I'm trekkin' in the rain...la la la lalala

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hellens Hostel

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Thursday, May 29, 2008

Its been 3 days raining non-stop or perhaps more with brief breaks. This was getting worrying until we heard the news that its actually quite a strong storm which they have called "Alma".

Its quite a strong storm (without sufficient speed to define it as a hurricane) and which entered via Panama and has gone through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, now in Honduras and will probably finish in Mexico. 4 dead have been reported in Nicaragua and Costa Rica and a great number of rivers have overflown.

Link in English: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/05/30/nicaragua.weather.ap/index.html

Link in Spanish: http://www.clarin.com/diario/2008/05/30/um/m-01683424.htm

For us the main problem was that 2 bridges on the road back to San Jose appear to be cut due to overflowing rivers, so if the rain does not stop we are stuck in Quepos until further news. Our friendly hairdresser insists that it will end before Saturday!

Anyway...as they say in Spanish "a malos tiempos buena cara" (a smiling face to hard times), we decided not to delay our visit to the Manuel Antonio national park which we had come to see. We got up at 5am to have some breakfast and be at the park entrance at 7am. And guess what? It stopped raining from 6am to 7am...so it seemed we would have a lucky break.

To get into the national park you have to cross a small river, but it is quite deep and there is a large sign saying "crocodiles live here. no swimming"...so everyone crosses 5 metres of river on rowing boats which some local fisherman push along. They dont seem to care about any croc being around...and it much looks like it is a sign paid by the local fishermen to avoid brave tourists swimming across!

We paid our entrance fee ($5,000 col = $10 dollar) and started walking along a very nice and muddy path...and just 10 minutes into our walk our friend the rain started pouring down with a strength that we had not seen until then. We kept walking a few minutes until the first victim of the wet had to turn round and go back to the hotel. Stefan was soaked wet and his clothes were not prepared for tropical weather.

We decided to continue and see as much as possible. The rain seemed to constantly change from low intensity to washing machine experience but we stubbornly continued with our trek.

After about 1 hour when we reached the top of the Manuel Antonio peninsula there was  a sudden break in the rain, and strong warm wind started blowing much to our happiness. We just stood on the path drying our clothes off and enjoying the warmness. However we did keep commenting "this must be the calm that preceeds the storm"!

There must be something very true about sayings, as after a few minutes of warm winds a strong storm unleashed with lighting and thunder rumbling a few metres about our heads. That was when we both started thinking "what do they always say you should do when the probabilities of being hit by lightning are over 90%?" We ran for the lower part of the forrest and lay down on the ground waiting for the lightning to move away. Literraly it was the longest 2 minutes in trekking history!

We then got up and ran as a fast as our wet bodies could take us to the shelter, where we found a dozen other tourists all happilly waiting.

Did that stop our tour? Of course not! We waited for about half an hour, and when we saw that a local guide was taking all his group for a trek we continued ours. And it was well worth it! It continued raining all along, but we did spot 2 sloths (2 and 3 toed) climbing trees totally soaked. The rest of the animals were safely tucked away where ever they safely tuck themselves away during storms!

Anyway, that made up for 5 hours of walk and it was time to get back to meet with Steffi at the parking. First we walked along the vehicle path out of the national park, but the bridge was heavily overflown and crossing it was quite deadly.

We then walked all the way back to the main entrance where the park wardens recommended that we wait until the river (which we crossed on a boat to come into) reduced its strength. The local fishermen had gone home as the river was too strong to cross on the rowing boat...so basically we were stuck in the national park!

Then appearing from the other side of the river (as Superman does in his comics) came our "saviour". Let's call him "Super Drunk" as a bit of credit to the alcoholic state he was in...basically the guy took his shoes off and jumped into the river with his jeans and shirt on. After disappearing a couple of times under the water he reappeared next to the "crocodiles live here. dont swim" sign and came to us. He offered to take us over on a rowing boat if other people appeared (in order to make sufficient money).

The guy staggered back to the other side of the river (virtually falling over drunk every 2 metres) and with the help of 2 tourists managed to get the rowing boat over to the entrance of the park. By then we were 5 tourists waiting to get out, so we all popped inside and with the drunk pulling along as a human tug boat we got to the other side for $1 dollar each! (see picture of drunk and river).

The rest of the day is rain, rain, rain well into midnight! We really started thinking we would have to stay in Quepos for a few days. If you check the Quepos port pictures, the fishing boats had suffered badly, and 3 of them had actually sunk due to the force of the river coming out to the sea.

Nothing better to do than relax and see what the weather brings tomorrow.
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