• Joanna

Southbound and Down

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

I don’t want to brag…


Yes. Actually, I do.

I shouldn’t really. But… ok... I am in Costa Rica. Not only am I in Costa Rica, but I am here during Covid… AND ultimately avoiding the extremely bad bits of late fall and winter at home… so life is good.


That’s reason enough to brag just a little bit. Right?


Unless there’s an earthquake... or two.


TWO.


See... it's not always vacation mode. Shit happens everywhere.


It's one thing maneuvering deadly rivers in a rental, tackling steep hills in a 4WD, dodging potholes and cliffs, shaking off too many bugs to possibly mention… and much, more more… but now I can properly add the survival of two earthquakes to my lists of holiday accomplishments.


TWO.


Granted… no tsunami, no.


The following morning, I spent much time looking up the world-wide earthquake reports and magnitudes… for the sole purpose of my own verification! It was surreal. My bed was shaking uncontrollably and I kept watching to see if the tv would fall off of the wall. I honestly thought there was a dragon underneath my bed, which, if you really think about that, is an odd enough thought in itself.


Pura vida.


What’s a vacation without a little tremble anyway? Not much at all.

Exactly.

I left Laura’s House.. not because of the earthquake.


To be honest, after four days here, I was quite sad to leave, I had made friends and I was growing quite accustomed to being here. I knew where everything was. I liked my little room. They knew how I liked my coffee in the morning. They knew my Spanish limitations and worked within my perimeters.


On top of this… I liked Laura’s story.

Had I been on more of a journalistic quest, I might have considered doing a short story about her, but I decided to leave that for someone else to explore.


About 25 years ago, Laura found herself a young, single mother, alone in Costa Rica. Not sure where she secured the financial backing from, but managed to buy this little two unit apartment, just off the main strip of Coco.


For quite a while, she and her daughter lived in a small room at the very back of the property. In addition to caring for her daughter full time, she fixed up the place to the best of her ability, cleaned the rooms, did the gardening and the laundry, cooked the meals and in her spare time, in the heat of the afternoon, she would head down to the local bus stop and advertise her rooms for rent.


Slowly the money began to trickle in and Laura eventually began to be able to afford small renovations… and then larger ones. She added a pool, a small cafe, a booking hut and managed to divide the home into 6 vacation suites. Two to six. Not too shabby, at all.


Really shows that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

Vision, hard work and dedication is everything.


But I did leave. After four days, the dirty road was calling my name!


I bid farewell to Paul and Gerri … and the Bird & I took off towards Samara.


My original plan had been to stay a couple nights In Tamarindo, but I changed my mind after 4 nights in Coco. I wanted to veer a little bit off the tourist trail and see what else life might present to me. Of course, I still wanted to see it these touristic locations, so my idea was to spend the afternoon there… and that is exactly what I did.


I loved it.

As soon as I hit the beach, I regretted my decision to move on and wished I could have remained for even one night.


I had read that Tamarindo wasn’t a particularly great spot to visit, because of its development, but on the flip side, it's vibrancy really attracted me. It was like a wonderland of adventure mixed with the serenity of a tropical getaway.


Of course, as soon as I arrived, my phone was almost dead, so I was forced to find another seaside saloon to plant myself, plug in and enjoy a cool, refreshing cerveza.


Life is hard.

I cannot keep a charge on my phone. With my portable charger having packed it in and the car one not functioning at all, it becomea very easy to drain the battery, at an alarming rate,


When you take into consideration the abnormal amount of time I actually spend on my phone, a continuous dead battery makes sense… but it still has me baffled.


Facebook - Instagram - Waze - Google Maps - Gmail - Booking.com - Weather - Banking apps - What’s App - and of course, my Blog is utilized quite frequently, whenever my computer decided to play hard to get. A. Lot.


Stop complaining, Joanna. You’re in a tropical paradise.

But honestly... charged and working technology easy street paradise would be nice as well.


I did love Tamarindo. One I was finished being an early afternoon lush in the bar, myself & my somewhat charged phone walked the entire length of the beach... and then headed into town to do some necessary shopping. I feel a little uneasy trying to barter here... I don't really think it's a thing. I can't imagine it being a thing. Costa Rica's are so set on their belief that we come here fully loaded with bars of gold, they will hardly surrender anything for less than they think we can afford.

I bought 3 dresses… and some tacos. This trip is becoming all about taco. They are different in every restaurant, which makes it almost a culinary mystery. As much of a mystery as a taco can be, anyway…


The route I took from Tamarindo to Samara was a little dodgy. It is fully my fault. The blame lies with me completely. I should probably begin to do a little more research on road conditions… but what’s another river?


