Our Border Run to Panama Part 1

Border hopping…it’s one of those things that every traveller has to go through…and turns out…I’m not a fan.

As we were planning our trip, we knew that we would need to leave Costa Rica at least once to meet the Visa requirements. A Visa in Costa Rica is only 90 days, and since we are here for 5 months, we would have to leave the country in order to get ours renewed.

Although we originally thought our border run would be next month through Nicaragua, so many people told us how wonderful Panama was, we to do it early to see the sights.

I had done a lot of research about border hopping, and it all seemed like quite the ordeal. Since we are fairly laid back travellers, and like to avoid stress as much as possible, we opted to book a tour to take us from our hotel in Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro, Costa Rica.

You can certainly take public transit to the border, walk across, then catch it again on the other side, but that seemed far to adventurous for us.

We woke up bright, and early to catch our shuttle, and by the time it made it to our hotel it was VERY full. It was lucky there were no tunnels to go through, because all of the backpacks and bags were piled sky high on top of the roof of the van. We were given wrist bands to wear so we could be identified by the shuttle driver and began our journey. We slowly winded our way through the endless banana fields, until we reached our first hiccup.

woops, road block!

woops, road block!

Yes my friends, that is a tree, right across the road. I am pretty sure that every shuttle we have taken through Costa Rica has involved some sort of strange occurrence, and this one was foliage based.

The shuttle parked, and everyone got out, while a maintenance crew worked away trying to clear the tree.

man down...he was actually just watching ants, but this picture looks  tragic

man down…he was actually just watching ants, but this picture looks tragic

As you can see, Shaun was thrilled. It seemed like we were going to be stuck for hours, but they worked fast and It ended up only taking about 25 minutes. We all hopped back on the shuttle and carried on. Shortly there after, we arrived at the border.

This is where the my stress levels started increasing a little. Unlike Nicaragua, cars are not allowed over the border into Panama. Our van stopped just before the archway of the border, and we all got out. We were handed our bags, and an immigration paper. Our shuttle driver left, and we assumed we needed to find our next shuttle driver on the other side. Some of the people on the tour just started walking towards the archway, while a few of us stood on the side of the road filling out our paper.

Rookie move.

By the time we had filled out our paper, and started walking towards the archway, our group was split in two, as the rest of the tour group was much farther ahead in the line up. The remaining few of us gathered together on the hot pavement with all of our gear, and waited in line. I had been cold in the morning, so I had put my sweater on. Getting out of the van had happened so fast that I hadn’t had the chance to take it off. Now with Tatonka, Titty Tonka, and our food back lugged over my shoulder, I was a sweaty beast.

After about 25 minutes we made it to the front of the counter. This turned out to be Costa Rican Immigration. They stamped our passport, took our paper, and we left.

This picture doesn't even do it justice!

This picture doesn’t even do it justice!

Now, in doing my research, I had heard a lot of talk about this supposed “bridge”, and let me tell you, it lived up to all my expectations. To enter Panama, you have to walk across this rickety old railway bridge. The slats are loose, and there are gaps that a 7 year old child could easily fall through. Did I mention you have to do this while carrying all your gear? It was impressive to say the least.

Did we make it over the bridge you ask?

You will just have to wait and see, because this my friends, is a two parter.

Tomorrow on Hostels and Hot Rollers, Our Border Run to Panama Part 2

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress 

Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

sparkleA friend of mine posted this picture to my Facebook page the other day (thanks Michelle!) Normally these types of sayings make me smile, and then are promptly forgotten, but this one stayed with me.

I realized that this is something I’ve been trying to do a lot while travelling.

The people of Costa Rica have given us the gift of sharing their beautiful country with us. We’ve met so many people during these past two months, many of whom have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make our stay memorable.

If I can do something nice for them in return, then I’m going to do it. It’s all about the little things. Thinking back, these are some of the little things I’ve done to “leave my sparkle.”

  • Painting faces for free in Playa Coco
  • Leaving hand drawn cards for housekeepers with their tip
  • Baking cookies at Christmas for local businesses
  • Drawing up new signs the restaurant in Matapalo
  • Buying candy for the local kids outside the supermarket
  • Always offering to take photo’s of people who are taking selfies
  • Refusing change for people I buy Pipa’s or bracelets from
  • Leaving drawings in hostels to hang on their bulletin board
  • Getting blog posts about local businesses featured on town newsletters
  • And of course, lots, and lots of smiling!

