another cliché
travel blog

a poorly kept travel journal


Drove to work in the morning to hopefully ease getting to and from the team’s offsite in Santa Cruz, but instead missed the morning activities (hanging out and hiking at Natural Bridges). Instead, I got pulled into a few different meetings, then drove down and hit up Verve for a cup of cold brew and monkey bread (their version uses croissant dough. Good, but I like ours better), which conveniently was two blocks away.

After lunch/saying goodbye to Jen with the group at Assembly, I drove up to meet Tiffany and Wade. True to form, I was a half our late and met them at 4, rather than 3:30, but we still had plenty of time. The flight to Denver, where we met Amy was uneventful. In DIA, Wade and I screwed around until Tiffany scolded us into behaving.

The flight to San Jose from DIA was easy, though I didn’t sleep much. Immigration and customs were about as efficient as in the US, so it took us a bit to clear them. Once through, we got our boarding passes for our flight to Puerto Jimenez, then some yogurt and pastries for breakfast.

The plane for Puerto Jimenez was tiny! Three seats to a row, maybe ten rows. The airport in Puerto Jimenez was even smaller!

Puerto Jimenez

After landing, we got our rental car (where the dude made a big stink that we were waving the insurance because Wade’s travel card covers it), hit the grocery store, then did the half hour drive on the “highway” to the house.

Holy. Crap. When I imagine a tropical getaway, this is it. It’s open air, woven roof, and thirty steps to the beach. We spent the day napping and lounging about, checked out the ocean. The beach is interesting: nice fine sand at the waterline, but a hard rock shelf that extends wayyy out to the break at maybe a meter deep.

After passing out for four hours, I woke up and helped finish up dinner: tostadas con carne adobado. Following dinner, we cleaned up and made a fun discovery:


We were surrounded by these guys. Hundreds of them ranging in size from smaller than a quarter to dungeness size. So we spent some time playing with them, before clearing the pool of them and hopping in for a quick soak. Occasionally we’d hear a “plop” signaling it was time to turn on our headlamps, grab the net, and remove the crab that had just joined us.

After that got old, we got out, showered off, played a few hands of five crown, and called it a night.

Horseback riding and rapping a waterfall

I woke up well before my alarm went off at 7 and just laid about listening to the ocean and enjoying the sky getting bright.

Around 7, I got up and helped Wade with breakfast. Around 8:30, Six horses and two guides showed up in the back yard to take us on horseback to a waterfall for rappelling. It was my first time on a horse in probably twenty years, but the horses were probably so well trained (broken?) it probably wouldn’t matter f I had never rode before.

Rode out to the waterfall, rappelled down it, then headed back to the ranch where Carlos’s wife Rita had some fruit waiting for us. Papaya, something, and something called guavanaba. It was similar to durian, but sour, smelled normal and was milky white and somewhere between a paste and mucous. Getting past the texture was a bit rough, but after that, I kinda liked it!

We rode back along the beach, where the horse I was riding , Maravilla (Wanderer, evidently) decided to gallop. Couldn’t blame her for that, so I just did my best to hold on. Made it back to the house safely, took a quick dip, and had lunch.

Wade, Amy, and I went to town for supplies (and Wade needed a new pair of sunglasses for tomorrow), then we laid low for the afternoon and nursed our saddle sores.

Hiking Corcovado

Hiking. Where we saw a god damn tapir. It was awesome.


Then we went to Martina’s for dinner. I had the red snapper, breaded and fried.

Travel from Osa Peninsula to La Fortuna

Went swimming in the morning, sprained my toe pretty bad.

My toe is all kinds of pretty colors
My toe is all kinds of pretty colors

Flew to la Fortuna via San Jose.

Looks straight up tropical. Which it was
Looks straight up tropical. Which it was

From San Jose, we had a short layover, then flew to La Fortuna.

First gravel airstrip I've ever landed on
First gravel airstrip I've ever landed on

You can see Volcano Arenal from the airport. So cool! This place is very reminiscent of Hawaii. Similar latitude, just friendlier.

After grocery shopping, we took the day just to lay about and relax.

Arenal and the chocolate plantation

I think we’re getting old. We started the day by continued the previous day’s trend of doing nothing and lounged around the house most of the the morning. I woke up around seven, finished my book, then ate breakfast around 8:30 or 9. Tiffany discovered a chocolate plantation tour, which we jumped on, which gave us the timeline for the day. I jumped in the shower, shaved (finally!) and then we set out for Arenal.

Holy shit! It's a volcano!
Holy shit! It's a volcano!

I realized part way through the hike, as a child I dreamed of seeing places like this! It’s incredible! As a child, I was in love with the idea of rain forests: the density and diversity of life, the sheer greeness of it. incredible.

green. also, some fungus
green. also, some fungus

Half way rough, we came across this ficus with the most immense root structure I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I I’m sure I’ve seen larger redwoods,mount the presence of this tree was remarkable! Just huge.

No sloths thought, so the whole morning was a waste.

After hiking, we took a lazy drive back to town and got coffee from the Rainforest Cafe. It’s my goal to get Amy at least amenable to coffee by the end of the trip.

It was called the Self-pleasure. I didn't question and just went for it
It was called the Self-pleasure. I didn't question and just went for it
The menu in question
The menu in question

Post coffee, we went to Rain Forest Chocolate Tour, which was incredible. They walked us through the entire, complex process that happens just to produce a tiny amount of chocolate:

  1. After ripening on the tree, cocoa pods are harvested and cracked open. At this point, the seeds taste extremely bitter and not at all pleasant. The meat around the seeds is mucousy and tastes most similar to guavanaba.
  2. The seed pods are removed and allowed to ferment for seven days. The fermentation process leaves the seeds free from the meat and helps break down the flavonoids in the seeds.
  3. After fermenting, the seeds are laid out to dry until they’re at about 40% of their original water content. At this point, the taste of the seed is recognizably chocolate, but still bitter and raw. After this stage, the seeds are stable enough to be transported off the plantation to be further processed.
  4. The seeds are then roasted at 240°C for about ten minutes, and then mashed to allow the shell to Be separated from the meat of the bean. The bits of bean are finally something we’d recognize: cocoa nibs
  5. The nibs are then processed (or not) depending on the desired final product, typically mixed with sugar, ground fine, mixed with milk solids, and formed into bars.

What was surprisingly cool was how complicated cocoa plantations are:

We then tried a few different. Kinds of chocolate, as a drink like it was originally enjoyed by the Mayan elite, then later after Lindt and Nestle had their ways with it (making it melt-able and easier to access, respectively). We ate ourselves to just shy of sickness.

I bought a few bars of chocolate produced by a local women’s cöop, then we heeded home, made dinner, and kept it low key.

Hiking and zip line

Zip lining, then some pretty awesome hiking. Our guide, Daniel, clearly took a liking to Amy. At dinner that night, (Daniel’s recommendation, Soda ???) showed up. We bet Amy a dollar to run him down and kiss him. She didn’t. We were sad.

Rafting day One

Woke up around four, took a taxi to a bus to the Cairo operations center of Rios Tropicales. Had a god day great cup of coffee, breakfast, then rafted the whole day. It was pretty great.

Rafting day two

Wade laughed maniacally as I got launched out of the boat. It was beautiful!

Travel home

Woke up early, around seven, and lazed about reading. Eventually packed, then took a car to Chelles, a 24/7 restaurant purported to be open for over a century. Gallo pinos con huevos y carne. Great. After breakfast, we walked around San Jose, hit up a panaderia, then went back to the house to pick up our bags, then to the airport.