Getting a first look at Costa Rica and the processes of backpack travel.
October 28, 2015
My senses, my allure to the fascination of going further, turning a corner and pressing ahead would be the gravity that keeps me connected to the path.
Flying in to Liberia Airport, Costa Rica, a sudden awareness of the endless lush, green canopies brought in the realization that I'd certainly flown to some place remote.
The varied and changing landscapes, with specks of civilizations marked the first feelings of this was going to be new, this was going to be exciting and this would be a new benchmark for how well I fared while deep into the unknown.
A new language to learn. A new way of living to experience with only the essentials being carried on back. A new method of travel with having to chart every mile through four countries by way of land. New cultures to witness, become apart of and integrate into my own life and sense of understanding.
The weight that this would be a very long, long journey and I was only hours into it filled me with enthusiasm, eagerness and nerves. However, because I prepared so heavily for this adventure, I was at peace with it all.
I leaned against the wall of the tiny, open-aired airport hanger and breathed in the new air. I spoke with a pair of Dutch travelers and started to get a feel for how traveling would be like. Changes in scenery, reflecting on the past cities and meanwhile encountering other likened people that too were on a similar, but unique to their own senses kind of journey. They and the inhabitants of the areas would be my guides. My senses, my allure to the fascination of going further, turning a corner and pressing ahead would be the gravity that keeps me connected to the path.
October 29, 2015 - Playa del Coco
The traffic passes, but quickly fades back to Nature. Breezes, birds, distant chatter, butterflies, squirrels. Rain storms moving through the different micro-climates.
I walked from Hermosa Beach to midway between Coco y Ocotal. I turned back and followed the beach to the most perfect seaside hotel/hostel. It had open air windows with loosely drawn curtains flowing in the breeze, rustic wood furniture, day beds and hammocks inviting guests to lounge on the verandas.
The beach runs parallel to the development. Packs of dogs move around patrolling and governing the actions of all species present.
October 30, 2015 - Coco to Ocotal
After a hot, restless night of sleep, I was all but encouraged to stay in the bed and count the rooster crows. Breakfast came from the downstairs window-lined kitchen. It was a bit of fruit and a biscuit. Nothing substantial. So, I ordered an egg with it and took my meal up to the balcony to watch the beachside action.
The six plus kilometer walk yesterday hurt my legs and I will take a break today. Its a very cool beach town, but I hope for something cheaper to trade in this amazing location to get further on colónes.
(Colón is the currency in Costa Rica. When I was there it was about 530:1 Dollar)
I got stir-crazy mid day and ended up walking in the rain to Ocotal. I'd heard there was another dive shop there, and at the bottom of a dead-end street I found Rocket Frog. It was a small beach lengthwise and tucked into the mountainside. I have been averaging 5-6km walked each day. I went to La Coq for felafel wraps which was one of the best meals I'd had since here.
The night before I'd gone to Teresita's for a casado meal, which means married, but the Ticos use the term to define "caught" fish. Guess that's about as much of a definition for marriage as any other. I of course got mine without the fish, but they made a fantastic platter of rice, beans, eggs, avocado, salad and patacones.
(Tico refers to local, Costa Ricans. Patacones are fried, unripened plantains)
The U17 championship was playing on the television and Costa Rica was playing France. It went to penalty kicks, so I stayed to the end. Costa Rica scored 5 of 5 and a Frenchman hammered one way high for only 4 total. From up and down the street you could hear an uproar as it happened, signaling the whole town was watching.
October 31, 2015 - M&M Night 3
I opted to stay one final night at the over-the-budget hotel M&M since I was planning to go diving this morning and would only have thirty minutes after to check-out and get on the road. I went with Rich Coast Divers whom I had spoken to the day prior while checking out dive shops in the area. Rich Coast offered to comp my gear rental as I was a PADI professional, so they were the clear winner. They said they know all too well the life of a divemaster.
A skiff backed in with the engines pointed towards the shore, leaving its bow to absorb the wave breaks. This was to be our ride out to one of their two dive boats. The freshly certified family of three went to the tri-maran and I plus another couple went to the "Stray Dog." It was a single screw, enclosed cabin sportfish boat. Very nice.
On board already were the dive guide(s), a divemaster in training, an instructor and two divemastes doing coursework. There were a lot of skilled hands on board and it was fun being with the bunch, since they felt they had a more crew presence than passengers. The crew knew their stuff and the briefings were good.
For my diver readers, here is the dive log:
Dive 1 - 70ft max. Dive 2 - 65' max. 50-60ft of visibility. 85º water temperature.
The first dive was at "Tortugas" which was two big volcanic boulders. We swam into two, small wrecks which I was not expecting. I saw a total of three white tip reef sharks. A lot of schools of puffer fish. Eels. And on the second dive I did a shallower dive around a similar rock outcropping. No sharks, but countless eels of countless varieties and sizes. The neat find of the day were a pair of clown or Harlequin Shrimp. One was dragging a pretty blue starfish back to its hole.
My sinuses were hurting and all of us were good on our air, so opted out of the last ten minutes and came back up the ascent line. At no point did I pick up a tank or touch my gear apart from when I was diving in it. Its nice to lose that strain, but leaves me a bit of unease not handling my own equipment.
Afterwards, I finally made it to La Flor Delys for lunch and it was amazing. Unbelievably good! They were French owners. I played a dart contest to win prizes and landed my self a smoothie, just inches outside the bullseye which had the prize of the house paying for your meal. The proceeds went towards a charity for housing stray dogs. I had a brie and mushroom benedict with the best poached egg. The yolk was an orange I'd never seen. I also had a tomato gespacho with so, many, yummy ingredients. Mango, avocado, etc.
Saturday at the beach people were abound. Dogs, horses, kids, soccer. Whole Tico families filing out of a car. It was packed and the drunk parking attendant was in full effect, as he was now feeling a sense of purpose.
After here, the plan is to continue to travel South for Potrero for camping. It's too noisy, drunk and touristy here. I met some really fun people. The locals and the travelers have all been fantastic. Jesper, the Venezuelan explaining to me the hardships of his countries current economic and social state and why he came here, but how hard it was to watch from a distance as his country collapses. Rich Coast divers and their work hard, train hard, dive good modality. M&M and all their easy going accommodations making all the on the whim arrangements happen. Flor Delys and their fabulous culinary creations. La Coq for being best falafels around.