How do you leave your sparkle?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress




Coco Loco Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After our long shuttle from San Jose, we were so happy to arrive safe, and sound at Cocoloco Lodge in Puerto Viejo.

The entry to Cocoloco Lodge

The entry to Cocoloco Lodge

The first thing I thought when we pulled up to the lodge was how calm it felt. It was like they built the the lodge but left the jungle intact.The property is built around the enormous existing trees, many bearing incredible fruits, and gorgeous flowers. My favourites were the calabash. Although I had seen these fruits before, the ones at Cocoloco are gigantic. They look like huge watermelons hanging from little small trees. A calabash is similar to a pumpkin, and although most of the time you do not eat them, you often find them carved into lamps and candle holders in local souvenir shops.

The main reception area for Cocoloco is in the front of the property. Here you can book tours,

Banana's hanging outside the reception for the birds to eat. Such a great idea!

Banana’s hanging outside the reception for the birds to eat. Such a great idea!

look through their enormous book exchange, buy water, and borrow games. For an additional 7 dollars, they also serve breakfast there.

Cocoloco offers both rooms, and bungalows. We opted for a bungalow, and were pleasantly surprised with what we got. Each bungalow has it’s own bathroom, porch, hammock, safe, fridge, TV,coffee maker, and even a hair dryer! To bad we were only there for one night otherwise I would have definitely taken advantage of that! There are also several WiFi routers throughout the huge property. It was pretty amazing to have a perfect WiFi signal in the jungle!

The main reception house

The main reception house

The lodge is located on the far end of town, but is within easy walking distance to the beach, to restaurants, and everything else you would need for your stay. If you wanted amenities that allow to stay put at the lodge, they also offer one bungalow that has a full kitchen.

Not only is the location, and amenties great, but the staff at Cocoloco Lodge are amazing.

Our cute little room...first time with mosquito netting!

Our cute little room…first time with mosquito netting!

They helped us SO much with trying to book all of our shuttles. I can’t even tell you how many emails I’ve sent back and forth to them.They were extremely patient as we tried to figure out the logistics of travelling with our now infamous surfboard (but that’s a whole other post). I’m so grateful for their knowledge, because I would not have been able to navigate this portion of our trip without their help.

We feel pretty fortunate to have found Cocoloco Lodge, so much so, that we are staying there for another night on our way back from Panama. If you are looking to spend some time to Puerto Viejo, or just looking for a place to stay before heading to Panama, we would highly recommend Cocoloco Lodge.

Stay tuned for another post, all about the town of Puerto Viejo! I’ll write this one on our way back through

Have you ever seen a Calabash?

Pura Vida


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress.

Culture Shock in San Jose

After two months of being beach bums, we finally made the move inland to San Jose.

We were on the fence as to whether we were even going to venture into this area, but a couple things made us decide to stop for a visit. Firstly, the thought of taking a shuttle across to the entire country to our next destination of Puerto Viejo, seemed like a long daunting day. Second, and most importantly, I really wanted to opportunity to meet, and connect with the extremely fabulous Maribel from Stroller Adventures.

So awesome to meet amazing friends in person!

So awesome to meet amazing friends in person!

Maribel, and I connected months and months ago, when I stumbled across a blog post of hers about shopping for groceries in Costa Rica. Having recently moved to Costa Rica from the US, she has been an invaluable resource for us while we’ve been travelling. If you are looking for a fabulous blog, I would highly suggest checking her out!

It was so nice to have Maribel as the light at the end of my tunnel, as the journey to San Jose was exhausting. Our shuttle didn’t leave Domincal until 3:30, which meant we had a long sweaty 3.5 hour wait between when we checked out of our hotel, and when we got on the shuttle. Needless to say we were a hot sweaty mess by the time we got on board.

As our full shuttle slowly winded it’s way inland, we left the calm, and beauty of our beachside paradise, and replaced it with the pavement and tolls of a major highway.

We rolled into San Jose around 6:45pm, making our first stop to drop someone off at the airport. We were actually staying on the outskirts, in a town called Santa Ana. We sort of assumed that we would be the first to be dropped off, but as the shuttle drove endlessly through the confusing and cluttered streets of downtown San Jose, we realized we were going to be last off. Finally, at around 8:30pm, we rolled up to our hotel. We had made it, and we were exhausted.

