22nd September 2015

22 – 26 September: Costa Rica

On Monday we are once again in good time on our way to the borders of Nicaragua – Costa Rica and hope that it will work out without any major problems or border helpers trying to cheat us off. And this time it is really easy: while I dutifully keep an eye on our bikes, Pat takes the bureaucratic work. It took again about 2 hours but simply because one official had to handle all the truck drivers and us – and he seemed not really to be interested to speed things up. Anyway, we could cross the border safely and this time without big money racketeering and fortunately right after a heavy downpour. Since it was quickly cloudless again we decided to camp that night and drove to the National Park *Santa Rosa”. In our enthusiasm about the positive border crossing we forgot to buy some food and drinks for the evening. So I volunteered to drive back the 20km into town while Pat took care of the camping stuff. It took longer that I had thought and so it was already dark when I came back to the park. My luck that there was a car from a park ranger stopping in the middle of the road – otherwise I probably would have taken the big snake, crossing the street, for a branch and would have simply driven over it. However, after that “snake-discovery” I wondered what other nice animals would be around the campsite. And leaving the tent during the night was not really a pleasure – hearing all the different noises around and not knowing what it was!
The next day started with perfect weather (I do not mention anymore that good weather now always goes hand on hand with high humidity!) but soon changed to heavy rains while driving towards lake Arenal. Well what else could I expect in rainy season….for a change here the weather does exactly what it should do at this time of the year, so no complaints aloud. But unfortunately that means that we did not see anything about the lake or the famous volcano. Luckily the dirt road was still quite ok for driving and after a really interesting visit of the Eco-zoo of El Castillo we found a perfect place to stay. The statements made by the local guides about the various highly venomous snakes and frogs have made it an easy decision: no tent tonight! The owner and his wife gave us a huge apartment because there we could park our bikes in an open garage and safe behind their house. They even brought us their own coffee maker and incredibly fine, fresh ground coffee from local cultivation. The goodbye the next morning with lots of hugs and best wishes for our trips. Again, an absolutely great encounter which will for sure stay in all our memories.
Since Costa Rica copes its reputation as "Switzerland of Central America" ​​more than just adequately and you have to pay for practically everything sometimes ridiculous high prices, we took sort of a shortcut and crossed over to the Carribean side, to Cahuita and its famous national park. Cahuita and its magnificent beaches had been about 30 years ago a well-known spot for dropouts.

Among the many foreigners who had sort of founded this village on one hand many Jamaicans who had been hired for the building of the railway but then on the other hand surprisingly many Swiss who finally stayed here and today earn their living with the management of lodges or restaurants. So I could both in the lodge as well as subsequently at the bar chat in Swiss German - almost unfamiliar, after almost 3 months in English and little Spanish.
On Friday we took a walk through the national park: rainforest right hand, beach left hand – and even though spent only few hours in the park we saw countless animals. It really paid off to stand still from time to time for a few minutes to listen and to observe the surrounding shrubs and trees. We have certainly seen more than the noisy chattering, reckless groups we passed.

So staying in Costa Rica, although only a short visit, will stay in my memory with colourful plants, incredible animals and well – lots of rain ....