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The Caribbean Coast

Written on: Monday July 16th, 2007

A journal entry from: Post-Grad Central America Trip

The last 12 days have been a little bit of everything.  Itīs been a long break in between posts because I am too cheap to spend $2 an hour on internet.  It was a 4 hour bus ride from San Jose to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.  It was a pretty cool place, it had a real different vibe to it.  There were lots of black people, descendants of imported labour from other islands, lots of dreads and people riding bicycles.  The beach was really nice although the reef extended right to the beach in many places making swimming difficult.  The surfing would have been awesome if I were any good but you had to be an expert to go out and tangle with the Salsa Brava (the big surf) so I stayed close to shore.  I stayed at Rocking Jīs which is the place to go for backpackers in Viejo.  I had my own tent and mattress on a covered deck for $6 a night, nothing glamorous but a pretty neat place.  Lots of hammocks and picnic tables and they showed movies at night.  We stayed there for 3 or 4 nights (I lost track) mostly lounging around reading and enjoying the meals.

  After too many lazy days in Viejo we ventured north about 20 km to another beach town called Cahuita.  We spent one night in a run down place right on the water and poked around the town a bit.  The next day we were set on finding something more comfortable so we went walking up the beach road about 20 minutes and found a nice place with a pool and just across the road from a black sand beach.  There were poison dart frogs in our garden and hot water in the shower, how nice.  We spent two nights there and then returned to Viejo .

From Viejo we booked a tour for Tortuguero which is an island farther north up the coast a couple hours.  It is only accessible by air or a series of canal, being poor we took a 2 hour bus to Limon then a shorter bus ride to the docks at Moin.  From there it was a 3 hour canal ride and it was fantastic, mostly due to the fact that I wasnīt sick.  We saw lots of wildlife on the way there including raccoons, a sloth, howler monkeys, crocodiles, turtles and lots of birds.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast run by a Canadian biologist.  Tortuguero was quite small but a very energetic place.  The people seemed very proud of their conservation efforts of the surrounding area.  That night after sleeping off the boat ride for a couple hours I went out to watch sea turtles laying eggs on the beach.  This was unbelievable to see in person.  We left at 10.  It was quite a large group which kind of encroached on the intimacy of the moment a bit, but it was popular so what can you do? The guides lead groups up behind the turtle, a green in this case, and shine a red light which doesnīt disturb the turtle.  You could see her depositing the eggs and covering up her clutch.  After about an hour we saw her return to the sea.  It was just like being in a nature documentary.  The next morning we did a 3 hour tour around the park with the biologist who was extremely knowledgable.  We saw a number of animals, most notably a fock of toucans.  Tortuguero has definitely been a highlight for me thus far. 

Yesterday we left Viejo and travelled by bus to the Panama border.  After crossing we took another bus and then a water taxi to reach the island of Bocas del Toro.  The water here is blue and clear and we are going scuba diving and dolphin watching tomorrow.  Iīm excited to finally get beneath the water.