Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Costa Rica- Week 1

This week has been crazy. Here is a brief recap for all of you.

Day 1: We started early (5am) and made our way to Volcano Irazu. Although the weather was fair in San Jose, it got worse and worse and by the time we reached the volvano, we had a reduced visibility -we were in the clouds- and rain. We believed it would clear up, and we were right. We even got a few good pictures! :)

There were nothing much to do up there so we headed earlier than planned to Turrialba, some 50km south of Irazu. We still had most of the day for us, but it was pouring rain, so we rested and chilled. getting ready for our rafting excursion.

Day 2: Another early wake up as we were ready to go by 5am :) By this day, we knew our days would start early and that bed time would be equally early. We would later be surprised if we'd last until 8pm...
We started the day by exploring the Monte Claro trail, full of exotic plants and giving us a first taste of a jungle like environment.

After our breakfast, Pablo and Julian came to pick us up in their van, for our rafting day. We'd be paddling in the rafting with Pablo while Julian would ensure our safety should any of us got into the water. Like this is gonna happen. Yeah Right.
Moments later, our raft was 90 degrees vertical about to capsize after hitting "el muro de los lamentos". Yumi and Pablo fell first while Thomas still had one foot into the loop. Soon after fighting it free, he remembered Pablo's wise words "if you feel something heavy on your head, it probably is the raft...". We were fine, apart from Julian shouting at us, to reach the shore ASAP and the raft left with only one oar :)
We found ourselves sunburned at the end of the day, but it was all worth it. The fauna and flora are amazing and we cannot wait to be surrounded by it.

We are heading to the Jungle now, but before that, we have one last stop: Dominical

Day 3: We decided to stay in Turrialba after rafting as we didn't want to be in a hurry. We are on holidays after all. We took the "Interamericana", the highway which link North to South America. This highway is in fact a mountain road where the truck reach crazy speed and overtake you with no visibility just before a turn. It really felt like Thomas was driving on one of these good old Corsican roads :)

Dominical is -in the raining season- a ghost town full of man-eating mosquitos. Nothing really exiting really, we had the luxury of having a fan in our room, and that is the only reason why we took this room, otherwise we would have camped.  There was no air and it was 40 degrees, so we took the room.

Day 4: Going to Puerto Jimenez!
Driving there was an experience in itsef. Bridges straight out of Indiana Jones' movies and wild atmosphere.
When we arrived in PJ, we had no clue where to sleep and how to get to the jungle.

We finally found a small place called "Cabinas Marcelina", left our stuff there and went for local food. PJ is not a touristy place. There is nothing to do there, apart from passing by and go to Corcovado.

Day 5: on our way to the...Park, as the locals call it.
The plan is simple: waking up a dawn, take the bus, to a place with no name, then get a lift to a lodge where horses are waiting for us. After riding the horses for 2h, and crossing about 40 rivers, we arrived at Los Patos.

It is only 11am so we still have most of the day! We quickly set up the tent, realise our stove is not working and take a good hour to take it apart, rebuild it, test it, and take it apart again. Our pumps is dead! Not nice.
We'll have to improvise and after speaking to the local ranger, we manage to get some boiling water to mix with our dried food.

In the afternoon, we decide to explore the surroundings of the station, go for a swim near a little waterfall  and walk all the way to the old ranger station, some 4km away from the new station. It doesn't seem hard, but walking 8km in a very hilly and muddy area is not so easy! At 7pm we are exhausted and go for some deserved sleep. We are getting mentally ready for the 21 gruesome km which await us tomorrow.

Day 6: Crossing the jungle!
We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we didn't expect to take some 9h to reach the West side of the peninsula. Reaching the clearing and seeing Sirena station was great. We were lost for about 4h but kept going west. We may not have been too lost after all when we found the track again and the last strech was easy... and flat.

We found out afterward that very few people go from Los Patos to Sirena, or if they do, they have a guide. Some guides there called us "Locos" :) We met some nice and crazy people at the station and decided to stay another day in Sirena to walk around.

We tagged along a group of students with their guide as we were all going the same way: Rio Claro. the "safe river" as opposed to the one called Rio Sirena where bull sharks and crocs meet to feast on fish.
It was a surprise to see a big croc in the safe river, so we headed inland to be able to swim and relax.

Thomas learned that day that you can swim with alligators. They would avoid you as you are bigger than them. To be honest, he won't try this.

Day 7: Nothing much that day. we explored a few trails around Sirena and met Mike and DAve, 2 american guys. We decide to join them and walk with them the following morning to go to La Leona, the last station before leaving the jungle...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Costa Rica- Random pics

A Golden Orb spider, found in between Los Patos and Sirena in  the Jungle. We couldn't really miss it as there were dozens of them, on a massive spider web.

On our way to Sirena. So far, so good...