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Guidebook for Costa Rica (San Ramón)

Peter

Guidebook for Costa Rica (San Ramón)

Local Cultural Experiences
We are an American-Costa Rican couple with our roots in San Ramon and family throughout Costa Rica. If the best part of traveling for you is experiencing the natural culture and true essence of the people, that is our desire. So here is some great ideas to get you started.
Nearly every city in Costa Rica has a church as its cultural center with an adjacent central park. Go into town and park at the church. It will cost you 700 colones per hour (~574 colones = $1) but the parking is secure and nearly always available. You can visit the church, park, shops and walk one block to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
San Ramón Nonato parish
Nearly every city in Costa Rica has a church as its cultural center with an adjacent central park. Go into town and park at the church. It will cost you 700 colones per hour (~574 colones = $1) but the parking is secure and nearly always available. You can visit the church, park, shops and walk one block to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
La Feria, the Farmers Market - An amazing local experience of fresh fruit, vegetables, street food, plants, etc. A must see ONLY on Friday and Saturday afternoons/evenings.
San Ramon Farmer Fair
La Feria, the Farmers Market - An amazing local experience of fresh fruit, vegetables, street food, plants, etc. A must see ONLY on Friday and Saturday afternoons/evenings.
San Ramon Centro is a great place to observe the local culture and soak in the spirit of her people. Nearly every city in Costa Rica has a church as its cultural center with an adjacent central park. Go into town and park at the church. It will cost you 700 colones per hour (~580 colones = $1) but the parking is secure and nearly always available. You can visit the church, park, shops and walk one block to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
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San Ramon
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San Ramon Centro is a great place to observe the local culture and soak in the spirit of her people. Nearly every city in Costa Rica has a church as its cultural center with an adjacent central park. Go into town and park at the church. It will cost you 700 colones per hour (~580 colones = $1) but the parking is secure and nearly always available. You can visit the church, park, shops and walk one block to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Walk one block from the Church to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Mercado Municipal de San Ramon
Walk one block from the Church to the central market. A couple of our favorite things to do at the central market is 1) have a chinchivi, which is a traditional drink of San Ramon of flavored syrup and sugar cane carbonation. The vendor is in the Southwest corner of the market. 2) buy some chorizo (sausage) or fresh fruit from one of the vendors for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Nature and Places
Here are some day/overnight trips outside the San Ramon area.
This city is a cultural gem, close to the house, with a history of furniture making and traditional crafts. Great for souvenir shopping. 30 minutes from the house.
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Sarchi
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This city is a cultural gem, close to the house, with a history of furniture making and traditional crafts. Great for souvenir shopping. 30 minutes from the house.
A beautiful little town at the base of the Arenal Volcano and a beautiful, short 2 hour drive from the house. A great day trip.
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La Fortuna
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A beautiful little town at the base of the Arenal Volcano and a beautiful, short 2 hour drive from the house. A great day trip.
One of the most moving things I’ve ever experienced was the faith of the Costa Rican people surrounding the annual August 1st pilgrimage. If you’re ever in the Country in late July, you will find hundreds and thousands of people from every corner of the country, walking miles from their home town to the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles in Cartago (one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen). 2 hours from the house. Check out these videos of the romeros (pilgrims’) experience. https://youtu.be/8UCgp3wQtSQ https://youtu.be/SM2z_PehoSw
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Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles
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One of the most moving things I’ve ever experienced was the faith of the Costa Rican people surrounding the annual August 1st pilgrimage. If you’re ever in the Country in late July, you will find hundreds and thousands of people from every corner of the country, walking miles from their home town to the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles in Cartago (one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen). 2 hours from the house. Check out these videos of the romeros (pilgrims’) experience. https://youtu.be/8UCgp3wQtSQ https://youtu.be/SM2z_PehoSw
Palmares in January - If you are visiting in early January, be sure to check out the world famous Fiestas de Palmares, just five miles from our house. With mega bars, concerts, bullfights (Tico style), carnivals and more, the Palmares Festival is the biggest festival of the year with an estimated million attendees and considered by many to be the best festival in the country. 15 minutes from the house.
Palmares
Palmares in January - If you are visiting in early January, be sure to check out the world famous Fiestas de Palmares, just five miles from our house. With mega bars, concerts, bullfights (Tico style), carnivals and more, the Palmares Festival is the biggest festival of the year with an estimated million attendees and considered by many to be the best festival in the country. 15 minutes from the house.
This is not the beach town American tourists go to. The closest thing I can equate Puntarenas to is old school Daytona Beach, PURE Tico! Sand and surf vibe through and through. Worth a day trip, a beautiful drive down early in the morning, spend the day on the beach, eating food and strolling the street vendors. Be sure to find some green mango (w/lime and salt...a MUST have!) and when you’re really hot, get a Churchill’s (with condensed milk). 1 hour from the house.
