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Category 4. Costa Rica Dec. 2004
Overseas Adventure Travel / Costa Rica / Trip Evaluation / Dec. 2004
Comments on Pre-Trip Service/Materials:
All pre-trip materials were received on time and were clearly printed. The pre-trip materials where very helpful in my preparations. I especially liked the complete day by day itinerary and the address and contact information of our lodgings so that I could leave this important information with my family at home. The duplicate copy of the lodging information was a bonus. And thank you for the money belt/passport wallet gift. That was a nice start of hopefully a long lasting travel relationship. Gary G. Schempp
Comments on Traveling to/from Your Destination:
The reason for the poor rating on the Miami to Philadelphia flight was due to over crowding and lack of employees to assist the mobs of people at the Miami airport. Although it was the holidays and over crowding was expected, Miami airport should have made arrangements to handle the expected traffic. There were actually huge round masses of thousands of travelers and no apparent lines or assistance. Our small group going to Philadelphia made the connection with only seconds to spare and required more than a comfortable amount of nudging to get to our gate. It was a very close call. In my opinion, many people would avoid future travel if having to incur such a stressful airport experience. Gary G. Schempp
Comments on Trip Leader:
Although I have traveled extensively and independently worldwide, this was to be my first organized tour with a professional company. I was previously impressed with your companys website and beautiful glossy color brochures and magazines. However, it was not until I received a telephone call the day before my adventure in Costa Rica was to begin from my guide to be, Mario Esquivel, that I knew it would be a great trip. From that moment until we parted at the San Jose Airport, Mario made me feel like a captured audience. His professionalism, abilities, knowledge, friendship, kindness, boundless energy, resourcefulness, and total concern and dedication to me and the group were overwhelming. I heard my group partners who had traveled extensively on other tours and with other tour companies discuss how they felt Mario was the best guide that they had ever experienced. Gary G. Schempp www.GaryGS1.com
Comments on Accommodations:
WOW!!! What great accommodations!!! All the lodgings that we stayed in were excellent and exceeded my expectations. All were very clean, politely staffed and seemingly well managed. The natural settings of all the accommodations certainly complimented an already outstanding travel experience in Costa Rica. Buena Vista Lodge with all of its on-site activities, such as the canopy tour, horseback riding, mud bath activities, hot springs, water slide and fantastic sunset views was a highlight as well as the Sarapiquis Centro Neotropico with its unique round thatched roof buildings beside the Tirimbina Rainforest Center and nearby white water rafting on the Sarapiquis River. Gary G. Schempp www.GaryGS1.com
Comments on Learning and Discovery:
Learning and Discovery was a non-stop process with our group leader, Mario Esquivel, local biologists and other experts at the helm. The listed itinerary agendas of Bio-Diversity lectures, wildlife and bat tour/classes, coffee and pineapple plantation discoveries, visiting a tea making co-op, nature walks, river, rainforest and canopy explorations, as well as the other unexpected but unique learning experiences, dazzled us. Our group was amazed at the level of knowledge we were surrounded with and guided by. The highlight for me was a visit to the Escuela San Rafael where we met the most charming and polite children followed by a local home hosted lunch and a conversation of local foods and family. Gary G. Schempp
Comments on What Shops Offered the Most Unique & Locally Made Products:
Near the end of our trip heading back to San Jose we stopped in a very unique gift shop that I, unfortunately, do not remember the name of. However, it is where there were three young indigenous girls creating artwork and crafts around a table in the backroom of the gift shop. One Girl was painting scenery on single local bird feathers with oil paints while the others were working with fabric and making the unique Molas. I was drawn into a spell watching these experts at their craft. Afterwards I purchased some items that I will cherish forever. This was my favorite shopping experience. Gary G. Schempp www.GaryGS1.com
Comments on What Optional Excursions Provided the Best Learning & Discovery:
My favorite optional excursion was the Canopy Tour at Buena Vista in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I had watched on television learning shows, and read in trade journals and magazines about botanists, biologists, and other scientists as well as those interested in adventure, studying and subsequently riding thru the rainforest canopy on these cable runs from tree top to tree top far above the rainforest floor. I had hoped that one day I too would be able to experience this lifelong desire. OAT made it possible for me to fulfill this personal quest. Thank you, Gary G. Schempp www.GaryGS1.com
Comments on Itinerary and Pacing:
Itinerary and pacing was definitely in balance. I was most impressed at the level of organization and commitment that our trip leader Mario Esquivel and in general the entire travel company of Overseas Adventure Travel design into their itineraries. Our courteous, polite, helpful and very professional driver Walter was instrumental in getting us to our destinations safely and timely. In addition, the comfortable travel bus designed for 16 people was kept meticulously clean by our driver, Walter, while the group was busy on excursions or in off hours. Walter even does window! Thank you Walter!!! Gary G. Schempp
Comments on What was the Most Enjoyable Aspect of This Trip:
I enjoyed most the explorative spirit and camaraderie that embodied our group in our exploration of Costa Rica. This was undoubtedly brought on by the involvement of our group leader Mario Esquivel in his personal and professional quest to educate our group on the virtues, beauty, uniqueness and splendor of his country, Costa Rica. Thank you, Mario for all your interest, personal attention and friendship. You are truly a wonderful person and unique individual. Gary G. Schempp
Comments on What was the Least Enjoyable Aspect of this Trip:
Miami Airport. Thats it!!! Gary G. Schempp
Comments on What Suggestion (s) for Improvement of This Tour Do You Have:
Suggestions for improvement? When I can think of some I will definitely let you know! Thank you for a fantastic, memorable and complete experience. I am looking forward to future adventures with Overseas Adventure Travel. Please contact or otherwise advise me for any additional information that may be helpful to you. Please also advise me in the event there is any function that I could perform for you or your company in the future. Fairly complete subtitled photo documentation of all 13 days can be found on my travel site www.GaryGS1.com
.Click on Whats New and find Costa Rica Albums. Or, type this URL into your browser: http://public.fotki.com/GaryGS1
(Untitled pictures in chronological order are provided on the enclosed Photo CD for easy viewing and browsing.)
