Day 13 – Caño Negro, Costa Rica

28 Mar

Finally found BBC World News. Fortunately nothing had happened in the world.

Early morning breakfast of toast (on one side), jam and orange juice. Guide had been very good at not over raising our hopes for the included breakfast. It lived up to expectations.

On the bus by 7am, with more customs forms for the Nicaraguan border crossing. They don’t like Costa Rica very much, ever since the Costa Ricans claimed Lake Nicaragua as their own. The clue is in the name guys.

Changed our last set of money into Colones – named after Christopher Columbus, whilst Lou did the paperwork with our passports. Quite a few large tour buses here, so it was a slow process. We avoided the hawkers and continued to the Costa Rican side where we had to present ourselves to the nice man. One queue had everyone searching for proof that they were leaving the county eventually. Thankfully I was in the other one, and just had to mumble something about Friday. The policeman on the door was doing a particularly good job at holding it open and closed, but didn’t seem to be much use otherwise.  Apparently Costa Rica doesn’t have an army – just lots of armed policemen!

Susan also casually mentioned to me that she had been in a Montenegran jail for four days for non payment of her hotel bill (a mix up with the bank), as well as stalking her ex husband in America.

We drove on, past a large queue of lorries trying to head north and could see Arenal in the distance, which until two years ago regularly spouted lava, but is now sadly quiet.

We turned off the Pan American highway and the road got worse. Some roads are not tarmaced on purpose so that people have to stay overnight to visit the nice places – this one just wasn’t tarmaced.

Stopped in Upala, a small place on the map, but it had a large central square, with school sports going on and lots of drunks and thieves there as well.

We headed for the supermarket (taking the post office route i.e. David leading us in the wrong direction).

Tried to fine some place to eat, but ended up back at the supermarket cafe as everything else smelt of fried chicken. Bought a ham and cheese pasty only to discover that it had no ham or cheese in it. Trust my luck to get the empty one.

Made up for it by visiting the bakery across the road for an iced doughnut.

Back on the bus, with the supermarket shelves emptier than normal, we headed on towards Caño Negro. This was listed as a two hour journey on a bad road. It would have been a much shorter journey on an unmade road, if the driver didn’t keep pleasing the birders by reversing every time a bush russled slightly.

I did spot a black Yucatan Squirrel, a grey hawk and a horse. I’m sure there were other (non-chicken) birdy things.

Arriving at our hotel just after 2pm, allowed us time to settle into the beautiful semi detached rooms before most of us assembled for a nature daunder (not a walk).

Most of us arrived with the required long trousers and tops, socks and no sandals. Some also brought black leather gloves! Some disregarded the sandals advice. I was all deeted up.

We tripped and stumbled and eventually discovered a spider. Woo. Thankfully it improved 1000%, when we heard and then saw a family of howler monkeys. Several hundred photos later, I managed to get a non blurred, non silhouette, of the back end of a male monkey. I was able to establish the gender quite easily from the photo.

Found another spider, whose web Bitte almost demolished, and a termite nest which she didn’t.

Back at the hotel, I had time to wash the deet out of my hair and remoisturise the sun burn before heading for food at the only restaurant available – the hotel.

Again much better than the tasteless stuff of last night. Italian style pasta with “beacon”. There was even some small pieces of ham in it as well.

Afterwards, I couldn’t resist the caramelised banana with rum, whilst David had his normal ice cream.

Retiring to the comfy chairs as everyone else was still awaiting their main course, I went for the local drink option … listed on the menu as “Noni Mix – Viagra Tica”.

This turned out to be a non alcoholic glass of smoothie made from the fruit of a noni.  It smelled like a bowl of sick and tasted like one too. Thankfully I’d also ordered a rum and coke. However, waste not want not.

After I introduced the phrase “Am Dram” into the conversation, David fell asleep in the chair and started snoring. We took the cue and headed off to bed.

Currently waiting for the mozzies to descend. Itching already.

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