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Published: March 26th 2009
Boa constrictor having lunch I start this blog with a very big “Thank You” to all you nice and friendly locals out there that go out of your way to help lost and confused tourists like myself. It makes travelling so much more worthwhile whenever you get an experience like this.
A close up of a previous picture
I caught the early morning local bus to ‘La Frontera’ (Or the ‘border’). To do this I needed too first catch the bus to the intersection between San Juan del Sur and the town of Rivas, known as ‘La Virgen’. Then according to my guide, I would be able to pick up another bus that would take me to La Frontera.
Somewhat confused at the intersection, a Costa Rican man on his way home to me under his wing and showed me where to wait for a ‘colectivo taxi’ instead of the bus - Nothing more than a little patch of dirt in the middle of the intersection. We waited for a few minutes before the taxi arrived and we all piled in - no bargaining, no haggling - instead he told me to give the man 30 cordobas and that was it - We were off to La Frontera.
My new friend walked with me towards customs, shooing away the money changers, taxi drivers, roadside sellers of glasses and other things as we went on our way. He waited for me at immigration on the Nicaraguan side and walked with me through the maze of dirt roads and truck drivers to get to the Costa Rican side. It was all too easy, and I knew I would have had such a difficult time of it all without him. While waiting for our respective buses, we had lunch and he not only gave me a quick Spanish lesson but also gave me the best route that I should follow during my time in Costa Rica, to make things easier for me. Once my bus pulled up, he walked with me to ensure that I got the right bus before going his own way to catch his bus. To you - ‘Minor’, Thank you very much for everything!.
I enjoyed a very happy 1 hour journey into Liberia, where I planned to spend the night so that I could explore the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja nearby. I stayed at a very unassuming Hotel near the Central Park -
had a much needed shower and went of to explore my first day in Costa Rica. The owner of the hotel was a very “friendly (more on that later) man who insisted on speaking to me in English despite every effort on my part to convince him that I could in fact understand what he was saying in Spanish - on the proviso that he spoke slowly - but no! It was going to be English! Welcome to Costa Rica!.
I wandered around the city - filled with Billabong shops & other beachy stores and new instantly that this was going to be a very different country to that of Guatemala & Nicaragua. Later that night - still following on from the budget traveller mode, I had saved my left over Spag Bol from the previous night, nicely defrosted to have as my dinner in the ‘Hotel’. (Served cold of course!! - still rather good though!)
I had arranged transport through the hotel to take me to the Parque approx 1 hour away from the town of Liberia. It has an active Volcano (Rincón de la Vieja) which I had no intention of hiking - 7 hour round
trip there and back - Like there was ever going to be a chance of that happening. I had just less than eight hours to spend in the park. I wanted to complete the 8km trail through the reserve to look at the fumaroles, mud pools and the miniature volcano (2-2.5 hours) and in addition to walk to one of the other trails to get a glimpse at one of the two waterfalls (4 hours). With this in mind - off I went to start my hike. I started the first trail - a very nice walk through the reserve up & down streams, in and over boulders; and through and around some very large ficus trees. I walked most of the way on my own, criss-crossing my way through the hordes of French tourists (For whatever reason, they were all French that day) and in some instances would get a feeling of OMG! “What would happen if I got lost, or worse - If I fell!!” - But that was just panic and I would keep on moving.
I did get lost at one point - The first clue was when after crossing a riverbed of stones,
there was no dirt trail or at least some sign of trampled leaves to indicate other people. The second clue was the sign that said “Trail closed - Precaution, Danger Ahead!”. I did a quick about face and went back the way I came - and this is where I couldn’t figure myself out. I found a trail - thinking “ahh. This is the way” and followed the path - I had walked for 10 minutes or so then realised I had gone back the way I came - aaarrgghhh!!! It is at times like this that I wish I did some sort of girl-scout initiation or something similar. I get lost with a city map and well sign posted streets, how would this be any different!
I eventually sorted myself out and continued along the path - past the fumaroles, the miniature volcano, the mud pools, and mud-lake and through the changing landscape of the Parque but not before witnessing the most amazing sight - A boa constrictor catching its lunch! Mesmerised, I stood there watching it slowly constrict its prey (an animal twice its size) and slowly swallow it whole. I couldn’t have asked for a better
view (and also one that didn’t involve me being anywhere near the snake itself).
Sadly, with getting lost and watching the snake - I stayed on the trail approx 45mins longer than expected. That & lunch meant that I ran the risk of not completing the waterfall trail in time for my departure. I weighted up my options and decided against completing the trek, instead I made my way to the Rio Poza Blanco, a river on the way to the waterfall which I was told was a good place for a swim. It was an amazing place - No-one there except me and two other people, swimming in a crystal blue lagoon next to miniature waterfalls. Perfect!
Once back in town, I found a local street eatery for my dinner. My very ‘friendly’ hotel owner offered to give me a massage, a back rub etc on numerous occasions - Laughing him off I went on my way, but eventually got rather annoyed (a few other choice words could be used here!) when he knocked at my door at 9:30pm (just in case I had changed my mind)! Ah! The joys of travelling solo sometimes….but it always makes
for a good story afterwards!
I left the next morning on my way to Montezuma and my first chance to see some Costa Rican beaches. Stepping outside my hotel on the way to the bus stop was what seemed to be a procession of school children all dressed up in various national costumes (I was told the reason for the procession but didnt manage to write it down).
The dance of a little girl, no more than 4 yrs old caught my eye - twirling around in the sun, with all eyes on her as she danced. She graced us all with a curtsey and a bow when she finished. Que linda esta niña!
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