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Published: October 19th 2013
We were carrying our various backpacks, my charango that I bought in Bolivia last year and a map of the wine regions of the world which we had recently purchased at a winery in Mendoza, Argentina. We also had a couple of bottles of water in a vain attempt to replenish what was being lost in sweat in these tropical climes. The air was in competition with my forehead to see which could create the densest water. I was winning due to the salt content.
Our eyes were firmly affixed to the pieces of rotted timber we were walking upon, some having completely vanished in sections, simply leaving a lonely bolt rusting in the support structure. Standing upon these was like stepping on the back of a skateboard, with the front lifting off the ground, not to be lowered until there is a weight transfer shifting forward to your front leg. Below this crumbling bridge was the river that separates Panama from Costa Rica on the Caribbean side of the isthmus. This is how one crosses the border in this part of the world.
At the border post of Sixaola on the Costa Rican side, there were two guys
playing games on their smart phones and one slowly attending to the queue of people sweating off their excess bodyweight under the heat intensifying tin roof. Their air conditioned room rendered them seemingly oblivious to our plight. When it was my turn to stand at the window, I had to field a few questions about my purposes in Costa Rica, triggered by the amount of Latin American stamps in my passport. After flipping through the first half of my passport and not finding any free spaces, he then returned to my photo page and ran some kind of search on me. I guess he discovered that I wasn’t on any lists of suspected drug-runners and so he eventually stamped my passport, writing in pen that I had 20 days in his country.
We took a local bus to Puerto Viejo, where we managed to dissuade the taxi drivers who wanted to charge us $10 to drive six kilometres, eventually figuring out how to get a bus to our destination of Punta Uva. The upshot was a two hour wait for the next local bus that would take us deeper into the southern jungle which borders the sea. We decided
to make some cheese sandwiches by the water’s edge whilst we waited, feeling pretty lucky about our current way of life. Upon leaving Puerto Viejo, I observed everything that was passing by the window. I concluded that this town is where hippies go to die and young travellers go to get messed up for a few days.
There is one road that heads south from Puerto Viejo, ending in Manzanillo. Between these two places are a couple of beach settlements, such as ‘Playa Chiquita’ and ‘Punta Uva’, the latter being where our hostel was located. Walaba Hostel is built like a tree house in the jungle, multi-tiered and with an abundance of hammocks to swing to sleep in during the heat of the afternoon. After a swim in the sea, you can pause under the outdoor shower, located within and under some jungle trees. This hostel was a wonderful place to unwind in. I did some writing and Caroline did another wonderful painting, this time of rainbow coloured polar bears (it’s one of my favourites of her recent paintings - see more of here artwork HERE
). We interspersed these pursuits by going for a
swim at dusk in the Caribbean Sea or going for a run along the beach. These runs were accompanied by the guttural growls of the howler monkeys that weren’t so happy we were within their territory. The jungle is so dense and thick that its trees arc over the beach and hover over the water’s edge. Therefore, we were running under the very branches that the howler monkeys claim as their home. There is no way of ignoring the thriving animal life that exists in the wild environs of Costa Rica.
Unfortunately for us, Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America, so our stay will be brief and we’ll soon be in Nicaragua where the price of beer is more in line with our budget. Before that though, we’re going to head to the Pacific coast and spend some time in tiny Montezuma, because I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to visit this remote place that possesses such a cool name!
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