People have been getting quite a surprise when driving down the coast in southern Costa Rica. There among the toucans, sloths and macaws is another rare bird in this area, a cosmic bowling alley. The Costa Ballena region has been amazing people with its bio diversity for years. But recently some new inhabitants have appeared, causing a migration of a different sort.
Costa Rica Blog
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The cost of visiting Costa Rica as a tourist has increased due to large increase in tourism in the past 4 years. Costa Rica, a country of only 4 million people, had over 2 million tourists in 2010. Car rentals, hotel rentals and other touristy activities have risen in price but thankfully living there is still cheap by North American standards. The larger expenses in life, property taxes, health care and insurance are still amazingly cheap by US standards but traveling as a tourist is not so cheap. Costa Rica is quite rugged and what looks like an easy ride on the map may take hours longer than expected. There are four mountain ranges in Costa Rica and peaks to 10,000 feet are common. Roads aren’t the best and driving at night is not recommended since you may come across cattle, cars without lights or sudden changes in road conditions you may not have anticipated.
Though the hurricane was nowhere near Costa Rica, the bands of rain spinning off this tropical low pelted Costa Rica for nearly 5 days. There was a significant landslide in Barrio El Carmen in San Antonio de Escazu that buried victims with a death toll now of 23. Most victims were buried as they slept. The storm caused record damage to many roads and bridges in Costa Rica with the most extensive damage along the Pacific Coast in the southern region. Nicoya Peninsula was not spared and the Cerro De La Muerte inland route from San Isidro and Perez Zeledon and down the Palmar was badly damaged and remains closed.
Bridge Update: All the major bridges from Jaco to Dominical are now completed. The new bridge is now open in Parrita though they still have it a bit constricted while they finish the striping and guard rails but you no longer have to wait at the one lane antiquated bridge to cross the river. The bridge across the Sevegre River has now been fully widened to two lanes and only waits for center lane striping and reflectors. The bridge across the Naranjo River just south of Quepos is now fully operational, two lanes wide and even has some break down space. The only bridge left to be completed is the one lane bridge by the town of Hatillo, which was only installed a few years ago and is close to Dominical. This is welcome news for the southern region since an antiquated hammock bridge recently collapsed in the central region on the Tarcoles River. It also speeds the trip to Ojochal.
I traveled twice this week down the southern section of the Costanera Highway from Quepos and Manuel Antonio to Dominical and here is my update. As many of you may know, the road has been a huge engineering project requiring not only hundreds of thousands of cubic tons of stone to build the road bed but also the construction of multiple bridges over the roughly 20 mile stretch that is now nearly complete. The final finish coat of pavement is now being installed on most of the road and at this point only about 3 miles by the Hacienda Baru (just north of Dominical) remain unpaved. Traffic has been shifted to the new road bed by the Hacienda Baru Reserve and the bypass around the small town (pueblito) of Hatillo is also now open so you don't have to drive through the center of Hatillo any more. The drive time this week (November 2009) was less than an hour for the entire stretch. The bypass behind Quepos is also now open with final coat pavement and the only thing missing seemed to be the curb stone along a few points of the sidewalks and the center line and yellow side line painting and reflectors. Much of the guard rail is already in place as well. The paving was contracted to three companies and it is fairly obvious that two out of three have nearly completed their mission, while the third is not far behind. I saw a big increase in tractor trailer traffic along the stretch since the Costanera is a much better alternative than the InterAmerican Highway over the stretch known as the Cerro De La Muerte (passage of death). Truck traffic will increase along the coastal route as more drivers realize they avoid the climb to nearly 11,000 feet above sea level on the Cerro and also avoid having to pass through San Jose on thier trip north. The new toll road from San Jose to Punteranas is also now open from Puntarenas all the way to Orotina. The missing piece between Orotina and San Jose is expected to be completed by early 2010. The toll booth is now open and the toll for automobiles is about 500 colones.