Puerto Viejo, Costa Rico visit during COVID-19 (Dec 2020)

This post serves as a collaborative journal between the 4 of us (especially where food is concerned ūüėā), so may be a bit verbose in areas. Hopefully readers will find some of these details useful.

The Lead Up

After a crazy year, both from work & life perspective, the Heunis family needed a proper break to really recharge. We wanted to visit Central America especially after a “all-in” vacation to Mexico a few years ago. We had a great time in Mexico, but we wanted more of an authentic experience. However with Mexico’s drug & gang problems leaving the resorts are not recommended so we were on the lookout for an alternative.

When I then happened to see in a news feed that Costa Rica had re-opened their borders for visitors on 1 November, I thought this might be a great opportunity to go on this dream vacation, COVID-19 notwithstanding. And so, despite a minor complication with Cara’s passport, we booked the trip from Sunday, 20 Dec to Tuesday, 29 Dec. With regards to COVID-19, Costa Rica has eased restrictions to a large degree. Really you just require a Costa Rican Health Pass. To get the Health Pass takes 10 minutes but it requires you to have travel insurance.

Day 1 – Sunday

From a snowy New York, we flew with JetBlue from JFK’s Terminal 5 at 6pm. Our flight was delayed by about 40 minutes and the in-flight entertainment wasn’t working, but otherwise it was an uneventful 5-hour flight with everyone being very respectful and compliant with regards to the COVID-19 measures. We did have to show the Health Pass QR codes that are required before we were allowed to board the flight.

It’s so awesome when after 5 hours you leave the plane and it’s a warm 77F at 11pm! The San Jose Airport is small, but modern and clean. Going through immigrations and customs was a breeze. They did scan our QR codes though. I exchanged $50 for Colones (the Costa Rican currency), but honestly everyone takes the mighty Greenback (US Dollars for non-American readers).

We booked the Hampton Inn near the San Jose airport because it was such a late flight. Cara (11) felt it was “sketchy”, but it’s really just a place to catch up on some sleep before the adventure starts. It cost us a $110 for the 4 of us.

Day 2 – Monday

We took an Uber to Walmart. Uber operates just fine in San Jose but outside the capital is less predictable. Traffic in San Jose is W-I-L-D! The main reason for the Walmart trip was to purchase SIM cards (for cellphone service) and some groceries. The SIM card was $11 for 3GB and we got it mostly for Google Maps or Waze, which seems to be the preferred provider here mostly because of local community engagement. The staff were very friendly although not everyone could speak English.

We rented a very small car from Vamos Car Rental, across the street from the hotel, because they have better reviews than most car rental companies, but Car Rental in Costa Rica is not straightforward. See my Costa Rica car rental notes. We ended up paying $560 for the week with a $2,000 hold on my credit card!

Drive to Puerto Viejo

The drive down from the mountain and from Limon down the coast – the last part, are really beautiful. About an hour out from Puerto Viejo one begins to realize you’re entering a special part of the world. We left San Jose a bit later than we anticipated so we arrived at Puerto Viejo when it was already dark.

Driving in Costa Rica is quite challenging especially when you’ve rented a manual (stick), but you haven’t driven manual in 6 years! It’s a two-lane highway for most of the way with so many big trucks on the road. There are also disruptive roadworks for most of the journey not to mention pot holes that put even Pennsylvania to shame! Many traffic rules are also considered optional by much of the locals. Lene was a nervous wreck and took a few days to calm down after the 5-hour trip. Also Cara threw-up ūü§ģ from the windy road down the mountain! But despite the hair-raising moments and the threats of divorceūü§≠, it’s a very interesting drive.

Terrazas del Caribe

Terrazas del Caribe has a beautiful pool.

We checked in to Terrazas del Caribe at around 6pm. It’s a few miles outside of Puerto Viejo just behind Playa Cocles. (“Playa” means “Beach” in Spanish) and a ~3-minute drive up a steep gravel road away from the main road. Check-in was very easy and our room was great and the pool even better. There is a decent kitchen and a superb patio as well.

We were all tired from the day’s driving so we spent the rest of the evening at Terrazas.

