Day 18 – Aquiares to San Gerardo. Interesting times

Wednesday 8 March 2023All we had to do today was to get ourselves from Aquiares to San Gerardo de Dota, about a three-hour drive. Once there, we could relax for the rest of the day. Simple, no?

Simple, yes. Also, interesting, almost entirely in a good way.  Almost.

We had the usual Hacienda breakfast – Gallo Pinto, fried eggs, coffee.  We tried the honey-processed coffee for a change and, although it didn’t have the farmyard aroma that so struck Jane, it didn’t frankly have the depth of flavour that we liked.

No matter, we had a nice view as we sat on the terrace overlooking the garden

although the clouds were fairly low.  We were joined (at a distance) by three Chacalacas

and I have to say that the fog lent the “Tree of Life” (a Ceiba tree) a very striking appearance as it overlooked the coffee factory.

As we exited the Hacienda to load the car, we heard a real commotion emanating from the trees near the car.

Toucans were gathered and shouting their fool heads off – we don’t know why, but are prepared to bet that it was with evil intent, because they’re bastards. Keel-billed Bastards at that, so we’d at last got reasonably close to them in the wild.

The route we followed started going up in the rather steep fashion that Costa Rican road designers quite frequently favour

but the surface was good and we eventually found ourselves among some really pleasant countryside.

However it soon became clear that we were on a very up-and-downy route, which invariably involves an encounter with a large, heavy and slow lorry, with its consequent tailback.

Under these circumstances, there’s nothing to be done apart from awaiting one’s chance to overtake in due course. We weren’t in a hurry and so it wasn’t too irksome. Once we did get past, we were treated to some lovely views

across what, it was increasingly clear, was agricultural land, with various kinds of materials used (we guessed) as shading for whatever was being grown there.

We passed through the town of Cervantes, which was tight in places

and gave us the chance to appreciate the arcane beauty of the local wiring systems.

We skirted the significant and not particularly attractive conurbation that is Cartago, and joined Route 2, which is the southern segment of the Pan-American Highway (locally in Central America known as the Inter-American Highway) that traverses Costa Rica, and therefore means that there is a significant number of huge trucks among the oncoming traffic. We passed wind turbines as we breasted one hill

and the attractive bits of scenery continued to make the journey interesting and pleasant – certainly the most enjoyable drive whilst we’ve been here, for me.

There’s a local habit of using old satellite dishes as advertising boards which is rather picturesque.

It became clear that we were quite high up in the hills

as we encountered fog from the clouds we were entering.

By this stage, we’d done all but about six miles of the 70-odd mile journey and it had taken us barely over two hours.  The reason that the overall journey time would be nearer three hours was soon borne in on us as we turned off the perfectly decent, if somewhat busy Route 2 on to

the trail leading down into the San Gerardo valley. The Pura Aventura materials had prepared us for it to be twisty and steep, but had given us the impression that the road surface was OK.

This was true for about the first mile. Then it became, in places, quite dramatically not true, a state of affairs hardly improved by the driving rain and thick cloud that enveloped us on occasion as we descended with, in at least the driver’s case, buttocks firmly clenched.

There were some great views on offer

but I have to say that I was greatly relieved to get to the bottom with car, dignity and sphincters intact, and to arrive at Lauraceas Lodge and check in.

The sense of relief at survival of those last miles was heightened when we got to our accommodation.  It was to be for only one night but it was quite something –

the best (of course!) of 4 cabins, large and roomy and all to ourselves with (praise be!) a kettle and mugs for the making of the well-earned cup of Twinings Earl Grey tea that we awarded ourselves. After a stiff drink and a late lunch at the Lodge restaurant, of course.

So, why, you might reasonably ask, had we subjected ourselves to this final descent? Well, you’d better tune back in tomorrow to find out, hadn’t you?

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