. They are also easy on a traveler’s budget in Central America. These are some of my first. I didn’t have the slicing down well yet.    

Costs Rica preserves wildlife by outlawing hunting

Yesterday I interviewed a wildlife guide in Monte Verde and as we spoke about seeing Jaguars and Such here, he told me that 3 weeks ago Costa Rica made hunting illegal. He said that as man kills off the wildlife these animals eat, these animals are forced to come into towns or farms seeking food. Hopefully now that won’t happen and man and animals can coexist.

Best deals for rafting & such in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

If you’re in La Fortuna, Costa Rica and are wanting to go white water rafting, ride a zip line, or do whatever else is offered there, the person to find is Christian. You’ll hopefully find him at Sabor Tica, an excellent restaurant (called a Soda). Find Christian and let him bring you in to book your tickets.

Costa Rica: La Fortuna to Monte Verdi

Time to take the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” from La Fortuna to Santa Elena (aka Monte Verdi). The bus arrives at my hotel gate for me. Yep, the “Jeep” is a mini-bus, just like my hostel companion Sebastian guessed it would be. The first bus is 20 minutes to the lake. Flat boat. Flat water. Beautiful scenery. Man made lake after 1968 Volcano. Then 1.5 hours on stone and dirt narrow roads as we climb toward the clouds. We are going to the Cloud Forest. Here it doesn’t rain so much. The views cannot be caught in a single frame photo. We all comment on the beauty of the rolling green hills and many levels of mountains and fields and textures. We pass some small home or farms, some cows locked in pens and some out grazing. At 11:05 after about 30 minutes from where we packed up the 4 american horse riders […]

Costa Rica: La Fortuna to Santa Elena

Time to take the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” from La Fortuna to Santa Elena (aka Monte Verdi). The bus arrives. Yep, the “Jeep” is a mini-bus, just like my hostel companion Sebastian guessed it would be. The first bus is 20 minutes to the lake. Flat boat. Flat water. Beautiful scenery. Man made lake after 1968 Volcano. Then 1.5 hours on stone and dirt narrow roads as we climb toward the clouds. We are going to the Cloud Forest. Here it doesn’t rain so much. The views cannot be caught in a single frame photo. We all comment on the beauty of the rolling green hills and many levels of mountains and fields and textures. We pass some small home or farms, some cows locked in pens and some out grazing. At 11:05 after about 30 minutes from where we packed up the 4 American horse riders we are in the clouds. The […]

Waterfall in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Today a fellow traveler and I took a cab (that typically costs $8) then paid $10 admission, and walked down about 700 steps to see a beautiful waterfall that everyone raves about. It was nice. But the waterfalls in Juayua, El Salvador were nicer and more fun to swim in. And they were free to get to, with an easy hike or a $3 tuk-tuk ride. Photos of both to be added when I have time.

White Water Rafting in Costa Rica’s Balsa River

  I LOVED white water rafting with Kern River Tours on the Kern river near Bakersfield, CA and always wanted to go again. so when a couple of people I was with in San Jose, Costa Rica were going rafting out of La Fortuna, Costa Rica I was IN! My first (only, so far) white water rafting in Costa Rica was on its Balsa River – one of the many rivers commercially rated in Costa Rica. It isn’t THE river here but heck, it was rafting! This trip with Costa Rica Descents was Class III and IV, both the upper and lower Balsa. The water was warm so the spray and getting walls of water in my face or on my body was enjoyable. The price I paid, with the help of a local connection, Christian of Sabor Tico, was good. I know many others pay up to $90 for […]

Traveling again: in Costa Rica

This morning starts the third day since I left San Salvador. You may notice I say San Salvador, not El Salvador — and that is a big part of the difference in what I am feeling today and yesterday. I landed in San Salvador as a traveler and a bit of a tourist, but I quickly came to more be living there. San Salvador became home. I had a phone number, a permanent (for three months) address, and I had many friends. People who live there called me and invited me out. I called them. I went to the beach, swimming, out to lunch and dinner, etc with my friends there, not with other travelers. I lived there — an everyday life participating in the everyday lives of my friends. Now I am back on the road again — a traveler. This hit me as I waited for the bus […]

Ended 3 months in El Salvador

I arrived in El Salvador — specifically San Salvador — on July 4th, with a plan to spend one week and two weekends there. By mid-week I had decided to stay another week. Then another… I didn’t leave until my already-extended CA4 visa was ending so I had to leave. I LOVED Cumbres de Volcan, the hostel in Escalon that my CouchSurfing friend had heard about. It easily became home.  It was easy to stay. The neighborhood I was in. It was perfectly safe to walk around in. To walk to beautiful supermarkets and malls, to go out to nice places, to walk all the way downtown… All fear of San Salvador was easily questioned by my Tica bus seat-mate as we arrived in the city. My fears somewhat melted away the first days but I remained diligent. No city is perfectly safe, but as with all cities, if you […]