Continue reading “Puerto Viejo, Costa Rico visit during COVID-19 (Dec 2020)”

Spring is in the air

It certainly was not a cold winter by any means, but it is¬†always exciting when Spring shows it’s colours. This week there was a shift in the air. Not convincingly or completely, but hints of the freshness and warmth. Also the plants in my garden have¬†started flowering. Spring has arrived! There is just something so refreshing about this, right? If our lives go according to plan, we won’t experience a wonderful South African Spring for at least a couple of years so this has special meaning for me.

We went for a typical Sunday morning stroll at the beach when we ran into some great friends. There wasn’t an intention to go swimming, but it was so gorgeous outside that the kids voluntarily started swimming.

Longwood Gardens

On the advice of my cousin and others I took a trip to Longwood Gardens today. Quite honestly I was blown away. I have visited several botanical gardens, but truly this is was my favourite. It is one of the most impressive tourist destinations I have ever visited. Spectacular colours, deep greens, water works. It really is a worth a visit.

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Herfs is ook spesiaal

Hier waar ons bly is beslis ‘n seisoenale vakansiedorp so die grotere meerderheid mense wat Boesmansriviermond ken ken die luilekker somerdae. Maar ons wat die voorreg het om permanent hier te bly weet al te goed dat die plek op sy mooiste is van Februarie tot Mei.

Makro fotos van my tuin

My tuin is ongelooflik mooi op die oomblik en ek wou nou al ‘n ruk lank ‘n paar fotos van die blomme neem. Vandag werk ek van die huis af so ek het oor etenstyd ‘n paar fotos met my Tamron 90mm Makro lens geneem en hulle opgelaai. Die vetterige plantjie kom van my skoonma af – ek weet nie wat sy naam is nie, maar dis vir my ‘n asemrowende mooi ding.

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Rus in vrede Wangari Maathai

Eergister is Wangari Maathai, stigter van die Green Belt Movement, oorlede aan kanker. Sy was 71.

Mense wat my ken sal weet dat ek in die laaste 4 of 5 jaar min be√Įndruk is met Afrika se leiers. Ek het in 2006 teruggekeer na Suid Afrika vanaf Engeland met ‘n liberale uitkyk op Afrika van “gee die ouens ‘n kans”. Maar nou, 5 jaar later en na baie water onder deur die brug – onder andere die moord van my goeie vriend Juan Jansen, het ek¬†verseker ‘n regse uitkyk op Afrika. Ek is beslis nie ‘n rassis nie, maar ek is siek en sat om vir swart mense ‘n “break” te gee net omdat hulle swart is en sodoende die probleem te vererger.

Deesdae is my uitkyk “you get what you deserve”. As jy baklei waarvoor jy staan (Bryan Habana byvoorbeeld) kry jy jou kans, maar ek gun jou nie meer ‘n “free ride” nie. Die hele Afrika verwag deesdae free-rides en/of handouts en daarom sit ons waar ons nou sit. Selfs die voorheen onaantasbare Nelson Mandela is ook nou vir my nie meer so wonderlik nie. Ek sou verwag het dat hy, met al sy invloed, die ANC en gemors soos Julius Malema sou aanvat oor dit wat hulle aan Suid Afrika doen en tog is daar net stilswye.

Vir my was een van die min uitsonderings Wangari Maathai. Sy was ‘n mens wat ek geadmireer het. As ‘n Professor in Kenya was sy erken as ‘n kampvegter vir vroue- en menseregte en demokrasie. Dit is alles uitstekende roepings, maar haar grootste bydrae was tot die omgewing en die natuur. Sy het in 2004 die Nobel Vredesprys gewen daarvoor in is myns insiens een van die waardigste ontvangers ooit daarvan. Sy het baie op grondvlak verwesenlik (sien onder), maar vir my was haar werklike mag om die boodskap van die skakel tussen die omgewing en die mens (spesifiek dat ‘n gesonde en toeganklike omgewing net so belangrik soos¬†finansi√ęle¬†welvaart is) oor te dra aan baie en baie invloedryke mense. En ook die manier wat sy dit gedoen het. As Wangari gepraat het kon jy nie anders as om te luister nie!! Sy was duidelik baie intelligent en kon saam gesels met die kamtige slimkoppe van die Weste, maar sy het¬†terselfdertyd¬†‘n¬†fenomenale¬†en eerlike begrip gehad van Afrika en sy eie swakhede.

