Long and Crazy Trip
Trip Start Nov 26, 2008
5Trip End Dec 07, 2008
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I arrived in Costa Rica on Wednesday night exhausted. I'd been traveling the better part of the day from Rofo to Philly, then taking the train to Newark, then the plane to San Jose.
When I got through immigration at the airport, something much easier than I expected, I was bombarded by the unexpected sight of hundreds, literally hundreds, of taxi drivers strongly encouraging everyone to let them drive us. The throng felt like a packed subway car during rush hour and I had to struggle and push my way through to get ouside.
Outside it was night, around 10 pm, and very humid. But there was air, fresh air, and it was wonderful! There is no air conditioning in Costa Rica, at least none that I've found as yet, and it was great to have a breeze on my face
After gathering everyone together, we got in his van, and drove and drove and drove. The websie for my first hotel, Hotel Buena Vista, says it's 10 minutes from the aiport, but it was more like 40. I was the second dropoff and when I got to Hotel Buena Vista, it was about 11:30. My hotel room was massive, nearly the size of my entire living room and dining room at home. I had a small balcony and as we were up in the hills outside of Alajuela, you could see the lights of the town. I was dead on my feet, so I did little more than shower and go to bed.
The next morning I was up at 5:30 as I had to be on the bus to Cahuita at 7:20. I had a rude awakening when I went downstairs: they told me there had been landslides due to all the rain and the road to Cahuita was closed
The kid that came to pick me up was about 20, and he drove an old Toyota from the late 80s or early 90s. We drove down the steep roads down to Alajuela at breakneck speeds, me clutching the dash and him calmly singing along to the radio. When we got to the pickup place, I was surprised to see the Interbus van still there. Yay!
My driver helped me load my luggage and off we went. It was rush hour in Alajuela/San Jose and we were bumper to bumper for a while. San Jose is in a deep, hilly valley and steep mountains rise up around it. It was a sunny morning that turned to misty and as it did, the clouds dropped low and we were driving in them or past them. We stopped in Heredia and picked up some passengers who spoke Spanish. There the driver told us all that as the road to Limon was closed, we would be going the long way. My 3 1/2 hour bus ride was going to be 6-7. Sigh.
It was a pretty drive, up through the mountains to Turrialba where river rafting is a big tourist pull. They have Class 5 rapids so apparently it's a big rafting place. The clouds were hanging very low and it was raining and misting off and on
At what must have been the halfway point, we got off our bus and switched to another bus where there were two more tourists. Now we were packed. I had the mom lay her little girl across all 3 of our laps so she could rest. We went higher and higher and finally at a cute little open-air Soda, we stopped for a rest break. I had my first meal of gallo pinto (rice and beans) and then we were off again.
We went through Limon and finally arived in Cahuita. Whew! What a relief. They had been expecting me at 11 and now it was nearly 2. It was pouring rain and I was exhausted. I took a shower and laid down on the bed for just a bit. Then I woke up at 7. It was still pouring rain and I didn't want to walk anywhere, so I had a couple of emergency granola bars -- yay for granola bars!! -- and went back to bed.
The next morning I was up at 6:00 to have breakfast, get ready for my Sloth Sanctuary tour and to try to find a phone
There are 5 public phones in Cahuita and 4 of them are dead. One of them was working, but had such bad static, I couldn't hear a thing. It was gettng close to 9:30, so I went back to my hotel to wait for the van, which was 5 minutes early and waiting for me. The driver was a nice Tico named Luis but he didn't speak any English so we had little to discuss :)
We drove the 15 km to the Sloth Sanctuary where I had a 30 minute private tour until a large tour bus arrive and I joined them.. The sanctuary is owned by an American (from Alaska) and her Tico husband. They have had 230 acres of conservation land since the early 1970s but in the early 90s, someone brought them a baby 3 toed sloth and it's just snowballed from there. They now have over 100 sloths that they are attempting to rehabilitate and put back into the wild. The tour was led by a young kid in his early 20s who is the grandson of the owners. He just graduated from UNLV and has moved to CR to work at the sanctuary. It's a family run organization and they are lovely people. I got to pet some baby 2 toed sloths -- one was fascinated with my finger and gripped it with her fingers (which are like long fingernails) and licked it
After the sanctuary visit, Luis took me to a BriBri village. BriBri are one of 3 of CR's indiginous indians. The village he took me to was small, about 3 families, and was near a river. They live in mud huts with walls and roofs made of banana leaves. This particular village makes chocolate. They have cacao tree groves and make it all by hand. I had never seen a cacao tree so it was fascinating to hear about what they do. They use all hand made tools and cook the cacao over a wood fire. It's pretty amazing.
When Luis dropped me off, the weather had cleared a bit so I walked into the village to have lunch. Cahuita caters to tourists and the only place that seemed open was a pizza and italian place. I went inside and had a pretty decent Margharita pizza since I ddn't want to wait for dinner for the other restaurants to open. Then I went to the store, bought some post cards and tried to buy some stamps, but the PO was closed. It was closed today too. I don't know when it's actually open
I woke in the middle of the night because there was something scurrying over my roof. I hoped there was no way for whatever it was to get inside and tried to go back to sleep.
This morning, I woke up and didn't want breakfast
It looks like it might storm now, so I'm going to head back.
Miss you all!