This is our last full day in this beautiful country. So much is left unseen and unexperienced. If God wills, we may come back for a longer period next time.
For some reason we are always up early. That may be due to the hardness of the beds, or just the fact that we tend to crash earlier than usual, worn by the day’s adventure and not being big on nightlife. Outside a flock of large green parrots flies overhead. I wave to them, excited to finally see a large beautiful bird.
We load up our mini vehicle, double check the dust free floors under our beds, and begin our trek toward San Jose. We’ve reviewed our map and synced our GPS with the route we want to take in order to avoid any surprise back roads that are supposed to be shorter. Hopefully we won’t lose our car in any potholes this trip. We’re not traversing any towering mountaintops this time, so the same distance that took over five hours of driving in the past will only take two. That’s nice, we can take our time and stop to look whenever we want.
We stop at a little eatery at the side of the road for a good semi Costa Rican semi American style breakfast. The tables are all handmade from huge slabs of beautifully cut and polished wood. Most of the chairs look handmade as well. The morning is slightly chilly, so I pull out my handy scarf and it provides just the right amount of warmth. (Check tomorrow’s blog for packing ideas for Costa Rica travel.)
After a hearty breakfast, we head out. At the final point where beach access is close at hand and just before the road turns inland, we spot a collection of ATV’s. Oooh. Fun.
We are their only customers so far this morning, so I jump on behind Doug, clasp him tight and we take off. I couldn’t find my sunscreen, so my beach wrap becomes my magic cape, protecting me from harmful radiation and giving me a particular air…
We proceed across pasture land, jungles and rivers.
Our guide slows to show us a hole way up in the tree where a pair of macaws guard their nest. We zoom across the sandy beach and take a washed out dirt road up the hillside to get a better view.
Too soon, our two hour explore is over, we load back into our more mundane vehicle and take off once more.
Ahead, the GPS shows ‘all green’ roads except for one small area of red. Our ATV guide warned us about this bridge that gets full of tourists wanting to see the crocodiles.
I’m not a biggie when it comes to crowded tourist areas, but hey–crocodiles in their natural habitat? I got to see this! Sure enough as we approach the bridge, cars are parked on both sides of the road and traffic creeps along. We decide to cross over first so we are at least past the traffic. So much for original thinking. There are so many cars trying to park on the far side of the bridge that shop owners are charging for parking. We decide to become customers and get free parking that way. The heat of the day is coming on us and ice cream sounds really good.
With cones in hand and ice cream melting quickly, we run out to join the crowds on the bridge. Ah! There’s one! A huge old croc lies on the bank of the river below. I pull out my phone, lick my ice cream and snap a picture.
Doug missed it. He’s on ahead, gawking with the crowd as they lean over the edge. There are a ton of logs floating down there on that side of the bridge. My spine tingles as I get closer. Not a log jam. I had no idea crocodiles would gather en masse like this.
Thankfully, all cameras and personal belongings remain in hand and no one decides to feed the crocodiles by means of falling or being pushed over the bridge. The giant, motionless beasts rest below, unperturbed by our presence and ever patient.
Arriving at the San Jose Airport area from the west allowed us to miss most of the city traffic. We decide to return our rental today and stay at a hotel close to the airport. That means we get to walk or take a taxi if we want to go anywhere this evening. The hotel clerk gives us a warning look as he gives directions to getting to the local mall. Not a good idea to be out after dark, the neighborhood here isn’t the best. But the sun is still up, and it’s only a mile or so to the mall…
We like walking.
The neighborhood is not reassuring. The streets are lined with tin sided shacks, and trash is everywhere. All the trash we haven’t seen throughout the entire trip must all be dumped here, along the streets closest to the airport. We walk quickly, and finally pull our phone out to use the GPS to show us where to go, and make it to the mall as the evening shadows lengthen beyond my comfort zone. We take a taxi to get back.
The mall is a massive four story modern complex crowded with people, their children, and their dogs.
Once back at the Holiday Inn Express, we repack our bags, eat all the fruit we still have with us, and prepare for bed. We rise at 3:30 in the morning. We are told to arrive three hours early to be sure check-in goes smoothly.
It’s been an amazing trip, every bit of Costa Rica living up to its reputation. We didn’t get to see much of it, no volcanoes this trip, no caribbean coast. But we got to know some of its people, experienced the majesty of the mountains, the wild beauty of the jungles, the liveliness of the wildlife, the joy of the beach. We enjoyed the food, the drinks, the fruit. Aside from our brief speed walk near the airport, my overall impression is that it is a safe place to visit. The people are hospitable and proud. Their favorite saying, used as greeting and farewell sums it up. Pura Vida! Pure life.
Tomorrow, I will talk about how we packed and prepared for the trip and what I would do differently!
Until then, Pura Vida!