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live Island Princess 59 day Circle South America Ja 9 -Mr 7

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This is an amazing itinerary!  I will look forward to reading your updates every morning.  Thank you for taking the time to do it!!

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Day 2 Friday Jan 10 Sea day

Seas were a bit choppy for our first night – just enough to help rock us to sleep.  During the day today the seas were generally around a metre or 3-4 feet with a fair breeze keeping things a bit cool.  Generally we did not notice the ships movement but every once in a while it let you know you were at sea.

 

A roll call Meet and Greet gathering was held early this afternoon at 2pm in Wheelhouse bar.  We have not gone to one on Princess for several years, but todays was very worth while considering all the tours organized on the roll call.  The roll call had over 330 names (not just cc name but counting couples as 2 people).  A bit over half are on full voyage while rest are doing 1 or 2 segments.  There was a sign in sheet – I did not get the total but the Wheelhouse lounge was full.  Eight senior staff were there to welcome us.

 

A cabin crawl was organized to be held at the end of the Meet and Greet.  For the first time we offered our cabin as an example of our cabin type/style.  There were not a lot of participants considering the size of the roll call.

 

Senior officers –

Captain –Rikard Lorentzen

Staff Captain -Giaco Genovese

Cruise Director – Matt O’Brien (has been on Royal the past 2 years and just arrived on the Island for first time)

Executive Chef – Rodelio Florentino

Maitre d’Hotel – Constantin-Romeo Huivan

 

We had our first formal night and the Captains welcome party.  The Captain did a very good talk, just as he did at the meet and greet.  He noted that the party had been scheduled for tomorrow but was changed due to expected poorer weather conditions – higher winds and poor sea conditions.

 

We have 898 crew from 40 countries on board as well as 2,091 passengers.  Based on passports used, the main passenger countries are New Zealand -22, China -41, Australia -71, UK -102, Canada 335 (works out around 1 of every 100,000 Canadians is here on this ship) and 1,356 Americans.  I expected no children on board but have seen an infant, two families each with 2 children as well as a teen around 15 and another around 19.

 

I found out the cut off for the top 40 most traveled passengers was 800 days.

 

We played trivia last night and twice today.  The second one today is a progressive game where your totals will be added up over a period of time to get an eventual winner.  The wheelhouse lounge was packed for that game.  For each game we have played so for, we have had the third highest total right.  

 

Today’s thought for the day - The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them. -Amelia Barr

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On 1/8/2020 at 5:34 PM, Go-Bucks! said:

 

 

 

Hi Go-Bucks,

Sorry to interject an off topic question, but I don't know of any other way.

 

My wife and I love the first line of your signature:

Life's Milestones....

Do you have a source for that quote?  Is it yours?  We would like to use it on our Travel/Business card, but would like to give credit to the source.

I came across it quite a while ago, most likely one of your posts. I wrote it down, told it to my wife, and we both thought we would like to use it, but didn't know who to credit.  We've scoured the Internet without any luck, until I just stumbled on it again in your signature.

Any information you can share would be helpful.

 

Thanks

2 cruises a year.

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Looking forward to reading about your cruise. I sailed to and from Alaska last summer on the Island and had a great time. And of course Matt O is our favorite CD.

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Well we'll miss the cut off # again for the MTP luncheon. --  We enjoyed our 60 day Circle the Pacific and were too busy to take this grand voyage.  Bon Voyage to All!

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Thank you for taking the time out from your cruise to post this review.

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Day 3 Saturday Jan 11 Sea day

A mostly sunny day but with winds of 50 – 60 knots the ship was rocking all day.  Nothing too major, but if not used to it, or mobility challenged it could have been a problem.  The promenade deck was closed, all of deck 15 was closed except access to the Grill restaurant.  The spray from the waves was coming up over deck 15 and falling onto the open areas of deck 14 as a fine mist leaving a salt crust on somethings.  The pools and hot tubs were all drained.

 

The sea conditions have not affected our speed as we are motoring aong at 19 knots and will be in port tomorrow on time.

 

The bird that was on the ship yesterday was still around today.  Around noon I saw 4 staff trying to catch it with a cardboard box and beach towels.  After 10 minutes they gave up without getting close.

 

I won't be posting about the available activates every day but for those interested here is the main activities from yesterday:

All day there were multiple events for the spa, art and Effy store

Lectures – Cartagena, Darwin’s discoveries, and Rome’s Eternal History

Lots of music by different acts around the ship during the day.

