72. Our First Guests Week Two

I will admit, and they will probably agree, that Taylor and Dylan are pretty low-key guests. Yes, they wanted to do a little bit of sight-seeing & souvenir shopping, but they both seemed perfectly content spending a couple of hours at the beach and spending the rest of the day lounging around the pool. Dylan was enjoying his bottle of Jamison and Taylor (not much of a drinker) was enjoying trying the different pre-made beverages in a can that they sell here. Dylan mentioned several times that his goal was just to go back to the frozen tundra with some color. The going joke was that red is an acceptable color to go back with.

Before they came down here Taylor and Dylan were tasked with finding a few things that they wanted to do while they were here, but they didn't really do too much research. While sitting around one evening, they were checking out a tourist map of the area that we happened to have at the house and they found information about a wildlife sanctuary very near here that we didn’t even know about. When Taylor told us about it, we were excited to check it out too, so we picked a day, made a reservation, and made the plan to go see it!

Thursday 3/24-Today was the day that we got to go visit Alturas Animal Sanctuary, and I even took the morning off to go with them. This place is less than a 15 minute drive from our house and is located on the same property as the Alturas Villas- a kind of resort/hotel- so when we got there and were waiting for our tour they asked us to wait in the lounge restaurant area of the hotel. This place is a little bit up the mountain and has a gorgeous view of the land and ocean below. I don’t know how much it costs to rent a room here or really anything about the place, but if you ever want to come visit Uvita and don’t want to stay with us (or have more people than will fit in our little 2-bedroom house) I would recommend doing some research on this place! We were told that the tour guide was running a little bit late, so we spent about 20 minutes just hanging out by their pool, taking in the view. 

When the tour guide was finally ready, they pulled together the group of about 15 of us for the short walk to the sanctuary and the tour we would receive there. The guide explained that there are 2 parts to this sanctuary: The part where they receive injured animals or abandoned babies, rehabilitate them enough to go back to the wild, and then release them; and the part where they receive animals that are unable to be rehabilitated and released, and they are kept here on-site and taken care of. The goal is always to rehabilitate if possible, as animals are happier in the wild, but if the animal would only die without constant human intervention, they will provide them with food and shelter until they die of whatever natural cause (and not by a predator eating them within a day of release). We were also told that this particular sanctuary relies on volunteers and almost solely on donations. There are only 3 permanent staff, the rest are interns studying to work in a veterinary field or volunteers from all over the world. They have on-site living for groups that come to volunteer for a minimum of a week, and up to 3 months. We were the only locals that were part of this tour, so we asked if they had opportunities for local volunteers and were told that they do. We were given her contact information to learn more about this opportunity later.

On to the animals- They had a variety of local wild animals represented here at the sanctuary. They currently had macaws, several types of parrots, 2 types of toucans, an ocelot, 2 peccaries, an ant eater, a crocodile, an iguana, a 2 toed & a 3 toed sloth, spider monkeys, white-face capuchin monkeys, & squirrel monkeys. We learned a little bit about each of these animals and the reasons they were here and couldn’t be released back to the wild. It was an interesting time, and it was a good place to see animals that you typically may not see in the wild. Plus, the fee to go on the tour helped out the animals, so in my opinion it was worth it. 
Scarlet Macaws
Yellow Throated Toucan
White Faced Capuchin Monkey
Spider Monkey
Ocelot on top of its little red house (nocturnal jungle cat)


When we were finished with the tour, and since we were almost halfway to Dominical, we decided to take Taylor and Dylan to Fuego- you know, the craft brewery establishment we like. Even though Taylor and Dylan aren’t big beer drinkers, they have a full bar and some tasty food, so we thought it would be a good place for lunch. 

If any of you ever decide to visit here you will notice that almost all restaurants are open air, and I don't know of any that are not pet friendly. There are always dogs and cats walking into the establishments as well as possibly other wild animals. You just never know what you will see. Our trip to Fuego was no different today. This dog walked in and had the most hilarious dog tag ever. 

If it's hard to read it says "All cats are Bastards"

We also took a stroll around the town as well and checked out the vendors on the beach. They sell just about the same trinkets type things most of the souvenir shops do, but at least here it’s spread out a little bit better and you can see what they are selling. We all found things to buy, and even found some locally made wine and discovered that there was a small winery/vineyard near Quepos. I just may have to check that out some time too!

Sunday 3/27- In past blog posts or when talking to Ramie & I after our vacations here, you may have heard us mention the Whale’s Tail that Uvita is known for.

Ok, not that type of whales tail. This one

photo courtesy of https://tours.co.cr/blog/costa-ricas-famous-whale-tail/

This is a natural sandbar that goes out into the ocean probably about a half mile and at low tide you can walk out from the beach to the tip of the “tail” without getting wet. At high tide this sandbar is about 8 feet under water, so you have to pay attention to the tide tables if you plan to visit and explore it. If you like the ocean, this is a very cool site to go see and explore (it’s not officially one of the natural wonders of the world but should probably be part of that list). Near the end of the tail is a natural rock formation that forms tide pools where you can sometimes find sea creatures that got stuck as the tide went down and just have to wait until the tide goes back up to get back out to sea.

