Friday, January 18, 2008

Costa Rica 11

So on the bus trundled. The sign post right after we left the bus stop said that it was only 38 miles to PVT. I was glad to see that. Some quick calculations told me we should be there in an hour. I was so wrong.

I had not figured on the road quickly deteriorating right under our wheels. What was once a fairly reasonable black top road rapidly became a road of potholes with black top in between! We dodged and swerved from one side of the road to the other, mostly missing but sometimes falling into one. This was our first long bus ride of the trip and my first experience of feeling like my internal organs had come undone and were just jostling around inside of me. And the music continued unabated.

But the scenery was nice. We were now starting to get glimpses of the Caribbean out of the driver side bus windows. But it was not the Caribbean I am used to seeing out my front door. This part of it was muddy and not clear like I am used to at all. In retrospect, I think it was mostly due to the tremendous amount of water being deposited into it from the tributary rivers. These were all brown and muddy and were carrying large amounts of water to the sea.

The countryside was much flatter now, having arrived on the coast. Here and there were little wooden houses, looking for all the world like somebody had planted them there. At most of them somebody was busy around the yard with a machete, mowing the grass by hand! Or at least trying to keep the ever encroaching jungle at bay. This was turning into a land of palm trees, banana trees and large groupings of pampas grass. I was starting to feel just a little overwhelmed by all the green at this point. Every hue and tone imaginable was on display alongside the road.

We made a quick stop in Cahuita before arriving at PVT. This was a dusty little town and I could not imagine why so many backpackers were getting off here. It looked as if there was nothing to do and no reason to stop. I mentioned this to L and he just gave me a funny kind of look. I had temporarily, until he reminded me, forgotten that we, too, would be visiting this town in just two days. The thought did not fill with me glee until he mentioned that this is where the jungle meets the shore and we would be doing our first jungle hike here. Now we’re talking!

We finally reached our destination of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and disembarked. As usual, L made sure he was one of the first ones off the bus in order to grab our luggage before some unknown pair of hands could make off with it. I don’t know if this is business as usual for him, or if it is just in Costa Rica that one must be so wary of theft. Either way, by the time B and I finally made our way off the buses, L would be standing there with our packs stacked all around him. You just can’t buy that kind of service!

PVT had one main, paved road running through it. Of course, this was “Main” street and only two short blocks from the ocean. The town then proceeded away from this street and spread itself out in the space available before reaching the ever present hills in the not too distant horizon. All other streets in this town were unpaved and full of rocks. Walking was difficult and I could not imagine how jolting a ride would be over all these rocks. (although days later I would experience this thing first hand!) And it was hot.

The temperature in San Jose was actually refreshing, having come from Mexico in July where the daily temperatures are in the 90’s with humidity to match. It was probably in the low 70’s there with temps falling to great sleeping temps at night. Not the case here in PVT. It was hotter than Hades and the humidity was equal to any I had ever experienced. With our packs loaded onto us like the human donkeys we had become, we set out to find our hotel. Since there were only two streets running parallel to main street, this should not have been a problem. Except that no street had a name and we could not find a sign for our hotel. We wandered just a bit and then L asked a local person for directions. One thing about L, he does not have this man thing like most of us do about asking for directions. If he wants to go someplace and doesn’t know the way, he asks. I, on the other hand, will do just about anything possible rather than asking for directions. Including driving for hours around an unknown city. Another story but I think I may have mentioned it before, like getting lost in Villahermosa that time.

We found our hotel and it was a pleasant little place. It was owned and run by a fairly young, efficient German woman and her husband. We never did ascertain his nationality for sure, but we think he was Costa Rican. We were shown to our room, just off the central patio area and right next to the kitchen. We didn’t think anything of this at the time and were just glad to again get a room with three beds! Since this was our second room in CR and also the second one in a row with three beds, I was beginning to think that maybe that was not as uncommon here as it is in Mexico. We dumped our stuff onto the beds, used the bathroom and headed out to explore and get something to eat.

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