Tank Tops Flip flops Newsletter edition no. 20
This past weekend was my tenth anniversary of living in Costa Rica, and I was determined to celebrate, as you can imagine. The party actually started a couple days earlier. My good buddy Kent came in to visit and we went to my favorite place in Costa Rica, the hot springs at Tabacon.
As we were bouncing around from bath to bath, we came across this one particular waterfall which welcomed us with a nice little surprise. Sitting in the steam were half a dozen college girls from Iowa, on some kind of school retreat. Basically, that means their parents were paying for them to learn how to drink and party Latin American style. You don’t need to be Aristotle to figure out what happened next, as the co-eds Pied Pipered us back to the swim up bar, and we proceeded to try every flavored alcoholic drink they had on the menu. If it came with an umbrella and a cherry, we ordered it and I can assure you, that it was one heck of a tab, let me tell you, but I was happy to pay it.
The girls were going to San Jose the next day, as were we, so the party seemed to just continue the following evening where it left off. It ended at about 3 am Friday night in some tequila bar called TOKILLYA, and if you remember from last months studies, I don’t do well with that stuff. Unfortunately for me, Callie and Lindsey love that poison, and I just can’t say no to a pretty face.
So when Millie Dolores woke me up at 5 am with her usual morning licks to my eyes, demanding her bowl of food for breakfast, I had a hard time climbing out of bed, but I knew that this was going to be a weekend I would always remember. I was never a big fan of Iowa, but after meeting these girls, I think I might spend more time there after all. Hell, I might even buy a summer home in Cedar Rapids. Have a fun week ladies, hope to see ya soon.
As I told you before, whenever I have guests I try to visit a new place that I haven’t been to before, so I can check it off my bucket list. We had planned all week to go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Peace Lodge, considered by most tour companies, the premiere Eco Resort in Costa Rica, located at the base of Poas Volcano just outside of San Jose.
Waterfalls seem to be the focal point of this entire month, as you will find out shortly, and I was definitely on a roll meeting new friends there. Pay attention, there is a test at the end of this Newsletter. After a plate of Eggs Benedict and an extra spicy Bloody Mary, the fog lifted from my brain and we set out on another adventure.
If you go to the website for this resort, it tells you that it is located in the rain forest, key word RAIN, and that you should bring an umbrella or rain coat. It also tells you that it can get quite chilly as it is located 4800 feet above sea level. Maybe it was the tequila the night before or the fact that I don’t do well with instructions, I have always been my own role model, so I didn’t pay much attention to the advice.
Well, they were right and we weren’t prepared. It was brutally cold, about 55 degrees, and for someone who gets a bad attitude below 70, I was shivering. On top of that, it was absolutely pounding rain, cats and dogs, and we had to run for our lives from the truck to the reception desk. Thankfully, they sold ponchos there, for a very reasonable price, so at least I wouldn’t be drenched the entire day. Even cold and wet, I have to tell you, that I have never in my entire life, seen such an incredible place.
The property is basically a 70 acre giant rescue center for every single living creature or plant that exists in Costa Rica. You start in the bird watching area, which is a giant dome with thousands of local birds flying around. They have Toucans and Parrots, Eagles and Owls, and just about every color and size bird you could imagine. You could easily spend hours in there, as they have rocking chairs and binoculars if you want them. They have an insect exhibit and a serpentarium (snake room), both of which thoroughly freaked me out, and we hurried on to the Hummingbird garden. I did not know before that there are 26 different types of Hummingbirds and these dudes were all buzzing around, dive bombing the plants. You need extra fast shutter speed if you plan to snag a photo by the way.
Up the path was the Butterfly Observatory where probably close to 10,000 of these honeys were gliding through the air, landing on one leaf or another, sometimes even posing for the photo. I have to say, that I used to make fun of people who went to butterfly farms, but this was probably my favorite exhibit and I am man enough to admit it. Of course there was a monkey park, you can’t go anywhere in Costa Rica without seeing them, and a Frog pond surrounded by acres of Orchids, Heliconias and Bromeliads that look like something out of a Chick Flick. There was an old Costa Rican Tica casita where the coffee plantation workers used to live along with the dairy cows and oxen ready to pull the cart.
But what really was impressive was the area known as Costa Rican Cats. Just so you understand, these are not kitty Cats, these are rip your face off Cats. Pumas, Jaguars, Ocelots and Cougars and we were really glad there were bars between them and us. Totally cool.
As we continued down the walkway, we could hear the roar of the water; feel the rush of the sound; and smell the mist as it filtered back through the air. La Paz is known for its waterfalls, and these 5 did not let us down. It takes about 45 minutes to see all of them, but it is worth the hike, as you can literally stick your arm out and touch the icy cold river as it crashes down from above.
At the end of the path is a shuttle that takes you back to the hotel so you don’t have to hike back up the mountain. Do you think we were smart enough to take it? Of course not, and I just about had a heart attack walking the mile or two back up the trail. Do yourself a favor, throw in the towel and be a wimp. Take the bus.
After two and a half hours in the jungle we were seriously ready for a cocktail, and the Trout Bar is one of the funkier places I have had a drink in my life. They have a fully stocked pool, where you can actually get a fishing pole and catch your own lunch, and you can even swim with the trout if you are man enough to enter the freezing cold water. Of course they have a Jacuzzi hot tub as well, and you know this is where we were heading. There is another small water fall that cascades from one pool to the next and as our luck would have it, we met another batch of new friends. There was a gaggle of gals from Canada just waiting for a sucker with a credit card to order up a round of Pina Coladas, and off we went again. I am not quite sure why I have this attraction to waterfalls, wink wink, but I truly have an amazing life.