For those of you wondering, the phenomenon of this weird sandbar going so far out into the ocean and not washing away is caused by some opposing currents coming into the bay. Bad storms have washed away the tail in the past (not the rocks at the end of the tail, just the sand part leading out to the rocks), but the way the ocean currents and tides go, it always ends up coming back right where it was before.

Dylan has heard a lot about Whale’s Tail from Taylor, Ramie & I and we do think that it is a very cool experience for anyone to see, so we convinced him to go take the adventure out there. This is part of the National Park, so you have to buy tickets (currently you get them in advance, it didn’t used to be that way) and then you can go explore. Since Taylor has been out there twice before on our vacations, she decided to stay back and hang out by the pool. I also decided to stay back and get some work done, so this was a Guys Only adventure today. Since it gets so hot walking out there (obviously there are no trees or shade since this is 8 feet under water for at least six hours twice each day) it is best to go early in the morning if possible. Of course, when you can walk out there it all depends on when the tides are low. 

Unfortunately, this week low tide is in the middle of the afternoon when it is hot, so after some (what we thought was) careful planning, Ramie & Dylan went a couple of hours before low tide, thinking that the water would be shallow enough to walk out there. Clearly, with the tides it’s a gradual rise and lowering of the water level, it’s not like flood gates are opened and closed, so once it’s around knee depth, you would easily be able to start your journey a half mile out into the ocean without being swept away. Well, it turns out that Ramie and Dylan over (or under) estimated how long the tide takes to lower enough, and when they got out there they discovered that it was still far too deep to start walking and the opposing waves that where also coming in, would crash together. Which would make it a very brutal walk. They hung out and explored the beach and people watched for a while until they saw a few other people start to make the trek. 

Not such a bad view while we wait

It turns out, they started the walk out while the water was still around hip-high. Ok, that’s fine, just don’t get the phones wet!! Then some waves came in and the water reached up to chest high- maybe they went in a little bit too early? Of course, these are adventurous guys, so they were loving it! They fought their way through the waves to get to the end of the whale’s tail and start exploring the exposed rock at the end. They had a good time checking things out and Ramie said it didn’t feel nearly as hot this time as it had some of the previous times we were out there in the past, but that was probably because they were completely soaked and didn’t work up a sweat in the heat on the way. Overall, I think they both had a blast! (I know Ramie did and Dylan said he did too.) 

Tuesday 3/29- Even though we’re in the height of tax season, I did have the opportunity to take some time off to play tourist with Ramie, Taylor & Dylan. I would get up early and work for a few hours, then, by the time Taylor got up and moving around I would take a break to go have some fun, then I would work again in the afternoon for a few hours while they lounged around by the pool. It wasn’t so bad, and will probably have to be this way when everyone comes to visit (It’s your vacation, but it’s our regular life, so unfortunately I won’t be able to take all that time off every time someone comes to visit, especially once I start my new full time job in about a month). 

Unfortunately, Taylor and Dylan’s time here is quickly coming to an end.

With today being their last day, we asked them if there was anything else they wanted to go do once last time. They decided that they wanted to go to the low-tide beach one more time, and this time bring a flashlight to check out the caves. I wanted to go see what this beach was all about (since I missed out last time), so I once again decided to take that break in the middle of the day to go along with them. I have to admit, this beach wasn’t anything like I was expecting! In fact, it was one of the strangest beaches I’ve been to. There was a very long flat space going from the road out to the ocean and it was covered in tall grasses. There were no trees; most beaches we’ve been to are covered in coconut trees and other various types of trees that grow along the saltwater! You just drove and drove down this flat area until you finally saw the ocean out in front of you. I would love to come here when the tide is higher to see how much of this is flooded under water, I mean, there has to be a reason they say that you can only come here at low tide, right? Once we got to where we could see the ocean, we turned right and drove until we reached a rock cliff that went straight up. This is where the caves were. We grabbed the flashlight and headed over to go check them out! 

We brought Breeze with today to play, and she went right into the cave without any hesitation, I guess if she thought it was clear of creepie crawlies, then we would follow her in. Once inside you could see tunnels all over in the rock walls, and when you looked up at the ceiling there were little bats everywhere! Every once in a while, some would fly by near you, but we weren’t nervous or scared of them, and they mostly steered clear of us and didn’t bother us at all. It was really neat looking around in here, but the tunnels got pretty small. Breeze would have been able to keep going, but we called her back and checked out the other caves before going to play in the ocean. There was no one else around (have I mentioned how much we like these abandoned beaches where there are almost no other people) and we ran around with Breeze and played in the sand and the water. Since there was sooo much sand and the water was so far away, we used the opportunity to write and draw all kinds of things in the sand. Taylor and Dylan had yet to take the classic “Costa Rica 2022” vacation picture with their hand prints, so they took care of this now on their last trip to the beach, and went and played in the water while taking selfies. 

