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COSTA RICA    DIARY  2

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 Oversæt        Diary 1 2 3

 From Diary 1, we continue the adventure.
2.4. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is closed. There are no buses, so we are happy with our rented 4WDs. We finally find a Shell gas station out on the A1 that is open, so we can have some eating. A biker comes in on his worn down and noisy Harley, he seems almost like a piece of cultural history.

Fully tanked, we continue south to Park Nasional Tampani. Just inside the entrance there is real teaming. The locals go out to bathe in the river (and they don't have to pay $ 6 in entrance fee). The first animal we meet, is an orange-legged tarantula, and right inside the forest is a massive chorus of coloured seeds. Unfortunately we walk on a very steep hillside, so it is impossible to penetrate the dense primeval forest to the sides. Along the path, we find beetles and beautiful flowers, and sometimes toucans and parrots cross the narrow strip of sky above us. As it gets cooler and looks like rain, we turn around.

Down in the village the Easter parades are at their peak, but you still can't buy anything to eat (and I, who thought that fasting was the fasting period!). The next, slightly larger cities we reach, is a pure nightmares; one-way streets as always, but now also with completely closed off squares and streets.

A few facts that I can't fit in: Line thinks itching is an illusion, one in five cars has license plate, we use seat belts not to bump our heads into the ceiling (ground clearance 20 cm), all dogs we meet are incredibly friendly, flea-infested and adorable and, like in all other coffee-producing countries, it is rather difficult to get a good cup of coffee.

We return to San Jose and drop off the car at 700 Km on the clock. Before it gets dark, we make a walk in the local "Common Park". Horse rental, dogs, snacks, lakes with fishermen, young and old, ice and lawns. Tilt about at our tribal San Jose hotel a quarter to nine!

3.4. Up at 4.30 to get breakfast and secure us a ticket to the Limon bus. It runs through coffee and banana plantations and cattle land, until we reach the Caribbean Sea. After 5 hours drive, we are in Limon, which is the main port city. We make some provision, take a taxi to the port and climb aboard a small but very powerful motor boat. For five hours we sail up channels along the sea. This is really a mini Amazon: In some places mangroves, then a glimpse of the sea and into a primeval tunnel. Stops in between to see a myriad of different herons (small green back, big / small blue, gray, white), caiman, swamp turtles, mini bats, cormorants, spider and roar monkeys, green iguanas, beach birds, pelicans, water hyacinths in square miles , geckos, fish eagles, basil and grasshoppers. We have a coffee break at a small café - in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

We get to a small village community, which lies on the shore between river and sea. "Main street" consists of a mixed country shop and two souvenir shops. There are just not many tourists. We only see those we are with: Two Americans who can't cope, and go home the next day, as well as three Dutch bi-scientists, who also know little about other nature. We find a restaurant (it looks more like a private terrace), and get late dinner.

Then we sail up the river to our bungalow hotel with the Americans. Very primitive, but extremely cosy. Detached pile cabins, shared bathroom / toilet and a cosy dining room.
After snooping around in the "garden", which is really just a relatively open part of the surrounding jungle, we get dinner. Power failure; a candle on the table doesn't quite make it, so a guy sits up on a chair back with a flashlight. After emptying the bed of cockroaches, we sleep in. Americans are not sleeping well.

4.4. The clock beeps at 5.30, and after tasty breakfast, we sail through the primeval forest to Park Ranadish. We are getting a little delayed as our captain has obviously resigned during the night. Here is a Canadian research station, which also has a small exhibit of the area's animal and plant life. In the middle of the camp stands a 1½ meter high tree stump with ferns and epiphytes. A closer look reveals a colony of bright red strawberry frogs. One is in the process of transporting its podtale to another bromeliad.

We sail further down the river to see caimans, swamp turtles, spiders, herons, cormorants and some very nice but unknown birds. Back to camp, we head out into the surrounding primeval forest. There is a single path leading to the next settlement, a few miles up the river. Some small trails cross and we get far into the dense vegetation.

Already inside the camp we see strawberry frogs, and the further away we get, the greater the variation in wildlife: orange-striped coloured frogs, skinks, large multicoloured toucan, basil, fish, grasshoppers of all colours and sizes, two kinds of toads and a lot of small birds.

Well tired we sit down in the tower on the boat bridge and watch life along the river. Meanwhile, a canoe comes by. Carved into one large stem, possibly slightly raised in the rail, and then with an 80 HP outboard motor. A flock of monkeys tumble around on the other side of the river, herons standing at the water's edge, the fish bouncing. We have heard a little about going canoeing, but since our guide has now also disappeared, we are not quite sure what the day will bring.

We are picked up by a guy who sails us into the "town". After fumbling around a bit, we get a new, temporary guide, which loads us in two canoes with the three Dutch biologists, and then we paddle out into the mini Amazon. The first exciting animal we see is a sloth. Then huge quantities of various toucans, herons, tropical birds, a giant pheasant, and other very rare birds emerge. Caymans and swamp turtles lie on the tree trunks along the riverbank and in a tree sits a thick-billed heron.

It starts to darken and we paddle back into town. Here we are told there will be no dinner in the camp. We find a food place and consume some of the local tasty dishes, while listening to the cicadas song. We meet with our captain at the appointed time, but now our boat is gone. First the captain, then the guide and now the boat! Eventually we get chartered another, and in silence rain, we sail home. Is too tired to throw the cockroaches out of bed.

4.5. Early up, and then five hours of sailing back to civilization. The only new thing we see, is a pair of gray-haired Americans. Taxi to Limon. While we wait for the bus, there will be time for lunch and a walk in the bank. We drive south to Sixaola, the border town of Panama. On the way, we see three sloths in trees right next to the road.

We arrive late at night so the border is closed. After a while, we find a reasonable hotel. In a nearby restaurant I get deep fried shrimp, the others enjoy a beer.

4.6. Up at 6am to have breakfast, and ready at the border, which opens at 7am. Stops up a bit on the long and beautifully guarded bridge that crosses the river. We have to go back and down in a basement to get the papers arranged. We fill out the forms and are told we must have a stamp at the pharmacy!
Have a real hell finding it. Wade back and forth and finally find it, in the back of a newly opened furniture store. Back and across the border. The Panamanian side also has forms, but at least should not have stamps.
A taxi driver is chatting with the passport controller, and we hire him for the ride to Cupereioxola.

 We travel around in Panama, but that is completly other storry.

This story continues in Diary 3.

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