Robert's Photography
& Video Services



My Adventure
Costa Rica

I've been wanting to explore Costa Rica for many years now... 
and finally the opportunity arrived when a girl I knew told me that she 
and a friend of hers wanted to go to Costa Rica to look at some property but they were afraid to travel there alone... and asked if I would go along
as the Indiana Jones / Crocodile Dundee type of person that I am...

 And soooo Yes... I volunteered to to go along with them :)

It took some planning... and before I know it I'm buying books and maps and airline tickets... and shortly afterwards I'm renting cars and trucks 
and working up a travel plan.  Here I am with my Red Eyed  Tree Frog puppet friend I've named Rana on my shoulder who I thought might make a great travel friend and maybe help me to make friends with the locals.

Deciding on an airport to fly from, wasn't that easy.  Choices from 
SW Florida were expensive... and time consuming with flights to 
Miami (yuk) and/or other states to catch a connection.  But further 
investigation showed that the best price would be to fly out of 
Fort Lauderdale for only $230. 

So I rented a car and picked up my travel friends... 
and off we went to the east coast to catch our flight.


Day One

The American Airlines flight was great and I always get a 
window seat so that I can take pictures along the way.  Here
I am flying over some of the southern most Florida Keys.

An hour later and I'm cruising over the mountains of Central Costa Rica

Since I didn't land until after 4 in the afternoon, (and it gets dark
there at 6) I decided to stay in a quaint little place near the airport in 
the little town of Aleajuela.   I had purchased a book that told me what places were recommended... safe, clean, how much they cost ect, and with a little time on the internet before we left, I found the Hotel Mi Tierra 
and emailed them for reservations.

The room wasn't spectacular... but it was cheap $40 for the 3 of us,
which included breakfast... but it was near downtown and easy walking 
to everywhere..., with a pool and a breakfast area that were quite nice 
and a FREE internet connection for staying in touch with the world.

The streets were empty at 7am when I went out for a walk

But I learned that the central market opened at 8, so I walked around
town for awhile and stopped back to take a look around. 
This meat shop wasn't much different than any you've seen before... except for the huge displays of garlic and dried meats :)
And this guy had a very unique store full of all kinds 
of dried herbs and such that smelled absolutely wonderful :)


Day Two

Day two was another travel day and the object was to get from Aleajuela to the little volcanic town of La Fortuna some 60 - 70 km away.  The roads were blacktop and in excellent condition... and the views no less than spectacular almost every moment... but I don't think there was one straight-away on the entire trip. 

The road just curved left and right and up and down the mountainsides one after another for the next few hours... and I didn't find any place to pull-off or pull over and take a couple of pictures.  Upon reaching the 
little town of  La Fortuna you could easily see Arenal Volcano
whose peak was shrouded in clouds in the background.

Lots to do in this little town... but I wasn't really looking for tourist attractions.  Just wanted to explore the area and take a few pictures.

Baldi Hot Springs is one of several hot springs in the area... and for $30 
I could spend the whole evening exploring the gardens and their 25 different naturally heated pools.  And that included a very nice dinner.
This particular pool was posted as 104 degrees... ahhhh very nice :)
The gardens and walks were very beautiful
This pool even had a very nice bar built in the center and had tile seats just under the water all the way around so you could sit in the water...
and actually drink like a fish  :) 

Day Three
In the morning it was time to get back on the road and head for Santa Cruz where I was supposed to meet up with my friend that had some land for sale.  Along the way we drove the road around Laguna Arenal.
( Lake Arenal ). 

Again the roads were blacktop and in very good condition but in a constant state of curving one way or another and there were very
few places to pull off the road to take pictures. 
But some of the views were spectacular and I decided to just start parking in the middle of the road so to get some pictures of this area.



A little stop at a coffee shop / Realtors office to take a break near Guadalajara on the northern tip of Laguna Arenal where I spoke
(well tried to speak) to this realtor about land in the area.

