Upon leaving Panama and into Costa Rica you have to walk across an old railway bridge where you can see the river flowing beneath you...one of my more interesting border crossings!
Costa Rica itself is much like Panama except probably more yanks and more expensive...getting to London prices in some cases! I had to improve my South African accent as didn't want the locals to know I was English and thus take The piss about the footy!
The plan was to stick to the Caribbean coast where the water is warmer and better snorkelling plus although rainy season the sun god was beaming down on me...Pacific is good for surfing which is not in my sporting repertoire as i found out in Peru.
The coastline didn't disappoint and first stop was Manzanillo. A remote village with 2 restaurants, 3 supermarkets and endless palm tree lined beaches. The surrounding area is owned by Mr Del Monte and Mr Chiquita so not only are people in linen suits and Panama hats but also the fruit juices or jugos around here are awesome.
One of the beautiful things about travel are the unexpected things you see...i came here for beaches yet saw numerous howler monkeys eating fruit whilst walking through the jungle. One cheeky chappy threw his fruit stone at me landing 1m away hence i wondered what damage a falling pip could do...did you know 150 die per year from coconut falling...later that afternoon a coconut fell 5m away! After the monkeys came red frogs, baby crabs with one large claw and obviously ginormous spiders! This was all in one afternoon on an intrepid jungle trek in my (now dead) Havaianes.
The people around here are mainly of Caribbean descent so they speak english with a great accent known as "Caribbean English" (see what they did there!) and serve some delicious food...mostly freshly caught seafood. At Andy's restaurant whilst eating my whole red snapper i thought i was in the Matrix as i saw a white rabbit cross the road...after double taking was told i am not Keanu Reeves and that belongs to the neighbour! Not what you expect to see by the beach!
Travel in CR is easy and painless as distances are little compared to South America. One surprise were the manners of the local people who offered seats to the old and pregnant...perhaps a few Londoners could take tips from the locals here!!
Our bus and then boat landed us in Tortuquero National Park for the green sea turtles. An opportunity at night to see these large animals crawl up the beach, dig a hole and then in a trance like state lay 100+ eggs. After 1-2 hours head back to the sea and in 60 odd days baby turtles come out. The kind weather and nearly full moon meant a truly memorable moment seeing all this happen. (Sorry no photos as banned) I saw some nunchucks by the beach so assume Michelangelo was the father!!
After this we headed away from the beach west inland to see the volcanoes and cloud forests. Due to the cloud and rain it meant the vistas were not buena but still nice to see. The cloud forest of Monteverde although touristy does have a neat trick up its sleeve...the longest zip wire in Latin America at 1,590m. So with my superman harness on (that felt like i was falling out of) i flew over the cloud forest at great speed. Given that i didn't have enough adrenaline in my system i finished with a Tarzan swing where i had to throw myself off a ledge...lets just say words beginning with F and S were used a lot...a right potty mouth!!
The night walk was a great end to the cloud forest to see venomous spiders and snakes, numerous bugs of various descriptions and a raccoon type animal high in the trees. The trees and cloud makes it look enchanted and you can see where the inspiration comes from the likes Avatar etc.
Heading West towards the Nicaraguan border decided to hire a 4x4 for 2 days...the words "Road Trip" always gets me pumped sometimes also dreaming how this trip could have an enormous road trip!!.This enabled us to have one day exploring the volcano of Rincon De La Vieja NP where we saw mud pools bubbling from the ground with a strong smell of sulphur...meant i could fart like crazy without blushing!! To end the day we chilled by the hot springs and covered ourselves in mud to take at least 5 years off my age! Which in traveller talk means i am now 23...going around saying i am 34 isn't a great chat up line so i always downsize to 28...makes we look less like a sad old git that i really am!! Next day we dipped our toes in the Pacific which was warmer than expected. Issue being the area Playa Coco and surrounding beaches are very touristy with Hilton etc having resorts there plus the usual drag of rubbish restaurants and tie-dye souvenir trinkets.
My friend has left back to the shores of London so travelling solo now for the last 6 weeks...can you believe it is nearly over!!