Bingo

Various get- togethers included- Tennis players, Dr. Bob and Bill W,. cards and bridge, Jewish sabath service, Singles and Solo, and LGBTQ

Movies – Eddie the Eagle, Cirqe du Soleil and Men in Black International

Majority Rules game

Do you want to dance production show

 

Today was similar with the following exceptions:

Lectures – Panama Canal transit, Sir Ernest Shackelton, and Why we love opera

Movie – Money Pit, 2 football games

Trivia - 10 and 2:30pm

Various get – togethers such as Bridge, Sudoku, Veteran and Military, Mahjong, World cruisers, card players, Dr Bob and Bill

Showtime -David Klinkinberd – instrumentalist

 

Today I took part in the sun-tanning Olympics.  I just got Bronze.

 

Today’s thought of the day - Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way. - Ralph Crawshaw

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 This sounds like an amazing trip. Thank You for taking us along!

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We have friends on this voyage. We are very jealous of what you will all experience. I will follow along.

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Jan 12 Sunday Cartagena, Colombia intro

Cartagena is a city on the northern coast of Colombia bordering the Caribbean Sea.  The port city had a population of 971,592 as of 2016.

The city was founded on June 1, 1533, and named after Cartagena, Spain.  However, settlement in this region around Cartagena Bay by various indigenous people dates back to 4,000 BC.  Since it was founded it has gone through several periods of growth and decline with different leadership.

In the early 17th century the thick walls around the city were created to defend it from pirate attacks.  In 1984 Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Economic activities include maritime and industrial activities, (the manufacture of chemicals and products derived from petroleum refining), as well as tourism.  The port is the busiest container port in the country.


The average high temperature does not vary a lot here.  In January it is 29C (84F) with about 5mm (0.2in) of rain.  The summer months are only 2C hotter.

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Day 4 Cartagena, Colombia 7 – 3pm

Buenos dias, good day from Cartagena.

 

Sea conditions calmed down early in the night and today was a sunny, hot day.

 

The first time we were here we did a tour that took in the main tourist sites such as the walled old town (El Centro), the fort (Castillo San Felipe de Barajas) as well as a cultural dance presentation. 

 

The second time I took a 15-minute shuttle to the old town and spent a few hours just wondering around this beautiful colonial area.  To walk to the old town (3.5 km /2mi) you would need a very good map and it would be helpful to speak some Spanish in case you need help.  The shuttle ride was mostly through the old parts of the city without much special to see.  It is not considered particularly safe.  

 

There are a couple cathedrals and several museums within the walled area.  Some of the buildings have been converted to boutique hotels.  The shops and cafes offer a wide range of goods - some pure tourism based and others directed mainly at the local population.  Much of the old town is made up of pedestrian only streets making it much safer for tourist that are not necessarily looking around for every step they take.  A visit to the postcard perfect old town is like taking a trip back in time to the colonial period.  The old town centre is where many of the renowned coloured homes can be found.  Residents who paint their homes are encouraged to use colours that contrast those of their neighbours.

 

It is a 5 minute+ walk from the ship to the port shops and gate – you can walk it or take a shuttle – there will be a line for the shuttle at times.

 

At the port gate area there are some duty-free shops set up as well as refreshment options.  Taxis and tour operators were available at the gate. 

 

Colombia with over 1,900 bird species advertises itself as the country with the most bird species in the WORLD.  For anyone interested in seeing a huge range of birds in a short time the Colombian National Aviary is a great place to go offering more than 1,900 individual birds and 165 species (mix of native and other).  Some of the rarer birds are injured or the result of smugglers caught.  The aviary includes a rare male and female Andean Condor.  Over roughly 7 hectares (17 acres) there are 7 areas plus a show area.  The park is also a fantastic example of Colombian flora and fauna.  I was thinking of trying to get a taxi that Freda would be able to get into and to go to the aviary but despite some photos showing good paths I was not sure if we could get the transportation and if she would be able to navigate all of the aviary so for the fist time in around 10 years I booked this as a Princess excursion. 

 

The ride there and back was 45 minutes+ each way giving heading south away from the city passing large oil and natural gas industries.  We had nearly 2+ hours to explore the aviary.  We had to stay as a group (about 25) with a guide.  I took over 600 photos – will have to have a look later but many have the birds in part sun/ part shade but hopefully I got some good ones.  Obviously not like seeing them out in the wild but the aviary has tried to recreate some of their natural environment.  As we wnet around, thegroup took a few breaks, staying at the more popular stops for around 10 minutes. 

 

The pathway around was mostly flat but much was packed earth with stones which would be bumpy in a wheelchair so good I did not try to bring Freda.  

