Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter Edition no. 92
Uber in Jurassic Park?
By now most people know that the Michael Crichton novel Jurassic park centers on the fictitious Isla Nublar that is off the west coast of Costa Rica. Many of the distant island shots were of the Isla de Coco, but the movie was not actually filmed there as they couldn’t get the proper permits to shoot on the island. This is SO typical of Costa Rica by the way. They surely wouldn’t want to grant a permit to anything that might actually create INCOME for the country LOL. Cocos Island as it is known is an uninhabited island off the shore of Costa Rica. It is a National Park that is approximately 340 miles from the Pacific shore of Costa Rica, and takes 35 – 40 hours by boat to reach. With a perimeter of around 23 kilometers, this island is barely noticeable on a globe. It is tiny. The only people allowed on the island are the park rangers who have established two encampments. Very rarely have tourists or ship crew members ever been allowed to even set foot on the island, and never has anyone been allowed to camp, stay overnight or collect any flora or fauna. Jacques Cousteau called it the “most beautiful island in the world.” It has some of the richest biodiversity on the planet and nearly 200 waterfalls, and the fact that you are NOT allowed on it, just drives that many more people to want to see it.
For decades, scuba divers have taken 10 day live aboard trips, where they are able to dive the deep waters with counter currents. The bays are populated with the largest schools of Hammerhead Sharks in the world; hundreds of rays and dolphins and other large marine species and PADI names it one of the 10 best dive sites in the world!!!
Cocos Island was declared a National Park in 1978, a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997 and number 2 on the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation list in 2009.
The island also has popular pirate lore, as it is said that over 300 expeditions have gone in search of buried treasure the likes of Benito Bonito, the Treasure of Lima and many others. There are many stories of vast pirate stockpiles that are buried on this mysterious island, yet no one will probably ever be able to find them. So Cool!!!
It is personally on my bucket list and I guarantee you, that when I dive it, you will be the first to know. It will probably be the best newsletter I have ever written, but for now, let’s stick to dinosaurs.
The reality of the science fiction franchise is that during the Jurassic Park period of about 150 Million years ago, this country was barely an island and this has been confirmed by paleontologists. The oldest fossil that has ever been found here was from an animal millions of years after these giant monsters became extinct. Currently there are research studies being performed in the Santa Elena and Guanacaste regions, the oldest regions in our country, to determine if any evidence of dinosaurs exist and roamed this previous little island, so very long ago. About 100 million years ago, massive volcanic eruptions poured out of the ground and started to form the Latin American bridge that we know today, so there is a possibility that it was used by dinosaurs as an avenue to travel from South to North America and vice versa. Maybe some of those dudes, decided to set up shop, hang out for a while, and surf and party in paradise. I was determined to find out.
As tends to happen more times than not, I was having a cocktail in a bar, and found myself flirting with the waitress. I know what you are thinking: not our Mike!!! I was telling her about some of my risky undertakings, when she admitted to me that she had never been to a volcano in Costa Rica. I was bewildered, truthfully. There are 6 active volcanoes and 61 dormant or extinct ones in this little paradise, and I have visited most of the famous ones. There are 4 within reasonable driving distance of the beach, and there are dozens and dozens of activities on these gorgeous mountains. From hiking to botanical gardens, mud baths to hot springs, and some of the best zip lines on the earth are within a 90 minute drive from your condo. I have countless memories of horseback riding over the ridge lines, white water rafting down the rivers and sucking back a half a dozen cold beers while bubbling in a 20,000 year old sulfur sauna, so I was completely blown away that this young lady had never experienced this in her life. And let’s be honest, spending a day with a gorgeous Tica is right at the top of my list of favorite things to do, so I invited her to tag along on her next day off.
I always try to explore new places, which of course gives me ammo for my newsletters, but also because life is short. Why do the same thing over and over again? Get out and see the world, I remember being told once when I was young, and I have done my best to live up to that test. Most people are up to their neck in misery, so I try to remind myself on a regular basis how absolutely AWESOME my life is. They say you have to have PASSION for what you do, and I definitely have passion for sitting in a hot spring, sucking back a Fu Fu drink with an umbrella. Throw in a hot babe and it’s just a BONUS!
We set out early and headed 90 minutes out of Liberia to the north side of Rincon de la Vieja volcano. A “Paradise on Earth” is how they describe it on their website, offering the ultimate combination of relaxation and adventure, romance and fun. Blue River Resort is located in a lush mountain rain forest with grand waterfalls, natural mineral hot springs and sparkling blue volcanic rivers. Seriously, the rivers are BLUE. The drive up is majestic, as you can literally see the surroundings change from dry to rain forest as you go over one hilltop to the next. On the top of the ridges are these HUGE windmills that produce massive amounts of our electricity. A recent report says that 99% of our energy is from renewable sources, like hydro, wind, geothermal, solar and biomass. By 2017 Costa Rica expects 10.5% of our electricity will be generated from these massive turbines; Germany, one of the current leaders in clean energy currently only reports 8. Ha Ha Ha! We love kicking ass.
