Sea Kayaking

By far the time spent in Puerto Jimenez was the most jam-packed with activities each day!  Perhaps it was simply because of the company I was surrounded with and because of my resounding stubbornness to make sure I didn’t miss a single activity… Either way, looking back on my time spent there, it really was quite amazing how many different things I was engaged in.

On this final day in Puerto Jimenez, the blistered and bitten Belgian guy did as he said he would: he sat all day on the steps of The Corner hostel and read a book.  Myself, Jul and the other Belgian however decided to go sea kayaking!  Now I had never been sea kayaking before, just kayaking in the calm waters of a lake back in North Carolina.  But as the waters of the gulf were not at all choppy, the experience was quite the same as it was in the lake: calm and easily navigable!

After negotiating with a local for a good price on kayak rentals, the three of us headed out to sea!  We navigated along the coast of Puerto Jimenez heading south right to the mouth of the river that Jul and I had swam across just days before.  Along the way, a sea turtle was spotted hanging about on the surface of the water just before diving below the surface never to be spotted again.  We paddled our way through the river for several hours, often having to duck and squeeze our way under branches and fallen trees that were in our way.  Not really knowing where we were going, we simply followed the leader until the river literally narrowed and eventually came to a dead-end where it was no longer possible to pass!  There were tiny little waterfalls coming from the land that dumped into the river but otherwise we found ourselves in a little alcove surrounded only by land!  “Macgyver”, who true to form was always up to something adventurous got out of his kayak to see if there was anywhere on land to go.  Perhaps for the better there wasn’t any path or place to easily walk around without creating one ourselves with the use of a machete (which he forgot to bring on this one occasion).

So without anywhere else to go, we turned around and headed back to Puerto Jimenez.  Again, it probably was all for the better because once again the tide had risen (you would have thought we would have learned our lesson from the day before, but NO!!) making the trip back even more treacherous!!  The tight squeezes we had to make on the way up the river were even tighter on the way back, but luckily in some cases a little easier as branches we once had to go under were now completely submerged!

As we navigated our way back, we all stated chatting about the good times we had experienced in Puerto Jimenez and eventually started chatting about our favorite person there: Berta.  “F” always called Berta “Mama” even though she wasn’t of any relation to him, and with this idea in mind, “Macgyver” decided we should make up a song and dedicate it to Berta as a final farewell to her.  Completely surrounded by nothing but jungle and the creatures that resided there, the three of us started singing at the top of our lungs “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen because of the lyrics dedicated to “mama”, of course changing the lines to suit and fit a song to be dedicated to Berta!  It was quite humorous to say the least, and had others been in the vicinity they definitely would have thought we were all completely nuts!!  We did actually come up with several original lines to the tune of Queen’s song that we memorized and planned to perform to her later knowing full well that she wouldn’t have been able to understand them anyway (since they were all in English)!!

The sun was once again starting to set and the currents in the river as we approached the ocean were tough to push through.  But eventually as the first stars started to become visible, we made it back out into the gulf and as storm clouds closed in on us from all directions with lightning and spurts of thunder, yet surprisingly still calm waters, we made it back to the rental facility and dropped off the kayaks.

We were several hours past the time we said we would return the kayaks, as it was pitch black when we did finally get there, and the ticos were outside eagerly waiting for us.  I sometimes wonder if they would have sent a search party had we not returned that night, or if they would have figured either #1 that we simply stole the kayaks or #2 that we were just crazy gringos and if we got lost/injured/died it would have been our own idiotic fault!  Luckily none of those scenarios occurred however!!

That night was the final one for all 4 of us (Jul, the two Belgians and myself).  The next day we were all heading out on the early boat back to Golfito and heading in our separate ways.  We celebrated our last night with beers and good conversation but sadly had all neglected to remember to sing our “original” song to Berta:(.  Such is life as the adventure continues…

On to On the Road Again

On to Puerto Viejo (A Sunny Town)

Back to Costa Rica

Gators and Rest!

