We arrived at the Nicaragua border to be once again greeted by helpers/touts flashing their official cards at us and offering to assist us across the border. One man actually got quite aggressive with us when we refused his offer of assistance. Our verdict is out, border crossings in Central America are the worst we have come across. We crossed over 34 borders while overlanding in Africa and never had problems with such blatant corruption and scams. Perhaps because we have crossed so many borders in our life time of overlanding we are very aware of what is needed and what is a rip off. On the flip side we were greeted by the most pleasant and friendly border police officer in Costa Rica and the first words out of his mouth were that we were not to pay to cross into Costa Rica. What a nice welcome to Costa Rica.
We headed for the town of Liberia in Costa Rica as we planned to camp near the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. One of Costa Rica’s more thermally active area. We once again had a pleasant surprise when we found a wonderful campsite run by a Dutch couple Gerhard and Ingrid, our nicest campsite since Mexico; El Sol Verde.We stopped to swim in the river that runs near the campsite and I have never seen such a blue river before. Yes Canada you have blue lakes but not rivers. It was stunning.
Tom was again in his element as a geologist to be hiking around volcanic areas. We set off early to avoid the midday heat. It is blistering hot in this part of the world. The birds of Costa Rica are every birders dream, hundreds of species around us. Howler monkeys still screeching at us as we walked on the path below the trees. The roots of the trees made for a 4×4 walking route and they looked like giant serpents tangled across the pathway. Large iguanas paused to watch us pass.
The park itself is a maze of gurgling ponds of boiling water, bubbling mud pools, hissing vents, sulfurous smelling hot lakes, warm rivers and waterfalls. We were happy to be back in nature, loving the noises of the forests, crossing the rivers tentatively over logs, rocks, and swinging rope bridges in complete awe of the power of nature.
We spent several days at the campsite, resting and exploring the area. We were in waiting mode as our son Derek was arriving after the weekend and we had scheduled to pick him up at the airport in Liberia.I was so excited to see Derek finally walk out and it was hugs all around. The hardest part of overlanding for extended time is begin separated from family and dear friends. Seeing him again after so long was a special treat.OMG we are going to have a hard time getting back on the road after such luxuries as a clean, flush, private toilet and shower, a bed with clean sheets, air conditioning, food prepared for me, no dishes or clothes to wash and our son to enjoy the comfort of normal vacation type travel with us.
Our time spent with our son Derek in Costa Rica was wonderful. It is such a treat to be with family who we miss terribly on these long journeys. After a week of fun, laughter, scuba diving, hiking, kayaking and eating and more eating it was time for him to return to Canada. We took him back to the airport for sad farewells and hugs. Since he has now graduated from the University of Toronto there is nothing keeping him in Toronto so is planning to move back out West. It will be a busy time for him.
We headed south driving across the country heading towards Panama. We wanted to visit Arenal Volcano as when we were last in Costa Rica in 1997, Volcano Arenal was in the clouds. We were treated to it spewing out lava but were unable to actually see the peak. Now we could head back and hope for the rare treat of seeing this magnificent volcano in all its glory. We were not disappointed and Arenal delivered, her peak reaching into the sky, her sides showing the scars of previous eruptions and lava flows. We marvelled at the volcano, hiking around it before heading south again and in search of a campsite.
Some of Costa Rica’s wildlife is evident and delightful.
It’s flora is spectacular.
We had seen a campsite sign on the way to Volcano Arenal so thought we would just return. We drove up to the reception but they told us that the campsite was closed. We made a bit of a fuss as they still had campsite signs, it was getting dark and all we really needed was a place to park. Suddenly the campsite was open although we felt as welcome as a fart in a camper!
The setting was stunning, the people unfriendly and the camping facilities very basic, but the frogs were croaking in the pond, birds fluttered in the trees and it was peaceful.
Tom began to set up the camper when I heard the most dreadful scream and turned quickly to see Tom disappear down a well like hole, then silence. I ran towards him. He could not speak as he had fallen down into the hole and crashed onto a cement beam located half way down hitting it with his chest and he had winded himself. He began to groan and then said, “I think I have broken some ribs.”
I struggled to help him get out fortunately; it was not deep. He was covered in mud, in obvious distress. I attended to him and he sat up slowly. We always dread having accidents but these things do happen. We cleaned him up and after giving him some anti-inflammatory he went to lie down. It was a restless night but we got up early the next morning and headed off. There is nothing much that can be done for a fractured or bruised rib and he was not having any problems breathing, so we decided to just move slowly and take things easy.
We arrived at the Pacific coast and booked into the Flutterby Hostel, which also has camping on their ground. We were about 3 hours from the Panama border. This morning we decided that perhaps we should have a doctor check Tom out. Unfortunately, it is Easter Friday, the clinics are closed, so are the pharmacies closed and we could not find a doctor. The only person in town who had an x ray machine is the vet, he too is closed. We decided to not to travel for today but give Tom some time to rest. We will leave tomorrow and try to make it to the next biggest town across the border in Panama where he can see a doctor if the pain is still so severe.
Despite the mishap Costa Rica was a delight and very civilized. We did manage to find the ugliest bed we have slept in in Costa Rica.