Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
89Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Balcon del Mar
With every confidence in Mr Bailey's drunken advice we set off at 5am in the morning in search of the bus to La Pavona. We eventually found it, after walking for 20 minutes in the wrong direction, but a kind bus driver filling up with petrol before his shift started took pity on us and gave us a free ride to the right bus stop. By 5.50am we had in our hands our bus tickets from Cariari to La Pavona, and a boat ticket from La Pavona to Tortuguero, and we'd found time to pop into the bakery for some fresh muffins to accompany us on the journey...priorities. The bus journey was great as this part of Costa Rica is completely rural and the entire 50 minute ride was past enormous banana plantations - we now know where those boxes in tesco come from and you should definitely check for spiders
The village of Tortuguero sits within a national park, and is situated on a very thin strip of land that is sandwiched in between tropical rainforest and the caribbean sea. You can easily see water on both sides of the village and there are no roads, just narrow sandy walkways running between the houses. As ever there were a few local guys hanging around the dock and bidding for our business as soon as we touched dry land, and as we were the only two tourists around we got extra special attention this morning. After checking out a couple of places we eventually settled on a lovely cheap cabana, right on the beach, with a gorgeous garden and plenty of hammocks. Our good decision was very soon confirmed when Alejandro appeared in the garden with fresh, strong coffee and slices of cake for us left over from his father's birthday party last night
As promised, Alex was waiting for us with a big smile at 5am when the 3 of us set off on the beach. This 22 mile stretch of coast is the most important breeding site of the green sea turtle in the western hemisphere, and between June and October thousands of turtles arrive here. At 5am in the morning every patch of sand was covered in huge turtle tracks running from the ocean up to trees and bushes where the sand ends. We were only walking on the beach for 5 minutes when we found a turtle that sure enough had arrived late in the night / early in the morning to nest, and she had just finished laying her eggs and was about to make her way back to the sea. It was a truly amazing sight and we were so lucky to be able to take some pictures using the early morning light - it is prohibited to take pictures using a flash which can disturb the nesting process. Our morning got better as by 6am the three of us were heading off into the canals in a wooden row boat and spent the next 3 hours watching birds, lizards, monkeys and caiman and soaking up the mini-amazon in the sunshine. When we got back Alex had decided that we definitely needed to try some of the infamous creole cuisine from this part of the world, and rather than going to an over-priced restaurant he wanted to cook for us himself. Score! So, the ingredients were bought (coconut, potatoes, carrots, squash, yucca, plantain, chilies, onions, garlic, lemongrass, beef etc) and on he cracked with making the most delicious Ron Don soup...a coconut milk based soup with so many flavours thrown in, and then the vegetables and meat cooked in the soup
The next morning we said our goodbyes to the lovely Alejandro at the dock (as he insisted on helping us carry our bags) and continued our journey south towards Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and the border with Panama. The 3 hour boat trip from Tortuguero to Moin was again through miles and miles of canals and we saw flamingos, jesus lizards, sloths, caiman and even a 5ft long crocodile sunning itself on the banks...think this beats the bus. After deliberating for a while about whether to make the trek to Tortuguero, coming up here was definitely one of our better decisions. A totally natural and beautiful part of the world and a highlight for us so far.