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Punta Arenas
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This is not the beach town American tourists go to. The closest thing I can equate Puntarenas to is old school Daytona Beach, PURE Tico! Sand and surf vibe through and through. Worth a day trip, a beautiful drive down early in the morning, spend the day on the beach, eating food and strolling the street vendors. Be sure to find some green mango (w/lime and salt...a MUST have!) and when you’re really hot, get a Churchill’s (with condensed milk). 1 hour from the house.
You want to make this an overnight trip. Again, our favorite places are not the American tourist spots (and there are plenty of thermal volcanic baths that cater to them) but the local hang-outs. This place is magical and you want to spend the day and night walking down the path to the thermal pools, scheduling a message in the forest (so affordable you’ll want to do it every day you’re there) and drink a frozen drink or cerveza Imperial at the bath-side bar. 1 hour 45 minutes from the house.
Termales del Bosque
You want to make this an overnight trip. Again, our favorite places are not the American tourist spots (and there are plenty of thermal volcanic baths that cater to them) but the local hang-outs. This place is magical and you want to spend the day and night walking down the path to the thermal pools, scheduling a message in the forest (so affordable you’ll want to do it every day you’re there) and drink a frozen drink or cerveza Imperial at the bath-side bar. 1 hour 45 minutes from the house.
A great day trip and beautiful 2 hour drive from the house. An active volcano, but dormant since 2010, with amazing vistas and at the east end of Lake Arenal. Awesome hiking and abundant thermal baths surround the area.
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Arenal Volcano
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A great day trip and beautiful 2 hour drive from the house. An active volcano, but dormant since 2010, with amazing vistas and at the east end of Lake Arenal. Awesome hiking and abundant thermal baths surround the area.
Another active volcano with a beautiful observation area and hikes to the crater lake, only 1 hour 45 minutes from the house. Since it's last eruptions in 2017 and 2019, and due to frequent sulfur emissions, reservations and advanced tickets are currently required.
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Poás Volcano
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Another active volcano with a beautiful observation area and hikes to the crater lake, only 1 hour 45 minutes from the house. Since it's last eruptions in 2017 and 2019, and due to frequent sulfur emissions, reservations and advanced tickets are currently required.
Just outside a very short distance from the thermal baths at Termales de Bosque, is La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center. Worth the visit during your stay at Termales de Bosque. 1 hour 45 minutes from the house.
La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center
Just outside a very short distance from the thermal baths at Termales de Bosque, is La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center. Worth the visit during your stay at Termales de Bosque. 1 hour 45 minutes from the house.
Yet ANOTHER amazing popular place to visit within a 45 minutes drive from the house. This does require some walking but the hike is beautiful and you're likely to run into some horses.
Bajos del Toro
Yet ANOTHER amazing popular place to visit within a 45 minutes drive from the house. This does require some walking but the hike is beautiful and you're likely to run into some horses.
Food Scene
"Pops" is Costa Rica's Baskin Robin. Stop into one of the ice cream shops around the park, or better yet, find a snow cone cart on the street. Be sure to have either a Churchills or granizado (snow cone) with sweetened condensed milk. Trust us, they’re delicious. See my section below called the "13 Foods You Have to Try in Costa Rica"
Pops
"Pops" is Costa Rica's Baskin Robin. Stop into one of the ice cream shops around the park, or better yet, find a snow cone cart on the street. Be sure to have either a Churchills or granizado (snow cone) with sweetened condensed milk. Trust us, they’re delicious. See my section below called the "13 Foods You Have to Try in Costa Rica"
Buying fresh baked bread is a daily experience for many Costa Ricans that you should enjoy with them. Follow your nose and try to choose from an amazing assortment of bread and pastries for your car trip or for back at the house for your morning or afternoon coffee. Ahhh....puda vida. This panaderia (bakery) is our favorite and convenient on your way into or out of San Ramon. A third generation family business now run by the grandson, who you will often times find behind the counter helping you.
La Carillo Panaderia
Buying fresh baked bread is a daily experience for many Costa Ricans that you should enjoy with them. Follow your nose and try to choose from an amazing assortment of bread and pastries for your car trip or for back at the house for your morning or afternoon coffee. Ahhh....puda vida. This panaderia (bakery) is our favorite and convenient on your way into or out of San Ramon. A third generation family business now run by the grandson, who you will often times find behind the counter helping you.
Souvenirs
I know it says "restaurant" but it's also a HUGE souvenir store, with many, many hand made crafts, coffee, T-shrits, Llazano, guado, you name it! And it is SO close to the house. Worth stopping in to check it out.
Restaurante El Jardín
I know it says "restaurant" but it's also a HUGE souvenir store, with many, many hand made crafts, coffee, T-shrits, Llazano, guado, you name it! And it is SO close to the house. Worth stopping in to check it out.
Activities
If zip-lining is one of the activities on your list, this park is the closest to the house. The drive there is beautiful and they have multiple lines, a suspended bridge, food options, artisan beer...all in an amazing natural setting. 45 minutes from the house.
Adventure Park San Luis
If zip-lining is one of the activities on your list, this park is the closest to the house. The drive there is beautiful and they have multiple lines, a suspended bridge, food options, artisan beer...all in an amazing natural setting. 45 minutes from the house.