Drop me a note if you are interested in more
information about this area.

A sign just outside of town suggested a "Scenic View" so I turned 
off the main road and followed a very steep, winding driveway to the top. 
And boy they weren't kidding about a scenic view :) 
However, the hill was so high, that when I reached the top...
I found myself parked in the middle of a cloud.
I actually needed the 4 wheel drive to get to the very top peak 
of this mountain... but this Mitsubishi Sport from Poas Rent-a-car 
did a great job in taking me anywhere I wanted.  The perfect vehicle 
for this trip.     Tell em I sent you :)
Turns out that each of  these levels is a building lot! 
Wouldn't this be a great place to have a house ?  What a view !

Interested in buying land in Costa Rica?  Drop me a note 
and I'll share some of my information with you.  Including 
some of the realtors names and phone numbers.

A quick stop at this little souvenir shop netted me 
several nice gifts... but didn't see any Cocodrilos :)

Upon reaching Santa Cruz, I met with my friend Mike, 
who is the one that actually inspired this entire trip.  First thing 
he did was have me follow him to one of his favorite
bar and restaurants on the beach at Playa Junquillal.
A beautiful, natural place at the very end of a long dirt road... 
After dinner he took us back to his Condo on the beach 
near Playa Tamarindo where I spent the next few nights.



Day Four

In the morning Mike took us for a tour of his mountain.  That's right... 
he and a couple of friends purchased about 500 acres and are 
presently splitting it up into very unique and beautiful 3-5 acre lots... 
with very, very reasonable prices... and keeping it all very Eco Friendly.

Here's Mike showing us around the mountain and
pointing out some of  the different lot locations. 
Because of recent rains... some of the more remote lots could
only be reached by quadra-trac... one at a time.

And while they were out racing around the dirt roads, 
I took advantage of the time to climb up to one of the peaks for
a view,  and was greeted by this pair of Turkey Vultures at the top.

But I must admit that the views were spectacular
Interested in purchasing a view like this?  Just drop me a note and 
I'll put you in contact with the people who are selling them.

That night we had dinner and drinks at Playa Tamarindo
(Tamarindo Beach) that was just minutes from the condo


Day Five

The next day, Mike and  the girls went back to view the 
mountain lots again... and I took off in the opposite direction 
to explore some of the beaches to the north.

Playa Grande is just north of Tamarindo and is  part of
the National Marine Park System.
Heading further north on the beach dirt road I found a 
multitude of beautiful, unspoiled beaches all up the coast. 

I found some cars parked by the side of the road... 
and this foot path leading off towards the water... 
so I took a walk to find out what was there.
At the end of the path was a beautiful view
of the clear blue Pacific Ocean
Closer inspection showed me why there were so many cars parked here

Seems the surfing in this area is absolutely excellent.

Some of the more secluded roads near the water are 
covered with these little red and black crabs...
 I want to call the Zorro Crabs because of their black mask and fast moves :) and there are lots of them zig zagging all over the road
Here's one that zigged when he probably should have zagged :)

Traveling north up the coast I found some really beautiful places




This was an interesting side trip.  I followed an unmarked dirt road through the jungle for about 5 miles and it came out directly onto a huge, new, beautiful, very well maintained, Private Golf Course!  I didn't want to go back the way I came so I found my way around the edge to the clubhouse entrance... stopped for a beer, and then just waved at the guard at the front gate like I belonged there and he waved back and let me out. 

Another little side adventure took me to the little town of Catragena. 
It was something that I saw on the map and remembered the name 
from one of my favorite movies called  "Romancing the Stone". 

However... instead of finding a quaint little movie town... I found one of the poorest towns I have ever experienced.  The dirt road was terrible... the homes were small and not very picturesque... but the people were all dressed nicely in the most clean, colorful clothing.  Interesting.  I didn't take any pictures because I don't like using negative things to impress people... but it reminded me of  how lucky I am to be living in America :)

Ever been to Filadelfia ?


