Like super responsible adults, we got up at 7am and went straight to the hotel breakfast. The restaurant was right on the water overlooking some sailboats and fishing trawlers. A cormorant was diving for fish just under where our table was situated. More typical gallo pinto con huevos for breakfast, loaded up with red and green salsa lizano.
A short drive down the road and we were at Carara National Park. $10 each, we opted to do it sans guide. From December to April this park is home to migrating scarlet macaws. Those are the colorful red, blue and yellow parrots you usually see on pirates shoulders. It would be great to see them in their natural environment rather than pet stores and pirate shoulders, but not gonna happen this time of year.
The park is basically set up as 3 interlocking circles, like 3 of the 5 olympic rings, each around a large section of forest. There are lots of signs describing the importance of this and that and the pathways are better marked than most Central American highways.
There were lots of lizards, geckos, and iguanas scurrying around on the forest floor, moving at the last second before you step on them without even knowing they were there, they blend in so well. I got a great picture of Narcopiggy basically leaning against a pretty chill iguana.
We stopped to check some fungi on a stump and were fortunate enough to catch 2 millipedes during some lazy intercourse. Looking around we spotted more of them laying about. Funky looking little brown and white critters about as long as your typical HB pencil and a quarter wide with a bazillion legs on each side. Just big enough to be freaky.
The forest had very little tourist traffic since it was early and off-season, so once we were a good distance in and the sound of the highway faded to nothing, the sounds of the forest and the river that went through it were serene. We were moving slowly trying to catch any movement, any color, any uniquely interesting organism however big or small.
We were crossing a cool bridge over a wide river in the middle of the forest. I pulled my phone out to take a pic and it froze up. After I hit the camera icon it went black. That’s weird. turn the screen off. Back on. Swipe to unlock. Nothing. What the hell. Totally frozen. Then a message pops up. Fatal Camera error. Great. 2 options, Wait and close. I hit close. black screen. nice. wait. nothing. screen off and back on. still can’t unlock. eventually the same warning comes up. choose wait this time. black screen. What the fuck. wait. nothing. I hold down the power button. The options to power down, reset, etc, come up but the phone isn’t responding to any touch input. MacKay suggests that I could pop the battery out. There really isn’t any other option, the phone is totally frozen. 3 hour movies don’t take this long to load, let alone a pic snapped of a river. Pop the battery out and back in. Restart. Back in business. Except for that little SD card icon in the top left. I touch it. Memory card unreadable, do you want to format? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. My heart drops. Did we really just lose all of the pictures and video from this trip over some inexplicable fatal camera app error? Yeah we did. Take a picture, freeze the phone, and corrupt the memory card. That is bullshit. Fuck you Samsung!
My mood is a little soured by that ordeal, but I’ve got a decent cannon with me as well and there’s still lots of rain forest to see so we continue along. A lot of the forest floor is riddled with leaf cutter ants streaming along the paths of least resistance, be it the wood runners along the pathway, the pvc pipes and drainage areas, of just an easily traversed series of flatten leaves. They use all of these avenues like some kind of ant super highway (The Antobahn?). In one direction will be a bunch of workers heading off to the construction site. In the other they’ll be carrying leaves and sticks back to ant suburbia. Orderly and purposeful they toil away, rivers of them criss-crossing the path, holding up their little leaves giving us just enough visibility to spot them and carefully step over and leave them to their operations.
Another cool insect we spotted was this giant blue dragonfly. It didn’t zip along like the roadster-style marsh dragonflies from where we’re from, it had 2 sets of wings on each side that flitted up and down like the oars of a viking war ship. It meandered more like a butterfly, and slowly lifts and sinks from one leaf to the next.
Although we lost the majority of our good pics from Carara, the cannon picked up the slack on the back end of our hike through and delivered these:
We booked it back towards the exit and just before finishing came across a tour group with a guide. They had a telescope and tripod that the guide had set up and were all taking turns looking through it at an exotic yellow and green bird . It was sitting in a tree just above the path. We were a bit far for a picture. We waited for them to finish and then strolled out of the park back to El-BP.
It was about lunch time now so we pulled off just a bit further down the road in a town called Jaco. As soon as we’d done so it was immediately noticeable that this was a spring break kind of town. There was a gorgeous beach between two bluffs and a massive resort complex. We drove right down to the beach and nabbed a spot at a beachside restaurant. They had all of your typically cheesy beach bum slogan signs and terrible beach puns plastered all over the walls and a large Party like a Pirate section I think you were supposed to get pictures in front of. There were funny signs that said “Go Waco in Jaco”. I completely understand what they’re getting at, but I’m not sure how an armed religious standoff is going to help tourism in the area.
We grabbed a couple of Imperials, I had a typical Costa rican lunch, called casado, which means ‘married man’ in Spanish, and MacKay got some chicken jalapeno enchilladas. Pretty chill spot with hammocks set up along the beach. This place probably goes banonkers during the on-season.