Although I knew we would be moving inland, I was not prepared for the culture shock it evoked in me. Pipa’s and playa’s were replaced with McDonald’s and Burger King. Suddenly I was immersed in a very western, and very busy city.  I honestly wasn’t ready for it.

When we were planning the trip, I remember so looking forward to going to San Jose so I could get a Starbucks coffee, and go shopping in a mall. But yesterday, it was the furthest thing from my mind. Living in these little beach side towns, as forced me to stop relying on materialistic things to entertain me. Going to Starbucks or the mall has been replaced with beach walks, and reading.

It’s a change that I didn’t expect, and I didn’t even notice it had happened until we got here. It is a welcome change, yet I wonder how it will effect me upon returning home.

Ultimately I was glad that we drove around, and got to see what downtown San Jose is all about, but I’m also glad it’s over. One night was all we needed.

Now its off to the Caribbean coast, and then into Panama!

Have you ever had to adjust your lifestyle back home after spending time immersed in another culture? How did you handle it?

Pura Vida!
Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

A Quick Pit Stop in Domincal, Costa Rica

After our three glorious days in Matapalo, we headed down the coast a little further to check out the surf town of domincal

The town map of Dominical

The town map of Dominical

Hotel Domilocos

Hotel Domilocos

For some reason I was expecting Domincal to be bigger. Most likely because of the challenge we had finding accommodation. Trying to find our normal, mid-range private hostel room was impossible. All the choices were either cheap dorm style hostels, or hotels.

We ended up booking into Hotel Domilocos. It was over our price budget, so that ultimately sealed the deal that we were only going to be staying for the one night. We didn’t mind though, neither one of us were really prepared to leave the coast. We were really looking for an excuse to spend one more day by the seaside before moving inland.

The Lonely Planet book describes Dominical as a town full of pot, and surf. After cruising around a little bit, that seemed fairly accurate. Everyone is pretty chilled out. Even the surfing I watched seems more mellow down here.

The second little road. Shaun is checking out the surf

The second little road. Shaun is checking out the surf

The town is set up in two parts. The main road that runs through the town, then a small second road  that runs between the beach, and the main road. This second road is set up with all sorts of vendors, beachside hostels, smoothie shacks, and a couple bars. This area also sells the biggest Pipa’s I had ever seen!

Shaun, and I cruised around a bit, but ultimately called it an early night. We had air conditioning, and WiFi in our room, and planned on taking full advantage of it. In case you were wondering, we watched the Butler on Netflix.

Lots of people out for a sunset session on our first night.

Lots of people out for a sunset session on our first night.

The following morning, Shaun went our for a surf while I did my workout. He said the surf was mellow, but good. It wasn’t too busy for Costa Rican standards, but compared to the previous days when he had the surf to himself in Matapalo, it was much busier.

Although we were there for the blink of an eye, I’m glad we got to visit Domincal. It’s another place that we can cross off our list of places we’ve seen. If you are travelling down the coast, and looking for a place to stop along the way, I would suggest Domincal. It’s a sleepy little surf town, but worth checking out.

The travel inland, and to the Carribean coast begins today!

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Healthy Hostel Meals Part 4- What do you mean there is no kitchen?

Well, after two months of travel, we’ve officially hit our healthy hostel life groove.

We have accumulated a little supply of spices, staples, and supplies, and can whip up some pretty great healthy meals in a flash.

That is, of course, until you take away a pretty essential necessity, a kitchen.

No-SCOBY-in-the-Fridge-300x297The vast majority of the hostels we stay in have great shared kitchens, with all the supplies we need. Other’s don’t have a kitchen, but we’ve got a little fridge. In those cases we just plan ahead, and bring some pre made meals, or stick with simple things like cereal or salads.

The most challenging places, are the places that have no facilities. No kitchen, no fridge, nothing. How on earth do you eat healthy, when you have absolutely no amenities?

Well let me tell you my friend, it requires some serious creativity.

If you are travelling short term, you could just go out for meals, but we’re on a budget. Homemade meals are a way of life here in the land of Hostels and Hot Rollers.
So today I thought I would share some tips on how I manage to stay relatively healthy when faced with the dire circumstances of having no food amenities. Let’s start with my supplies:


Peanuts, Almonds
Peanut Butter
Protein Powder
Canned Tuna
Canned Vegetables
Bananas, Apples, Oranges

I usually try, and buy the supplies when I find them, and keep them on hand. It’s a pretty limited shopping list, so if we get to a town that doesn’t have one or two items, I’m pretty much out of luck.