The following day was a lazy one to say the least after having completely spent all energy resources the day before!  But of course though it wasn’t completely without some activity or another…

Having missed the previous trips to see the gators, Jul wanted to go check them out so I opted to join yet again, this time armed with my camera!  Honestly I don’t know what time of day it was that we set off to see the gators again, but when we did get there true to the times before there were several in the little slow river.  At the “end” of the trail there were two men on the other side of the fence maintaining the landscape of the property that lay beyond and they were all too quick to show us their “crocodile hunting” skills by luring the gators toward the bank of the river so we could get some good pictures.

Below are the images I took that day!  The two tico men said that there are two large gators (the one on the bank was one of them) who ruled all the others.  In fact, as we were watching them all there was at one point when a smaller gator came over to check out the commotion that the two men were making to lure the large gator on the bank, but the minute it got too close, the larger gator simply turned in its direction and the smaller one quickly swam away!  Quite impressive what a single look can do!

Not much else happened that day, except that the two Belgium Macgyver boys returned from their grand adventure in Corcovado Park.  While the one was quite happy with their adventure, the other (less of a Macgyver type) was VERY happy to be back!!  Poor thing he was bitten up to pieces by bugs and had huge blisters on his feet that almost completely disabled him from being able to walk!  He swore that the next day he would simply sit and read and do absolutely nothing else, which true to his word was all he did the next day!

The evening was spent dining and drinking with Jul and “Macgyver” at a karaoke bar listening to the off-key melodies of the locals:)  The adventures of Day 5 were just around the corner…

Beach Adventure

The next morning started bright and early.  The couple that had arrived the day before had set out for their private tour of Corcovado Park with “F” and the Belgian boys had already set out the day before for the park, so it was only Jul and I at the hostel with Berta.  Jul had actually gotten up in the morning on this day and since we were the only two there, we ended up joining forces to explore new areas of the town.

After a breakfast of coffee and fresh, delicious pineapple, we decided to go on a hike to a beach about 7 kilometers from the town.  Jul had heard of the beach from others as a particularly nice one so we opted to give it a shot.  Berta suggested that we ride bikes there, which in retrospect ended up being advice that we should have followed but of course didn’t, thus beginning the grand adventure for the day….

We took off on foot heading South toward the road that led to the beach.  However, instead of taking the “long way” (i.e. correct road), we thought to take what we thought would be a shortcut.  Instead we ended up at a deadend and had no choice but to trespass on private properties, cross fields with knee-high grasses (perfect for snakes to hide in) and shimmy under barbwire fences to get back on the road we should have just taken in the first place.   In any event, after perhaps a half hour of “misguided” time we got back on track and set off for the rest of the hike.

We crossed property after property, some brand new, others quite old and shabby, through back roads of the Osa Peninsula.  Not too much wildlife was spotted on our walk but certainly some interesting sights.  The first was of a young girl, probably 3 years old standing in the front yard swinging a machete around as if it were a stick she was playing with.  Amazing our cultural differences!!  While that sight nearly gave me a heart-attack, I very much doubt locals would flutter an eyelash at it.  The other sight was quite humorous.  As we walked past one of the older and poorer homes there were two young boys on the front porch, probably 4 or so.  One was squatting on the porch playing with something on the ground and the other was proudly standing at the front of the porch buck naked and peeing off the edge into the grass below.  The best part of that was that all the while he was peeing, he was watching us walk by and had the biggest smile across his face as he waved excitedly to us.  We chuckled to ourselves and simply waved back, returning the greeting in waves that we were given!

I’m not entirely sure how much time it took to get to the beach, just that we finally made it at some point and it couldn’t have come at a better time!  We were both getting rather tired from walking the entire way (we tried hitchhiking several times with no success) and welcomed the rest that the water and beach provided.  We took some time to swim in the water relax and rejuvenate our spirits.  Looking back now, I can’t really say that this particular beach was really that spectacular, but I do recall that the waves were quite impressive as many avid surfers were also out enjoying the gift of the waves.  Either way though the coolness of the water was definitely welcome after the long walk there!!