Just the week before my new friend Liz flew in to visit from Michigan, I met her at the RE/MAX convention. She is an agent who is considering moving here to work with us, and she came to meet the team and check out the sites. I decided to take her to one of my secret little spots, Catarata Llanos del Cortes, as it is not on most tour maps or websites. It is located just 22 kilometers from Liberia, near the town of Bagaces, and if you aren’t paying attention you can easily miss the sign.
As you turn off the Pan American highway, you head down this little dirt road past a small school. You actually have to park on their property and they ask you for a donation before you enter the grounds. People, BE GENEROUS. This little Escuela needs the money.
As we were pulling in the park, a friend of mine was leaving, and he had this gorgeous girl in his car with him. I guess I am not the only one that understands the secrets of a waterfall. “Do you always bring hot girls here?” I asked him. “No. She kidnapped me” he replied. “I was completely at her mercy.” I like his style.
You only have to walk down about one hundred meters to get to the stream, so this is a perfect place for older people and little kids as well. I actually took my parents here, along with my niece and nephew a few years ago. There are rarely more than a dozen people in the pond, as it is off the tourist grid, and today was no exception.
There was a nice couple from Amsterdam and a few teenage boys from Liberia, jumping off the rocks into the pool below. The waterfall is only about 50 feet tall, but this is one place you have to visit when you come. It feels like the Garden of Eden, with crystal clear water and lush vegetation all around. It’s truly special because waterfalls are usually found in mountainous areas, and Bagaces is mostly an agricultural town in the plains.
As we were getting ready to go for a swim, I noticed this man lying in a hammock tied between two palm trees. He looked like Rumpelstiltskin as it was obvious he hadn’t shaved in quite a while. Turns out he was from Indiana and had been hitchhiking through Central America and camping wherever he could, selling his home made jewelry to cover his way. Personally, you couldn’t pay me enough money to wear any of this stuff, as it looked like he made it from his body hair: he had a beard that was practically to his chest. He reminded me of that kid that went in to the Alaskan wild and got eaten by bears, but he assured me he was having the time of his life, and was in no hurry what so ever to get back to reality.
God Bless him. To each his own. For some strange reason, I felt the urge for a long hot shower and a shave. We enjoyed a wonderful swim, going in and out of the waterfall, and we made it back in time for sunset at the beach. I love this place because you can go there and home in a matter of a couple hours, not a full day trip like most of them.
My all time favorite is the La Fortuna Waterfall, located on the south side of Arenal Volcano, just a couple miles from the town. It is one of the tallest falls in the country, at over 200 feet, and you have to hike down about 700 stairs to get to the bottom. Down is easy; back… not so much. But whatever pain and suffering you have to go through, trust me, it is worth it. I have never seen such a spectacle, and I return time and time again.
I will let you in on a little secret. There is nothing better in the world, than a freezing cold beer and a sandwich while floating in an ice cold lagoon at the bottom of a waterfall. So load a back pack with some beers and fill it with ice. As you walk down these stairs, the cold wet water will soak through the pack and cool you off, making the trip a little bit easier. Of course there is a big sign at the entrance to the park, NO ALCOHOL, but I have never been very good at following directions, if you haven’t clued in to that yet.
After a 20 or 30 minute swim you will be ready for that Pilsen, but you definitely want to pay attention. The waterfall is so big and grand, that as it crashes into the Emerald Pool below, it forms a whirlpool that can actually drown a person. There are signs everywhere warning you, and this is one piece of advice I definitely pay attention to. There are dozens of great spots for photos, so bring a camera and your gal. They are definitely Kodak moments. The shots of my friend Janie could easily make the cover of a magazine, as we spent hours climbing around for different angles.
Ok students, time for the test. What are the three things we have learned this month in Waterfall class? 1. Women love waterfalls. 2. Catarratas ROCK!!!! 3. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out where I spend my free days. Next month I am going to Toronto for my birthday, to hang out with a couple friends.
I am going to see a concert and a Blue Jays game, and definitely check out the NHL Hall of Fame. But after this amazing month of May, I am definitely going to add Niagara Falls to the list. Knowing my luck, I will probably meet a group of Ticas on vacation sitting at the bar, waiting for some gringo to show up with his Platinum American Express Card.
I am looking forward to wearing off the numbers.
ONE MORE THING… Our little school in Hermosa is definitely in need of some serious repairs, so any donation you can make would be greatly appreciated. After a decade of living here, I sometimes feel like the Costa Ricans care more about the monkeys than creating jobs, growing the economy or helping the children. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little furry dudes. But nothing is more important than the education of a child. Please contact Gary Lindquist email@example.com and help the kids of Hermosa. They are counting on you and their future depends on it.
If you have had a great experience with my office and Costa Rica, I want to hear about it. Please send us a video of yourself telling us WHY and I will post it to my website for everyone to see. Or send me an email and I will put it in my Testimonials. I appreciate your business and that you have decided to read this Newsletter more than I could ever tell you. THANK YOU. Please take a little more time and check out the entire site. We have added a lot of information lately that I am sure you will find helpful. Also, please forward this to any friends you think might be interested in learning more about Costa Rica. Is there a story behind Tank Tops and Flip Flops you ask? Of course, but you have to stay tuned for another Newsletter. I hope all is well. Stay healthy. God Bless you and your families. Stop procrastinating and hurry back!