Showing Off Costa Rica – Quetzals, poison dart frogs and REAL English cheddar cheese (??). With free poison frog video.

Back to the joys of showing off Costa Rica! Despite coming here for adventures in retirement, we get consumed with the garden and local activities so family and friends coming on holiday gives us a great excuse to escape and explore more of Costa Rica.

Last month, we went over to the Caribbean coast – a ‘refresher’ since we haven’t been down the south end for some years. A day’s boat ride in Tortugeuro was as wonderful as ever; a unique environment and our young boatmen had a great eye for spotting the wildlife. The croc’s certainly aren’t hard to find as there’s a large colony on one river estuary – but this green basilisk, hiding in the undergrowth was a bonus.

Traveling south to Limon, we were horrified. We remembered it as a rather worn out old town with little charm; that can be forgiven but streets piled high with bags of rubbish and scattered filth is something else. Apparently the Municipality’s landfill site is full and they haven’t come up with another one, or any alternative.

The council probably faces the same challenge that others face around the world – the NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome, and any proposal will get plenty of eco objections here. But we suspect its also a symptom of Costa Rica’s greatest weakness – inadequate strategic planning, and the ‘too difficult’ problem develops into institutional inertia. What a blot on the landscape, especially for the tourists who arrive at Limon on luxury cruise ships!

Escaping fast, we had a lovely stay at the Magellan Inn at Cahuita and enjoyed re-visiting the national park. A visit to the chocolate factory south of Cahuita was over-priced and disappointing – untidy trails, poor labeling of the great variety of plants (part of the sales pitch) and the chocolate ‘factory’ a gross overstatement – a simple demonstration with no one available to interpret for the non Spanish speakers.

We do get irritated with ‘touristic’ projects that rip off their visitors, but where ever we go, the wildlife compensates – here a spectacular little poison dart frog which friend Steve had on his wish list, so he was thrilled!

Living in San Isidro, we’re spoiled; an hour and a half up the Interamericana on the Cerro de la Muerte and we’re into cloud forest where our friend, and expert birder, Jorge Serrano runs Paraiso del Quetzal. The mountains, forest and scenery are spectacular; we always feel we’re standing on the top of the world up there. (Cold at night… so reminiscent of a Scottish childhood – thank heavens they provide hotties, we softies don’t do the ‘muy frio‘ any more!)

On one visit, we had 8 quetzals in amazing courtship displays, so now we go with high expectations! But these secretive little creatures can be elusive and on a pretty chilly and drizzly morning, we had to settle for a single female. Good enough though; friends were happy, and thrilled by the dozens of humming birds that swarm to the feeders.

More British friends arrived this week – with a kilo of REAL English cheddar cheese – paradise just got a little more perfect!

Costa Rica Deadly Poison Dart Frog Video

Written by VIP Member Sheelagh Richards. Sheelagh is originally from Scotland and her husband John who is from Wales are two inveterate British travellers who fell in love with Costa Rica, the beauty of the Talamanca mountain range and the perfect climate of the Rio General valley where they have established a small Bed & Breakfast called Casa de Los Celtas. You can see a free online video interview with John & Sheelagh Richards here.

You can see more about John and Sheelagh’s very affordable B&B outside San Isidro here and photographs and prices here.

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