After some time swimming both Jul and I were quite hungry and decided to find somewhere to eat.  We walked along the beach, thinking that surely there would be somewhere that we could grab something… Unfortunately we were quite wrong in thinking this as well!!  We walked and walked and walked along the beach reaching one place after another that was either closed, didn’t serve food, served food but at a phenomenal expense, or simply wasn’t a restraunt!!  By the time we thought to give up the hunt we figured that we were probably almost back to the town of Puerto Jimenez and that we should just continue on along the beach because surely we would end up there soon!

Wrong again!!  Or rather, we forgot one teeny tiny detail… Yes, the beach did eventually connect from where we were on the beach (7 Km South) to the beach along the town of Puerto Jimenez, but it was separated by a river about 2-300 meters wide!!  So there we were, we had finally made it back to a point on the beach where we could see the town but all we had to do was cross the river… Now, had we hit it at the right time, the tide would have been low enough to simply walk or wade across, but of course since it was late in the evening (yes even the sun was starting to fade so it was about 4:30-5 pm at this point with us both only having eaten breakfast and thankfully a glass of water offered by a nice home owner along our way back) the tide was quite high making it impossible to walk or wade through…

So we had a choice: either walk all the way back down the beach, back to the road on which we had walked earlier to the town which would have certainly taken us several hours and we would have had to walk in the dark, OR swim across the mouth of the river to the mangroves and private house across the way.

We chose plan B… Swim across the mouth of the river.  I had luckily brought a plastic bag with me that contained sunscreen and stuffed my clothes (keeping the bathing suit on of course) and shoes in it.  After everything was secure, I walked into the water with my bag overhead and started to swim.  The plan was to swim to the mangroves that were closer to us than the shore and after who knows how long of kicking and paddling and back-stroking and praying we both made it to the mangroves!  We stopped there for several minutes just trying to catch our breath and rest for a little while.  While I obviously do know how to swim, I hadn’t done that much swimming in a long time and this particular swim was quite challenging as I had to keep one arm overhead holding all my clothes and the current from the river kept pushing us (or trying to) out toward the ocean.

But the worst was definitely over and I was quite thankful for it!!  Truthfully there were several moments while I was kicking my way across where I thought “WTF was I thinking?!?!?!”  and several times I wondered if I should just turn back!!  And there were several times that I wondered what kind of critters were swimming in the waters with or below me, but luckily I kept with it and little by little keeping patient and calm I made it across!

We weren’t out of trouble just yet though as the mangroves were submerged in the river water quite a bit as well, and I still couldn’t reach the bottom of the river/ocean so had to hold myself above water my clinging onto the mangroves and standing on large exposed roots.  And Jul had so wonderfully mentioned that snakes and potentially crocs could be found in the mangroves so there was definitely much more motivation to get the heck out of there!!  So while I was exhausted, I wasn’t going to hang around any longer than I had to!!  After a few minutes of gathering our strength back up, we made our way around the mangroves, half swimming-half clinging to the submerged trees and finally made it to shore!!

Three children were playing in the shallow water of shore that we ended up on and at one point stopped to point us out and giggle at the silly gringos who seemingly came from nowhere but now appeared with blood-shot red faces almost crawling out onto the land.  I had never been so happy to be on land before!  We made it to a little bench and sat for a few minutes, laughing at how crazy what we had just done was!!

To be honest I don’t recall the rest of the night, only that I’m sure I slept well and that I was quite thankful all turned out well!!  What an adventure that day turned out to be!!  I do recall chuckling with Jul at one point on how each day seemed to hold an interesting new adventure, and lo and behold, the next day too had a little adventure in store for us yet again…

On to Sea Kayaking

Back to Costa Rica