Hit the road again aiming for another national park called Manual Antonio. We rolled into the area around 3:30 and it was immediately apparent that we should have probably already heard about this place before. There were hotels, resorts, theme bars and restaurants galore as we got closer to the park entrance. There’s got to be something spectacular here to bring this level of commercial development.
We parked up and started looking around. Couldn’t see the park entrance anywhere really. Maybe we missed it? MacKay asked some local cops about the entrance whereabouts then followed up asking whether or not they’d ever consider changing their uniform stylings to be more camo on camo.
We moved the car closer to the entrance and a dude across the street burst our double park day bubble telling us the place was closed for the day. Closes at 4. They start kicking people out around 3:30. We decide to stay here the night so we can hit the park up bright and early and then maybe book it for the Panama border and get closer to that pesky Darien Gap. We ask the guy if there’s a hostel nearby and he points directly behind him. Backpackers Hostel. Alright we’re in. It’s 40 bucks for a double room. A little more pricey than what we’d been paying. Costa Rica is generally much more expensive than the other places we’ve traveled. After getting spoiled with ridiculously low prices in Nicaragua I think most of the trip will feel that way from here. But we’re here and it’s right next to the entrance, has a bar and a pool, why not?
We take a quick walk down to the beach. Another gorgeous beach with cool rock formations off in the water. A handful of people are out sunning and swimming. But just then a complete downpour kicks up and people start to scatter to shelter. Yep, the clouds rolled in quick and fierce and in a split second the weather shifted to torrential rains and lightning. Got some pics of the beach just before and then during.
Not where we stayed:
MacKay and I hoof it back to the hostel. Well, this is a good excuse to get caught up on the blog. We take the lappy to the bar beside the hostel, order up a bottle of Casillero del Diablo (we’ve switched to Chilean wine whilst travelling the Centro) and some chips and guac. The pico de gallo is fantastic. More chips please. It’s coming down like crazy. Crooked rain, crooked rain. The lightning is directly above us and immediately thunder rattles the bar. Water is flooding the street and even though we’re covered the lappy screen is stil getting hit. We finish up the wine and head back to the room.
“It’ll be nice to get caught right up to today finally on the blog, man.”
“Yep, totally agree, finally got some time for it.”
Aaaaaand then the power goes out.
“Well, what do you wanna do now?”
“Gear up and find some restaurant with power?”
“Yep, and more wine”
We gather our headlamps, hiking boots, the tac-flash, a poncho, the painted jacket, don some quick-dry pants, and snag a couple of Imperial road rockets. The rain is coming down hard and flooding the pool outside our door. We move all of our stuff to higher ground. Made that mistake before. Alright, out into the maelstrom. Wow is it raining. All of the lights in our area are out, but we think there are some on down the street.
Our pants are instantly soaked as we step out. Just how quick-dry is quick-dry? The white light of the headlamp reflects too brightly off of the wall of rain obscuring my vision, switch to red mode. We navigate through the overflowing streets and side alley, misjudging the depth of puddles in the slight crimson darkness. MacKay claims his feet are already soaked. Aside from the pants I’m holding up alright in the green jacket with sky blue Mexican paint on it. More lightning. More thunder.
We come to a fancy pants hotel with lots of lights on and skip, hop, soak-shuffle up to it. No one in there. Oh wait there’s a waiter. “Abierto?”, “Si!”. We take seats at the bar so as not to get all of their white linen seats and tablecloths completely drenched. Quick-dry pants, prove your worth! We take off our jackets and pull up to the bar with the Imperials we’d brought with us. MacKay orders up another bottle of Diablo and we get some swanky meals. A Veggie Quesadilla for James, and I got Chicken stuffed with herbs and bacon and a side of bombshell risotto. Numsy.
The official wine of our Central American Sprint
We ask the waiter if there is a corner store nearby, we need blogging supplies. There is. Through the path to the beach and left. It closes at nine though so you have 10 minutes. But they may have closed early. And they may not have power. This whole trip is uncertainty, so little maybes like that aren’t about to stop us. We climbed the back side of Monteverde yesterday on whimsy and a compass bearing.
Back out into the downpour we navigate the dark path through the alley, over the bridge, whoa that’s a lot of water gushing under there, across the destroyed building lawn, onto the boardwalk street, take a left, is there lights? YES! The place is open. They’re just tidying things up. We ask if they have beer. They do. We’ve got 7000 colones. How many Imperials will that get us. 8. Sweet. They even get us frosted mugs for them and sit us down at a table. How sweet. We sit and enjoy a couple in the thunderstorm
Alright, fully supplied we backtrack through the path to the hostel. I catch a crab walking through some grass. Cool clear body and red claws and feet. He’s scampering like mad through the rain. We make it back. Hang up our gear. Not too bad, shirt is surprisingly dry under painty coat, socks are kinda wet, but the quick-dry pants actually do live up to their name.
Outside blogstorming and we see this big ass, creeepy stick bug. James disco-strobbed him with the tac-flash. Stick bug party. dee la na, dee la naarn. Stick bug paaaaaaarty