Goodbye, Costa Rica!

On the morning of our departure from the Mawamba Lodge, we discovered that Favio would be our escort all the way to San Jose, where, the next day, we would catch our flight. And, we discovered that a slightly different kind of boat was waiting for us. It had a roof!

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Of course, it was raining, but we were a merry band anyway. As usual, Dianne and I were in the front.

The good news was, that we would not be heading south back to Limon’. Instead we would be heading west to La Pavona. Of course, no one told us this. I had to cipher it out when we got back.

So here was our trip:

La Pavona

We started out on the Tortuguro River headed north past San Fransisco. We then took a sharp left to the bottom of the “V” where we entered the Rio Suerte.  This river appears as a squiggly line that runs to La Pavona. Those squiggles are not an exaggeration. Here is how things started out as we made ourselves comfortable on the Rio Suerte:

As it turns out there are two boat companies that regularly serve the Tortuguera area and they make daily runs up and down the river ferrying passengers to La Pavona. The total cost for the 1.5 hour boat trip is $3.

Here is part of our encounter with another boat servicing the same area:

Clearly there can be no fish in the entire  Rio Suerte that does not suffer from PTSD on a daily basis. Boat traffic like this is not something you expect in such an eco-friendly country.

Along the way we encountered these guys along the river bank, filling bags with sand, presumably for construction purposes.

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Eventually a boat would come and pick of the load, but this was all hand work. Nothing more than a shovel and two guys.

After what seemed like a long time indeed, we arrived at our destination!

Thankfully, it had quit raining! But it was still a little on the muddy side. I played the geezer card and soon Favio and some of the other guys helped me with our bags.

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The white bus at the top of the hill was waiting to take us to San Jose.

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To their credit, this was a smooth operation and it took no time at all to get our luggage to the bus, which Favio helped make sure went to the right destination.

So, here is La Pavona:

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By which, I do not mean to say, here is a restaurant in the village of La Pavona. This IS La Pavona in its entirety. And it is a very nice place which charges for use of the restrooms and serves good food. Also it provides parking for anyone with business in the Tortuguero area.

 

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Here is a telling sign about the problems of providing such a service out in the middle of friggin’ nowhere:

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When the power goes out, we switch to batteries!

Soon we were on the bus and heading for San Jose!

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It is a 2.5 hour trip which started out on a well-maintained gravel road that eventually took us to the state highways, all nicely paved and well marked. This trip gave us a chance to see the interior of Costa Rica. Here are some random photos:

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The worst poverty I have ever personally witnessed was back in 1971 when some friends of mine and I walked across the Mexican border into Tijuana. That route takes you on a bridge over the Tijuana River. I remember looking over that bridge onto what appeared at first to be like a landfill full of trash. Instead, what it turned out to be was hundreds of people living in appliance cartons in a small cardboard city. Then, a few years later Dianne and I with some friends took a train from Ojinaga, Mexico to Chihuahua. The train stopped at a number of small villages where the luckiest families were privileged to live in old boxcars.

These are things a Holmes County country boy never forgets. I am pleased to report that nowhere in Costa Rica did we see poverty at that level, but clearly not everyone is enjoying the prosperity of the modern age. On some of the Costa Rican web sites  the authors clearly identify themselves as part of the “third world”. But, in many parts of the country improvements in infrastructure and are plainly visible. Speaking only in regard to what we actually saw, Costa Rica appears to be a country on the upswing. So, to answer the question about what our turtle tour guide considered to be the two worst problems facing Costa Rica today? Drugs and corruption. So, let’s all name places where those things are not a problem!

 

We were not far along on our journey when all of a sudden this steel gate comes down across the road like a railroad crossing:

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So,we’re all like, “What the…?” Then, along the gate comes a long string of banana bunches! This is a banana crossing!

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After all the bananas had crossed safely, we were allowed to continue.

We passed through several more villages

A rare 2-story

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A school:

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Never like to see bars on windows and doors:

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A butcher shop:

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A police station. The quote below he window reads: “Educate the child [so as] not to [have to] punish the adult.”

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As we got closer to San Jose, the true passion of the locals began to show.

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And, if you need some tires for the big race!

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It turned out that the people who run the Mawamba Lodge have other holdings as well! Soon our bus pulled up to:

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We were treated to a very nice buffet at no additional cost!

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After a fine feast we were ready for the trip to be over. Sure enough, we were soon in San Jose!

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As it turned out the bus took us right through downtown:

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As you can see, this is a bustling capitol with high energy. It is renowned for its theaters and museums, none of which we saw. Next time for sure!

And, like all cities, there are less prosperous areas:

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Here is something funny that happened downtown:

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The red car in front, a taxi, pulls up to the intersection at a red light. the bike pulls up behind him. The guy in the other red car comes in too fast, hits the bike and drives it into the taxi. The biker is not hurt. They all get out of their vehicles and inspect the damage. The taxi driver sees no major problems, gets in his cab and drives off. The guy who hit the bike and the biker look things over. They don’t see any damage. They start laughing, get on or into their respective vehicles and drive off also. All this in slightly more than one minute. In America there would have been cops, fistfights, insurance adjusters and, more than likely, gun play.

From here we headed out toward the airport. More and more San Jose became like a typical American city:

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Well, Anywhere Costa Rica put us up in the Adventure Inn Hotel, near the airport. And, while not all adventures are of a positive nature, this one was! what a nice place to spend your last night in Costa Rica!

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But here’s the best part! They even have a special sink to wash out your socks and underlovlies!

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AND a fabulous free breakfast:

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So, after breakfast, and in typical fashion our ride to the airport showed up right on time. Soon we would be headed home!

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Interestingly, while countries like Argentina charge you a $160 pp fee to enter the country, Costa Rica charges you $29 to get out! Well, in spite of that, we were sorry to leave. This trip was, in our view, a great adventure, something you don’t just turn off when you get on the plane.

So, why go to Costa Rica? First, it is hard to imagine anything you would want in a vacation experience that can’t be found here. You want rugged, beautiful scenery? Beautiful beaches? Exotic wild animals? Luxurious hotels? Great food? Relaxation? Adventure? Safe travels? A great place to take the kids? It’s all here. And more.

And, I should add, there is no substitute for visiting a country with a tourist oriented economy. It is one thing to have the incomparable services of a company like Anywhere Costa Rica to help with the planning. It is quite another to see that plan executed to perfection by a multitude of drivers, wait staff, hotel managers, guides and more all over the country. Costa Rica tourism is a well-oiled machine that we have experienced nowhere else.

And, on top of that, the cost of travel is probably about 10-20% cheaper than comparable travel in the US. So, start collecting those free airfare points and get out there! You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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