Ramie and I tried to get Breeze to play in the water since it was so shallow for so far. Breeze, despite being a lab, doesn’t really like swimming that much, so it’s always a challenge to get her to go in the water and play. Ramie was also super excited because he thought he finally found a sharks tooth but it didn't look quite right.  Whatever it was, he decided to hold onto it anyways. Once we got home he googled what it was and found out its a mouth plate from a Stingray. He was still super excited and thought that it was just as cool! 

This is only about 1-1/4" wide so its probably from a young stingray.

After a couple of hours we were all ready to head back to the house and rinse the salt and sand off of us (well, except Breeze, she doesn’t like baths), and Taylor and Dylan had to go get their COVID tests to get back to the US. Now they will get to experience the vintage doctor’s office that I got my stitches at last July.
If you didn’t believe my description of this place, go ahead and ask them what they thought of it!! 

That evening we went to a great little restaurant (which is located on the same property as and right outside of the owner's house). It had an amazing view overlooking Whales Tail and a magnificent view of the sunset. This restaurant had chickens, dogs and cats just walking around the seating area (like we mentioned earlier- restaurants seem very animal friendly!) We enjoyed our meal and drinks (some of us may have enjoyed too many drinks!). Just kidding they didn't toss them back like that.

Then we patiently waited for the sun to set. 

Taylor being her goofy self!

Wednesday 3/30- Today was a sad day. After 2 weeks in paradise, we had to bring Taylor and Dylan back up to the airport to head home. We were up early and out the door by 6:30 for the long drive to the city (it felt like we just did this, didn't we?). We once again made very good time on the way up there so they were dropped off with plenty of time to spare. There may have been a few tears as we were dropping them off at the airport, but I won’t say who they belonged to. We know that they will be back to visit again, and we reminded them to always be on the lookout for good prices on flights (that’s a hint to all of you reading this too—watch for flights 8-11 months in advance, that’s when you’re likely to find the best deals!)

Since we were once again all the way up in the city, we took the opportunity to check out a few more stores that we had heard about and wanted to check out. There was another hardware type store that we had looked at online previously, and that was the main stop for today. This one, we were thrilled to discover, was much more like a Home Depot than any of the other hardware stores we have found so far. We took our time and walked all of the aisles looking for things that we needed and hadn’t found anywhere else or that we thought were too expensive in the other places that we had found them. We ended up finding quite a few things that we couldn’t leave without buying- and Ramie even finally bought a weed whacker! He found a US brand at a reasonable price, so he didn’t even have to settle for one of the knock-off brands. He was pretty happy about finding his next and newest toy, and I was glad that we found it on this trip to San Jose instead of our last trip, since there is no way we would have fit everything in the truck, along with 2 guests and their luggage, for the long drive back to Uvita.

When we were finally ready to start the trek south and back home, we had found ourselves farther into the city than we have driven before. It was an easy drive on the highway, so that wasn’t a problem, but it did allow us to notice more of the different stores that were available in the city that we didn’t know existed before. We didn’t make any unplanned stops, but we did realize that there could definitely be more places to check out on a future trip to San Jose, and it didn’t seem like it would be terribly difficult to get to those places since they are all only a few blocks from the main highway through town. Note to self for future trips- have a shopping/store list!!

There was a store that I have heard about in Quepos that is quite off the beaten path but I wanted to stop there. In the Facebook groups, it is one of the places that people mention being able to get some of the American groceries we haven’t seen anywhere else, and some of the oddball things that you don’t really know where to look for them. I was intrigued by the things that I’ve heard, so since we weren’t in a terrible hurry, I convinced Ramie to make a stop at this store. As I mentioned, it wasn’t along the highway, it was back through town, down some very narrow roads, and had a tiny parking lot that didn’t make it easy to park (and even more difficult to get out of), but the store was kind of cool. Sure enough, the main floor had all kinds of American style groceries (and even at somewhat reasonable prices- I mean, more than I’d pay in the US, but less than some of the places we’ve seen similar things), and upstairs was a collection of miscellaneous things from housewares, decorations, small appliances, small furniture, and other random things that we sometimes had a hard time finding. We didn’t end up buying anything today because we had found most of the things that we were looking for somewhere else before, but this is definitely one of those places that I will keep in the back of my mind when I am looking for something specific. It’s only about an hour away- so similar to the drive to San Isidro, so it could be a good alternative if we need to shop for things we just can’t find anywhere else. I like having alternatives and more choices- sometimes down here it’s hard to find those!

That was our last stop for today, so we got back on the highway going south, and got home to our very eager puppy dog after she had been lonely all day. 

Before we end this blog post, during the 2 weeks that they were here. Taylor and Dylan were butterfly hunting around the house and chasing every one they saw to try to get pictures of them. Here are just 3 for your enjoyment.

Pura Vida!