San Isidro to Golfito

So bright and early the next morning, still stiff and stumbling, I walked about a kilometer or two to pay back the people who sent us the horse. I had trouble finding it, so I asked someone and they said it was downhill, this way. I said ok, walked about a hundred yards and asked someone else. They said it was uphill, that way. This was confusing, but given the choice between uphill and downhill, I went downhill. The next two people said downhill, so I was encouraged by that. Then I got to the downhill and discovered that, while it was downhill on the road, it was UPHILL off the road. And I do mean, a steep uphill; probably 100 above the road. Not too much fun after the last two days Id had. But I did it, left the money at the desk (hopefully they got it!) and got back down to the road just in time to catch a bus back to my hotel. We got out of town about 7am and headed for San Isidro.

 Well, Crystal had been craving yogurt, and wed had some really good yogurt in Latin America before. Unfortunately, so far here everything wed seen had artificial this or that in it. So finally we found some ciruela (read: plum) yogurt. It had nothing in it but yogurt and ciruelas. So we poured ourselves a big glass and discovered something. Apparently, ciruela ALSO means prune. And prune yogurt doesnt taste as good as it sounds – which is saying something.

Fortunately, we also had a papaya to cover up the taste. Then we went to the beach town of Dominical to spend a quiet weekend recuperating. Of course, to get there we had to take the bus. The bus however was interesting. We got on the bus, and set down – and our legs were exhausted – and this old lady comes up and starts yammering on at us in spanish. I couldnt really follow it, but apparently she wanted our seats. So I showed her our tickets to show that we did in fact, have seats, and she pointed to another bus that had just pulled up, apparently going to the same place.

Well, we were hesitant to get off, so I got up and asked the driver. The driver said no, we were on the right bus. By now our seats were filled, and so were the ones on the other bus. So we were standing in the aisle, and I was looking at our tickets, and she had scrawled em pie, which apparently means standing, or literally on foot. So we had bought standing tickets. Which is better than walking, but I really didnt want to stand. Oh well, we finally got to sit down during the last 30 minutes of the 90 minute ride.

Found a hotel in dominical, with A/C, but then the A/C didnt work. Someone came and replaced the entire unit, and then the ceiling started leaking (and it wasnt raining!). Apparently the locos upstairs were taking a shower and getting water all over the floor, which was not water tight.

Crystal had a taco, which was weird to say the least, and not at all like a taco. We bought some fruit and called it a night. Next morning we walked around to the lagoon and got these pictures:

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Found an iguana who walked on water. Seriously. The dude was creepy he ran so fast. Had planned to catch the bus at 4:30 but when 4:00 am came around I decided that was just silly. So we took the 10:30 instead. You know, Costa Rican coins are really hard to use. Theyre all the same!  

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Same size, same color except (not shown) there are three different types of 5,10, and 20 colon coins (corresponding in value to penny, nickel, and dime). Pay phones will not accept 100 colon coins, only 10,20,50 and 500. And as you can see, the 500 colon (dollar value) coin, is not that much bigger than the penny. Its very confusing. Anyway, we stopped for awhile in the Uvita bus station to catch the bus to La Palma, and thats where the next story will pick up

Posted on January 28th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | 4 Comments »

Pictures From Chirripo

Here are some of the pictures I promised earlier; Im at a friends fast internet now, so I can upload them. These are from the trip up to Chirripo:

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Those are of the ascent; bearing in mind that I took over 200 pictures on the way up, its a small sample. There were literally thousands of flowers, especially at the higher elevations. The next pictures are from the summit, at about 3820 meters, which is around 12,000 feet.

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Those are some of my favorite pictures from Chirripo. Here is the last one I took that night, forgive the quality but the horse was moving, it was dark, I was stumbling and so was the horse so were lucky we have any picture at all!

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And a picture of the Volkswagon Thing by popular request :)

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Posted on January 28th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | No Comments »

Down Cerro Chirripo

So the same day I summited we decided to get down the mountain because it was quite cold in the hostel – no heat, no cooking equipment, etc. Not to mention we wanted to be able to breath again! We had rested up some, but we were still a bit stiff. So we started down the mountain at 10am. Everyone said the descent took them about 2/3rds of their ascent time, so we though no problem! – so we were descending, making pretty good time at 2k per hour, but the descent from km11 to km7 was very difficult, non-stop downhill. We started to wonder how we ever went up it in the first place!