 

Around the port area there where lots of egrets, pelicans and frigate birds.  Inside the port, near the exit there is a beautiful aviary.  Inside there were many exotic birds including flamingos, toucan, black swans, peacock, various macaws (many) and parrots as well as giant ant eaters, squirrel and red howler monkeys.  I took Freda there when I got back to the ship so she could get an idea of what my morning had been like.  Not too large but a nice little extra to see.  I did notice one monkey trying to rip off one of those charity bracelets people wear.  The flamingos here were pinker than the flamingos I have seen in the wild.  I believe they are fed a special diet that helps bring more colour to their feathers.  The macaws, when I said “hello” to them, they replied “hola”.

 

The port is at the end of a long bay.  From near the port there are great views of the new town area with its many skyscrapers as well as the old section.  As you sail further away from the port out towards the sea it is mostly open area but near the mouth you pass additional fortress that protected the city from pirates in days of yore.  In the middle of the harbour is a large statue of Virgin Carmena.  I think it serves as a channel marker.  Unfortunately, in 2015 the 100-year-old, 9m (30ft) statue was struck by lightning which blasted it off of a 18m (60ft) tower mounted in the harbour.  It was repaired in 2017 and is now even taller.

 

The local currency in Columbia is the peso, but U.S. dollars and credit cards are accepted everywhere.  There was an ATM in the port if needed/desired.  English is taught to students so tourist should not have trouble getting help from someone if needed.

 

From what I have read coffee and emeralds are very good buys in Cartagena – for emeralds make sure you use a reputable store.

 

Today was our 500th day on Princess.  We could never have imagined doing that when we did our first Princess cruise (B2B 7 day out of Puerto Rico in 2002).  Although there are a number of current reasons, we would not do RCI again, they did one small thing back in the beginning that lost us.  At the end of our first RCI cruise they told us about all the benefits of becoming a member of their repeat passenger program, all we had to do was fill out a form and send it in – I figured we would never do enough cruises to make it worth it, so did not join while for Princess the membership was automatic and it not take too long and we were Platinum members.  Since then, other than a family cruise on RCI and a world cruise on Oceania, we have been loyal to Princess.  Our next cruise after this is another world cruise on Oceania starting Jan 2021 – that will put us over 900 days total, so hopefully we will eventually get to hit the 1,000-day total mark.  That will certainly be a point to reflect on how fortunate we have been.  After next years world cruise, we will have been to 95 countries - I’m hoping to become a member of the 100-country club.

 

For hitting the 500-day mark were expecting what Princess calls "500 cruise day celebration (value $114)". That normally includes:

bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries received yesterday

flower arrangement when we returned to our cabin tonight

recognition & certificate at the Captain's Circle event (we will see later but not a big deal)

visit to the bridge – no mention of that yet) 

 

In the theater tonight was magician Arthur Trace – seemed OK but much card trick that was hard to follow from the back (only place for wheelchairs).

 

Tonight’s patter includes the estimated schedule for the canal tomorrow – pilot pick up to drop off is 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

 

Today’s thought of the day - “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with us.  
My dream is to someday do a long cruise like the one you are on or a world cruise.  I dream about that all the time.  

Enjoy your trip.  Have a wonderful time!!

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Day 5 Monday, Jan 13, Panama Canal Daylight Transit - intro

The Panama Canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade enabling ships to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America.

France began work on the canal in 1881 but had to stop because of engineering problems and a high mortality due to disease.  In 1904, the United States, bought the French equipment and excavations for US $40 million, paid the new country of Panama US $10 million plus US $250,000 more each year, and began work on the Panama Canal on May 4.  The project took a decade to complete opening in 1914.  As long planned, the canal was taken over in 1999 by the Panamanian government.

While, globally, the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea) is east of the isthmus and the Pacific to the west, because of a local anomaly in the shape of the isthmus at the point the canal occupies the general direction of the canal passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific is from northwest to southeast. 

The layout of the canal as seen by a ship passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific is as follows:
From the formal marking line of the Atlantic Entrance, one enters Limón Bay (Bahía Limón), a large natural harbour.


