Day 13 – Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo. No Wildlife Photos!

Friday 3 March 2023 – A couple of things I didn’t know about elephants:

  1. That there are some in Costa Rica
  2. How they got up the stairs to the room above ours

We were scheduled to leave Tortuga Lodge today. Reverse engineering our time of boarding the boat that got us here in the first place leads inescapably to the conclusion that said boat would have to leave the Lodge at 0830.  Counting back from that for the routine of getting up, packing, checking out, getting breakfast and so forth means that we’d set the alarm for 0630, which is borderline relaxed for us when travelling.

The elephants, however, were clearly operating to an earlier schedule, thundering about in the room upstairs, so sleeping much beyond 5am turned out to be impossible,  Amazingly, by the time we’d got up and packed, they had mysteriously vanished – not a sign of elephant dung to be seen or smelt.

The net of this is that we had a relaxed, if slightly tired, start to the day – it was raining quite heavily, and someone told us that the Tortuguero dry season is when it is slightly less rainy than the wet season so we’d obviously been lucky with the weather.  The process of getting here was played out in reverse – arriving at the  Caño Blanco embarcadero soon after 10am in glorious sunshine once more and disembarking, followed swiftly by our bags. As with everything else to do with the Lodge, it was cheery, well-organised and efficient.

Our hire car was where we left it, apparently undamaged, so we queued up to pay the $2 to spend a penny each and the $12 for parking the car there beside a handy guide to Costa Rican Spanish.

Kind of explains why the travel firm who made our arrangements is called Pura Aventura, eh?

A town called Puerto Viejo was our next (old) port of call, and the journey there was unremarkable in that the Costa Rica road system didn’t traduce us too badly. We had to grind along Route 32 a bit more and then turned off, driving past apparently endless banana plantations.

Pura Aventura had recommended a restaurant called Las Olas in a town called Cahuita, and we thought we could also use the break to pick up essential supplies. As soon as we drove into Cahuita and found the restaurant, the Caribbean vibe of the area became clear.

Even the palm trees were laid back in their approach to growth.

We had a good lunch. I ordered a tuna steak, which was the largest I have ever addressed with a knife and fork – it was the size of the entire dinner plate, and was delicious.

We identified two supermarkets in the town which might serve our needs.  They both proved surprising, but the first particularly shocking.  It stocked tonic – but not gin! There were all kinds of other spirits on the shelf behind the (Asian) cashier, but he simply stared at us when we tried to explain what gin was.  It seemed he’d never come across gin and tonic before.

So we hastened to the other supermarket. The (also Asian) cashier there didn’t know what gin was, either, but at least there was some on the shelves behind him, so we could do the English-abroad thing of pointing at an item and speaking loudly and slowly.

So, stocks of gin, tonic and peanuts refreshed. Phew!

Cahuita has a definite Caribbean vibe

and it was clear, as we drove to Puerto Viejo, that the area’s style was going to be very different from what we’d experienced thus far in Costa Rica.  We had about 10 miles of laid-back driving to get to Villas Piña, and completed that with no further incident beyond the discovery that the speed bumps in this part of Costa Rica hunt in packs of three, which can come as a bit of a surprise when you only expect the two that seems to be standard elsewhere.

Villas Piña is a very well-organised establishment – half a dozen identical well-equipped villas, with large rooms with kitchen and a nice veranda to relax on.

It’s run by Sharon and Eric. Sharon efficiently showed us how things worked and generally sorted us out, and this allowed us to settle in for the rest of the day. The morrow holds (yet) another morning wildlife walk.  But it’s laid-back, relaxed, Caribbean wildlife, so we don’t start until half past seven in the morning.  The only known items are the rendezvous point and the name of the chap we’re to  meet – I really didn’t know what else to expect, but wasn’t going to get caught short on the lens front again. So, tune in again soon to find out exactly how that worked out.


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