July 20, 2012 - Our first stop after a night at Playa Ocotal was San Jose. As one of the local resort owners told us later, there are only three things to avoid in Costa Rica. The first one is San Jose, the second is San Jose... You get the idea.
We got out of there after spending a night in hotel Barcelo San Jose Palacio. One of the fanciest places in town, booked for a fraction of the price through Priceline. She knows all the tricks.
Our next destination was Tortuguero, or rather, a parking lot at the end of a thirty kilometer dirt road, at which point you need to take a "ferry" for another hour packed with locals and a few tourists to the town of Tortuguero.
Tortuguero is the jumping off point for a number of tours, such as a two hour boat ride through the jungle during which you spot everything alive in its natural setting.
Swimming is not encouraged.
If the crocs don't get you, these little guys will.
Despite the pictures and obvious natural beauty you are surrounded by 24/7, it does not compare to what we considered the highlight of our two days there. We took a night tour of the local beaches, with a guide and strictly controlled by "spotters" to see giant sea turtles come on shore to lay their eggs. It was amazing to watch these huge creatures having lumbered a few hundred feet up the beach to dig a hole and then lay around a hundred eggs before camouflaging the lot and returning to sea. In total, we observed three turtles in various stages of egg laying, hiding their nests and returning to the ocean. As it was pitch dark, cameras and flashlights were not allowed. We got to within three feet of the turtles and their eggs at one point.