Next up is meals. Shaun, and I will usually make something in advance when we know we won’t have a kitchen. That means, the first night we get there we will have something for dinner. Usually some sort of rice, veggie, bean concoction (stored in all the empty peanut butter jars we are accumulating!)

After that, the meals start getting pretty creative. Here is an example of what I ate during our last kitchenless day:


Slop makings!!

Slop makings!!

Breakfast: Kate’s Magical Slop: Mmmm, doesn’t that sound appetizing? Don’t let the name fool you, this delicious concoction is both tasty, and will curb your hunger. I invented it by chance one morning by just throwing everything I had on hand in a bowl. So, my very precise recipe is: nut butter, oats, banana, almonds, protein powder, and a little bit of water. I like mine to look like a chunky cake batter. You can add whatever you want, coconut, raisins, granola…be creative! Be advised though, with all that protein, a little goes a long way with this concoction. A little bowl full can easily keep me going till lunch.

Lunch: Peanut Butter and Banana on (blank). Oh hello peanut butter, so we meet again. I usually smear some of this legume gold on rice cakes, and then slice some banana’s on top. Unfortunately, rice cakes aren’t always available. If all else fails I’ll use a mini wrap, or slice of bread, depending on what Shaun has hidden away in his carb stash.

I find preparing this delicacy in the bathroom really heightens the flavour.

I find preparing this delicacy in the bathroom really heightens the flavour.

Dinner: Tuna Vegetable Medley: When I first decided to try this concoction, I did not have high hopes. The thought of my entire dinner coming from cans made my stomach churn, but I forged ahead.

I was actually shocked at how much I enjoyed it! Maybe it’s just because it was a welcome change after a long day of peanut butter and banana overdose. Regardless, I actually look forward to this meal. 

I always have a small can of light tuna in water on hand. One that has a snap open lid so you don’t have to deal with a can opener. Add in a can of drained vegetable medley (my fave is peas, beans, and carrots), a couple dashes of lizano, and some pepper, and you my friend have yourself a meal! If I’m looking to mix it up, I’ll put it in a wrap, or grab a small head of lettuce, and make it into a salad. Either way, in a pinch, this meal will do. (Full Disclosure I’m editing this post three days after writing this…and am sick of this meal now! Glad we have a kitchen tomorrow!)

To curb any potential Hanger throughout the day, these are the snacks that I keep on hand, or I’ll pick up, during our kitchenless times:


Carrots, and Cucumber- Buy and consume the same day
Nuts- Keep them in your purse, for emergency Hanger!
Kale Chips- If you’re lucky enough to find them
Buy a Smoothie-Add some of your protein powder to it if you’re really clever
Side salads- Nothing beats fresh greens

Eating like this is certainly forces you to be creative, and is not something I can sustain for more then a day or two. I feel fortunate that this moments are pretty few, and far between during our trip!

How would you eat healthy when faced with no kitchen??

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Month Two-Travel Reflections and Big Ideas

Well we’ve passed the two month mark here at Hostels and Hot Rollers. Sometimes it feels like it’s gone by so fast, while other times I feel like I’ve been gone for years.

Although it is a long way off, thinking about coming home, and entering back into my lifestyle is becoming increasingly unclear.

Becoming immersed in a lifestyle so far outside what I have known, is causing a change in my perspective. My perspective on my life, future, and belief system.

There are some big ideas brewing in this picture

There are some big ideas brewing in this picture

Over the past year I have become increasingly aware of the need to create changes in my life. This trip became the fork in the road. The crossroads that would allow me to re-evaluate everything. As I got on the plane, I knew I was entering into both a physical, and emotional adventure.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend my days mediating under palm trees, but I have a lot of time, and I have a lot of inspiration around me. It has created the space, and mental clarity to reflect. It’s both a beautiful, and terrifying experience.

I have some big ideas. Big ideas about who I am, what I want, and what I believe. Big ideas that I didn’t even know I had. Big ideas that I don’t know what to do with.

As our adventure moves forward, my personal adventure moves forward as well. I have no idea where either of them will take me.

Slowly, this prospect is becoming less scary, and more exciting.


Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

El Coquito, Matapalo, Costa Rica

Sometimes life lands you in magical places, and you just have to take a moment to be thankful.

This is the state of mind we have been living in during our time in Matapalo.

