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San Rafael de Guatuso
San Rafael de Guatuso, or simply "Guatuso" to the locals, is a nice little town of 7,000 people that with a little bit of charm makes up for, well, everything else. I only kid this friendly little town which I hold dear to my heart, but really it will likely best serve you as a gateway to the canton's gorgeous gem, Rio Celeste. Also, outside the town's limits there are the Maleku Indigenous Reservations of Margarita, Tonjibe, and El Sol. You can visit Palenque Tonjibe to see a presentation of traditional Maleku dance ceremony and purchase a variety of local Maleku artwork. (I will provide more details on these products and services soon)
To get to Guatuso you will need to go north from San José through Ciudad Quesada. You can take a bus that goes straight through to Guatuso at 8:40 AM daily, or you can take one of the many buses that go to Ciudad Quesada fro San José. Once in Ciudad Quesada, you can take a bus to Guatuso at either 11 AM, 1:30 PM, 4:45 PM, or 6:00 PM. (These buses run daily and they will not be taken off the schedule. As a general rule, Costa Ricans will add bus trips to the schedule, but they will not take them away) If you are already in La Fortuna, I recommend shaking off the hangover and get to the bus stop by 6:40 AM to catch the bus to Guatuso that arrives at about 8:00 AM. From there you will be able to eat breakfast and check e-mail before catching an 11:00 AM bus to Rio Celeste. To stay the night in Guatuso I recommend Cabinas Doña Chenta, the cheapest, friendliest place in town that has a private parking lot and a convenient location, right across from the Sinay Supermarket. To go out in Guatuso there are plenty of places to go and have a beer (unfortunately there are a lot of professional drinkers in the area), but if you want something lively with a discoteca to go dancing, check out El Rancho Ukurin that is located 200 meters past the bridge that goes over Rio Frio. Friday nights have karaoke and Saturdays there is a dance (the 15-30 crowd). This place can get a little bit rowdy on Saturday nights, but the rest of the week it is a chill place to have a drink and a decent meal.
Map of Guatuso
Below you see a rough view of the canton (considered a municipality) of Guatuso. Margarita, which is right on Highway 4, is one of the three "palenques" or indigenous reservations. Since Guatuso is largely an agricultural area, the population is quite spread out in all directions from the center of San Rafael (marked by "Guatuso" on the map), and in dozens of small towns and villages.