Today was PURA COSTA RICA, start to finish, the good-bad-ugly all mashed together into life´s rich tapestry. Fitting, I guess, since it´s my last non-travel day in this country.
Alrighty then, so my day began at the butt-crack of dawn (claro!) when I was supposed to meet the omnipresent Richard in the "lobby" of my guesthouse at 5:30am. After waiting for what seemed like forever, and just as I was about to give up, the dude appeared on the back porch. Creepy, but at least he´s consistent! We headed to the dock, where about 15 people and 5 or 6 dogs gathered for the canoe tour. That meant we´d need to split up into two canoes, and as luck would have it, I wound up in the front seat of the canoe piloted by Richard. Lovely. At least he was at the other end of the canoe. Almost as soon as we shove off, and we´d passed the obligatory park checkpoint, it started to pour holy hell. Which meant that in addition to getting thoroughly soaked, I couldn´t hear a single thing Richard was saying about all the wildlife we were supposed to be seeing. But neither could the two girls sitting directly behind me, so we formed a sarcastic peanut gallery with our own commentary. It was almost fun.
Eventually the rain did clear up and we were actually able to see some cool stuff: sloths, spider and howler monkeys, a cayman, two otters, and tons of birds. It was definitely better to see the critters up close and personal from the canoe, rather than in the big motorboats used by the fancy lodges.
I got back to the dock and decided to book my passage back to civilization (or at least Moín). There´s a 6am and a 10am boat, and as long as enough people show up they´ll leave at the earlier time. Which gives me plenty of time to get to San Jose before it gets dark. Perfecto.
OK, so now it was time to check email and see what was up with Bronwen. I got far enough to see that she hadn´t sent me any reply emails when the connection totally crapped out. Fantastic! The grizzled old lady behind the counter was certainly not going to provide any tech support, so I gave up and decided to try to call Bronwen. She had our bus tickets to Guatemala, and I hadn´t yet made any contact with her besides a few emails. But supposedly she was here in Tortuguero somewhere! I staked out a public phone, whipped out my Costa Rican phone card, and dialed the number in my guidebook for Laguna Lodge. Busy. Four or five times in a row. Crapdoodles. Maybe there´s another number, but where to find it? Not on the internets! And they weren´t any help back at Meriscar. Hmmmm, what´s a resourceful girl to do? Ah-ha! Call Jeff & Carol in Tamarindo and see if they could scare up an alternative number or two. So that´s exactly what I did. Carol, amused, agreed to dig around a bit and see what she could find, and then call me back at the payphone. As luck would have it, somebody else needed to use the phone during that time. Fortunately he was only on for a few minutes (you never know!) and I was able to call Carol back and get the correct number.
Great! Now we´re cooking with gas. I dialed the number, and it actually rang through and an actual person picked up! Grrrrrrreat Success! I fumbled through my explanation -- trying to find a friend whose last name I did not know, that´s classy -- and eventually confirmed that she was in room 84 and would I like to leave a message? Yup, OK, please have her call me at... But when I gave the Meriscar number (also from my infernal book) the guy insisted that it couldn´t possibly be right, it didn´t have the correct Tortuguero extension. Nice! Two for two! I asked if they might have the number there at the Lodge. Foolish mortal. Why would they? So I had to go back to Meriscar and find out what the frickin number was. The guy seemed really confused but eventually gave me a biz card with four phone numbers printed on it. Once I confirmed which number would actually ring through to a phone that somebody might answer, I headed back to the payphone to try the Lodge again. And of course the phone was in use, and when it was my turn the number was busy again. But eventually I did get through, and left the rest of my message for Bronwen to please call me at Meriscar. It also occurred to me that I should let the Meriscar folks know to expect a phone call from a Canadian chick who doesn´t speak much Spanish, just so they weren´t caught totally off guard.
Right, so that brings us up to about 4pm. Time for a bit of reading, and a quick stroll on the beach. And where to have dinner? The book recommended two places: Miss Miriam´s, which was closed on Saturdays, and Miss Junie´s, which was in "town." Since I had to pass the payphone on the way to Miss Junie´s, I decided to leave another message for Bronwen just to hedge my bets. This time the person spoke English, so I left as much information as I could muster, with a worst-case-scenario that we´d just meet up in San Jose at the Ticabus station.
Dinner was delicious, a lovely local seafood specialty with coconut milk and exotic spices. Back at Meriscar, I inquired without much hope about "una llamada de mi amiga" and was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had called! No message, just the same phone number I already had, but that was some progress, anyway. I went back to the payphone, and of course on the first try it was busy. ::::: sigh ::::: Got through on the second try, and the guy informed me that Bronwen was indeed expecting my call. It took a while for him to find her -- fortunately I still had tons of minutes left on my card -- and eventually tracked her down in the restaurant. I have never been so happy to hear the voice of someone I´d never met! She was relieved as well. We agreed to check in via email tomorrow, and perhaps meet up at her house in San Jose to await our 3am bus departure. Whew, good, glad that´s all set!
Back to the ranch, to pack (yuck!) and attempt to think cool thoughts amidst all the humidity and pesky insects. Supposedly Guatemala is a bit cooler, at least at night, which will be a welcome change!
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