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…