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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: one girl's quest to see the world

Tortuguero, trail mix, and hammock hostels

COSTA RICA | Tuesday, 24 June 2008 | Views [604]

After a twelve hour bus ride from Leon to San Jose on Saturday (including the longest line I have ever seen to get through customs at the border) I slept, ate, showered, and left San Jose just ten hours later. I had heard amazing things about an island on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica called Tortuguero, where all the turtles (tortugas) come lay their eggs and the rain forest is pretty intense. So I hopped a public bus to Cariari, where I caught another bus through banana plantations to a private farm called La Geest, on the river. From there I took a boat through the river up to the canals and down the coast to Tortugeros. The boat ride was actually a lovely 90 minutes or so with just me and one other guy and was very chill. 

Once there I found a place offering cheap cabins ($15 a night, including bathroom!) and unloaded my stuff before taking a bit of a nap. Among those things I unloaded was a ziploc bag of trail mix. Now, throughout this trip I have tried to maintain a bag of trail mix (consisting of peanuts, granola, raisins, and M&M, which are actually hard to find down here) because of these long travel days. Also, having a snack keeps me happy even when things aren't going well. So this trail mix was my lifeline. But I took it out of my backpack along with my clothes and books and laid it on the other bed before my nap. Big mistake.

I awoke and was changing for dinner when I noticed it: four little pellets on the bed that looked suspiciously like mouse droppings and a huge hole in my bag of snacks. Half of the mix was strewn on the bed and the other half was missing (there wasn't much left after my long travel day). Now, having survived two months with mice in my apartment I decided it wasn't a big enough deal to change rooms. I found dinner and made arrangements for a canoe trip the next day, then read in the hammocks until bed. 

The canoe trip turned out to be awesome since it was just me and the tour guide and three hours on tiny canals in the rain forest. Apparently the few tourists that are coming through Tortuguero right now are doing all-inclusive packages with the bigger lodges and the independent companies are desperate for business. So this guide gave me a deal ($10) and went even though I was the only one who signed up. I got some pictures but too many were blurry -- it's hard to photograph moving animals from a moving boat! Then it was back to the hotel where I discovered my bathroom had flooded (leaky toilet). So while the guy was fixing the pipes in my bathroom, I mentioned the mouse just so they could put down poison or traps. He laughed: we don't have mice here! Those are geckos! 

Turns out geckos really like trail mix. And also, they poop like mice. Interesting.

The rest of Monday turned out to be a bust since it started pouring and never let up until the wee hours this morning. So I hung out at this bakery with amazing fruit smoothies and read some Salmon Rushdie. Then got dinner at Miss Junie's, supposedly the best food in Tortuguero. Now I've been digging the food so far in Costa Rica, but the stuff they serve over on the Caribbean is freaking amazing. Everything is simmered in some sort of coconut sauce and the coconut rice is *delish*. Also, the shrimp was divine (though I wasn't prepared when they brought me four whole shrimps, heads, legs, and all). 

Today I woke up early (it's habit now... everything in Costa Rica starts early and now I'm accustomed to waking at 6 even if I don't have to) and packed up for another day of travel, sans trail mix. Ended up taking a boat for four hours down the Caribbean coast to Moin, then hitching a taxi through Puerto Limon and Cahuita with Amanda and Paul, who I met on the boat. They stopped in Cahuita, though we are all planning to meet up in Bocas del Torro next. Then I ventured on to Puerto Viejo where I'm chilling for the next three days. 

I found this hostel called Rocking J's, which features, among other things, a hammock hotel. For only $5 a night you can have a hammock under a covered pavilion and a locker for your stuff (and changing rooms in the general bathroom area). They also have a restaurant, wireless (!), free art supplies if the mood strikes, and all the bananas you can eat. It's awesome. 

Here's to an awesome final week here and I'll see some of you very soon! Hope everyone is well :-)

Tags: costa rica, hostels, puerto viejo, tortuguero

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