The entrance runs 8.7km (5.4mi).  It provides a deep-water port (Christobal), with facilities like multimodal cargo exchange (to and from train) and the Colon Free Trade Zone.
A 3.2km (2mi) channel forms the approach to the locks from the Atlantic side.
The Gatun locks, a 3 stage flight of locks 1.9km (1.2mi) long, lifts ships to the Gatun Lake level, some 26.5m (87ft) above sea level.
Gatun Lake, an artificial lake formed by the building of the Gatun Dam, carries vessels 24.2km (15mi) across the isthmus.  It is the summit canal stretch, fed by the Gatun River and emptied by basic lock operations.
From the lake, the Chagres River, a natural waterway enhanced by the damming of Gatun Lake, runs about 8.5km (5.3mi).  Here the upper Chagres River feeds the high level canal stretch.
The Culebra Cut slices 12.6km (7.8mi) through the mountain ridge, crosses the continental divide and passes under the Centennial Bridge.
The single-stage Pedro Miguel lock, which is 1.4km (0.87mi) long, is the first part of the descent with a descent of 9.5m (31ft) into artificial Miraflores Lake, 1.7km (1.1mi) long, and 16.5m (54ft) above sea level.
The two-stage Miraflores locks, is 1.7km (1.1mi) long, with a total descent of 16.5m (54ft) at mid-tide.
From the Miraflores locks one reaches Balboa harbour, again with multimodal exchange provision (here the railway meets the shipping route again).  Nearby is Panama City.

From this harbour an entrance/exit channel leads to the Pacific Ocean (Gulf of Panama), 13.2km (8.2mi) from the Miraflores locks, passing under the Bridge of the Americas.

Thus, the total length of the canal is 77.1km (48mi). 


Up to 2016 the canal could only accommodate ships carrying up to 65,000 tons of cargo.  Some modern ocean-going ships are able to carry 300,000 tons.  Up to then the size of ships that could transit the canal, dubbed Panamax, was conscribed largely by the locks, which required ships to be less than 33.53m (110ft) wide and 320.04m (1,050ft) long, and have a draft of less than 12.56m (41.2ft) deep.  

 

The Coral Princess and Island Princess are Panamax ships as they were built primarily with Panama Canal cruising in mind.  They both fit the old locks with very little room to spare.

An expansion program consisting of the construction of 2 new sets of locks - 1 on the Pacific and 1 on the Atlantic side of the Canal was completed in June 2016.  While a wide range of cargo goes through the canal, an easy way to see the advantage of the expansion is the old locks can handle ships carrying up to 5,400 cargo containers while ships using the new locks can be large enough to transport 12,600 containers.  With the new, second set of locks being open not only are less ships needed, so is the overall transportation time reduced as time transferring containers from ship to ship just to get the goods through this passage is eliminated in many cases.

Each new lock has 3 chambers and each chamber has 3 water reutilization basins.  The new lock chambers are 426.72m (1,400ft) long, 54.86m (180ft) wide, and 18.29m (60ft) deep.  They use rolling gates (3,100 tons each) instead of miter gates, which are used by the older locks.  The program also entailed the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels in Gatun Lake and the deepening of Culebra Cut.  The water used in the old canal is lost to the sea each time the locks are used.  With more ships using the canal there was danger of a lack of water in the dry period.  The water reutilization basins in the new locks allow for the water to be recycled thus helping to protect water levels in Gatun Lake.

 

As part of our world cruise, on June 25/16 as we were going through Gatun Lake, we passed the very first ship to go through the new locks (COSCO Shipping).

 

The average high temperature in January is 27C (81F).

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Jan 13 Panama Canal Full Transit  

 

We hit the first locks round 8am and entered the lake around 10am.  Very nice weather – around 26C or high 70s F and mostly sunshine – some breeze but a bit more would have been nice to help combat the humidity.  We missed seeing the first bridge but were able to get a great view off the aft decks.  We passed the Emerald P around 12:30 on a curve in the canal so got a great view of it.  The 2 Princess ships gave each other a good toot.  The Emerald is doing a LA to Ft. Lauderdale voyage.  We will not see another Princess ship for the rest of the cruise.

 

We have a lecture giving us details and background commentary as went go along on the PA system but hard to understand unless you are in the right spot.  The room TV also had the ship cam with the commentary.

 

Other than a few ships we passed, the lake has little in the way of life visible.  The is a town near the west end but otherwise no homes, small boats and very few birds.

 

As we entered the first of the downward locks, we could see the tips of the Panama City skyscrapers over one of the hill tops.  Just before reaching the ‘The Bridge of Americas’ (5:20pm) we had our best view of Panama City which is south of the canal.

 

Near there a welcome center and museum overlooks the last locks.  The first floor had theatre style seating, the second floor had table and chairs, the 3rd floor was not open and the 4th floor was packed with standing room only people watching us and other ships go by.

 

Another vey good show tonight by comedian/musician Steve Morris – we had seen him before on another ship but worth seeing again.

