San Jose, California, to San Jose, Costa Rica
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Steve and I awoke at 4 AM, grabbed my bags, and headed to the San Jose Airport. It was clear sailing so early in the morning. He dropped me off at the departure terminal and we sadly hugged good bye. This is one of only a few times that I traveled without him, so I felt that something was amiss. We usually have the whole travel-thing divvied up between us so I had to actually think about all those chores that Steve usually does.
I am traveling on a Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris tour. Steve and I have been traveling with Cheesemans’ each year since 1993 and this was my 26th trip with them! I guess I don’t need to say that I like their nature and wildlife tours a lot. In fact, I started working for them in 2007! See their trips at http://www.cheesemans.com/
After checking in, I grabbed a cup of coffee and waited at the gate to Phoenix, AZ. A long layover awaited me there, but as soon as I arrived I found out my next plane had mechanical problems so they had to find us a new plane. This resulted in a long and boring six-hour wait.
I finally arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 9 PM (leaving and arriving in cities of the same name is a bit confusing). Since we were so late, I was worried that no one would be there to meet me, but after grabbing my luggage and clearing customs, I was relieved to find Paco Madrigal, our trip leader, holding the Cheesemans’ sign outside the terminal. He dropped me off at the Hotel Bougainvillea just outside of the city and helped me check in and then I tiredly made my way to my room.
On this trip I couldn’t manage to carry my laptop and camera gear in my backpack, so I opted to just bring my phone for communications back home. But suddenly my phone fingerprint password wasn’t working and I forgot the manual password so couldn’t let Steve know that I arrived safely. Oh well, I went to bed leaving the problem to solve another day.
San Jose to Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Like most first nights on a long trip, I tossed and turned all night. Morning came too soon as I got up and met everyone at 6:30 AM for breakfast. There were only seven of us in the group: Carolyn and Jennifer, Margaret and Rich, Dave and Nancy, and me. Steve and I previously traveled with Carolyn and Jennifer through Chile in 2012 with Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.
During breakfast, Paco Madrigal, our tour leader, arrived at the hotel along with Carlos, our bus driver. Soon we were settled in our bus driving out of San Jose. Our 20-passenger bus was very comfortable with plenty of room for our gear and to spread out for our small group. Carlos drove south and a tad east to the Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve lodge located in the cloud forest.
Costa Rica is famous for its four ecozones that foster a great diversity of species: Dry Northwest (dry forests), Highlands (cloud forests), Southern Pacific Lowlands (rainforests), and Caribbean Lowlands (rainforests). We are lucky to visit each during this tour.
Along the way we stopped at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge for lunch, to walk around their grounds, and to spend time watching their many hummingbird feeders placed around their balcony. Hummingbirds were so fun to watch at the feeders as they dove, flew backwards, hovered, and scolded each other as they competed for feeder and perch space. They don’t have a fear of people or many things for that matter, since they are such maneuverable and fast fliers. Their feathers glittered like jewels in shades of green, blue, and violet when the sun hit just right. They hovered close to us investigating shiny objects on our clothes. We were engrossed with our first hummingbird show. Forcing ourselves to leave the entertainment, Paco led us in a walk around the lodge grounds then we ate lunch in the dining room.
Back on the road, we drove through volcanic mountains and could forest, stopping along the way to get out of the bus to find birds. At the higher altitudes some trees were replaced by tall bamboo and here we were lucky to find the Volcano Junco that is only found in this spot. We traveled on paved and dirt roads that were easily passable without much dust or bumps. We drove through the Savegre River valley downhill past some other lodges and arrived at our lodge, (Savegre Mountain Lodge, also known as the Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve and Spa), at 4 PM. This lodge sits on a 400-hectare natural reserve and consists of several one-storey buildings with about five rooms each spread out on a hillside.
We all went to our rooms – I was lucky to have it to myself since, unfortunately, my room-mate had to cancel right before the trip due to a broken leg. The group met again to mark the species that we saw today on a list then we ate dinner and went back to our rooms. It still felt weird to be alone in the room without Steve, and I was still figuring how to get all the “chores” done all on my own.