Daar is baie inligting oor wat sy behaal het, maar vir my was daar ‘n paar goed wat uitstaan:

  • Haar Green Belt Movement wat al in 1977 (lank voor Groen roepings¬†popul√™r¬†geraak het) gestig is het¬†al 45 miljoen bome geplant!! Dit alleen is ‘n ongelooflike prestasie en waardig van ‘n Nobelprys.
  • Toe sy agterkom dat ‘n paar Keniaanse senior ministers ‘n stuk onbekende bewaringsgebied oorgeneem het en herehuise begin opsit het sy voet-by-stuk gehou om dit stop te sit. Sy het letterlik haarself teen ‘n boom vasgeketting. Die ministers het – in tipiese Afrika styl – ‘n paar oorlogsveterane gekry om haar pimpel en pers te moker (nogal op kamera), maar sy het nie geroer nie.
  • In 1989 wou ‘n paar invloedryke sakemanne (onder andere Robert Maxwell) en die Staatspresident, Daniel Arap Moi, ‘n gebou opsit in Uhuru Park. Nou Uhuru Park is soos Hyde Park in Londen of Central Park in New York. Almal het ingestem en die bouery het begin. Toe Wangari Maathai daarvan uitvind het sy soos voorheen alles gedoen om dit stop te sit. Sy het ook¬†ges√™¬†dat die Britse publiek nooit ooit sou toelaat dat Rupert Murdoch ‘n gebou in Hyde Park opsit nie en dat dit nie Uhuru Park gaan gebeur nie. Op die ou end het dinge te warm vir Robert Maxwell geraak – hy was met reg bang dit sy reputasie in die Weste sou benadeel en hy het finansiering daarvoor¬†onttrek.

Sy het ware opofferings gemaak, maar steeds nederig gebly. Sy kon seker ‘n fortuin gemaak het, maar sy het ‘n diepere begrip gehad van wat belangrik was; die natuur (met al sy goggas en dinge). Dit is iemand na aan my hart!

Op die Green Belt Movement se Wangari Condolences bladsy het ek die volgende geskryf:

I am not a liberal – as I am in business I would be considered conservative.

Despite this I found Wangari Maathai to be one of the most inspirational people I have ever encountered. She understood the link between people and the environment better than most leaders who make massive decisions on our behalf. I think this was because she grew up in a magical place like Kenya whereas the Suits, although meaning well, grew up in New York, Berlin & London. Destruction of a forest is one thing when you read about it, but quite another when you see the devastation through your own eyes on a daily basis.

Although her death is an enormous blow to everyone who appreciates the environment, her courage will be missed in Africa most where exploitation by the West and now China continues unabated. And Africa, more than the rest of the world, still has it all to lose. I’m deeply saddened by hear death.

Cara in ons tuin

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Vandag was een van daai spectacular dae wat ‘n mens net weereens laat besef hoe gelukkig ons hier in Boesmans is. Lae 20s en baie min wind. As jy hier bly raak ¬†jy maar gewoond aan die wind, maar as daar dan wel min wind is, dan is hierdie ‘n paradys. Ek het van die geleentheid gebruik te maak om ‘n paar fotos van Cara in ons tuin (wat nou ook baie mooi lyk) te neem. Hierdie is die bestes van die lot.

Die plante in my tuin

Vandat ons huis in 2008 klaargebou is het ek as ‘n totale leuk begin tuinmaak. Wel ek besluit, maar die tuinjong doen die “maak”. Ek moet s√™ ek vind dit ongelooflik stimulerend. Ek probeer so veel inheems gaan as wat ek kan, maar ek het ‘n paar uitheemse plante ook. Soos enigeen in die omgewig weet het ons onder kwaai droogte deurgeloop, maar my tuin het goed gehou. Ek sukkel net met die gras en my Gousblomme het gevrek. Die res gaan goed aan.