I should have a fully filled river stamp card by now.

Me and my excessive amount of dodgy routes wins the t-shirt.


Honestly~ it should be a thing.

I beat the crocs in Costa Rica.

I tend to ignore the ways that both Google Maps and Waze recommend… because obviously I know a better route.


Obviously.


A few river crossings have freaked me out, but, so far, I have lived to tell.


The scary ones are the murkier ones… and definitely quite frightening when I am the only person in the area, I much prefer to follow someone across. Buffers. I need more buffers.


At each crossing, I envision getting horrendously stuck, right bogged down, attempting an escape out my window just in the nic of time… before the river carries my expensive rental vehicle downstream… and just as I’m clamouring to the shore safely… chomp.

The river beast attacks and now, I’m nothing but crocodile lunch.


This evokes a feeling of such dread, that my entire body and frame of mind are temporarily crippled by panic. This usually lasts about 15 minutes, and then subsides into a more regular “there is bound to be another river up ahead" anxiety attack. As I've said before, I walk a fine line.


More of a stupid line, actually...


I also made a little pitstop in Ostional... but my timing was very poor.

Ostional is one of the smallest and most remote villages in Costa Rica... BUT is one of the most important nesting beaches of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. In rainy season, (which I am in) the week before the new moon , hundreds – and sometimes hundreds of thousands - of sea turtles come to one specific mile of beach here to lay their eggs. I missed it by a week.


*Insert sad face.


I guess it gives me a reason to return... and I will still always have Greece.


I did do the usual in Ostional... my typical vacation town sit down, have a beer and charge my useless phone. There is nothing like being on the back roads of Costa Rica without cell coverage. Another thing one must take into consideration on these remote roads, is that the pubs/restaurants can be few and far between. You have to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself. The young gentleman at the bar was so kind and even offered to watch my phone while I made my way down to the beach to take some pictures. Bet he regretted that though, when I discovered they didn't take credit card and he discovered I had no cash on me.


Shit.


Here I was in the word's most remote location... with only Canadian money to play with. So that's what I did. I pulled out a Canadian $20 bill and begged him to take it.

My argument?

It's almost the same as American currency! Next time you're in San Jose, you can change it! Come to Canada!


Well... it did the trick.

Although he was going to just give me the beer for free... in the meantime, he managed to score a Canadian $20 as well, I'm sure it's just tacked up on their back kitchen wall as a memory of the dumb gringa that once came through with no money. I have my doubts it will ever be used.

I want to say that I finally made it to Samara... but I actually only made it about 12km outside of Samara, to a place I had booked, called The Flying Crocodile.


Yes... the obsession is real.


Everything about this resort was a dream.


The secluded lodge was nestled in a nature reserve, surrounded by mangroves, and only about 10 minutes away from the beach. The bungalow I was in, was charming beyond belief ~ a very unique, two story, custom built A-frame style. The pool was set in a peaceful and gorgeous setting, encircled with plants and flowers and waterfalls...


Everything about this resort was ideal... and everything anyone would want in a remote, Costa Rican jungle resort.


Everything except one thing...

  1. There was no one there. Just me.


There were two couples when I arrived, but they left shortly after.

It was almost eerie. Hammocks hung alone, swaying back and forth with the occasional breeze that blew through. The bar was locked up with bar stools flipped over on top. The only sounds you could hear were that of there gardener and the nearby monkeys, playing in the trees.


This resort was my perfect Shangri-la... just relax in the pool, enjoy some wine... work on my writing and my blog... BUT... second glitch... no WIFI.

Don't get me wrong- no WIFI is ideal for those travelers wanting to completely remove themselves from the rat race for a couple days. But for me... I was desperate to do some work catch up and being hit with the discovery that I would not be able to, was far from fitting. If you don't have WIFI, don't advertise WIFI.


They claimed they did have WIFI.. but it was only available in the main lobby. And probably only available in the main lobby, for everyone and their functional computer… except for me.


Having driven all day... I was genuinely miserable. A real shit. Even more wretched to have the lady running around with my computer trying desperately to get a strong signal for me. My cranky took over.


I tried desperately to keep my crank at bay, as the lady was sooooo incredibly lovely. I have never had an entire resort to myself… I should have really relished the moment. I did make the decision to move on after one night, having previously planned to spend two there...


I was moving closer move closer to civilization

Closer to fully functional WIFI...


AND... the best part - I got to see my buddies Caroline, Yunnie and Liam again!

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