The paragraph in our guide book on Matapalo is just that, a paragraph. A small excerpt describing a remote village, with few amenities, good surf, and a gigantic beach.

We were intrigued, and although it was challenging, I managed to track down a place to stay, El Coquito. The website didn’t really work, but after a couple of emails back, and forth, we had secured a place to stay. Our expectations were low, but we figured it would be an adventure.

As the days leading up to Matapalo neared, we began wondering what we had got ourselves into. Although Matapalo is located only 32km from Quepos, many cab drivers had no idea where it was. We eventually managed to track down a driver, and with the help of our map, and guidebook were on our way.

El coquito's little restaurant

El coquito’s little restaurant

Our ride was an adventure, with the driver stopping to ask directions whenever he saw someone. Eventually, we pulled into a dirt road, and saw a small grocery store, and a sign for El Coquito. We had arrived. I think the driver was just as relived as we were.

We headed up to the small outdoor restaurant where we were greeted by Enrique, and Mariella, likely two of the most amazing people we have met on this trip. Enrique is from Matapalo, but, after spending time in California, speaks perfect English. Although he worked primarily for a bank here in Costa Rica, he developed a passion for cooking while living in the states.

A view from the beach

A view from the beach

Now retired, he helps run El Coquito, and puts his love of cooking to good use. This would certainly work out in our benefit. Especially when Enrique informed us that the owner had called him earlier that day to tell him to provide us with free breakfast every morning. Bonus!

We were checked into our room which had a double bed, single bed, and a set of bunk beds. We had the pick of the litter for pillows and blankets, and even played a round of “the floor is

Our Cabina

Our Cabina

lava.” Although there are several  cabinas, on the property, we soon realized that we were the only guests.

We dropped our stuff, and decided to check out the beach. The first thing we were struck by was our proximity to the beach, it was literally our front yard. Shaun could lay in bed, look out the window, and check the surf. The second thing we noticed was the size. The beach was HUGE. Playa Matapalo spans 12km, and is virtually empty. We arrived on a Sunday, and there were a few locals camping on the beach, but after that we barely saw

The beach is our front yard!

The beach is our front yard!

anyone. 12km worth of beach to ourselves, sure, why not?!

I spent my morning running on the beach, while Shaun surfed. Then we would reconvene in the restaurant where Enrique would make us an amazing breakfast. The rest of our day would be spent going for long beach walks, and lounging in the sun on the beach or by the pool. By the end of our stay, we were so relaxed, and wished we could stay forever.

I find it surreal that I'm actually writing this post in this photo

I find it surreal that I’m actually writing this post in this photo

Shaun, and I talked alot about whether we were even going to write this post. Playa Matapalo is an untouched gem nestled between the touristy cities of Quespos, and Dominical. That level of seclusion is part of what makes it so magical.
The decision to write about it ultimately stems from our wish to bring business to El Coquito.

Enrique and Mariella put their heart, and soul into this place. Enrique’s passion for the food he cooks is contagious. He says his goal is to make people happy through his food, and with the amazing food that he cooks, it is impossible not to end each meal with a huge smile. Although Mariella spoke no English, she was always smiling, and teaching us new words in Spanish.

Sunset on the beautiful beach of Playa Matapalo

Sunset on the beautiful beach of Playa Matapalo

They provided us with so many little touches that made our stay so special. One day, I asked if they ever drink the coconut water from the trees lining the property, and from then on, I had a pipa every morning with breakfast. Every night they would give us a router to bring back to our room so we could get good WiFi reception. On the final evening they had several people coming to eat at the restaurant, but spent the time to make sure we were served first, and that we could sit at our favourite table.


Shaun’s typical morning

Matapalo is not for everyone. There is nothing within walking distance, aside from a small grocery store. But, If you are looking to get off the beaten path, have great surf all to yourself, and get away from the tourist scene, then I would highly suggest El Coquito. If you are lucky, Enrique will make you tuna for dinner, and rice pudding for dessert. If that is the case though, you may never leave.

Pura Vida!
Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Although most people go to Manuel Antonio just to see the National Park, we decided to spend an extra day poking around, and exploring everything the little town had to offer.

Our adventure was well worth it, the town is full of great restaurants, coffee shops, and hidden beaches. Plus, with the hilly terrain, there are breathtaking views at every turn. So without further ado, here are our favourite places in Manuel Antonio

The entrance to Emilio's. You can see the view from the front door!

The entrance to Emilio’s. You can see the view from the front door!

