Cell phone recharge
I use Movistar here and it is therefore the only company I know how it works but I know that some people here also use Claro and Kolbi, two other companies. Movistar has its flaws, for example, their network does not work in Playa Pavones or Punta Blanco while the other two does. If you have two cell phones, it might be a good idea to have two different SIMs.
With Movistar, the network has been rather reliable for us here. And, apart from the days of high winds and rains where the three networks did not work for several hours, we didn’t have any problem so far.
You have to buy a SIM card and activate it as I said here .
Then you need to add funds to your account. I use the My Movistar app that you can already download before you come to Costa Rica! Research My Movistar Costa Rica in Google Play or App Store, you should find the right one.
Once your SIM card is activated, you can register in the App. I can’t remember how did it. Either I had to register first on their website with the phone number, either directly on the application, I’m not sure but it was pretty simple.
In the app, you have different options. I do not know your knowledge of Spanish so here is a summary:
1. Recargas y pagos – Recarga en linea: to add funds with your credit card. (There is also this option on the Movistar website but it does not work with our credit card, they say they don’t accept « international » cards but it works fine with the app. Also they have a maximum of transactions per day and per month on the same card so I had to use both of our credit cards to add funds when I needed to.)
2. Comprar paquetes: to buy data or cellular minutes. We use the package of 2gig for 6500 colones (US $ 13), it is valid for one month but can be recharged as soon as you need more data.
3. Mis consumes: to see your data consumption (or minutes or SMS). Warning! When your data is finished, your cell phone will not indicate that there is no more data but it takes rather all the remaining balance on your account and the data without any package are expensive, check your consumption! We got caught more than once with a zero balance account without realizing it, so be warned. As a solution, I only put the amount necessary to buy the package.
To purchase packages after you have placed funds in your account, you can also use your phone directly and dial the number: * 123 #. And you will have options to purchase the package you want. Do the option 2-Compra de Paquetes. And then 3. Internet Smartphone. You can then choose between different packages:
Hour, 80colones, Day 289c., Unlimited Nocturnal 500c., (Option 5 for next), Week 550mb 2000c., Month 2Gb 6500c.
After choosing your option, you will have to press a number to confirm and that’s it!
Other codes worth knowing:
– *650# to see the balance of your account.
– *686# to see your phone number if you have a memory loss.
A good idea before coming:
Download the WhatsApp application if you have not already done so! Everyone uses it here for calls or text messaging. Movistar even offers free data for its use.
According to the owners, we must always lock doors behind us. By taking these precautions, I believe that our things are safe in our respective rooms.
There is no safety deposit box but the rooms lock, even the bathroom.
We always felt safe here. People are nice and everyone knows each other.
What to bring
– Boots: we had a problem with the lawn mower and there is nothing that says the problem will not come back so the lawn will not necessarily always be very short. We advise you to bring rain boots or closed shoes so that you can walk safely on the ground. We saw a snake (not dangerous though) and some big spiders on the ground.There are also many red ants (Fire Ants) that sting. There are rain boots for sale in the area at $ 12-14 per adult and $ 6-8 for children, if I remember correctly.
– Nets: there are nets above the bed in some rooms but a net with more or less coarse holes. Nothing to do with permethrin coated nets sold in travel stores. It’s up to you, maybe you’ll prefer to bring your own. Currently, at the height of the rainy season, there are quite a few mosquitoes. And little ones that sometimes manage to go through the holes.
– Power strip with surge protection: there are often breakdowns (at least during the rainy season) and the electrical system here is not really well designed so I suggest you disconnect all your electronic devices when you see lightnings and have a power strip with protection to plug in all your devices, so if there is a problem and they are plugged in, they have a better chance of surviving!
– Sheets and blankets: Most of the sheets are king size and the beds are double so if you prefer sheets that do not come out of the mattress at all times, you may want to bring in. There is no twin size sheet but that’s only Mélanie’s family who will need one! 😉
Also, children sometimes need a warmer blanket. Ours are sometimes wrapped in it (I don’t always understand how they stand it but it’s their choice 😉 ) . It is true that sometimes with the fan always on and the rain that falls quite hard during the season rain (which will be over when you are here, according to forecasts), the nights are sometimes cooler than I would have imagined.
So if your children are, or you are, sometimes chilly, there are no other warmer blankets here, only sheets, then you could bring some.
You will have no trouble finding eggs, rice, black beans, flour in both small grocery stores within two minutes walk.