Day Six

Mike owns a 3 bedroom Condo here that he shares with people
that come down to Costa Rica to see the land he has for sale. 
Very nice place... quiet, pool, with lots of nature around.
Across the road I found this huge Banyan Tree...
And in the Banyan Tree I found a whole family of Howler Monkey's.  They call them that because they howl... and sound somewhat like a lion when they do... and to get them howling all you have to do is sound a
bit like a loud monkey and it gets them all riled up :) 

And it's a very cool sound when they all speak at once.

Interesting how they use their tail as an extra hand

Also interesting was finding this mother and daughter 
traveling through the tree tops. 
Here's the kid riding on her tail as she moved along the branches :)
But then she did sit and offer me the opportunity to get some great pix

All in all there were about 20 of them in the group... and they came
in all sizes.  I suppose this one is probably less than a year old.

This might be Grand Ma ?  Look like anyone you know?

And I think this is probably Grand Pa... as he stayed in one place... 
and never looked directly at my camera

You just never know what you'll find in a tree around here

And I met this cute little American Senorita jogging by the tree and 
we talked about her life now that she has moved to Costa Rica

But it was a travel day, and so I had to get back and check out 
of the condo by 10am.   So I packed the car and got back 
on the road headed south to find our way to the southernmost 
beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Checking out all the little playa's along the way... 
I found a multitude of beaches to photograph.


This one even included a huge termite nest built in a tree

A very remote little beach at the bottom of a steep, narrow dirt road
I get the feeling they don't want them to build a marina here
I'm guessing that the Class of 2008 painted these beautiful murals

Ok, so what do you do when the road crosses "under" the river?

Well, you get out and go for a walk and see how deep it is...

Then I just watched how everyone else crossed... 
and dropped it into 4 wheel drive... and went on my way :)

Our destination for the day was the little town of Samara where 
I found a very nice hotel with a big pool and great rates 
($60 for 2 air conditioned rooms) with color TV's 
and included secure parking.

It was only about a 2 minute walk to Playa Samara

Where you could learn to surf
Go fishing... or take a private boat tour :)

Or you could browse the town for some nice souvenirs. 
My new friend Oscar makes leather goods and sells all kinds 
of cool things.  Here he is sizing me for a new leather bracelet.
Or you could go horseback riding... if you could catch the horse... :)
You kind of get used to seeing them wondering around town.

Or you could just kick back in any one of the the many waterfront cafe's 
and enjoy the scenery :)

And the nature



And the people...
It's surprising how much these people "like" to have their picture taken.

But all the views in the area were spectacular



Day Seven

Then it was back on the road again to find the magical town of Montezuma on the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula.  Problem was that the girls weren't enjoying the rough dirt roads on the west coast so I followed the blacktop to the far side of the penninsula and tried the roads on the other coast.  The blacktop saved me a lot of time... but when it ran out near Lepanto... the dirt roads got even worse !

Along the way I passed this very photogenic place on a pond by the road. I thought a close-up would probably make a nice jigsaw puzzle.

Further down the road I come upon one of the two ferry's that cross 
the Golfo de Nicoya which I planned to use on my return trip...
so I stopped for some local information of times and prices
OK... and so in case you are wondering about the money... 
they use something called colones.  A quick money exchange 
lesson here should allow you to figure this out. 

While money exchange changes every day and at every location there is a rule of thumb.  500 colones is about $1.   So 1000 colones will take you and your bike on the ferry for about $2... However there is an additional  charge for any extra passengers :). 

Bills come in popular 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10000 colones.  This 2000 Colones bill (both sides showing)  is worth about $4... and their coins start at 5 colones... which are made of aluminum and are about a penny.

500 Colones = $1  100 Colones = 20cents  50 Colones = 10 cents
I threw the quarter in to give you an idea about the size of these coins.


Day Eight

Welcome to Montezuma
Last stop... and my goal for this trip was to visit Montezuma, Costa Rica.  Didn't really have a reason except that it's unique location on the map told me I should go there.  And so I did. 

