Tag Archives: San Jose

Do you know the way to San José?

Friday 17 February 2023 – In our case, the way to the particular San José which is the capital of Costa Rica is via Montréal, Canada, and we have two sleeps to go until we entrust ourselves to the tender mercies of Air Canada. So – of course – we are in a froth of not-quite panic in preparation for our departure.

Costa Rica, as a holiday travel destination is a bit of a dark horse for us.  We understand Europe, North America, the antipodes (largely) and we understand that there are large tracts of the world which are Off The List right now (e.g, tragically, Hong Kong).  But we’ve never been to central America before.  Now, “so what?” you might say (and I think I heard you). Surely, you might think, Central America is just like South America except for the latitude; and we’ve been to South America before. But I think we’re in for a completely different experience with its associated steep learning curve.

Costa Rica, for example, has extraordinary biodiversity.  It is home to more than 500,000 species, which represents nearly 5% of the total species estimated worldwide, making Costa Rica one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. (Of these 500,000 species, a little more than 300,000 are insects, which is likely to make the nights a bit itchy.) So the wildlife is going to be a huge part of the experience. I bet I end up with hundreds, possibly thousands, of photos of landscape where a really interesting animal was to be seen just milliseconds before.

Sustainability is also a very important topic for Costa Rica. With a goal to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021, sustainable practices are (we are told) observed in every region of the country, across all industries, adopted by all citizens and embraced by visitors (that means us – so we’ll find out what it means to be sustainable tourists – and also whether it made its 2021 goal). From local Costa Rican cuisine to artisan crafts to traditional customs and celebrations, sustainability is embedded deeply in the culture and traditions of Costa Rica. I hope this doesn’t affect too markedly the supply of comfortable beds with handy en-suite facilities (necessary at my age), food that my digestion can handle, and gin.

The practical upshot of all this strangeness is that packing for the trip is not just a matter of bunging some T-shirts and shorts into the suitcase.  OK, we’re away for a month, but even our two months in the strange and bear-infested wilds of Canada didn’t merit a tourist information/instruction booklet that is the better part of 2 cm thick!

We have a lot to learn, a lot to see and a lot of different places to visit. This is our trajectory:

There will be lots of wildlife. There will be lots of scenery. Accordingly, there will be lots of photography, so there’s an enormous amount for me to look forward to along with the obvious thrill of getting to know about another culture. As usual, I’m struggling to work out what photo gear will best serve me and thence how to fit all the bits of it with Lithium batteries into cabin baggage. I’m hoping that this list will serve:

  • The Big Camera (Nikon Z6, with 24-200mm lens attached)
  • A 100-400mm zoom lens for the wildlife
  • An Olympus Tough camera for the snorkeling
  • A drone, for aerial photos and video
  • A miniature video camera (DJI OM Pocket 2)
  • A gimbal for my mobile phone – if I can fit it in
  • A laptop for processing the photos and writing the blog
  • A tablet, for reading the papers in my abundant leisure time (hollow laugh)
  • A portable Wi-Fi hotspot so I can post smug photos at any time of the day

As well as this, I need to find room for a power bank, several charging cables and power adapters and a backup disk for the photos.  I suspect the backpack will weight over 15kg for this trip, just as it did for Canada, and I will have to re-learn the art of nonchalantly swinging it around as if it weighs a great deal less.

The spare bedroom looks like an explosion in a clothing factory whilst we work out what we can get of what we need into two suitcases. “I’m going in now; I may be some time.”

I hope we will be able to capture what is sure to be a unique and absorbing experience for the next month, and I will do my best to record it on these pages.  Please join us on the journey….