Van my inheemse plante is:

  • Biosviooltjie (Barleria repens)
  • Heuningklokkiesbos (Freylina tropica)
  • Gazanias (Gazania rigens)
  • Kusgousblom (Arctotis ‘Red Magic’) – ongelukkig het hulle gevrek, maar ek wil nog kry
  • Bosboerboon (Schotia latifolia) – my gunsteling boom
  • Hen en kuikens (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Varkore (zanthedeschia araceae)
  • Wildepruim (Harpephyllum caffrum)
  • Waterbessie (Syzigium cordatum)
  • Nieshout (Ptaeroxylon obliquum) – my 2de gunsteling boom
  • Flamboyant (Delonix regia)
  • Kokoboom (Maytenus procumbens)
  • Boslelies (Clivias)
  • St√™rappel (Diospyros dichrophylla)

Uitheemse plante in my tuin:

  • Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
  • Roosmaryn (Rosemarinus officinalis)
  • Suurlemoenboom
  • Bromeliads

Afrikaners en Evolusie

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Ek was ‘n programmeerder (op verskillende vlakke) in Engeland vir 7 jaar. Soos lesers sekerlik weet is programmeerders redelik “geeky” en meeste mense sou s√™ relatief intelligent. Ek het sekerlik ‘n honderd kollegas gehad in hierdie periode. En ek kan eerlikwaar erken dat ek net 1 kan onthou wat nie evolusie aanvaar nie. En hy was ‘n Sikh Indi√ęr gewees. Dit is ook nie dat ek nie geweet het wat die ouens dink nie want dit is iets wat ons gereeld bespreek het. In Engeland en nog meer in Europa word mense wat nie Darwin se teorie aanvaar nie, as oningelig beskou.

In 2006 het ons terug Suid-Afrika toe gekom en van toe af is ek weereens verstom hoe evolusie nog moet plek maak vir godsdienstige dogma in Suid-Afrika; selfs nog meer by Afrikaners. Hier word evolusie gesien as ‘alternatief’ en word vergelyk met Crop Circles!! Dit is vir my baie frustrerend.

Na al die gesonde wetenskaplike debat vanaf 1859 (toe Charles Darwin se seminale “Origin of the Species” eerste gedruk is) word evolusie nou aanvaar in die moderne w√™reld as die beste & enigste teorie huidiglik wat alle lewe op Aarde kan verduidelik. Die wetenskaplike gemeenskap erken egter dat dit ‘n teorie is. Net soos Galilei, Newton & Einstein se wette ook teorie√ę is. Miskien sal iemand eendag weer bewys dat die Aarde plat is of dat evolusie onsin is. Maar ek twyfel!!

Suid-Afrika (en veral Afrikaners) se beheptheid met geloof word weerspie√ęl in die res Afrika waar mense ook nie vir hulself kan dink nie; miskien uit misplaaste vrees is vir iets wat nie bestaan nie. Dit is teleurstellend vir ‘n volk wat as modern wil beskou word.

Op 24 November is Charles Darwin se boek “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life” 150 jaar oud. Die Smithsonian Instituut s√™ die boek “may be the most important book ever written”.

Review: Deep Water

"Deep Water" - moving
"Deep Water" - moving

Deep Water is a film currently showing on DSTV. This documentary covers the true story of how Don Crowhurst, Bernard Moitessier and others attempt to sail around the world on their own.

The first words of the film are “We are all human beings and we all have dreams.” Very apt. This deeply moving film examines Man’s (sometimes tragic) quest for adventure and glory. But it is far more than that; it is about friendship, failure, family, priorities, greed and solitude. I would say it is essentially about men. Real Men; with their strengths AND weaknesses. But it also explores these men’s relationships to their families and how unwittingly destructive these men can be.

I like to think I have exploration in my blood. I think most men, especially Afrikaners, feel the same. I know my father has it in his blood; he has travelled into remote Africa on his own for months on end. This need to explore – in solitude sometimes – is something that fascinates me tremendously.

This film hit my right in the chest; Twice! I give it 8.5/10 – a must see!

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