The kindness of strangers

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Suria Lodge

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of San Jose,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We had an interesting journey today. We had to get from Turrialba to Park Nacional Los Quetzales. We got up at 5am, packed and walked across town to the bus station. Catherine had worked out that instead of going back to San Jose we could instead get the same collectivo to San Jose but get off at Cartago (saving another two hours). Unfortunately while on the journey we came to the realisation that Cartago was slightly off the Interamericana highway. We debated whether we should carry on all the way into San Jose and change buses there. Eventually we decided against this and got off at Cartago as per the original plan. We walked to the Lonely Planet’s listed location of the bus terminal only to find it didn’t exist anymore so we went back to the main square where I sat down with all our stuff while Catherine went off on a reconnaissance mission. After a while, and thanks to a very helpful Tico bus driver, we had some written instructions which we could give to a taxi driver to get us to where we needed to be...

Por favour Hervarta a la lima pasa que puda cojer el bus de Perez Zeledon dejarla en la bomba Shell

The taxi drove us to the required bus stop next to the Shell petrol station on the Interamericana. We waited while around 30 or so buses went past, none of which had Perez Zeledon written on it. Thankfully another friendly Tico woman explained that she was also waiting for the bus to Perez Zeledon and that is should be along in around 15 minutes.  We waited a bit longer and then Catherine spotted another bus with the destinations San Isidro De El General and Puerto Jimenez on the front. We knew that this was even better for us that the Perez Zeledon bus as these destinations are further south on the Interamericana and so jumped aboard. The bus started climbing up and up, higher and higher until we were above the clouds. Catherine was sat a little further down the bus from me and got speaking to a nice chap who was born in Costa Rica but had Canadian and German parents. When we got to close to the 80 km marker and turnoff for San Gerardo de Dota, he went up and explained to the bus driver where we needed to get off. Thanks to another kind stranger we ended up in just the right place.
We knew that it was a 10km hike from here down the road to San Gerardo de Dota, a small village nestling at the foot of a very steep valley in the middle of the montane and pre-montane cloud forest of Parque Nacional Los Quetzales. We stopped at a soda and enjoyed some rice and beans with a fried egg and tortilla. Catherine tried her mobile to see if she could reach Suria Lodge, to ask if they could pick us up but there was no signal. There was no phone at the soda either, so we set off down the road, thinking we had a very long hike ahead of us with all of our gear on our backs!

Because of the altitude (2000-3000 metres), the trees here are more stunted and dripping with air plants, bromeliads and lichen, and wisps of cloud pass over the tree tops. As we walked, there were birds everywhere that allowed us to get very close. As we rounded a bend after about 1km, we were greeted with a very welcome sight, a public phone! Hallelujah!  Catherine phoned Suria Lodge and explained where we were using some basic Spanish. The owner was on her way! As we waited, we watched emerald and sapphire hummingbirds flitting around. Soon Hilda, the owner arrived and we piled into the front of her 4wd truck. We drove down the steep, twisting gravel road deeper into the valley, and before too long, arrived at Suria Lodge, our home for the next 5 nights. The lodge is absolutely lovely. We are the only guests here and we have our own log cabin with a huge king size bed, nice bathroom and pretty gardens complete with colourful hummingbirds, feeding on the flowers outside our door! Tonight we are having trout for dinner, straight from the Rio Savegre, the river flowing through the valley. Yum!

Having settled into our room, we went for a walk to the waterfalls which are about 1km into Parque Nacional Los Quetzales.  We were accompanied by the lodge’s friendly black splodge dog. The path wound its way through the cloud forest and down to the Rio Savegre, a beautiful fast flowing, rocky river. We passed several  perfect looking swimming spots, which we made a note of for tomorrow. Soon we found the waterfall, a lovely cascade where the water spills over the edge into a deep plunge pool surrounded by high rocky sides. We can’t wait until tomorrow to get back and jump in and also hopefully spot the rare resplendent quetzal!

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