Borgartillaga

Siðir og menning
Sharing the Soul of Costa Rica
My first visit to Costa Rica in 2010 was driven by a desire to connect with a culture that had not forgotten its religious roots. If you come to visit and only see the natural beauty and experience the eco-tourism, you would be blessed enough. But if you desire to share her soul then pay special attention to the opportunities the culture offers to feed it. If you’re visiting Costa Rica you probably already have an adventurous spirit. So here are some tips and advice to help you push that spirit to the limits and have an experience you will never forget (and which few others will ever have).
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Your Adventure Begins the Moment You Leave the Airport
The drive from the Juan Santamaria Airport will begin your adventure. You’ll take the Pan American Highway (CR1) north and west to San Ramon/Alajuela. CR1 is a beautiful drive so try to arrive during the day. As you wind your way up through the valleys of sugar cane fields and coffee plantations, stop along the way at a roadside vendor. Depending on the time of year they may be selling Flor de Itabo (Carmen’s favorite with eggs), miel (local honey), prestinos and/or fruit. Be adventurous. Stop and buy what’s available to enjoy on your final minutes to the house.
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Rivers, Waterfalls and Wading Pools in Your Backyard!
Take a picnic basket of cheese and wine down to the river and waterfall, which is a short 5-10 minute hike from the house. Take a left outside the gate down the access road and stay left to our neighbor Jim & Rebecca Johanson’s house. The path to the river is just on the other side of the Johanson’s deck. Call Jim or Rebecca or message us beforehand and we’ll let them know you’re headed to the river.
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Semana Santa - Holy Week in Costa Rica!
Visiting a Catholic culture during Holy Week (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) should be on everyone’s bucket list. You simply can’t separate what so many ex-pats and others say they love about the simpler life in Costa Rica, with the processions and festivals tied to their Catholic faith, intended to draw one closer to the seminal historical events which happened many centuries ago.
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The History of Our House – A Monkey Rescue Sanctuary
The Magallanes area was originally a large coffee plantation. One of the original owners of the A-frame house (which you must pass through to visit the river) wrote a book about their experience called “Unraveling the Mysteries of Moving to Costa Rica”. A copy of the book can be found on the book shelf in the great room. A few years after the other two houses further down our access road were built in 2006, our house was built by a couple who started a monkey rescue/sanctuary in 2011. https://www.spidermonkeyrehab.com/our-center.html
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Weather
Pieces of Dreams Ticos (Villa Magallanes & the Tucan Casita) sits at an elevation of 3,100 feet and the year-round temperature varies from 60-80 degrees on average. Rainy season (and we mean rainy) is June-November and the dry season is December-May.
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Nature
We are in a tropical, mountain area, bordering on a national preserve. You will find pumas, snakes and other wildlife, most of which is far less dangerous, like monkeys (who tend to visit August-October to eat the fruit from the guaba and other trees). You’ll find some of the most beautiful birds, including toucans, hummingbirds, Chachalacas, motmots, flycatchers, woodpeckers, resplendent quetzals, macaws all on our property and in the surrounding area. Also spotted on our property have been opossums, skunks, anteaters, wolverines, agouti, coatimundis, and ocelots.
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Get To Know Your Neighbors
We will have visits occasionally by the neighbors' dogs (all are very friendly) and even a cow periodically from the dairy farm up the road, who wanders off for a day trip to “greener pastures”. During parts of the year you could find yourself socked in, surrounded by clouds, only to clear up by evening so that you can see the night lights of Puntarenas. At the top of Calle Magallanes is an innocent and popular lovers point with the local adolescentes. Enjoy your stay and the pura vida, the pure life of Costa Rica.
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13 Food You Have to Try In Costa Rica
True "rice and beans" will be hard to find unless you travel to the Caribbean side of the country but if you get a chance be sure to have it for it's unique blend of flavors. Another very unique item to have, especially if you are in Costa Rica during Holy Week or Easter is the "Flor de Itabo" usually cooked with eggs!. Try it. And if you enjoy adult beverages, I'd add "artisan beers" (what they call "craft beer" in CR) and Chili-Guaro (a tomato based, bloody Mary-esk shot). https://www.visitcostarica.com/en/costa-rica/balance#cook https://matadornetwork.com/trips/13-foods-try-costa-rica/