Category Archives: local culture

Travel Tips to make the Most out of Your Trip

Share Button

You are perhaps thinking about visiting Costa Rica. Or maybe you’re headed to the country with the happiest people on earth soon! Your smile will fit right in.

While on your trip, your focus is on relaxing, having fun and soaking in your surroundings – a vacation. But we’ve found out that using some of our most important green travel practices below sets the stage for the kind of experience that changes you a little bit – the kind you remember and talk about for a long time afterward:

Children boating Costa Rica

  • Converse with the locals! Use  HOLA, POR FAVOR and GRACIAS with at least one non English speaking Tico (Costa Rican). 
  • Capture the moment! Take a picture of your most adventurous moment in CR and consider sharing it with us (por favor??), so you can inspire other travelers!
  • Sample the exotic! Try a cajeta, pejivaye, or – one of Irene’s favorite tropical fruits – mamones, especially if you have never had one before. 
  • Think green! Be ready to spread the word with family and friends about the “greenest” experience of your trip, and help to make the world a better place.
  • Fill up! Don’t forget to take your GreenSpot water bottles with you so you can refill instead of landfill.
  • Perhaps most important of all – Respect traditional culture. Everybody is working very hard to make your trip an unforgettable experience. You are in a different country with different priorities and ideas about values, time, and even daily life. So patience, an open mind and flexibility all let you learn something new about yourself and others.

Dart Frog costa ricaButterfly Costa Rica

High Season, Low Season and Whale Season in Costa Rica

Share Button

The dry Costa Rican “summer” is high season in Costa Rica for North Americans looking to escape a cold winter. Low season on the other hand, can be a great time to visit. During this time there is more rain, but the crowds are thinner and the forests lush. Whale season is a little different, and it takes place around the second week of September,

In the beach area of Punta Uvita, part of the Marino Ballena National Park on Costa Rica’s Southwest Pacific Coast, locals host a special celebration called the Whale Festival. The area around Punta Vita is a pristine wildlife refuge with gorgeous beaches, a distinct Costa Rican feel, and great tourism potential.

Costa Rica Beach

The Whale Festival is something like what many of us might call a local whale “country fair.” Ticos (Costa Ricans) from all over the country, and local vendors gather at this festival for a week-long celebration of local flavors, religious festivities, and most important of all – to witness the incredible Humpback whales as they migrate south with their babies!

Boat tours are available to witness this spectacular event, though tickets must be purchased in advance, as there is a limited amount of tickets available each day in order to avoid stressing the large mammals. Private boat tours can also be arranged in advance.

Don’t be afraid of the rain, contact us, pack your bags and witness an experience worth getting  a little wet for!

 

Our Ladies of Chachagua

Share Button

Chachagua. It sounds like the name of Chewbaca’s sister, but it’s actually a town in Costa Rica.  Despite its proximity to Arenal volcano, it’s a pass-through place and tourists seldom stop here. However, GreenSpot knows it’s a must-see for travelers looking to experience an authentic Costa Rican community.

When I found out I would be visiting Irene’s mother, Dona Mara, who lives in Chachagua, I was intrigued despite not being able to find it on any maps. Upon arriving late at night by bus, I was worried since I had no idea where Dona Mara lived or even her last name. But, perhaps the best thing about small towns is that everybody knows everybody. My worries disappeared after I asked four different people where Dona Mara lived, and each of them gave me the same directions. Across from the school and next to the yucca plant.

The best way to get to know a new place is to walk it, and that’s why I took Dona Mara up on her offer to join her and her lady friends on their morning walk around Chachagua. None of them speak English, but with my basic Spanish, I was able to find out that they walk every day of the week at 7am for ninety minutes.

No sooner then after we had turned down the old dirt road, Dona Mara began rambling. Five minutes later, it seemed she was still in the middle of a monologue. Naturally, I thought this was odd. Especially since there was little inflection in her voice, and the story she seemed to be telling was far from animated or interesting. Why didn’t the other ladies interrupt her and change the subject? Of course, I didn’t know what she was saying because it was in rapid Spanish. About the time she passed some beads to one of the other ladies who immediately launched into her own monologue, I realized that they were saying the rosary. Richard had told me to expect small town gossip during the walk, which admittedly I was looking forward to, but instead, the walk began with prayer.

