Sunday 8th October – San Jose to Tortuguero National Park

I slept well, perhaps not surprising given the 22+ hour day yesterday although I was awake very early and in the end gave into the inevitable at 5am.  Costa Rica has pretty equal length days and the sun was rising by 5.30am.

We were packed and ready for breakfast at 7am.  Breakfast consisted of a continental style buffet, with scrambled eggs with cheese, rice and beans, juice and fresh fruit and bread.

We congregated at 7.30am for the short ride to the bus station where we were to catch the 9am bus to Caribiri.  It was already warming up and thankfully the coach had air conditioning.  Not so welcome were the 80’s ballards that were blaring out of the speakers.

The journey followed the main road upwards for about 30 minutes into the mountains surrounding San Jose.  Towards the top, the road went through a long tunnel and on the other side we were into the mist of a high valley. For the next 40 minutes or so the road descended into the valley.  The sides of the road were tree covered on one side and with steep drops into the valley on the other.

After about an hour the coach stopped for a brief rest before travelling he remaining 30 minutes to a town called Caribiri. This was the coaches final destination and so we got off the bus and were hit by the heat! We transferred directly to a more local service and onto a bus without air conditioning.  We waited for some time for the bus to depart as the temperature steadily climbed!  Eventually we departed, only to stop 2 minutes down the road to collect more passengers, a mix of tourists and locals.  Once underway the bus made regular stops to drop off and pick up passengers as the temperature indicated at the front of the bus hit 37°C.  The whole journey took almost 2 hours, with the last 30 minutes on an unmade road surface. The land on either side of the road was given over to agriculture – a mix of banana plantations and cattle with the odd tapioca crop thrown in.

 

We arrived at our next staging post where we were to transfer to a river boat for the final 60 minute journey into Tortuguero. The boat was a narrow flat bottomed one and it quickly became clear why – the river here is very windy and shallow and only smaller boats can navigate the channel. Once we had boarded we proceeded down the river and for the first part of the journey the driver was keen to slow down and point out some animals and birds on the side.  The last 20 minutes of the journey was on a much wider channel which took us down to the small town of Tortuguero.

We were dropped off just outside our hotel, Miss Junie’s – lodge type accommodation, where we were given a welcome drink – a tamarind and ginger based drink – which had a rather unfortunate brown colour but was pretty tasty nonetheless.

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We were give our room allocation and went to drop our things off before meeting up for an orientation walk.  The maid had left the towels in an intricate display!

We walked through the town with Fran pointing out the various ‘sites’.  The town sits on a spit of land between the end of the river on one side and the ocean on the other.  There are no motor vehicles on land in the town and it is not actually accessible by road at all.   The town is mostly dedicated to tourism now and the main strip is a series of booking agencies, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants.  The temperature was still pretty hot and very humid and we were very pleased to stop at the end of the strip for some food and refreshments, not least because by now it was gone 4pm and we had not eaten since breakfast.  The food was delicious and the cool beers very refreshing!

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We discussed the options for the next day or so and agreed that we would have a relaxing evening and pack all of the activities, including the late night walk to spot turtles into the following day.  We headed back to the room and had a shower before wandering to the bar at the hotel for 6pm.  We were both pretty tired and after a couple of drinks and some cards, we agreed that it was time for bed and we were both asleep by 8pm!  I’m positive that it was nothing to do with age, and everything to do with the time difference and heat!

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