 

Our cabin steward left a little card this evening reminding us of tonight’s time change.  This will be our first of several time changes - this time we gain an hour.

 

As we passed through one of the all-time great work projects today, here are a few project related thoughts for the day –

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” - Harry S. Truman

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you.  If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up.  Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” - Michael Jordan

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” - Michael Jordan

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.” - Walt Disney

“All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically.  The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result.” - Stephen Covey

“We will either find a way or make one.” – Hannibal

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

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On 1/8/2020 at 6:04 PM, ceilidh1 said:

Looking forward to following your adventures. Lucky you - you get to cruise the full journey with Matt O as cruise director. He is, hands down, the best (in my opinion). I usually only book sailings that he is on these days!

 

Have an amazing trip!

I’m following this thread because of MattO. Have done 10 cruises with him and not sure when I’ll be able to cruise with him again. My schedule and his schedule are a problem. Enjoy your cruise.

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Day 6 Tuesday Ja 14 at sea

Since leaving the canal we are heading northwest towards Costa Rica.  After that it will be mostly south-easterly except for the big side step to Easter Island.

 

I work up yesterday with a tickle in my throat which quickly turned to a cold – glad we brought some just in case meds.  Very rough night trying to sleep last night but feeling bit better this evening.

 

Today’s lectures were Destination Puntarenas, Patagonia’s Welsh Colony and History of Classical Egypt.  I went to the first one in the theater which was a full house.

 

Great weather – the pools got a lot of use today.  Seas were near glass like.  Temp was around 28C (83F).  At the noon update they said we were travelling at 14 knots.  When I looked out on the promenade deck around 4pm we were barely creating any wake so probably going even slower – no problem getting the next port on time.

 

At tonight’s dinner we got to talking about wine a bit.  One of our lady tablemates noted “Men are like a fine wine.  They start out as grapes, and it’s up to women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.”

 

Today’s quote of the day - "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home." - James A. Michener

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So excited to follow your adventure. We are on the Dec 2020 TA Rome to FLL. I hope you post some pics of the handicapped cabin. We are in one as well, anxious to see the space.

Norma

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Thank you for the laugh from your tablemate!  Sorry you had to catch a cold so early in the cruise, but at least you have it over with now.  Keep well.

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enjoying your posts. Will be on the Island for 28 days Hawaii/South Pacific in April.

 

If you could can you find out of Matt O will still be on board then.  Thanks

 

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6 hours ago, jpsykes said:

enjoying your posts. Will be on the Island for 28 days Hawaii/South Pacific in April.

 

If you could can you find out of Matt O will still be on board then.  Thanks

 

Matt will be on Grand in April. He is only on Island for this South America cruise. Of course, this is all subject to change.....

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Jan 15 Puntarenas, Costa Rica intro

The Republic of Costa Rica (means rich coast) is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Panama to the southeast, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.  Its coastline is 212km (132mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016m (631mi) on the Pacific coast.  Over a third of Costa Rica's 51,000sq km (19,690sq mi) is protected the National System of Conservation Areas.

While Costa Rica only accounts for .03% of the Earth’s land surface, it has 5% of its flora and fauna species.  This small country has more butterflies than all Europe and has 860 bird species that live here year-round plus additional species that migrate through.

Christopher Columbus sailed to the eastern shores of Costa Rica during his final voyage in 1502.  It is the only Latin American country to have been a democracy since 1950 or earlier.  It has no military using the saved money on health care and education.

 

While there are sit back and relax resorts, in 2018 Costa Rica was named the worlds premier nature destination and second adventure destination by the World Economic Forum.

With Costa Rica being located between 8 and 12° north of the Equator, the climate is tropical year-round.  However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.  The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November.

 

Costa Rica has more Americans per capita living there than any country.  Most remain “tourists” which means that every 6 months they must leave for 24 hours, then they can return.

Puntarenas (means sand point) sits on a long, narrow peninsula in the Gulf of Nicoya on the Central Pacific Coast.  The area making up the town is quite flat.  The local population is about 10,000.  

 

This area that stretches down to Panama has fantastic flora and fauna, radiant beaches, incredible eco adventure opportunities, and majestic national parks.   

 

Although most of the commercial trade has now moved to Port Caldera, the city's old port still retains the largest fishing fleet in Costa Rica, moored in the estuary behind the town.  About 80% of the local economy is from fishing.

 

The official language is Spanish, though a large number of its citizens are bilingual.  English, due to its status as the international language of tourists, is the most common second language in Costa Rica.

 

The average high temperature in January is 31C (89F).  January is part of the dry season with very little rain.

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