Monday, June 4, 2012

Reverse surf-n-turf trip

Saturday, June 2

Woke up to my alarms. They sure sounded early!? 5 am?! What? Hit snooze and went back to sleep.

Woke up at 6:15 am. Oh, yeah, the early alarm was to rouse me to see off my compatriots on the early van to the airport in San Jose.
One lucky guy had the delight of knowing the returning van would bring his wife.
Bastard. Hate him on general principle.
I miss Rhea so much it hurts. Back to sleep. Pillow over head so I don't hear the birds mocking me.

Eventually I make myself get up and make coffee. Dark roast, bitter. Suites the mood.

I pack for a flight home: heavy stuff, but not over 22 kg, plus all liquids in one piece. Delicate electronics in a knapsack to carry on the flight home to Rhea. Check.

Damn. Not going home. Did I mention I miss Rhea? No? Well, I miss her.

Knock on door. I'm annoyed. Plan to ignore, but then wonder if I got my times mixed up and my collectivo is already here and so open the door. Wrong again. It is Ron, asking if I want to have breakfast with the guys. "Uh, yeah" I answer, as eloquently as ever.

A porter magically appears (thanks, Ron!) who hauls my 22 kg bag up to the lobby. Struggles. I carry my equally heavy knapsack and pretend it is just my down parka. Fool no one. Drop them by the front desk and pay the US$50 for cleaning the bit of dirty laundry I arrived with (?!?). Enjoy my yoghurt and final comradeship with my seminar compatriots. Say I hope to see them again, and actually mean it. Drop 10,000 colones in the tip jar at the front desk and head out to meet the collectivo.

In this photo, you can see my luggage piled out front. You can also see this amazing plant they have a few specimens of. If you are reading this, and know what this awesome plant is, please comment to let me know--both what this plant is (I want one!) and that anybody is reading this hum-drum blog. DSCN0581

The van arrived. It was a Toyota diesel van with a manual transmission. Basically, a minivan this geek dad would love. We drove out of town down that unpaved road people complain about but which I think is marvellous. I compare it to the Georgeville Road in the Cayo district of Belize and then smile. Imagine that road but vastly smoother--like you always imagined it could be, if Belize had a government as rich as Costa Rica.

I shared the van with a woman from Europe and her son. She asked for a stop to take a photo. I took a photo of her doing that: DSCN0582

I then took a photo with her camera of her and her son, and asked as a favour her to shoot me: DSCN0583

The scenery is lovely. Steep hills formed into cattle pastures. Bucolic in the sunshine. I try not to imagine them in a tropical rain storm.

We stop down in the low lands. We get out to use los banos: DSCN0595

I am entranced by Scarlet Macaws: DSCN0587

And then notice a blue and gold macaw. What?!?
All is not as it seems. At a call, the fly to a cage out back: DSCN0592
This scene helps me appreciate the role of Scarlet Macaws in the ecotourism industry. And ties together my observations of Scarlet Macaw fledgling poaching in the Chalillo reservoir a couple of weeks ago with the lucrative "ecotourism" industry. Tourists are understandably thrilled by the sight of "wild" macaws: DSCN0590
and thus buy souvenirs featuring these rare birds at those sites.
Please, do not buy souvenirs, drinks, food, whatever from establishments that use endangered wildlife to lure in customers. Think about it.

We got back in the van DSCN0594
and continued on towards Liberia. Some may think the flat lands of Guanacaste boring. Not me, a real Okie. I thought it looked lovely: flat, green land dominated by cattle pasture. Looked like home! As a bonus, there were horses everywhere. And all horses were white or bay. A few foals black; some gray yearlings. All had excellent conformation. You see where I am going with this: 100% Pura Raza Esapanol. Oh, yeah: PRE Andalusian horses as far as the eye could see. Probably not registered with ANCCE, but no matter: these were the real deal. By the thousand. Like thoroughbreds in Kentucky. Loved it. Hope to ride a few by the end of the week.

Dropped of the other passengers at Canon de Vieja. They planned to go rafting there and then onto Playas del Coco, where I was headed for. I moved to the front seat and chatted with the driver in his excellent English on our way to the beach. He lives in Monteverde with his wife and two daughters. He got a loan to buy this van and drives tourists in it as his livelihood. He had not been to El Coco before and so had to ask directions in town (of a taxi driver). We got to the hotel I had made arrangements with.

Checked in. (Thanks, Trip Advisor!). Owner nice; room larger than I expected. Ditto the pool and gardens. I settled in, ate dinner in town, then took snapshots of the beach at sunset: DSCN0627

Oh, yeah. I can stay here for a week or a decade.

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