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December 24, 2017 0

We’ve introduced some new wonderful things at Mono Feliz recently. We’ve promised our guests we’d put the recipes online.

One of the opportunities regarding baking in Costa Rica – is the selection of ingredients is more narrow. You may not find blessed Himalayan pink sugar crystals… you may only find sugar. So we’ve tweaked and adjusted to make things work well.

These are amazing as a meal after a big serving of fruit… and they’re also great to take with you on a rafting or animal sightseeing or mountain or jungle adventure.

1 ½ cups flour (not corn)
1 ½ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
⅓ cup plus 2 TBSP (reserved) brown or other good quality sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
2 medium bananas – mashed with a fork
¼ cup water
¼ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
3 TBSP olive or similar oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup plus 3 TBSP raw nuts, chopped coarsely (immersion blender in tall vessel works great)
Optional: 3 cup chocolate or cacao or carob chips
Optional: ¼ cup plus 2 TBLSP shredded unsweetened coconut

– PREHEAT OVEN to 350 degrees

1. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, salt) in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Prepare banana by mashing with a fork in a small bowl until smooth.

3. Add wet ingredients – water, agave nectar, olive oil, and vanilla extract, stirring to combine nicely. Stir in ⅓ cup nuts, and chocolate and ¼ cup coconut if using.

4. Fill prepared muffin cups ¾ full, sprinkle tops with remaining nuts (and coconut if using). Sprinkle just a light dusting of crystal sugar on the to of each muffin, too.

Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 22-24 minutes, being careful that a the sides don’t get too dark. Test with a toothpick or cake tester. When it comes out clean from center – they’re done. Smaller muffin will cook a little faster, larger will take a little longer.

Remove from oven and cool on cooling rack or plate. Eat warm or at room temperature (or refrigerated!) If it’s in Costa Rica, as soon as they’ve cooled a bit and released some of their moisture – get them in a zip lock bag or a pyrex container.  Will keep up to 3 days in refrigerator. To reheat: wrap 1 muffin in tin foil (not tight – leave room on top – the tin foil is to help keep them moist)… put in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.




Jungle Monkey Muffins

December 9, 2017

At Hotel el Mono Feliz, we’re proud and excited to serve breakfasts that our guests tell us they simply love. We have been changing things up and keeping things exciting… and with good reason.

When you’re on vacation – even on an adventure vacation – you should be pampered! You should be taken care of! We do our very best to do just that.

And – whether you’re on vacation or not – there’s no reason you can’t eat wonderful, tasty food … that’s also good for you!

That’s why we choose to serve a selection of whole-food, plant-based options for our guests. Great tasting and nutritious, better for your body, & better for the planet!

We start each meal with a large serving of various locally produced tropical fruit. We try to make it beautiful – while being healthy and an excellent way to start your day.

And – every day, guests have the option of a local favorite –  Gallo Pinto, a traditional rice and black  beans breakfast, served with tortillas & fried plantains!

We rotate other options, too. One day might be scrumptious banana pancakes (they’re amazing – our guests told us so!)… or French Toast… or a big yummy tropical fruit muffin with nuts – just sweet enough to be wonderful.

Some of our guests want to go a little light on breakfast, and that’s okay, too. We always have a special locally made brown bread that we serve with dairy-free butter, jam, and peanut butter on request.

And of course, we always provide wonderful Costa-Rican coffee… grown and roasted up in the mountains nearby. And, we have tea and orange juice available every day.

All of our breakfast options are now included in our rates and are generally served from 7-9 each day. If you’re leaving super early for a tour – we can make sure you have a muffin and some fruit to eat on the way. We want to make sure you’re taken care of!

Don’t worry… there are plenty of options in our little area – the foodie capital of Costa Rica! From vegan and vegetarian to steak and seafood… and everything in between. It’s all here and it’s about the best there is in Costa Rica.

As always – let us know how we can help!



November 2, 2017

In Costa Rica, credit cards and MasterCard / Visa ATM cards are widely accepted. You might find a tour operator or two that is cash only, and even a few restaurants, but for the most part cards are taken everywhere.

Before you come, contact your card issuer and let them know you’re coming. That will help the financial institution prepare and not flag fraud for things you’re buying here.