 

It was a surreal sanctification of sorts—to be speedwalking in the Costa Rican countryside while praying in another language with three local women. It’s normal for them as they do this every day, but for this traveler, it was an honor and the highlight of my trip to tag along. While you won’t find the Rambling Mara in any guidebooks (yet), we would be happy to set you up with this enlightening experience/exercise on your next trip to Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

(Photos: The Catholic church in Chachagua. Dona Mara has the keys & gave me a private tour. She was in charge of decorating the church for Lent. Bottom, the papaya plantation we passed on our walk. No surprise that our post-walk snack was very refreshing fruit!)

 

 

 

Goats in the Highway – Travel to Turkey

Share Button

Holding hands in a circle, while a sparkly bagpipe-like instrument (a tulum) blared away with a pretty catchy tune, I was reminded once again that I was born with a very, very subtle sense of rhythm. Our Turkish hosts were attempting valiantly to show us a few of what I’m sure were the simplest traditional dances they could think of, and it wasn’t going well. Fun, but not pretty, would be an apt description.

Avoiding support posts and beams in the small dining hall as went ring-around-the-rosy-style around the room, with intermittent stomps, yells, and arm waving, couldn’t have been a more effective ice breaker.

The Eastern Black Sea Development Agency invited three board members from The International Ecotourism Society (TIES – www.ecotourism.org) to tour Turkey, especially their relatively unexplored northeast corner of the country. A secret they’d like to share a bit more, but in a sustainable way. Accompanying me was Hitesh Mehta, (h-m-design.com) the pioneering ecolodge designer, and Masaru Takayama, Executive Director of the Japan Ecolodge Association (japan-ecolodge.org).

The Turks were asking for our expertise in developing their style of travel to Turkey and sharing ecotourism experiences with the growing number of travelers looking for a deeper connection with the places we all visit. We were joined by writers and travel company representatives, all focused on experiencing places by connecting with local people and learning about local customs and daily life as part of a more meaningful form of tourism.

The view of the Kaçkar Mountains from a sleepy village speaks volumes about the natural setting in Eastern Turkey.

 

A late flight into Istanbul and the resulting missed connection to the coastal city of Trabzon, the main city in Turkey’s northeast, had us up the next at 4 a.m. and on the highway east right away. Visually, the surprise as you leave Trabzon and head into the surrounding mountains is how green this region is, everywhere. Mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and coastline with dense forest spread as far you can see, broken only by small villages and the occasional town.

My longtime interest in travel to Turkey centered on the history and culture. While the east is full of diverse and living cultures, the verdant natural landscape is different than what I’d envisioned. The roadblock of a lounging goat herd or a woman leading her flock along a mountain pass was much more in line with my expectations.

Standing a few feet away from the Turkish-Georgian border, which is actually fairly porous due to some complicated negotiations with the locals in both countries, we waited for the rest of our group who hadn’t missed flights. A few steps up the hill was the first place our Turkish hosts wanted to share – a wooden mosque built in 1855. A flurry of photography quickly gave way to a peaceful, meditative moment in a unique space, designed and cared for with an eye for simplicity and peace. See out the window below…

 

A Turkish Roadblock

 

Read More on Days 2-10 soon!

 

Wooden Mosque from 1855 on the Turkey-Georgia Border

Article and photos: Richard G. Edwards @greentravelguy

Every traveler's dream…

Share Button

Seriously, this is a question that has come to my mind so many times as well. And I always have a hard time answering it, as I would love to go so many places, that I can’t think what will be my preferred choices. Oh wait, there’s no limit on the cost of the trip… I think I would just travel the entire world. What about you?

Categories

Tweets

Facebook

Iceland 🇮🇸 - Hot springs in the middle of nowhere! ... See MoreSee Less

15 hours ago  ·  

Tingles.
Every morning, our team wakes up thinking that if we do our best work and put our passion for Costa Rica 🇨🇷 into planning your trip, we’re all going to benefit together. In this case, we got tingles reading Eric’s thoughts.
See more from all the WOW list community...
... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago  ·  

#WOWweek tip for getting great deals on amazing experiences. Book your trip for July or August for this view. Lower season prices, and most folks are thinking it’s rainy season. Weather in #ManuelAntonio that time of year is gorgeous in the morning. Then it clouds up for afternoon showers, before the clouds part for sunsets like these!! What are you waiting for?
Look for more of our Wendy Perrin’s #WOWlist members’ tips all week.
... See MoreSee Less

1 day ago  ·