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Travel Day. Crap.

COSTA RICA | Tuesday, 2 November 2010 | Views [713] | Comments [1]

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Travel days during this journey rarely are, and often test not only my soul, but also the will and desire to remain in Costa Rica. Today was no exception. At 11:30 am, after waiting all morning for the rain of this tormenta (storm) to let up, I resolved to packing everything in my large suitcase, throwing my poncho over everything and hoofing it in boots to the nearby bus stop. By 11:45 am I was already soaking wet, but thankfully my bag was dry.

I arrived in Quepos and spent the next 45 minutes trying to buy the correct ticket to Puriscal. Neither ticket lady knew which bus I was talking about - though two friends had made the same journey in the weeks before. After making phone calls, buying a ticket that would take me well out of my way, and lots of fretting, I was just about ready to give up hope, when a bus marked “Quepos, San Jose Colectivo: Quepos X Puriscal” pulled up. I returned my way more expensive ticket and was on my way!

But the fun was just starting. The road between Quepos and Parrita was a disaster from all the rain. From my window I could see cars stuck on the side of the road, houses with ankle-deep water, and the grand prize of two stretches of road that were completely submerged. As I would discover throughout the trip, our chofer had a touch of bold and a dazzle of crazy, and plowed right through areas that had cars backed up for miles. After Parrita we left the main highway for a gravel road. Great. So many worst case scenarios filled my head as we pressed on, and with good reason. This road up and down mountains had downed trees that barely permitted our passage, a few landslides from above that made narrow the path we could cross, deep ruts of mud, one of which we were stuck in and had to reverse down the hill before trying again. Downed trees brought down wires and for most of the ride my hands clenched the seat in front of me. Where the road was wide enough, a truck came barreling in our direction and actually scraped up against my side of the bus. Ugh!

The driver knew I had to stop in Santa Rosa, and said he would let me know when we arrived. When we passed a sign that said “ßMastatal,” I knew there was a problem. A woman and child that boarded at the stop sat across the aisle from me and I asked if we were close to Santa Rosa. Yup, we had passed it alright – so I hurried to the front of the bus and asked the driver. The solution was to let me off at the next stop with a promise that another bus would be coming in that direction to pick me up. Yea, right. I hoofed it back up hill (of course it was up hill) to the stop where another guy from my bus had gotten off and was waiting. Gracias a dios for Tony – the Tico at the bus stop marked only by a covered bench. No phone, no town nearby, nothing!

Tony and I had a great conversation about soccer, the states, biology and his work at a banana plantation in Parrita. When the bus was 45 minutes late we thought about walking in the direction of Mastatal. Just then a man came down the road with shovels in his hand saying that the road was closed and there would be no busses. Oh no. So, Tony, myself and my 75 pound bag started walking. Gracias a dios otra vez! A truck came up behind us and gave us a ride as far as their house. Tony and I sat in the back with 8 crates of glass bottles as the rain continued to beat in our faces and the afternoon light was starting to slip into darkness. As we arrived at their house, another truck pulled up behind us and again Tony managed to get us on board, this time the back full of concrete and other building materials.

Our luck ran out soon after that, when the taxi would not pass an area where the road was almost completely gone – collapsed into the ravine below. We unloaded our stuff and started on foot once again. To a Tico, it was not a long stretch from here to Mastatal, but for me, in the dark with my 75 pound bag, wet, tired, scared of snakes and other deadly creatures in the road… it wasn’t close enough. I must have asked Tony 5 times if we were almost there and he kept assuring me that we were. My glasses wet and foggy, I couldn’t see the road ahead and in those moments, when Tony kept asking questions and engaging me in conversation I was so thankful for his company. I let him know that without him, it would be difficult to maintain faith in this journey. Although he had another 20 minute walk after Mastatal, he was kind enough to let me stop and give my back a rest from the heavy pack.

When we came upon a streetlight, Tony said, “gracias a dios! Una luz. Mira, otro!!!” Like my first night in Esperanza, this was the moment of immense inner joy. I lugged my suitcase another 100 meters to a small soda where Tony knew the owners, and they generously called the farm where I am staying. I bought myself and Tony a soda, parched from the long day of traveling and the walk mostly up hill, and waited patiently, relieved under a covered roof. After a short ride, again uphill, which would have definitely broken my faith, we arrived at the farm. My good friend Elizabeth was the first face I saw, along with 8 other volunteers. I think I was just as relieved to talk to my mom tonight as she was me. After a delicious traditional Costa Rican meal, complete with homemade chili (a meal topper that will burn your mouth something fierce), I made my way down here to the dormitory. In moments I will be fast asleep; happy under this warm blanket…



... Ho-my-goodness gracious.

  Erin Nov 24, 2010 1:48 AM



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