Tag Archives: Golfito

On the road again…

Early the next morning we all headed out for the early boat back to Golfito.  From there we said our goodbyes and all headed in separate directions.  Since I was planning to travel to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, I thought it better to loop my way through Panama rather than to take the gruesome 8 hour or more bus ride back to San Jose, only to catch another 5 hour one to get to the Caribbean side.  So as the other guys all headed North, I made my way South to Paso Canoas: the Pacific border crossing into Panama.

Upon arriving at Paso Canoas, I will be the first to admit that I had no clue what to do or where to go!  There were no signs and absolutely no indication of where you were to go if you wanted to get into Panama.  Perhaps what was most shocking to me was that there was no gate or fenced area… Ok, perhaps I have just been too accustomed to the look of border crossings from my travels to Mexico to the States where there are huge signs and officers everywhere and lines of buses and people all waiting to get through.  This border crossing looked nothing like that.  In fact I kept thinking that you really had to want to do the right thing in order to get into Panama.  Otherwise, truth be told, had I known which bus I needed in Panama to get to David, Panama I could have simply walked across the invisible and non-guarded border and hoped on a bus.  But I digress…

I wandered around in the direction of Panama and finally came across some police officers and asked them what it was I was supposed to do.  They directed me to the immigration office on the Costa Rica side (no signs again) so I could get my exit stamp.  After several wrong stops to different offices, I finally found the correct one and stood in line to exit Costa Rica.  Of course as things would happen, the power went out so all the computers were down.  So I had no choice but to sit around and wait for things to come back online.  About a half hour later, people’s names were being called out one-by-one as the passports were being returned and I made my way to the Panama immigration office to get an entrance stamp.

Upon arriving there, I admit I was quite tired and honestly not firing on all cylinders.  And my tired frame of mind ended up costing me $20.00… You see, I had completely neglected to even think about how I would probably need proof that I was leaving Panama before entering it, just as I needed proof when entering Costa Rica that I would be leaving the country (though they never asked me for it).  So when the immigration officer asked if I had a bus ticket (he meant to prove that I was leaving Panama at some point) all I kept responding was “No, I am getting one to David once I cross the border”.  Try as he may to get me to understand where he was going with his line of inquiry, I failed to understand exactly what he was doing, so finally after about 5 minutes of his questioning (and me lacking to understand) he gave up and simply turned me away back to the Costa Rica side so I could purchase a bus ticket for $20 that showed a return ticket from San Jose, Costa Rica to David, Panama and back to San Jose.  Of course it wasn’t until after the purchase that I “got” what he information he was looking for and am completely convinced that if I had simply said “yes, I have a bus ticket back to Costa Rica… Would you like to see it??” that he would have said “no” he didn’t need to see it and would have stamped me through.  Instead I had to go and make life complicated for myself and apparently for him as well.

In any event, I trudged my way back to the Panama immigration office with my $20 ticket in hand and boarded a teeny air-conditioned bus (whoa!!!  civilization again!!) on my way to David.  About a half-hour later we were stopped at a police checkpoint.  And I chuckle every time I think of this moment because in the moment I kept thinking “man, it’s a good thing I crossed the border legally after all!!” but after the moment I thought “it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway” because the police officer boarded the bus, asked people to take out their identification, looked at 2 or 3 that were being held up in the air, glanced around the bus at people but not really looking at their faces and then exited…  LOL!!

On the way to David, new passengers came on board at various stops and one of them sat next to me.  He was a middle-aged gentleman who had a business and lived on the pacific coast of Panama.  We chit-chatted all the way to David and thankfully, he paid attention to the change given to me when departing the bus in David.  You see, in Costa Rica you either pay for a bus ticket before boarding the bus, or right as you get on.  In Panama, you simply board and pay according to which stop you get off at.  My bus fare was supposed to be $2.95 from Paso Canoas, but I only received $1.00 change when handing the drivers assistant a $10.00.  My bus companion noticed this (and since he knew I was coming from the border) and quickly stood up for me yelling at the assistant to give me the correct change at once.  How very nice of him it was indeed to do so!

So now I was in bustling David… wow… Where to begin…

On To Costa Rica vs Panama

Back to Costa Rica

Back to Panama

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

Golfito Detour

My initial plan in getting to Puerto Jimenez was to take a bus down and around the upper part of the Peninsula through Rincon to Golfito.  However on the way down, as usually has been the case during my bus rides, I struck up a conversation with a local.  He was a very friendly older gentleman who is a local Costa Rican but who now lives in Panama.  He was in Costa Rica just checking on some properties of his that he rents out to tourists and such.

Again most of our conversation was a mix of Spanglish and charades.  It was great to chat with him and to pick his brain concerning the best route for me to get to Puerto Jimenez.  My original route was to go to Chacarita, then to Rincon and down to Puerto Jimenez.  I was strongly discouraged to take to this route however as it would have taken over 8 hours since the terrain in this path was mountainous and rough.  Instead, I was instructed to go to Golfito and take the ferry across.  This route would save my 4-5 hours of travel, and upon hearing this I was definitely most grateful to my chatting partner for the information.  Once we got to Chacarita, he instructed me to get off the bus and told me where to find the bus for Golfito.