 Crystals knee was starting to bother her with all this downhill, so we stopped at the half-way emergency shelter and had some dried beans for lunch. We were still on schedule to be out of the park by 4pm or so. Then it started to rain. That slowed us down. Then at about km6 Crystals knee was hurting so bad that she couldnt go on. So I had to carry her pack and that helped a bit, then she couldnt go even without the pack. So finally I found her a walking stick (it WAS the jungle after all, there were sticks!) and she tripped her way down the mountain, at a much slower pace. We kept this up for hours, since we didnt want to spend the night on the mountain. Somewhere in this,  some people wed talked to briefly on the way down the trail passed us on the way down and saw Crystal was hurt. Didnt really offer any help, just said that the stick would help and kept sailing on down the trail. At the time I thought some good samaritans they were! – so we kept hobbling down the hill. Crystal with a hurt knee and me with about 60 pounds of pack weight.

 We continued this until dark, at which time we were at km3. We kept going with flashlights, until finally at km 1.5 I saw someone coming from downhill. Someone with 4 legs who went whinny!. Apparently, the good samaritans that had passed us had gotten worried that no one had heard from us and had hired a horse with their own money (25$) to come and get us. So with the horse to carry Crystal and the guide to carry one of the packs, we finally made it down the mountain a little before 8pm.  I dont think either of us had ever been that tired before.

The horse was amazingly able to handle the trail. It was a rough trail – rocky, steep, unpredictable – and the horse did it in the dark, without looking at is feet. Quite impressive. The guide said they train for 3 years on the trails before they are used for people. The people who had sent the horse werent around, but some other people wed met from NJ were waiting and told us what happened. And they helped me carry the pack the last little bit to where the car came to pick us up from the hotel.

I was practically unable to move when I finally got in bed that night. Chirripo did have magnificent scenery, and some really beautiful flowers, birds, and vistas but I would not have done it had I known how hard it would be. Ill post some pictures of the trek when Im on a better computer, and give some more detailed information for anyone considering climbing it themselves.  

Posted on January 27th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | 2 Comments »

Cerro Chirripo

So after leaving Alonsos thing behind (a picture of which is coming, as soon as I can get to a computer fast enough to upload pictures), we took the bus to San Isidro De El General. We had to change buses there to head for Cerro Chirripo, the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, which we were determined to climb. Unfortunately, there are 4 bus stations in San Isidro each of which is on a different corner of town. And naturally, the locals directed us to the wrong ones first. So it took us about 2 hours of walking around town to different bus stations before we finally found the one that was headed to Chirripo (pronounced Cheery-POH).

 That bus took as long to travel 15 miles as the other had to travel 70, because the last half of the ride was on a gravel road. This bus went places I wouldnt have taken a car. And it was packed to capacity although capacity is a term that doesnt really mean anything on Latin buses; there is ALWAYS room for ONE more!

 So we found a place to stay at the base of the mountain that offered free transfers to the trailhead at 5am the next morning. We rented sleeping bags to take up the mountain (the hostel at the top doesnt supply them for some reason). Started that morning. The hike was brutal. Thats just the only word. It was 14 kilometers, supposedly, but I think it was more like 20. Their kilometers seemed flexible, if you know what I mean. And a total elevation gain of about 7500 feet. It was much harder than the guide book had let on, which wasnt helped by the fact that the last 5k was above 11,000 feet. We were dog tired when we made it to the top, after 12.5 hours of solid uphill hiking. I mean, REALLY tired. We seemed to be slower than everyone else, most seemed to average 7 hours but then these were people who climbed in the rockies, in British Columbia, etc. Everyone there was an experienced mountain hiker but us. So the average wasnt fair.

 Well, next morning Crystal was way too sore to finish the 5.1k hike from the hostel to the top of the actual mountain. I was supposed to get up at 3am so I could be on top of the mountain at dawn, but as it happened I overslept until 4:45 – which isn t bad considering when I usually get up at home!