Sincerely, Gary G. Schempp
Hello everyone,,, just a little note to let you know that I have arrived home (Tuesday Jan. 4th 2005) The adventure in Costa Rica was a huge success... Thanks in great part to "Mario" our native Costa Rican guide, Walter our Driver and a fantastic tourist group of 15 people from various states,,, plus me... Coming from diverse backgrounds we delighted in a exploritive harmony and we were all saddened to leave,,, but where one glorious moment ends another begins... And so we take one day at a time with respect to the future and resolve to the past... and my heart goes out... Pura Vida!!!
Happy Trails to all who have joined in to this little Travel Adventure Journal... Hasta Luego...Amigos,,, Gary
NOW!!! Turn up your speakers for "The beautifull song,,, GuanTanaMera" ---> (Sounds like One Ton Tomato) <a href=http://garygs1.com/sandpipersguantanamera.mp3>Click
AND to follow along with the Lyrics <a href=http://journals.fotki.com/GaryGS1/GaryGS1/entry/ggkdsqtqww/>Click
Billie Cole and Bette Murphy's Poem to Our Costa Rican Tour Family December 2004. They wrote this and read it on the bus to us all!!! Thanks Billie and Bette!!! <a href=http://journals.fotki.com/GaryGS1/GaryGS1/entry/ggbbbfbwdb/>Click
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! The Costa Rica Picture Albums are here ---> <a href=http://public.fotki.com/GaryGS1/travel_albums/costa_rica_dec_2004/>Click
on the Toucan!!!</a>
[photo id=sdbgdqbfqkdsbt link=custom href=http://public.fotki.com/GaryGS1/travel_albums/costa_rica_dec_2004/
Well, after last Tuesday internet access died... but the adventure of Costa Lived on. First we are all sorry to hear about all the tradegy in SouthEast Asia,,, we have been following the news about it as much as possible.
We have had the very good fortune of an extremely organized trip with an outstanding group leader "Mario" a local Costa Rican working for this tour group OATTRAVEL.com. And all 16 tour members coming from very diverse backgrounds and experiences have meshed so well. It's been really a postitive experience. Everyone is also well traveled and it has been great fun to share travel stories. Between all of us we have visited every continent and many of the 200+ cuntries in the world. Really amazing...
The last 6 days included more amazing adventures and lots of firsts for me. We did a Canopy tour where you go up in the tree tops and ride on harness and cables from tree to tree... About 8 different sections so it takes about an hour. I hadn't riden a horse since childhood and we did that twice. And "Mud Baths" wow ,,, that was great. We started in a steam cavern and then spread lava made mud all over our bodies and hair. After drying in the sun we took lots of great shots (which you will see later) and then showered and went into the pool and hot tubs.
Kayaking near the Pacific Ocean, more early morning bird, animal and fauna watching and discovery and a crocadile tour. It goes on and on!!!
All the experiences of the past 12 days could not have been possible without doing an organized tour such as this one... It was really incredible. If interested go to www.oattravel.com
Will post pictures as soon as possible...
Hasta Luego!!! Adios,,, Gary
Rain, Rain, and more rain... ok,,, see it rains on my parade too!!! But no complaints cause it´s a warm rain!!! No snow here,,, It´s been raining buckets for two days... well, on and off,,, good for sleeping at night in the lodges we stay in with tin roofs,,, but it gets a little soggy trekking all day in the constant dizzle and occasionl bursts of downpours... But, Hey we are in a RAIN FOREST ,,, daaaaaa... The air is like perfume!!!