The last 20 kilometers of the drive is on a pretty rough road, so make sure you take a 4×4, a rental car, or at least someone’s vehicle that you don’t like very much. When you finally arrive, you think to yourself, if dinosaurs had walked the earth, this is exactly where they would have hung out. From the road, the entrance doesn’t look like much, surely not compared to some of the more famous resorts in this country, but you know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” What really blew me away was that it was only $20 to enter the hot springs. Yes you read that right, TWENTY BUCKS. Heck, a hamburger at the airport costs that much and it is gone in minutes. I had usage of the resort for the entire day for this nominal fee and trust me when I tell you; I would gladly have paid more.
The property has a beautiful hotel, 4 hot springs pools, a fresh water pool with a water slide and the blue river. It also has a botanical garden with 700 varietals, fish ponds, turtle ponds, hummingbird sanctuary and more. Also on the property is a natural mud bath with sauna, a spa and gym and one of the coolest butterfly gardens around. It truly is Paradise on Earth. We spent the first 2 or 3 hours bopping from one hot spring to the next, occasionally dipping back into the fresh water cold pool or sliding down the water slide, trying extra hard not to spill our drinks. There was one hot spring that was quite possibly the HOTTEST bath I have ever encountered.
At first it was almost unbearable, but after a few minutes, your body adjusts and you sit back and enjoy the heat. Each spring or pool had a different color of lime green and a murky look to it but this was the natural tint of the water. Due to all the various ingredients of earth’s natural content, it causes it to change from one shade of pea soup to the next. There are signs everywhere reminding you that this is the natural color of the spring in case you were concerned that you had just followed a school bus full of preschoolers in for a dip. It was SO relaxing. There was this funny couple from Poland enjoying the day as we were, and it was quite hilarious to hear them argue over the origination of the water. He was sure that each spring had different minerals, and each had various effects of health on your body and soul. His wife, though, was adamant that it was the same water, coming from the same source, and they continuously decided I should be judge and jury during their debate. Talk about putting me on the spot. The last thing I want is to be a referee in the middle of an argument with an old bald guy and his massive wife.
This was my call to leave, and I said goodbye as they continued to quarrel. It made me realize how lucky I am and thanked God I didn’t have to live their existence. We set out for the restaurant where we enjoyed an amazing lunch of fresh fish, vegetables, rice, beans and salad and of course, a couple of massive rum and cokes. The lunch was KILLER.
After we were stuffed we started our hike through the Botanical garden, hummingbird sanctuary and butterfly farm. The walk was incredible, truly something out of a movie set, as thousands of plants, birds and flowers enveloped us on every turn. After a 20 minute soaking in the sauna, covered in the milky mud from the pit, we were ready for a little more action and headed out and down the road. A few kilometers from the resort is the remainder of their land, and one of the most beautiful waterfalls you have ever seen. The hike was just tough enough to get your heart pumping but not enough to kill the rum buzz thank goodness.
The grand finale of the day was the world famous Dinosaur (DINO) Park. My initial reaction was the same as yours right now. This can’t be cool, can it? YES IT CAN. It was one of the neatest experiences I have had in Pura Vida land. There are all these life-size replica statues of all the different species of Jurassic Park, scattered throughout 5 or 10 acres of land. As you come up to these massive beasts, you realize how completely insignificant you are as a human in the course of the world’s history. Thank God they are extinct, because these dudes could do some serious damage. There are all these information plaques telling you about each and every animal, and it was way more enjoyable than any day at the Museum of History: and I wasn’t stuck behind a slow moving chemistry class all day and the nerdy teacher pretending they are an expert in every single field. Now I know why I never went to college; professors LOL (just kidding to all my educator friends). As we headed back to the resort, we came through this tiny little Costa Rican pueblo. There were cowboys on their horses, trotting down the road: a family was dressed in their best outfits, probably heading to church: a rancher was crossing the fields with his cows, when I saw the most unbelievable site of the day. Literally in the middle of nowhere, an Uber Taxi was parked in front of this little house, waiting to pick someone up: how far this superb little country has come. I had visions of that scene in Jurassic Park when the Tyrannosaurus Rex grabs the jeep in its mouth and rips it apart and I did a double take around the jungle just to be safe. DEFINITELY dinosaurs roamed this place!
We returned to the spa for a perfect ending to another world class day: 90 minute massages overlooking the orchid fields. As I faded in and out of consciousness, and this adorable girl worked her magic hands across my aching body, I came to this conclusion; I am basically a dinosaur too, in so many ways. If I was going to go, this would be the perfect place to lay my bones and I bet some of those big dogs thought the exact same thing. Attention paleontologists: no need to look any further. Just start digging here.
Hope to see you soon.
Come on Down Baby!!!!
P.S. With the July 1 Canada Day and the July 4 Independence Day this past weekend, freedom is a regular topic. But as I wrote last year, my life is ten times better here in Costa Rica than it ever was in North America.
But let’s not forget for one second the millions of American, Canadian and British soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Costa Rica does not have an army. But the only reason this country exists is because of the security offered by these three militaries. Please take a moment and say a prayer for all the men and women around the world protecting everyone’s freedoms. God Bless the Troops and God Bless Costa Rica.