A slice of “Pura Vida” - living it up in Costa Rica
Upon our arrival at the customs in Costa Rica, we’re hit by heavy rain. It’s absolutely lashing it down and the tarmac ground of the customs area is flooded with water. Fortunately for us, we’ve got our plastic crocks on, when we step out of the car in a bid to get started on all the relevant paperwork. We paddle our way through the ankle deep puddles, hurrying towards the nearest shelter. It’s a futile attempt though, because within the first few metres we’re soaked through. Thankfully both the water and the air are warm here in the tropics, so we just wring out our tops and get ready for passport control. That’s when we hear an ear shattering bang of thunder as lightning strikes somewhere very nearby. As a result of this, all the computers shut down, only for half an hour or so, mind. October sits at the tail end of monsoon season and even the customs officer sympathises with our bad luck in timing.
Our journey continues with an unexpected detour; all the heavy rain has caused a landslide on the main road, slowing us down quite a bit. In the evening, when we finally arrive at the camp site in El Tecan we hear that the river “Grande de Terraba” has flooded in the city of Cortes, only 20km or so away, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes. We feel awful for them!
By the next morning, however, our luck seems to be turning and we wake up to beautiful sunshine in the campsite garden. Straight after breakfast we head to check out the nearby beach “Playa Colonia”, situated inside the Marino Ballena national park. We walk along the sandy shoreline and follow a muddy path that leads us deep into the jungle next to the beach. We make a few stops to photograph birds and numerous, colourful lizards, skilfully camouflaging themselves to their surroundings. We’re amused by monkeys hanging off tree tops. they appear to use their tails as safety ropes, leaving both hands free to stuff more leaves into their greedy mouths. We slow down a bit once we see signposts warning us of crocodiles that naturally inhabit the area. We decide that it’s best if we stay well away from the reedy banks and murky waters of the rivers around here.
Judging by the size of the waves crashing on the beach it’s no wonder that the place is a favourite among surfers. Even now, there are a few people balancing on their boards in the waves. We too enjoy the chance to jump into the salty, inviting waves. On the beach itself we encounter something completely new to us, flat clumps with a pretty, flower-like pattern in the middle. We find out that these are sand dollars, a type of sea urchin. We keep looking out to sea, in the hope that we might spot some of the humpback whales that swim past here in October every year. Despite using a lot of the day peering through binoculars, we don’t even catch a glimpse. We’re not ready to give up yet though, so we book a boat trip for the next day, hoping that we might get some photos of these giants of the sea.
The four hour long boat journey takes us far out to sea, outside the national park’s borders. We stop to photograph some local fishing boats, circled by pelicans on the lookout for an easy lunch. A sea turtle swims by at a leisurely pace, but once we try and get closer, it quickly dives down beneath the waves. The boat resounds with the noise of adoring sighs as a family of dolphins jumps in the air right next to us. The most exciting moment, however, happens when a gigantic figure approaches the surface, and suddenly sprays water straight up in the air accompanied by a loud honk. We follow the humpback mother and her two-month old calf and snap as many pictures as we can when they come up to the surface together.
On our way back we take in the beautiful cliffs and rocks, soaring frigate birds and arched caves of the waterfront. Costa Ricas nature and wildlife are both varied and truly incredible. After an amazing day of exploring nature I fall asleep on my reed mat, in the warm evening sun on the beach. Today I’ve definitely experienced a piece of the famous, Costa Rican “Pura Vida”!