Ok,,, I´m having a great time... 65 to 80 degrees is perfect!!! Today the tour included a river boat tour of the Frio River in Middle Northern Costa Rica up by the Nicaraguan Border... And for a special treat we didn´t see any police so we crossed the border (on the pontoon boat we were in) and went up river a ways,,, into Nicaragura!!! It was definately a jungle cruise,,, it felt like being on an Amazon River Cruise... We came back and had a picnic lunch on the banks of the CR and NIC border... right by the border monument!!! We also met some local Nicaragurans walking by and invited them to join us for our rice and chicken and tortilla chip picnic lunch... WOW,,, they ate fast,,, and said, Muchas Gracias, adios and walked on...
We just returned to the lodge (Volcano Lodge) but rather than hang around there, I got a ride into the town of Fortuna and found internet access... It´s 5.30 PM and just getting dark... I have to find a taxi to get back to the hotel for dinner at 6.30...
Tomorrow we start heading to the Pacific Coast,,, so stay tuned!!! Thanks for checking in!!! Hasta Manana!!! Gary
Hello anyone checking in!!! This organized tour is REALLY organized,,, wow,,, we are doing so much,,, hour to hour,,, Walks start at 6 am and then there are lectures on Biodiversity, then we visit Volcanoes, jungles, small villages and farms. So far we have done the following...
1. Visited 2 active Volcanoes
2. White Water Rafting on the Sarapiqui River
3. Did jungle walks and explored the Canopy via a cable bridge in the tree tops.
4. We visited a village school where all the children took us hand in hand to there class rooms and we played games with them and then they put on a dance for us in appreciation for visiting them... They sang their national anthem for us and then sang OURS... That´s when I got tears in my eyes and couldn´t sing anymore...
5. We went to a local Costa Rican home hosted lunch,,, 4 or 5 of us to a home... The whole group is 16... (and everyone is fantastic)
6. We stay in lodges way back in no mans land,,,
7. We see Sloths, Toucans,,, tons of other creatures,,,
8. We toured a Coffee plantation
9. Also, toured a pineapple plantation
10. Etc, Etc,, Etc,,,
WOW,,, Unbelievable,,, I had no idea that a tour like this would be so great!!! Absolutly no wasted time!!!
We only had 45 minutes in this small town of Fortuna by the Arenal Volcano,,, Most people are shopping for water, and supplies and I am saying hi here to all my family and friends around the world from This little internet cafe!!!
Oppppppp,,, times up,,, gotta go!!! Hasta Luego!!! Gary
Hello everyone!!! Time is very short,,, we went white water rafting,,, WOW ,,, what an experience... I just have time to wish you a very Merry Christmas... Talk to you soon!!! Gary
WOW!!! Costa Rica is Awesome!!! We spent a full day touring and sight seeing Volcanos, rain forests, mountains, and villages. The sceanery is so lush,,, can only see a few meters into the jungle. Ferns, Orchids, Toucans, hummingbirds... wow,,,wild...
All the people on the tour are really nice. It is a good group!!! I am already established as "the picture taker"
of the group '-) We will stay in "lodges" 2 nights each for the trip... AND I am in the densestjungle ever,,, Internet access is by an old Gateway Laptop on the check in counter... 2 bucks for 10 minutes... AND IT'S DIALUP... GOTTA GO,,, GOT A MEETING!!! Gary
Wednesday night 10:00PM (22:00) Well, I made it... Mario, our tour guide met me and some others at the airport. So far it has been very welcoming and professional. Welcome drink, and the whole shoebang,,, They got us in a Marriott Hotel,,, Way upper class from what I'm use too... My room (I am sharing with another person - Roger from Arizona) is bigger than my house!!! So everyone went to bed or at least their rooms so I found internet access here in the lobby. (5 bucks for 30 minutes) Hardly enough time to even get started,,, but this journal thing works pretty fast.
IT'S WARM!!! It's like a beautifull summer night... Tomorrow (Thursday) we head out early and see an active Volcano near San Jose. The trip is for 13 days and we move about each day for a new adventure. So stay tuned!!! Gary
Well, I'm packed and ready for Costa Rica. With Gary Jr's help, I fly out from Philadelphia airport at around noon on Wednesday Dec. 22nd. It's a 2.5 hour flight to Miami where I must wait to catch a 7:30PM (19:30) flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. This 3 hour flight arrives Costa Rica 9:13PM (21:13) The time is -1 hour Eastern Time, or -6 hours GMT. !!! (I wonder if there are internet cafe's in the Jungle??? '-) hasta luego :) Gary ... PS ,,, (The girl is a link to the photo album!!!)
[photo id=sdbgdsqqqqbwfr link=custom href=http://public.fotki.com/GaryGS1/travel_albums/costa_rica_dec_2004/costa_rica_2004/