Generally speaking, it’s best to do transactions in Colones… and let your card do the conversion. They’ll use the actual conversion rate.

One thing to look out for – is foreign transaction fees. You may have a card that avoids these fees – or can get one prior to coming. Any MasterCard or Visa will work here (and to lesser extent American Express – not as widely accepted), but if you can avoid a couple of hundred dollars in fees – that’s a nice thing to be able to do.

This card works great, has a low fee, and has no foreign transaction fee. There are many others, too, check what’s in your wallet.

Have questions? Let us know!

We are here to help!

November 2, 2017

Congratulations on your great decision to visit Costa Rica! It’s an amazing and beautiful country, filled with natural wonder, adventure, and animals to inspire you every moment you’re here.

Here are a few BEFORE YOU FLY:

See if any of your credit cards have a “no foreign transaction fee” benefit. If one does – use that one. Note that Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. American Express is in many places, but not as many. To avoid a delay or hassle while you’re here, it’s best to let your bank or card issuer know you’re coming here… and for what dates… ahead of time. That way when you’re buying a Starbucks at SJO your card won’t be declined for fraud alert. Also call your bank because you’ll want to use your ATM card to get Costa Rican Colones to spend while you’re here. Just let them know you’re traveling here, they’ll make the notes and all should be good.

For many people coming to Costa Rica, it’s their first time here.

What should I expect at the airport?

That’s a question we get often. In this post, we’ll go over the basics and hopefully help you make it as smooth and easy as possible.

First of all, relax. It’s not dangerous or stressful or scary in any way. SJO (Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría in San Jose) is a modern, well-equipped, excellent airport. Many European and North American airlines have direct flights into San Jose. It’s the most populous city  and the largest airport in Costa Rica.

Once you land, you’ll first go through passport control where they’ll review your passport and give you a visa stamp. As long as you’re staying for less than 90 days (for most countries), it’s a simple process. You may be asked to show your return flight information to show that you’re planing on exiting Costa Rica within the visa time limit.

After passport control, you’ll go to the checked-bag claim area. Look for your flight info and you should find your bags quickly. Note two things here: 1 – always use a porter. Just pay a few dollars and let them help you with your luggage. It will help ensure getting through customs is quick and easy, and it helps the locals earn a decent living. 2 – there is an ATM in the bag claim area that dispenses Colones (Costa Rican currency) and has a favorable exchange rate. Avoid the money changing services – there is a huge gap in buy/sell rates and it’s just not a good value. Seasoned travelers will never use them. Note, too, that you don’t have to have Colones in Costa Rica – everyone (or nearly everyone) accepts US dollars and EUROS. But – there is a catch. You’re at the mercy of what they choose to use as the exchange rate. For instance, to make things easy for the cashiers, the toll booth operators use a US dollar exchange rage of $1 to c1.000 Colones. That means your $1 toll will cost you about $1.75 (as the real exchange rate as of this writing is about $1 US to c575 Colones).  Same can be true in shops and restaurants.  People generally don’t try to rip you off here, but sometimes easy is better for them. Best advice is to use Colones.

Once your porter has your bags, there’s one more check – an X-Ray scan as you leave baggage claim. This is the point where the porter is most handy. Just let him put the bags on the belt and grab them on the other side. It’s a fast machine, not like those when you’re getting to the airport to board a flight.

After that – you’ll see car rental counters. If you’ve rented a car (do it in advance!)… find your company and they’ll help you. Generally, you’ll be escorted to the curb outside where you’ll wait for a van to drive you to the car pickup area (a few kilometers from the airport).

If you’re renting a car, make sure you “drop a pin” or just make a note of where the car return is. Sometimes there are several with the same name and it can be confusing on your return. Also – allow yourself an hour to return the car and get to the airport when it’s time to go home.

If you’re being met by a driver, you’ll see drivers waiting (along with anxious family members greeting their travelers) just past the car rental counters. Look for your name… and your drier will tell you where to wait. They’ll then go to the parking lot, get their car, and come pick you up.

If you have questions about arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica – we are here to help! Email us and let us know how we can help.