Emilio’s Cafe– One of the first things I asked David when we checked into our hostel was, “where is the best place for coffee?” My stomach was finally feeling better, and I was ready to jump back on the coffee band wagon. He recommended Emilio’s, which was only about a 7 minute walk from our hostel.
Emilio’s is, just off the main road to Manuel Antonio near the Falafel Bar. It is an open concept coffee shop/restaurant which means when you peer through the door from the road, you can already see that the view is breathtaking.

The view from Emilio's. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

The view from Emilio’s. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

Shaun, and I popped in here one morning after a beach walk.  As we sat outside, looking out over the National Park, sipping a Cappuccino and a Gingerale, and listening to Jack Johnson, I knew I would be writing about this place. Luckily for me, I hadn’t brought my camera, so I had the perfect excuse to come back later in the afternoon for another coffee,  to snap some photo’s, and use their free WiFi to catch up on some blogging.
Emilio’s offers a small, but delicious looking menu. The morning we were there, the special was a French Toast with pineapple, and ginger syrup. Holy yum! Their dessert display was even more tempting. I was astounded by the sheer physics of their Mississippi Mud Pie. A towering pie of whipped cream, and chocolate that seemed beyond belief. My Cappuccino had the most beautiful coffee art on the top, something that I’ve always taken for granted at home, but so appreciate when I find it here.
Although it is only about 3km from the bustling tourist hub near the park, the chilled out atmosphere makes Emilio’s feel like a different world. If you are looking to relax, have coffee, enjoy some amazing food, and enjoy a view that will take your breath away, Emilio’s Cafe is the place to be.

Can you spot the plane?

Can you spot the plane?

El Avion: This restaurant seems to be a rite of passage for guests visiting Manuel Antonio, and rightly so. It’s not everyday that you come across a restaurant inside a green cargo plane that is perched precariously on the top of a hill. Since you have to pass it on your way to the park, many tourists get curious, and stop either on their way to the park, or on their way back.
The story about how this plane ended up on the side of the road in Manuel Antonio is full of mystery, corruption, and scandal. You can read all about it here.

I had visited the restaurant three years ago on a previous visit, but Shaun had never seen it. We made a point to stop in for a happy hour to check out both the feat of engineering, and the breathtaking view.

Impressive eh!

Impressive eh!

If you are eating, make sure you keep an eye out when your food arrives. The kitchen is below, and food is delivered fuselage dumbwaiter!

If you visit, make sure you check out the bar inside the plane. It is open during the day, but at night converts into a night club. You can go right in, and sit in the cockpit!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

If you are leaving Manuel Antonio after a big day at the park, I highly suggest making a pit stop at El Avion. Don’t worry if you are sweaty, sandy or wet, they are used to it. It’s a great place for a meal, snack, beverage or final photo op before making your way back home.

The farmer's market in Quepos

The farmer’s market in Quepos

Raw Food Express– Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat, as it’s actually located in Quespos, a town located about 6km from Manuel Antonio.

We were lucky enough to be in the area over the weekend, which meant the farmer’s market was open on the boardwalk in Quespos. So, we hopped on the bus to check it out.

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter.  A little bit of everything!

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter. A little bit of everything!

The market was lovely. It was mostly vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and of course Pipas. There were a few artisans selling jewellery, soaps, and clothes, but one vendor in particular caught my eye.

The table for Raw Food Express was covered in all sorts of amazing raw food items.  As many of you know, I’m always on the look out for unique healthy options while travelling here, so I had to stop and take a look.

My beloved kale chips

My beloved kale chips

I met Debbie, and Gabrielle whose passion for raw healthy food was evident.I scanned their many products, and was impressed by the diversity, and uniqueness of their merchandise. There were so many items that I hadn’t seen in Costa Rica before like: raw cookies, coconut milk, raw crackers, Spirulina, and even my beloved peanut butter.

I could have bought it all, but when my eyes fell upon Kale chips, I knew there would be a sale. Our next stop on our trip was to a remote town, and we didn’t have a fridge. I had been trying to figure out how I was going to get my vegetables in while we were there. Kale chips were the perfect solution. I opted for two bags, one honey mustard, and one herb flavoured.  I am eating them as we speak, and they are so delicious.

Raw Food Express also makes food that you can pre order, and pick up at the market. Everything from raw lasagne with zucchini noodles, to mango sushi. A great option for those interested in raw food, but unsure how to get started.

