COSTA RICA ( Mentor Productions, 60 minutes, 1993 ).
Costa Rica is a small Central American country of incredible natural beauty where "volcanoes are the architects," says the video narrator. When the mountain peaks collide with the heavy rain (more than 100 inches a year in some areas), spectacular lakes, rivers, waterfalls and lush rain forests are created. Much of this, plus the lovely beaches that dot its shores, has been preserved in national parks and biological preserves.
Viewers tour some of these complex ecosystems, among them the remote, primeval Rara Avis National Park; Monteverde, a "cloud" forest (its moisture comes from clouds, not rain, and it is also the site of a dairy community founded by North American Quakers), and Manuel Antonio Park, noted for its beautiful beaches. The video provides information on park locations, accessibility and the availability of accommodations. Efforts are continuously being made to preserve and regenerate the parks.
Outside the capital of San Jose, viewers visit the 3,000-year-old pre-Columbian ruins at Guayabo and the rushing Reventazon River and valley.
San Jose is a pleasant mix of old-Spanish elegance and modern architecture. As viewers tour the city with its lovely parks, public buildings, hotels and open markets, the narrator points out the blend of Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures that make up Costa Rican heritage.
A visit to the Caribbean coast explores the palm-fringed shore of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica's most important port. It's also the terminus for the cross-country railroads and for barge trips to Tortuguero National Park, where the Atlantic green turtle lays its eggs.
Tapes are available from Mentor Productions, P.O. Box 1148, San Clemente, Calif. 92674-1148; telephone (714) 498-3954. Price: $29.95 (plus tax and postage).
SAN FELIPE ( Budget Dubs USA, 50 minutes, 1993 ).
The once-sleepy Mexican fishing village of San Felipe in Baja is becoming a popular destination for the recreational vehicle traveler. Located just two hours south of the California border on the Gulf of California, it offers wide, nearly deserted beaches, fishing, friendly people, spectacular sunsets and the experience and flavor of a foreign destination.
The video gives tips on driving in Mexico and road conditions (generally good).
The video lists what to take with you--clothing recommendations, spare auto parts, medication and favorite foods.
The journey begins in the border town of El Centro and crosses into Mexico at Mexicali. After a brief tour and film of RV parks in Mexicali, a tour is taken through the countryside to San Felipe. Near town, RV parks and campgrounds become more numerous, and the quality improves. A narrator discusses the amenities of each. San Felipe offers pretty beaches and modern streets lined with shops and cafes that feature fish tacos.
The video lists places covered in the film and how to reach them for information or reservations.
Tapes are available from Budget Dubs USA, 11555 Coley River Circle, Suite D, Fountain Valley, Calif. 92708; tel. (800) 248-3827. Price: $18.95 (plus tax and postage).