We are slowly making our way South to the Osa peninsula and the biggest and most remote park in the country – Corcovado. Two days ago we drove from San Jose to Jaco. Jaco is the favorite beach party town for all folks from the capital. The town is nothing special but has a pretty cool beach and some awesome waves if you are into surfing. On the way to Jaco the road crossed the Rio Grande de Tarcoles. The river is coming down from a small national park and is nothing special if it wasn’t for the fifty 2 to 4 meter crocodiles that hang out under the bridge.
After Jaco we drove south about 75km to a small town called Manuel Antonio and the adjacent Manuel Antonio National Park. Teresa read in the guide book that the park is really popular with tourists and is heavy visited so we decided to check it out. Usually we stay away from such places but this time we said what the heck …
We came in town via a long curvy road covered with little hotels crammed in the thick jungle. We drove to the park entrance and found a convenient parking lot ten meters from the beach. We talked to the guard and he said it is ok to park for the night free of charge (success).
This morning we got up around 6:30am, and made a quick breakfast on the tailgate and precooked dinner. Yesterday evening it poured for four hours straight so we decided to try to precook dinner for tonight in the morning. Around 9am we headed to the park.
I thought the park was awesome. We saw way more wild life than in any of the other parks we have visited so far in Costa Rica. Plenty of monkeys and iguanas. We also spotted a yellow eyelash viper and a sloth (na Bulgarski tova e ‘lenivec’). I wanted to see a sloth for a long time so this was cool. Another really fantastic thing about this park were the beaches. Lots of them and all of them were paradise like. The not so cool part about the park was that it was indeed really crowded. So much so that the guides, we did not take one, were unbelievably paranoid that we were sneaking in their groups. One of the guides came to explain that ‘it is not cool’ to do that. It is impossible to walk even 10 meters without bumping into a group of 10 people staring at something. I think if we have to do this park again we will not take guides again. There is plenty to see on your own.
Yesterday we arrived at Puerto Viejo. This is a small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica about 20 miles from the border with Panama. The town has a healthy population of gringos who are here for the surfing, a national park that apparently has sloths (in BG: lenivetc) and tons of birds, and of course, what we came here for, the beaches.
We set camp about 5km south of town at a desolate beach. Our German travel friends Klaus, Sonja and Mia recommended this place to us. The beach is protected by a small reef right in front of it, which means there are no big waves so we parked 10 meters from the water. Awesome! After sleeping at absolutely crazy places the last three nights we totally deserve this place!
Last night about a hundred big crabs invaded us. I am talking 2 crabs and you make dinner …
Oh, and on the pictures you will see our new shower setup ☺. After showering naked at random places we decided that it is finally time to do something about it, so here it is.
Before heading in the direction of Bahia de Salinas (the best kitesurfing spot in Costa Rica, known as the 8th windiest place in the world), I implored George to find somewhere we could sleep. He tracked down a few kite schools online thinking that they could at least point us in the direction of a nice camping spot. We had just missed the season though, so the kite schools were quiet. This led us to arbitrarily choose dirt roads to drive down. After some backtracking and stops to ask locals for directions, we finally found a nice beach spot to camp out. The truck was in need of some serious organization and we needed a few easy days to get back into the swing of things (because travelling is just so hard J). We loved the spot, but the damn water was treacherous (jellyfish!). At low tide, the beach was plastered with the stupid things. On the way out, we ran across about twenty monkeys making their way across the still arid landscape – rainy season hadn’t hit this part of the coast yet. It seems always to be the case that the amazing wildlife sightings are serendipity, happening nowhere near the national parks that you pay to get into.
Well, after the Leon sleeping ordeal, we were set to head out of town to the beach. What is that saying about trouble coming in threes (hostel #1, hostel #2, horrible noise coming from the breaks). Something was terribly wrong. G pulled over to try and inspect the brakes. Like good little travellers, we threw up the safety triangles. I gentleman noticed us, pulled over with family in tow and lead us around the city until we found a mechanic. Keep in mind that this was a holiday weekend, so finding a mechanic was a blessing. The gentleman was visiting Leon from Managua (capital of Nicaragua). Now, I have to admit up until this point, I hadn’t formed the bests of opinions about the people in Nicaragua. I found some of the men to be disrespectful and the general population to be less than friendly. This man gave me a new data point though. It might be cultural to not be so friendly to strangers, who knows. We did truly appreciate his help though.
I knew that we were going to be at the mechanics a while when he started hammering at shit. I think if we could speak better Spanish, we could have just explained to him to inspect the brakes first. They did do a fairly good job (we noticed how detailed oriented they were). In the end, our brakes were replaced and it was pretty inexpensive considering we were there for the entire day. We made it to the beach that night and camped out in the parking lot of a hostel/restaurant. The place was packed and the beach was filthy. People flee the city for the beach during Semana Santa. We were back in Taj though, and that is all that mattered to us (first night after the bed bug wars). We chilled for a few nights there, enjoying the surf. Fresh water was inconsistent at best though, so we were definitely hankering for a shower. We did see a beach cleanup crew go by on our last day (to late for us, but still nice to know that it’s done). Walking through other people’s trash on the beach was a little infuriating.