We’re here at last. Costa Rica’s been on my bucket list. I hope it proves to be as special as the places visited recently.
The roads were bumpy and not up to South American standards. The vegetation was jungle like so we expected to see more birds and wildlife than we’d been seeing. A unique feature of the land are the “Living Fences” found on the roadside. The soil is so fertile and the growing conditions so good that fence poles sprout life!
We stopped at a coffee shop at a small centre in lush surroundings and asked for the usual maps and information about campsites. A lady who not only spoke English, but was from USA, was so helpful and excited to meet us so far from home. She showered us with information and guided us to a nearby palm covered beach,
Playa Hermosa, which we might never have found without her directions.
It was paradise.
A small palm filled bay with good waves for surfers and two blow holes!
We wild camped next to a Mexican and his girlfriend from Barcelona
They were staying in an old Kombi.
She made macrame jewellery. We struck up a friendship even though we could have been their grandparents! Wild camping is an amazing equaliser!
Some picnickers had left a smoldering stump on the on the beach.
We used it to braai our meat and bake sweet potato which we enjoyed with fresh salad.
It was incredibly hot and humid so we had a cold shower using the public beach shower to try cool off
but still had an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
The next morning I (Ian) awoke with a raging fever and headache. Joints were aching and I was feeling very liverish. The last time I’d felt like this was many years before when I had malaria.
Our Mexican neighbour was convinced it was Dengue fever which is common in Central America and displays similar symptoms to malaria.
He brought freshly gathered coconuts and cut off their ends and instructed me to have the coconut water from one coconut, three times a day for three days. The water or milk contains electrolytes which will help the body fight the fever when accompanied by lots of tropical fruit and fluids. I also took paracetamol and slept the whole day.
The neighbours left during the day and it looked as though we might be the only campers left. We were anxious about staying alone with me running such a high fever and as difficult as it was for me to drive, we left the beach and drove to a nearby filling station where we spent the night.
The following day we moved a few kilometers further up the coast to Dominicalito Beach. A small town with shops, banks, doctors and all the facilities we might need if my fever worsened.
There we found a hostel, Tortilla Flats, and booked in thinking that it would be cooler and more comfortable. It didn’t have aircon but the management supplied two fans to cool the room.
I was delirious, tearful and feeling sorry for myself. I slept the whole day and night.
But the room wasn’t comfortable. As there was a light breeze from the sea we moved Michelle onto the beach in the shade of palms. Much cooler and more comfortable, I slept all day again.
While Solveig explored the stalls…..
She bought a macrame bangle with a stone mounted in it from a stall holder.
Solveig met a lady named Katya, had coffee with her and chatted for over an hour. Katya was writing a book on how to cope with a family member who had Altzheimers.
The next day my fever wasn’t as severe but the hot and humid weather persisted.
Later that day we decided to move to the Altantic coast on the drier side of the country. The road was very good as we passed through beautiful dense forest.
But once reaching higher ground we encountered a heavy downpour of tropical rain, mountain passes and lots of slow trucks! I drove carefully and slowly, feeling rotten again as evening approached.
It was still raining and had started getting dark when we pulled over next to a country restaurant. We wild camped for the night accompanied by loud music and laughter until 4:00 am but still managed some sleep.
Once over the mountain range and heading for the coast the weather improved. We soon reached Limon, an unattractive port city on the Atlantic coast. Fortunately we were going further down the coast to Puerto Vieja de Talamanca near to the Panama border. One of the finest surfing beaches in Costa Rica. We had found paradise once again!
My fever was almost over, but I still felt nauseous and my body ached.
Puerto Vieja was a lovely small town stretching along the coast for miles with lots of craft and gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Not a highrise in sight. The town was filled with youngsters and surfers. We had coffee and something to eat, and met many friendly people. Including an ex South African from J-Bay, Lupie, who had actually won the lotto and moved here a few years before never needing to work again! We also met a Zimbo now living in Australia.
We wild camped further along the coast at Playa Chiquita where there was a surf school operating from the beach.
I also found a cell phone repair shop. My phone hadn’t worked since getting wine all over it in Argentina. They never had the parts but sold me an external battery charger. The battery had to be removed to be charged. It was very slow but it worked!!
While waiting for my cell I sat in a coffee shop while Solveig explored the town. I got talking to a girl from Austria, Borjana, that was a Bosnian refugee. She told of how the country had gone to war, the fighting taking place between the various ethnic and religious groupings in her country. Her family consisted of 4 different religious backgrounds which were now all enemies!
We were told that it was very unsafe to camp where we had the night before, so we moved to Camp Maria on the Black Beach.
So called because of the black volcanic sand.
We had a kitchen, shower and toilet but no electricity because of a storm that night. We left early the next morning and returned to Puerto Viejo for another day of chilling. We parked safely on the beach in front of a police station that night!
We left the Atlantic coast for the mountains again in seach of Quaker desendants who were also cheese makers. The village of Monteverde which is in a mountain cloud forest was up a steep gravel road of about 40kms in poor condition. The village was filled with young thrillseekers who were there to pursue attractions like rock climbing, zip lining, canopee tours, hiking etc. There were the usual gift shops, restaurants and a butterfly gallery too. Everything was grossly overpriced and we never found the cheesemakers!
We decended the gravel road and thought we might find camping at Puntarenas, a long sandpit peninsula from where a ferry departs for the Nicoya peninsula.
We chose to drive to Nicoya instead of taking the ferry as it wasn’t too far. On the way we travelled though beautiful countryside and spotted these pendulous nests with one of the inhabitants..
We eventually arrived at Playa Coco, a stunning small coastal town. We met a bunch of tourists from US at a beachside pub.
They suggested a place whete we could wildcamp further down the beach. But on investigation we were not happy with the location or the bums that were hanging around so we returned to the village which had a very vibrant street vibe and parked in front of the police station…..
We read later in the iOverland blog that that a couple had been held at gunpoint and robbed a few weeks before where we had been advised to camp.
We had been wild camping for so long now that I know we had developed a sixth sence that gave us that uneasy feeling….. We were being looked after once again!!!
Cetainly not a coincidence…… Thank you providence.