San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Leaving Costa Rica on a Jet Plane

ALTHOUGH Costa Rica is a favoriteholiday destination for people throughoutthe world, Costa Ricans and expats wholive here often want to go elsewhere for theChristmas and New Year’s holidays.Guido Fernandez of EZ Travel inEscazú (228-4824) has space on four of hispopular international packages to SanAndrés Island in the Caribbean, Panama,Guatemala and Mexico.The San Andrés package is availablefor three to seven nights with departureson Fridays or Mondays. Stay in one ofthe five Decameron Group hotels(between three to four stars) and enjoy thefacilities of all five. Packages from Dec.24-Jan. 3. are $359-409 (three nights),$429-499 (four nights) and $669-809(seven nights) with discounts for children12 and under.Panama City is a great getaway withtwo to three night packages which includehotel, breakfast and airfare. A tour ofPanama City comes with the both specials.Rates are $200 per person, double occupancyat the Country Inn Dorado and $338per person, double occupancy, at theHoliday Inn. The three-night package alsoincludes a canal tour and costs $332 or$388, depending on the hotel.Another option is heading toGuatemala. The three-night package consistsof two nights in Guatemala City andone night in Ville Antigua ($291-408).IF sunny Mexico is more your style,there are three, four and seven-night packageswith space available. The three/fournight package includes a tour of MexicoCity’s famous Basilica and a guided trip tothe Chinconcuac market. Prices rangefrom $462-477 per person, double occupancy.The seven-night package includesthe same activities, plus beach time inAcapulco and a trip to the renowned silvermarket in Taxco. Rates are $659-680.Catch Travel ( or 812-2896) specializes in toursin Costa Rica and trips to the island ofCuracao, the largest of the Dutch Antillesoff the coast of Venezuela. Although it isvery small (about 10,000 acres), it has aninternational flair. Its cuisine and customsreflect the fact that it is home to immigrantsand their descendants from more than 50countries. This five-night package costs$330 per person, double occupancy.Children under 13 pay $99. Triple occupancyis $270; quadruple is $230. Thepackage includes accommodations withbreakfast, a beach-hopping tour with lunchand a free beach shuttle. International airfareis extra – $250 on Nature Air from SanJosé or $140 from Liberia.THE Best of Nicaragua tour (threedays and two nights) includes air-conditionedland transportation from San José tothe Nicaragua border, a bilingual guide(English/Spanish), immigration assistance,breakfast and a light box lunch on the firstday, hotel for two nights with breakfast,three different tours in and around Granadaand a tour of some of the islands ofGranada for $290 per person, double (289-6789) is both atravel agency and a popular travel show onChannel 7 Saturdays from 1-2 p.m. Atwonightpackage to the Barceló in PlayaBlanca, Panama runs $285 per person,double occupancy.Obelisk Travel (, 248-1818) is offering all inclusivepackages for the holiday season.Visit Cartagena, Colombia for four nights.The price includes hotel and all meals.The package costs between $320-475 perperson, double occupancy.A quick getaway to Cancun, Mexico,from Dec. 26-30 costs $1,024-1,139depending on your choice of hotel. Thepackage includes airfare from San Jose,lodging and all meals.AN interesting tour to Guatemala isavailable from Dec. 30-Jan. 5. Prices fordouble occupancy range from $703-864and include air fare, food, lodging and twoguided tours with visits to Antigua,Parajachel, Tikal and Guatemala City.Costa Rica Luxury Vacation has a divisionin Panama (,296-7715) which offers the same variety ofpackages in Panama as the parent companyin Costa Rica. Two of its holiday packagesare the Retirement/Real EstateExplorer and the Fisherman’s Delight.The Retirement/Real Estate Explorer($1,079 per person, double occupancy,seven nights) combines beach and mountaindestinations. Participants see popularretirement spots with real estate opportunitiesand are introduced to professionalswho can assist with retirement or investmentin Panama. It includes domestictransportation, tours and accommodations.Whitewater rafting, snorkeling, scuba divingor a trip to the unique Punta CaracolLodge are included. A similar package isalso available in Costa Rica.THE Fisherman’s Delight Package($2,879 per person, double occupancy foreight night) is available for groups of fouror more. The trip begins in earnest to LakeGatun in search of the famous “Peacock Bass.” After a night in Panama City, fly toChiriquí to meet the PD Fishing Coiba, a 50-foot ocean cruiser. Another day in Boqueteand then you are on the water fishing amongthe more than 40 islands that make up theArchipelago de las Perlas.If you really want to get away from it all,even out of sight of land for at least part ofyour vacation, then a week-long cruise withthe Carnival line (, 255-3198) may be ideal.There are weekly departures fromMiami, Florida and several routes thatinclude port stops in Puerto Rico, theBahamas, Cozumel, the Cayman Islands,Jamaica, Honduras and Belize. Rates rangefrom $944-1,749 per person, single or doubleoccupancy. There are cabins still availableon ships leaving Miami on Dec. 18-19and Dec. 26-27.Rates include accommodations and 24-hour food service, on-board entertainment,and use of all the ship’s facilities. Air fare,personal expenses and beverages are notincluded. Unless you are a U.S. citizen, youwill need a multiple entry visa and all passengersmust be 25 years old or older.All the travel agents emphasized that themajority of the work is very individualizedand they can arrange a trip to almost anywhereto create what you have alwaysdreamed of – an unforgettable vacation.

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