But I have to tell you the truth.  It is NOT EASY to get to Montezuma, Costa Rica unless you fly in.  The roads leading there are some of the most treturous roads I have ever been on... and there are places that if you ran off the road, the dirt road, (which has no guard rails, signs, lines, or warnings what-so-ever), you could easily go over a cliff and drop thousands of feet down a ravine, into the jungle, and nobody 
would find you for years ! 

If ever ! 

And even though those open ravines were the most beautiful views I
have ever experienced... my common sense told me "not to look" and 
to "just watch the road"... because there were just too many other things
I should be looking at.  Some of the views were so grande... and so stunning... and so close to the edge... that even my passengers 
were afraid to look down !

Well, the blacktop roads were fine... with a minimum of potholes to deal with... but when I got to the dirt road again.. if you want to call it a road, more just a place on the mountain where they removed the trees... it had deep ditches and the ravines in the middle of the road caused by the rains
and it made driving particularly tricky. 

Passing a car or truck coming towards you can be death defying experience... depending on which side the cliff is on... and passing another car going the same direction is definitely taking your life into your own hands.  But not passing means you could still be on this road, in the dark... or worst case... in the rain in the dark...and even though 
I consider myself an excellent driver, both on and off the road, 
on a track, on a motorcycle, a boat and just about everywhere 
else... I really would not want to drive these roads
in the rain... let alone at night !

And so the entire trip across the mountains to Montezume was like driving in a life like video game... where you never know what will be around the next corner... over the next hill.  Will it be a big truck... a herd of cattle...
a river with no bridge... or just the roughest road you ever experienced ?

Trust me.  Unless you are an excellent driver... and like to do 
the 4x4 thing... and you really like the excitement of 
not knowing if you'll survive... just fly into Montezuma... 
or take the southern most ferry into Paqueta... take a short drive
and enjoy your stay... as it is a great place to visit.

But having said that... I must also say... 

The drive was also one of the high spots of my entire trip... 
and I enjoyed doing all the driving  :)

And if it weren't for my two screaming passengers... 
it could have been a lot more fun. 


 Enuf said.

I checked my book and found what sounded like a very 
reasonable price for a room at the Montezuma Pacific.
Carlos runs the Montezuma Pacific and was surprised to find 
himself listed in the Costa Rica Book that helped me find him.

After checking in I took a long walk around town
to stretch my legs and take a look around
It was a quiet but colorful little town... 
where 4x4's and Quadratrac's were the most popular way to travel
But there were also lots of very nice shops and restaurants 
all over the place

I found this billboard with a nice map of the town
And found these two cuties from Toronto Canada at the same time

A short walk up the road and I found the Montezuma Waterfall

I ran into those cuties from Toronto again on the south 
side of town and enjoyed taking their picture... 
while they took mine in front of a long painted wall.
They told me they got an email from a friend that requested 
a picture of them "touching a monkey"... so I helped them with that.

A few more of the murals on the wall that I think 
depicted Costa Rica very well

Another hotel choice while in Montezuma was the Hotel Lucy... the book said it was really, really cheap, so I had my doubts... and later that afternoon I found it... and thought I was happy not to have chosen it.
Until afterwards, when I was walking the beach and found the other side of the Hotel Lucy... and had to think that maybe it would have been a good choice even though it was 100 yds from town :)

Beautiful Downtown Montezuma... with shops and crafts everywhere
And I was standing there on the street talking to one of the vendors
(not the one above)  when to my amazement... the guy I was talking to... pulled on a string that pulled all his valuable wares into one sack in a second...  and started walking away from me.  I didn't have a clue 
what I might have said or done to upset him like that...
But seconds later the place is overrun with Policia... seems the street vendors are not exactly welcome there... and the police take all their wares and write them a ticket for about $20.  If they show up at the police station with $20 they get their wares back.
It's interesting how well they take it :) 

I met this guy walking into the supermarket (Super Montezuma) 
selling this huge fish he just caught... 