There is also soap, toilet paper, meat, tomato paste, certain types of bread, some fruits and vegetables, palm oil, sour cream, frozen treats, chips …
There is even peanut butter if you don’t mind paying $ 7 for a 250g jar 😉
It’s probably a bit cheaper in a big city if you go but it’s not necessarily worth the $ 50 taxi ride to get there unless you absolutely need something that can’t be found in the area.
When you arrive from San Jose, I suggest you stop on the way to a big grocery store. We stopped in Rio Claro de Golfito (there is Rio Claro in Pavones near here where there are 3 grocery stores but not the same size or the same selection!).
Fruits and vegetables
There are two trucks of fruit and vegetables on Saturday, one of which we must write in advance our order (Thursday). He can also bring us cheese and chicken.
The products sold are a bit more expensive than the grocery store but in our opinion is better than losing a good part of the day in a taxi that have a cost anyway.
Fridge / freezer
If you are meat eaters and you want to provision in a big grocery store where you will stop when you arrive, we can use the large freezer to freeze it.
(For your information, we have nothing against meat, I would say that we are 80% vegetarians. It’s usually the kids who ask for meat. Dogs do not complain about it. 😉 )
Directions to come
The locals know the place here as « El Fogon de Dona Ines », it was a restaurant with cabins for rent a few years ago. We are in the village of Cocal Amarillo, 15 minutes before Playa Pavones. If your taxi driver knows the area well, he should know the place with this information!
In Spanish :
« El Fogon de Dona Ines » a Cocal Amarillo, 15 minutos antes de Playa Pavones.
You can also mention « tienda de Pelé » which is one of the small grocery stores in the area. This is not far from it. Leila or Pelé, who will surely be at the checkout, can help the driver find the right place.
Here’s more information when you get closer to here (arriving near Conte, for example), especially if the driver is not someone from the area!
Take the road towards Pavones (not the one towards Zancudo). Then, going down the hill of « Pilon », there will be the Ferreteria Cocal (a closed hardware store) on your left. 500 meters further on your right, a small path with a sign written « Hospedaje ». Take this road and go to the 2nd corner, you’ll see gates with dolphins, it is here « El Fogon de Dona Ines » !
In Spanish :
El camino hacia Pavones (no el de Zancudo). Luego, bajando por la cuesta de « Pilón », se encontrará la Ferreteria Cocal (cerrada) a su izquierda. A 500 metros más a su derecha, un pequeño camino con un letrero escrito « Hospedaje ». Tome este camino y vaya a la segunda esquina donde están las puertas con delfines, aquí está « El Fogon de Dona Ines ».
The taxi driver who brought us from San Jose to here surely remember the way! He was also very friendly. Driving a bit fast for my taste though 😉
He told me that he could go by night if it suits you. It can also take you directly from Alajuela (the city where the airport is located) to here so that you do not need to travel to San Jose (traffic is quite important at the end of the day when your plane probably arrives in Costa Rica). He charged us $ 280 US. It sounds expensive but it’s the best price I got.
David Alvarez: (506) 8532-0821
Otherwise, there are buses from San Jose to Golfito and to Paso Canoas. I was writing about it here . If you choose this option, you can call Pele or Betty from Golfito or Paso Canoas who offer the taxi service and they know where the Fogon is.
Pele: (506) 8314-8422
Betty: (506) 8366-5738
(These three Costa Ricans are on WhatsApp.)
Unofficial taxis like Pele or Betty can not take children on board without booster seats for them. Please make sure you bring them for your children under 12 years of age. David is an official taxi so boosters are not necessary.
We usually travel in the area by taxi because we have not yet taken the time to see all the options by bus. I know that there is a bus that can take us to Rio Claro at 12:30 pm every day, but it leaves immediately for Cocal Amarillo, which leaves you very little time to enjoy being at Rio Claro AND come back by bus. You have to take a taxi on the way back (or get there earlier by taxi or on foot and return by bus around 1pm).
Idea of costs:
Rio Claro: between 2,000 and 4,000 colones for a taxi. 450 colones each person by bus.
Paso Canoas: between 50 and 80 US dollars round trip and the taxi is generally quite flexible, waiting for us a few hours while we shop there.
Zancudo: we have never been there but the prices I got vary between 15000 and 25000 colones, one way.
Golfito: I was told it’s about $ 50 US, one way.
Ferry between Golfito and Puerto Jimenez: if you want to go on the Osa Peninsula, this is the best way from here. The ferry costs, according to my information, 2,000 colones per person and there are departures 4-5 times a day (I remember two departures: 7.30am and 10am! But to be confirmed!)
I’m writing information since a few days trying to think of everything you may want to know. Do not hesitate if you have any more questions following your reading.
See you soon!!