Tuesday, 17 February 2009

14 Hours on the road (and river)

This time Last year

Everyone in the group decides not to paddle the Rio Toro today but instead to take a boat trip and admire the wildlife from a safe vantage point. The boat will leave Oscar's Mother's place in Boca Tapada and head north down the Rio San Carlos to the Nicaraguan border, then down the Rio San Juan to a place called Trinidad and then upstream on the Rio Sarapiqui to Puerto Viejo where we will stay for a couple of nights.

I, instead, will ride shotgun with Luis and the bus.

We go down to the riverside and wait for the boat to arrive. Once everyone is on board Luis and set off on our four hour drive. It's two hours before we leave the dirt road and it's quite a bumpy ride. We arrive in Puerto Viejo at about 1pm and get evryones luggage unloaded before we have some lunch. We are not at our usual place - apparently it is booked solid with bird-watchers! It'll be a bit cramped as Luis, Manuel, Carolyn and I are all sharing one room!

We pick them up in town at the ice-cream store about 4pm. They tell us they had a splendid lunch with camarones on the river-side somewhere and saw plenty of American Crocodiles. We don't often see these when we are paddling (just the Caymans) as they prefer bigger and slower rivers. These things can grow to about 5m.

We have a pleasant evening and share a bottle of run; Flora de Cana of course!

This Time in 2007

Today would turn out to be a very long travel day indeed.

We were up at 6am for breakfast and the boys arrived at 6.30am to cart our luggage through town to the dock. We me an Irish couple there who said that the 6am boat had failed to materialise. However the 7am boat was on time and we were soon on our way upstream to San Carlos.

We watched the green countryside speed past and looked at the dilapidated buildings that were scattered every now and then along the coast, We saw a huge Tarpon fish leap above the waves. It must have 1.5m long. after three hours or so we arrived in San Carlos and dragged ourselves round to Immigration before piling onto the boat for Costa Rica and Los Chiles.

It took and hour and a half to reach Los Chiles but as usual we were entertained by the birds and Howler Monkeys along the way. It took half and hour to get through the luggage check and then we found that the Immigration Office was closed. We missed the 2pm bus and had to wait for the 3pm Express. Express! It stopped every half an hour but at least we didn't have to change bus at San Carlos (Costa Rica).

Normally this bus ride would take about 5 hours but we got stuck behind a broken down Sugar Cane Truck and it took an hour to squeeze by as it was almost blocking the road. The bus almost became impaled on the truck but finally we got by. It was 8.30pm when we got to the airport in San Jose where we dropped off the public bus and Luis picked us up for the last hour to the San Gildar Hotel in Escazu. Here we dropped off Lee, Florence and Carlos and Luis drove me up to the Pico Blancas Hotel where Jim and Carolyn were staying. We had dinner and a couple of beers. What a long and tedious day. More than 14 hours on the road (and rivers!).