If you are into raw food, or just looking for some healthy alternatives while travelling in Manuel Antonio, I would definitely look up Raw Food Express. Try the honey mustard kale chips, you won’t be disappointed!

So there you have it, our favourite places in Manuel Antonio. There are lots more where that came from, so if you are looking for more recommendations, drop me a line!
Pura Vida!
Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Manuel Antonio National Park Part 2

I know you are just waiting on the edge of your seat after yesterday’s post, so here ya go!

When we left off, Shaun and I had decided to hike the Punta Cathedral Trail. This outcrop of land was once an island, but over time silt has built up, and connected it to the land. It’s created a perfect little loop for a trail that boasts amazing views of both of the major beaches in the park.

As we left for the hike, the park had started to fill up, but people were mostly milling around the beach. The hiking trail was the perfect way to get away from the crowds. Now to say this was a rustic hiking trail is a little bit of a stretch. It was an amazingly maintained gravel walkway with stairs, and bridges. Very unusual for Costa Rica, but I wasn’t complaining. We wandered deeper into the trail, being as quiet as possible. Every time we heard something we would stop, and peer into the jungle, hoping to sneak a peak at some sort of fantastic creature.

Shaun hiking up the very well maintained trail

Shaun hiking up the very well maintained trail

We didn’t have to go far before we saw our first little animal, but we had no idea what they were called. They were small little rodents, with hind legs like a rabbit. We looked at the map we had been given at the entrance, and noticed a picture of one, but the caption just said Costa Rica. So, we just called them Costa Rica’s from there on out. We ended up seeing them all over during our hike. (I literally just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what they are called, turns out, they are Agouti’s! Knowledge is Power!)

Our "Costa Rica" or Agouti.

Our “Costa Rica” or Agouti.

About 25 minutes in, we noticed a couple stopped ahead of us looking into the trees. It didn’t take long to realize what they were looking at, a family of about six monkeys were playing around in the trees right about them. We crept towards them, and started snapping photos.

I swear I probably stood there in awe for over 15 minutes. These monkeys just went about their business, completely unperturbed by our presence. They wandered around like we weren’t even there. It was totally one of those surreal moments that I’ll never forget. I later told Shaun, that no longer how long we are in this country, I will always turn into the biggest “tourista” whenever I see monkeys. I can’t not take a zillion photos of them. They are so fascinating! As a result of this affliction, you will now be subjected to the best monkey photo’s we took. I probably have 60 more on my camera, I have no shame.

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After tearing myself away from my Monkey friends, we carried along the trail, stopping at the viewpoints along the way to look out over the cliffs. The views were insane. Huge ocean, huge beach, so much tropical beauty

As we continued along, I snapped photo’s of some of the crazy trees that I saw. I was mesmerized by how they twist, and grow around each other. Everywhere I turned there were feats of nature that I didn’t know where possible. As a result, you will not be subjected to numerous photos of foliage of trees. At least I know my Mom will appreciate these!

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Shaun also laughed as I stopped, and desperately tried to take a good photo of a raccoon. Obviously, I could just go outside at home, and find those everywhere, but this one had red in its tail, and they probably speak Spanish. Totally different!

See the tail! Different then at home!

See the tail! Different then at home!

Although the terrain was easy, there were lots of stairs, and we had both worked up a good jungle sweat by the end. Once we got to the end of the trail, it was deemed that a dip in the ocean was extremely necessary. We set up our stuff, and took turns jumping in. Although the beach is relatively safe to leave your stuff on, we had lots of camera stuff with us, and didn’t want to risk it. Plus, you have to be really careful with the bold wildlife. By the time the hike was over, the monkeys and raccoons were out in full force. They will blatently walk right up to your bag, open the zipper, and take out your food. Shaun just wasn’t willing to risk having his PB&J’s swiped, so we played it safe.

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After a couple swimming sessions, and some lounging in the sun, we decided to call it a day. It was lunchtime, and I was also itching for a coffee. We left the park, making a quick pit stop just outside the gates for a Pipa.

It was a great day, and I certainly felt like we got our money’s worth. If you are visiting the park, make sure to bring lots of water, and food as there is nowhere to buy anything once you are inside. The park does have bathrooms and showers though, so you could easily spend the entire day there if you wanted.

All in all, a raging success, and a must visit for anyone visiting Costa Rica!

Have you ever seen a Monkey?

Pura Vida!


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