And where else in the world can you go to find Bimbo Bread ???

I stopped by the local Internet Shop to check my email and send 
an email to my friends back home.  Price is by the minute... 
but the connection was really suprisingly fast... 


Day Nine

In the morning of my last day I just wanted to visit the butterfly conservancy in town and get a few more pictures.  This is the Morfo Azul.... or Blue Morpho butterfly.  Interesting because it has a very  beautiful brown bottom and an even more beautiful Azur Blue Top
The conservancy raises them, and has several volunteers that 
get to live there for a few months for FREE each year to help 
harvest and promote the species.  Looking for something to do?


A few hours later and I'm in back in Paquara...
in line to get on the Ferry to Puntarenas.
Once loaded, I wait for all the rest of the cars, trucks and heavy equipment to load until the Ferry is completely full


On the second floor of the ferry, it's air conditioned with TV's

Outside is a beautiful tropical view of the coastline

Along the way across the Golfo de Nicoya (Gulf of Nicoya) there are many interesting islands that I'm sure would be fun to explore

And on the far side of the Golfo is the Port town of Puntaranas

On the way out of town... we pass this beach that is 
strewn with driftwood for as far as the eye can see.
My friend "Hatch" from "Hatch Gallery" in Placida who basically 
does "Driftwood Art" and is always looking for raw materials... 
and so had to stop and get this shot.
I even sent him this postcard when I got back  :)

My last night in Costa Rica I stayed at the Best Western at Jaco Beach Resort... but had a little incident with a local cab driver.  But Elizabeth Villalobos, manager at the Best Western, helped me resolve the issue.  (was nice to meet someone who speaks English and fluent Spanish)


Day 10

The drive back to San Jose Airport was nothing less than spectacular... 
with miles and miles of winding blacktop roads but with
the most beautiful mountain views

This is how I want to remember Costa Rica

I was early getting back to the airport so I decided to go for a little 
joy ride back into Aleajuela to see if I could find the hotel where I
stayed the first night, and to find my way back to the central marketplace
for a few more pictures.

The ride was fun and other than a few unmarked one way streets... oops,
I had no problem finding my way back to the Central Market.  I parked the car on the street and paid 500 colones to have a man watch it for me.
Here near the marketplace... they have secure parking lots and guys with orange vests who will "watch your car on the street for one hour for $1

Oh yeah... Another Costa Rica Rule... 

" Never leave anything valuable in your car 
when it's unattended "

(or there's a very good chance that it won't be there when you get back)

A few unusual clouds and a full moon rising on my way home



Passing thoughts of Costa Rica

Pura Vida  -  Pure Life

The Color Green

Beautiful Butterflies

Exotic Birds

And Other Exotic Creatures


This Photo Web page compliments of

Robert's Photography
& Video Services
photographer in Englewood Florida
Englewood's #1 Photographer

Need a photographer for your next trip ?
Travel Photographer
Contact Us

Best photographer in Engle

Costa Rica Map
Costa Rica Weather
Blue Zones
Costa Rica Guide Book

This Photo Webpage compliments of

Robert's Photography
& Video Services

SW Florida's 
Most Versatile Photographer

All About Englewood Florida

Englewood Small Business
These photo web  pages were built with
a screen resolution of 1024 x 768

Need a photographer for your next event ??

Robert Shainline
P.O. Box 906
Cape Haze, FL  33946

Contact us
Travel Photographer

Pictures of Fort Lauderdale
Pictures of Costa Rica Animals
Pictures of Costa Rica
Land for sale in Costa Rica
Travel Photographer in Costa Rica

All photographs copyrighted by Robert Shainline 2009

Member of the
Englewood Chamber of Commerce

Member of the
Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce

President of the
Englewood Executive Network

Photographer in Englewood Florida
Travel Photographer
Travel photography