Tag Archives: costa rica

More than 1100 bicycles headed for the hills yesterday from the former airstrip at Playa Carrillo. Duran and Carballo won the 58 kilometer Soledad Recorrido with a time of 54 minutes 51 seconds.  You can see the map of the route at

bike costa ricaToday, the 88 kilometer Ruta is the road race with several loops of the paved course between Carrillo and Estrada.

bike races sleep at casa mango and casa papayaTwo of our guests at Casa Mango and Casa Papaya, Ronald Araya Garcia y Jose Joaquin Mora Quiros, won the Soledad in their categories: Open and 60+ respectively.  I knew these guys and their compatriots were serious when they arrived with 6 mountain bikes strapped to the roof of 3 matching white sedans.  They looked like a winning team.

bicycle races in costa rica

Ciclo Guilly organizes bike races throughout costa Rica.

The Soledad Recorrido event  is organized by Ciclo Guilly (the closest approximation in English is “seeclo Weegy” and named after this guy on the right) and returns to Samara /Carrillo twice each year.  Throughout the country, Ciclo Guilly holds more than 40 races annually.

bike costa rica

ciclo guilly costa rica

mexican food in costa ricaA lot of tourists in Costa Rica make the mistake of expecting Mexican food.   On her first visit my friend, Kathy, famished from a long plane ride, erroneously ordered a taco before I could warn her.  What arrived on her plate was a flat corn tortilla, topped with chunks of chicken, shredded cabbage, ketchup and a generous swirl of mayonnaise.  Just because it’s on the menu doesn’t mean you should order it.  Steve and I have made the same rookie mistake, and all too recently.

restaurants in costa ricaYou have to remember, that even though we’re south of the border, Costa Rica isn’t Mexico and the culture is very different.  The Ticos don’t have a taste for spicy flavors.  Traditionally, food here is fresh but mild.  Beans are always black, tortillas are always corn, and everything is cooked with garlic and cilantro.  Until now.

Finally, in playa samara beachSamara we have good Mexican food at Coco’s Mexican.  Steve and I tried it last night and I know we’ll be back.  The food was delicious.  His chicken fajitas came heaped on a sizzling platter with a side of mildly seasoned pinto beans and accompanied with soft corn torillas and three sauces: guacamole, natilla, and fresh tomato salsa.  I enjoyed the marinated steak tacos.  The guacamole side was nice but the mango salsa was a little sweet so I ate it like compote for dessert.  Although still not picante, it was richly seasoned with Mexican flavors.

Coco’s has long been one of our favorite restaurants in Samara.  Through several owners in the same location, the food and service has been consistently good.  Located in a shady garden off the street and behind the Samara Travel Center, this Mexican version has expanded with more tables near the street.  It’ll be great for people watching.  Open for lunch and dinner.

Steve has a dream of climbing every volcano in Costa Rica.  That’s a lot of mountain peaks.

Albergue Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest is a cooperative, owned by 10 local families who wrestled the 73 hectare (175 acres) patch of forest from impending deforestation for agricultural use back in 1985.  With international and governmental support, they’ve achieved a new model of conservation and preservation as a privately owned rainforest reserve, managed by the local community.   They are committed to the conservation of biodiversity, environmental education, and sustainable community development,

My uncle treated me to a helicopter ride last week. And I had the better view. He was med-evacuated from Samara to Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose, where we spent a week.  After surgery, he's home again and doing fine. But, let’s get back to the flight. We headed (a little north of) east from the football field in Samara, crossed the peninsula and the Gulf of Nicoya, skirting Puntarenas and then headed through the hills towards the Meseta Central. We veered a little south as we approached San Jose, crossing the new highway and hugging the hills above Santa Anna and Escazu. We then re-crossed the river to land at the airport in Pavas. Read More

Many of our guests ask about volunteer opportunites while they are on vacation here in Samara.  Here are some ideas.

1. Teach English – I volunteer one hour a week in the Escuela Santo Domingo, just 4 kilometers from my house.  It’s a pretty village of about 40 families.  Even though English is a required curriculum in Costa Rica, the government doesn’t always send a teacher to smaller schools.  It’s especially difficult  if the road is rough as in Santo Domingo or if there’s a river to cross as in Buena Vista.  Call me if you’d like to join me for a school visit.  There are also some volunteer organizations in Samara that will train you and set you up in a school, for a fee.

crear  crear       

2. CREAR – Creatividad, Arte, y Responsabilidad Social is mostly an after-school program for local kids.  Their mission is to provide supplemental educational, recreational, and career opportunities for community members, primarily youth with limited resources”.  They have computer classes, art and dance.  The program is varied and innovative, focusing on academic and artistic education, environmental consciousness, health, and socio-cultural development.  The opportunities for volunteering with CREAR are endless, and depending on your strengths, interests, experiences, and skill set they will find a place for you.

beach cleanup

3. Clean the beach – CASATUR (Samara Chamber of Tourism and Community Development) organizes frequent community beach cleanups to collect the detritus that comes in with the tide.  Watch the CASATUR blog for upcoming projects or contact them at

spay clinics4. Spay and neuter dogs and cats – CASATUR (see above) holds periodic castration/vaccination clinics to keep pets happy and healthy.  Visiting veterinarians provide the medical treatment but volunteers are always needed to lift the animals, provide transportation and help with post-op recuperation.  Watch the CASATUR blog for upcoming clinics or contact them at

turtle conservation5. Conserve Sea Turtles – Playa Buena Vista, just outside Samara, is home to The Sea Turtle Conservation Project.  Volunteers protect the female turtles which lay their eggs in the soft sand of the beach.  The eggs are then moved to an incubation nursery where they are protected from predators.  When the baby turtles hatch, they help them get to sea safely – this is the critical time of life for sea turtles.  Volunteers camp in cabins on the beach.