 So I missed the sunrise from the summit, but as it was I was walking for about an hour in the dark before it started to lighten up. I was tired, and the last 100 meters to the summit was almost a vertical scramble at 12,000+ plus. I more or less crawled to the summit, but I made it. I got a video of myself juggling at the very top of the summit in the early morning light, which I will upload soon to youtube and post here. So then I had to go back down the mountain, which should have been easier right? Decide for yourself after the next post 🙂 

Posted on January 25th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | 1 Comment »

We Be Here

Spent a long 12 hour day in airports or in flight yesterday. During the first flight out of DFW, the airline overbooked the flight and there were two people with the same seat. They both showed up fairly early, so one of them moved to a spot across the aisle. Of course, the person who had that spot then showed up and so the new person found a new seat. By the time it was done, about 5 people had swapped seats – then the plane filled, and the last person showed up, and they were all in the wrong seat, and one person didnt have a seat. So they spent about 10 minutes in the middle of the aisle all trying to figure out who was sitting where. All I knew was, my ticket said 18C and that was where *I* was sitting!  They eventually did sort it out. But it was rather entertaining to watch.

Had a layover of almost 4 hours in Atlanta. Sat next to an Australian girl who was an engineer on her way to Costa Rica to volunteer for 6 months. Helping to design an orphanage. So we chatted for most of the second leg about Australia and travel in general. Finally we arrived in Costa Rica, started to land, then had to break off half-way down and circle around for a bit because the Continental plane in front of us designed to lollygag around too much.

Got landed, met our Hostel host Alonso, who introduced us to his volkswagon thing (youll have to see it to believe it) which rattled and chugged up to his hostel. We stopped on the way to the hostel to buy some fruit for dinner. The hostel was very nice, but the road noise was awfully loud. Finally got to sleep though. Met some German women this morning from Stuttgart and Bavaria and chatted for awhile. Now were off to catch the bus for Cerro Chirripo. Go us!

Posted on January 20th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | 2 Comments »

Im Going To Costa Rica!

At last. At LONG last. Im going to Costa Rica!

Ive been planning this trip since I was 19. Im 24 now. Ive read every scrap of information about it I could get my hands on, but you know that old saying when you have the money to travel, you dont have the time and when you have the time, you dont have the money? nuff said.

I finally got a really spectactular deal on tickets (325$ round trip from Dallas to San Jose – including all taxes and fees), at a time when I was not insanely covered up with work. So I snatched it up. Arrival time: 1 week from today. January 19th, 2009. Length of trip? Well, officially its three weeks. Thats what it says on my ticket, but those things can be changed, yknow :)

So far a rough itinerary is to land in Alajuela, then head for and climb Cerro Chirripo, tallest mountain in Costa Rica, from there visit my friend Cedric in Golfito, then cross the golfo dulce to Puerto Jiminez, from there walk across Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula to Drake Bay, then perhaps go diving on Isla del Caño, and from there follow the coast up to Puntarenas, perhaps taking some surfing lessons along the way, cross over to the Nicoya peninsula and visit Mal Pais and the caves near Nicoya, then cross into Nicaragua for a few days and visit Omatepe island, then come back to Alajuela airport via Arenal Volcano.

Ive been brushing up on my Spanish, reading Dorothy Richmonds book Spanish Vocabulary. Really good book, just what I needed. I read her book Spanish Verb Tenses about 5 years ago and it formed the foundation of a lot I know today. So I hope to come home fairly fluent. Well see.

Of course, an Earthquake just hit Costa Rica 3 days ago, 6.2 magnitude, about 10 miles from where Im staying the first night. So Im not really sure how that will affect things yet. Though from what I hear the shock and damage was pretty much confined to a small area near the epicenter.

Well, Im taking my waterproof camera, and all my belongings will be in a single small backpack. So Im going light, taking an insatiable lust for fresh fruit with me, wanting to learn about La Pura Vida, Costa Rican style! So dont touch that dial!

Posted on January 12th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Costa Rica | No Comments »

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