Panama to Costa Rico

It’s been all go here for the last few days so we haven’t had a chance to post. So a quick catch up. We left Panama on Wednesday and arrived in Costa Rico. On our last day in Panama we went to the Miraflores locks on the Panama canal. They have a visitor’s centre and museum along with viewing platforms. It’s a pretty cool place to spend a few hours. After, we spent most of the day in Casco Viejo which is the old town here that they have been renovating to maintain the old colonial buildings. It’s the area Bond was in at the start of Quantum of Solace which was supposed to be Bolivia but was actually Panama 🎬📽️. It’s a really cool and unique place with loads of nice coffee places, bars and restaurants. The restoration has only started in the last few years so there are many buildings which are in complete disrepair like the fish market place we are the other day. So alot of buildings look like this:

But the parts that are done up look great and they have done a great job maintaining the colonial feel.

You could easily spend several days wondering around here. We had some lunch and went from bar to bar just chilling out people watching and reading.

They have a rooftop bar where you can look across to the city skyline and you get a real contrast of a new skyscraper city right next to an old colonial style town

Costa Rica

We had a short flight to Costa Rica where we had arranged a driver to take us to the the Arenal Volcano area, this is about a 3 hour drive. For us, this was the best option as it saved a lot of time rather than traveling via public transport. The driver was like a tour guide which was great since we got a full update on Costa Rican history and we stopped off at a little traditional restaurant (known as a soda) at the side of the road for freshly made empanadas. They were fantastic. They were made by a Costa Rican lady who made the corn pastry, filled and fried them in front of us. Delicious. Anyway, her are some of the things we learned from our guide:

Costa Rican 101

Costa Ricans like to be known as ‘ticos’. According to the UN they are officially the happiest nation on earth😁🇨🇷 They are a haven of peace and democracy amid the chaos, corruption, wars, revolutions and dictators that have plagued much of central and south America in the last 100 years. It is very impressive that they have not been imposed by all of that turmoil. Perhaps the key reason is that they abolished their army in 1948 🎖️🔫🏳️🕊️Yep, no army. Pretty hippie stuff. The decision to abolish the army was taken after 4 months of turmoil following an election that was believed to be rigged. Ticos are also really proud (and they should be) of the fact that they are the first country in the world to run on 100% renewable energy 💧🌊💨 and hope to be the first country to be 100% carbon neutral by 2021. Over 65% of all the land in Costa Rica is designated a national park. Most hunting is banned, they encourage biodiversity and they recycle everything. They are very green and very proud these Ticos 💚🌲. The rest of the world could learn a lot from this peaceful green country.

Arenal Volcano

We are staying in lodges or cabins near the Arenal Volcano. The whole area is famous for its Volcano, tropical forest and outdoor activities. We are doing canyoning, white water rafting, hot springs and zip lining. But that’s another post ⏰ for now we are just checking out the lodges. They are built at the base of the volcano. Don’t worry, it hasn’t been active for a while 🌋 and it is surrounded by the forest. You can hear every kind of animal at night. You can sit out on our balcony and have a nice view of the volcano. There is a pool and restaurant and bar as well so plenty of places to chill out and enjoy the wildlife. While we were walking around a toucan was flying around us🐤 so you can see anything here. Anyway we are off to the hot springs first so will post about them shortly.