13 February 2013

Costa Rica, from coffee plantations to hitchhiking

This is the first post from Costa Rica and a visit to a coffee plantation and mill. 

The first part of our adventures in Costa Rica started off a little shaky and included arriving in a wet and stormy Caribbean village on  Christmas Eve, staying in a jungle surrounded bungalow which was damp, dark and more than a little dingy, oh and infested with giant bullet ants. 

We tried to make the most of it by heading out to dinner admiring humming birds, butterflies and parrots on route. Everything was shut so we settled for a home cooked pasta meal. Bed time arrived and I was so apprehensive getting in, the mosquito net was beyond damp and smelt revolting, and the dampness came right through the bed. It certainly wasn't the most comfortable night we've ever had made worse when we woke in the night looking over to the uv emergency light which had a moth the size of our heads flying repeatedly in to it, the dust from it's wings puffing up in clouds. Eventually the light blew and and we had no idea of what happened to the dinosaur sized moth. Just before sunrise (I had already decided we were checking out first thing) a bellowing noise came from the jungle, a deep howl that lasted about 20 seconds and got higher ad higher. It sounded like a monster from a film was right outside the window, another five to ten howls then joined in and continued for the next hour. It was like nothing we'd ever heard before. We found out it was a group of howler monkeys in the morning. Merry Christmas!

Anyway monkeys aside this place wasn't for us and despite the beautiful beach and jungle we would have loved to explore, the forecast for the entire week was dreadful and we decided to head inland and chase the sun.

This wasn't without a slight problem of catching the one bus of the day heading to the capital San Jose. There were no bus stops only a rough idea that it would be passing around 7am so we set off with our backpacks strapped on along the road. We had to head for some cover at one point as the heavens opened and we needed waterproof covers on our bags. As luck would have it this was the second the bus thundered passed us. I ran out to the road to try and wave to it but no luck. We were extremely dejected and not the Christmas morning we had planned in any way. 

I heard another car coming along the road so decided hitch hiking might be worth a shot so stood in the middle of the road waving my arms frantically, probably looking a little manic. The driver stopped and I literally begged the guy to chase the bus down, he agreed although not looking too happy and said he'd have to make stops on route. It turned out he was a baker and when we climbed in the back of his van he had warm bread piled up. Bless the baker he put his foot down and after squealing into a few guesthouses he managed to catch the bus up, beeping flashing his lights and pulling alongside it. The bus didn't stop until it reached the next town and after profusely thanking our Christmas angel the baker we jumped on it and arrived in San Jose checking in to the luxury of the Radisson and a fluffy comfortable and dry king size bed!

We decided to base ourselves in the capital for a few nights as it was so central and easy to get to some of the sights we wanted to see.

First was a coffee plantation, the main export and lifeline of this country. It was nice to breathe in cool air up in the mountains, see the process of making the coffee and of course tasting it.

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After an early morning start at the plantation we headed even higher to visit the Poas Volcano and after a long wet hike we reached the top only to be greeted with a huge wall of white cloud - we could see nothing! So then we attempted a trickier hike to the sulphar lake which (on a good day) glows the most amazing turquoise colour. Of course yet again we were inside the cloud! Still it was a good active morning and as you can see from the photo below the trail was like a set from Harry Potter's forbidden forest!


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Sorry for the lengthy post, I hope some of you enjoy reading about the minor dramas of backpacking, it keeps you on your toes and life interesting!!

Next post will be some stunning scenery and wildlife, stay tuned!

2 comments:

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