Running from the Sun

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Friday, February 23, 2007

After spending three days hiding under my pillow I decided it was time to abort my plans of surf supremacy and find refuge among the cloud forests. As is often the case when travelling, there happened to be someone doing the same so we communally tagged along. My travel partner for this stretch was Scott, a San Fransiscan that has led pretty much an identical life to my own, including a stint at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

After a bus trip that was twice as long as either of us expected even though we both have been travelling long enough now to expect a bus trip to be twice as long as expected we arrived, somewhat deshelvled, in the tiny mountain town of Orosi. It was about as far a depart from the touristy beach town of Jaco as we could get, which was ideal for both of us. Not knowing anything of the area we had zero expectations, a scenario I am finding is often the best way to ensure a good time.

We spent the first day wandering the hills guided by the local stray dogs. Our first stop was Nano's farm, a local fruit and coffee farmer that revels company. Unfortuanately we missed Nano, but yelling up into the fields we managed to track down his 73 year old father Pepe working hard with the coffee plants. Pepe gave us a complete tour of the farm and a fantastic explanation of all the farming processes before deciding we should leave so he could go home for a nap. The afternoon consisted of a hike along deserted dirt roads carving through lush farms and cloud forest to the local hot spring by the river.

Scott had come to the area in search of fishing, but with limited tourist infrastructure he was having trouble tracking down equipment for the nearby rivers that the locals promised were teeming with trout. Not being a fisherman myself, and frankly not having any interest whatsoever in becoming a fisherman, I wasn't initially interested in Scott's plan to wake up early and use a combination of diesel and self-propelled transport to get to a fishing lodge in the middle of nowhere that may or may not have equipment for us to rent. But that was before I was promised beer.

We set out with the sun along the winding dirt roads, taking the bus to the end of the line and then hiking the additional four kilometers to the lodge. Unfortunately, the lodge's idea of a fishing 'excursion' was walking all the way up the hill to pool no.5 where 300 trout occupied a space about the size of a hot tub. This fishing for dummies option ensured that the fish practically jumped onto your hook before you could submerge it. With such pan-eager fish, the equipment needed was nothing more than a bit of line and a hook wound around a block of wood, hardly what we required for our anticipated battles on the river. With little choice we shoved our weapons in our backpockets and hoofed it through farm fields to the river.

I think I lasted all of about 10 minutes with the fishing. The river was beautifully clear which meant that I could see that there were absolutely no fish in it. Still the experience was incredibly tranquil. The river was lined by a dense cloud forest as far as we could see until it wound it's way into the moutains on the horizon. It was a beautiful place to just sit, read, and whenever Scott looked over, pretend I was getting ready to re-cast.

When the highland clouds started to quickly move in we decided it was time to head back to the lodge, catch a couple fish in the ponds and have a feast. A couple beers in, our decision making was probably not as sharp as it could have been and our decided short cut across a nearby farm field turned out to be disasterous. The first mud puddle with the oily gleam to it should have warned us, or maybe the abandonned farm house, but we trudged on. Before we knew it the mud puddles far outnumbered the patches of dry land. Once the first foot sunk itself into that oily, muddy mess, we knew there was no turning back. With every step we sank deeper so that it wasn't ten meters before I was up to my knees in the guck. With another ninety to go before secure land, a decision had to be made, and really there was only one. I started to high step at full speed, figuring that navigating a swampy field was like tearing a bandaid off. The mud's angry reaction was expected but still unappreactiated and by the time I reached dry land my jeans, shoes, shirt, back, and sweater I had forgotten was tied around my waist, were all a consistent brown colour.  

Again, decisions needed to be made and options were limited so when we arrived at the first cool stream I just took a bath. Jeans, shoes and all. It made for a chilly and uncomfortable trout lunch back at the lodge but nothing a couple whiskeys couldn't cure, and a good laugh for those involved.
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