Once in Chacarita we said our good-byes and thanks and parted ways.  Now as a traveler, even though I was engaged in conversation with another person, my observations of my surroundings never stop.  It was on the bus down to Chacarita that I noticed two younger men consistently looking back to see me on the bus.  When I departed the bus for the bus to Golfito, I noticed the two men also depart and  after I got on the Golfito bus, so did they.  They sat next to me and tried to talk me up.  I wasn’t going to be rude, but also I don’t have a lot of patience for people who make me uncomfortable.  So mainly I ignored them and feigned ignorance for the Spanish language.  Luckily they didn’t know a whole lot of English so ignoring them was easier to show them my disinterest.  My instincts told me to stay on the bus until they got off at their stops and I did so.  While this action did make me feel better, it also took about an hour to backtrack to get to where I needed to be.

I had completely missed my stop for the ferry to Golfito but was thankfully guided by a very nice older tica on which bus to take and where to get off.  Of course the stop I should have gotten off on in the first place was one of the stops that the men I was getting away from got off at.  Luckily however enough time had passed that they were nowhere in sight and I continued on my way to the ferry.  This little detour however did cost me to miss they ferry by about 10 minutes and thus I was left to wait a few hours for the next one.

It was while I was hanging out near the dock enjoying a soda that I met two guys traveling Costa Rica together.  Though they didn’t know each other prior to a few weeks ago, they evidently had enough of a bong that made them decide to travel together for the rest of their time in Costa Rica.  One guy was from Austria and had an unbelievable amount of energy, and the other was from England but looked as if from India.  These two travelers (whose names have totally escaped me) were trying to get a group of people organized to take a whale watching boat tour.  Despite my better judgement on this occasion, as I really am not the biggest fan of boating around for the sole purpose of trying to catch a glimpse of a whale or dolphin, I agreed to be part of the crew.

The boat was to take off from Golfito the next morning which meant that I would have to stay the night there.  The two guys knew of a good place where they were staying right along the main road called El Toucan (honestly it seems every town has a place called El Toucan) so I went along with them so I could also get a room and settle in.

At this point it was about 5pm, so we opted to take a small boat ride to another part of the gulf area and do a hike that the boys had heard about.  Golfito has almost a gulf within a gulf as there is a large vast area of ocean at the town, but to actually get into the Golfo de Dulce, you have to cross the mouth of the smaller gulf into the larger.  On this boat ride we stayed within the smaller gulf area and crossed to a more secluded and foresty area.  Only a few tico homes were lined along this beach area and in fact, the man who boated us out there lived in one of the homes.  Once we arrived the very energetic Austrian and his friend found the hiking path they heard about and started on their way.  I opted to just hang about the coast area and simply take pictures of my surroundings close by.  I opted to do this for two reasons: first, because I honestly needed a break from the overly energetic duo, and second I knew that it would be getting dark pretty soon and didn’t want to get stuck walking along hiking paths as it got darker when the threat of potential snakes on the trail was possible.

As I was hanging about, I was fortunate to hear and see a troop of Capuchin monkeys come by.  I indulged in taking several photos of them as well as photos of the many crabs hanging along the beach.  And just as I had predicted, about a half hour after the two guys headed out on the trail, they returned because they heard some noises that they couldn’t identify from some large-sounding animal and got frightened back down the trail.  A little while later we made our way back to Golfito and went shopping for dinner.  The Austrian whipped up some pasta for us along with some carrots, onions and mushrooms.  He was quite upset however when he left the watch of the food to his friend who then ended up burning all the veggies.  It was by far the most interesting meal I had had as the pasta sauce he chose to use was ketchup!  I almost opted to just skip the meal altogether, but in not wanting to be rude, I ate it and it surprisingly wasn’t as terrible as I had thought it would be.

The next day we headed out early for our boat ride and not to my surprise but to the great disappointment of the guys, we didn’t see any whales or dolphins out in the vast and large Golfo de Dulce.  The Golfo de Dulce (sweet gulf) is one of the deepest gulfs and due to the calm and protected waters in this area, it is a very popular location for many whale species to come to during birthing season.  We drove around the gulf for several hours and while nothing was spotted, I still enjoyed just being on the water.  My two companions were not at all content on not having seen anything and were becoming increasingly annoying as they kept trying to get our tour to go here and there for potential whale spotting.  Needless to say I was probably more happy when the ride was over with and I was able to part ways with the energetic duo.  Once back on land I boarded the 1pm 40 minute ferry across the Golfo de Dulce (which if I had been smarter, I should have just asked to be dropped of there during our whale tour) to Puerto Jimenez.

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