BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2005

Costa Rica 9 -- October 7, 2005
Into the jungle

By Bob Corbett

I was up at 4:30 AM again, carefully fixed my small fanny pack in what I thought was the IDEAL manner, and it wasnít. I caught the 6 AM bus to Manuel Antonio and was unhappy that I had arrived at high tide. When I was walking in the water yesterday I walked over to the park through the estuary which was just ankle deep. On my first visit it was about waist deep and I used the little boat, but it didnít ROW, they just had me get in and pushed it the five foot to the other side.

This time I got a boat ride. The water was way up and I got a 50 yard ride for my 100 colones.

The ranger was on time today, well not so. The guy who rowed me over went in to the closed-up shack and told him I was there. He then let me in.

There is no map, this drives me crazy, but I followed the Letís Go guide book. It said get on the beach, walk to the end, then you will come to a trail to the next beach. Well, those notes werenít for the high tide. After walking just a bit on the beach, not 100 yards, there was no beach and the waves were crashing again the high rocks. No way in the world around that on foot via the water route.

I went back to the path and came to a trail marked Senderos ..... whatever that beachís name was. So, I just figured there was a TRAIL there around the rocks. Senderos is a trail. Playa is a beach. And it was a trail and it was stunning, much more exciting and magnificent than my first day. But, it was a killer. Made my first trail seem like a walk around Grand Basin at home. My odometer tells me it was 2.1 miles but it took me a full hour.

It was deep Tarzan jungle. The deepest Iíve ever seen, right out of one of the 1940s Tarzan movies. I thought I was going a hundred yards around the rocks, so I had on my sand shoes, no shirt. Just as well I had tucked my shirt away; in moments I was just dripping wet as though I had swum around those rocks. But I knew I hadnít because I was still alive!!!!

My friend Jeanne had warned me: donít grab for a tree if you slip. She had gotten "bitten" by a tree and saw a fellow bleeding from one. I spotted these trees -- most of the trees along this trail -- have very long spikes on them, most about 2 inches, just like needles. They would have gone completely through my hand, they were tough as steel. For third to forty minutes I kept telling my self -- you canít grab a tree. Sure enough, I slipped and grabbed a tree, and the luck of the old Irish, I grabbed one of the very few WITHOUT the spikes. Eventually I put my hand on one, but again lucked out since these were tiny baby oneís and I hit them on an angle. I had 15 to 20 of them in my hand, but none really hurt.

That forest was so dark, just like night, and the screaming sounds and such. But I didnít see one single animal nor even any interesting birds in that full hourís walk.

When I came down out of it I was on a beach, the one I wanted. Still have no idea how I came to get there that way. No one was around, so I took off my shorts and went into the sea in just my underwear. I was so hot I was dying and dripping. This turned out to be a very bad idea. When I came out and sat on a rock for a while, with scary huge crabs, and then put my shorts on over the wet underwear. All the way through the rest of the walk and all the way home those wet underwear were rubbing on my groin and I was so sore and red when I got home.

But, back at the beach, I walked on, did climb some rocks to get to the next beach called Playa Tres, the third beach. And there was a picnic area and all. I sat there just resting and gasping for breath. And I had no water with me at all. I heard a noise and turned. There was a very strange animal under the next picnic table, five foot from me. I thought it was a cat. Then I noticed a totally un-cat tail and a curious face. We just stared at each other, he wasnít freighted of me, nor me of him (or her).

Just then a guide came alone with a foreign couple, but they spoke heavily accented English to the guide. I pointed out the animal and asked the guide itís name. It was a white nosed coati, and I was right, basically harmless.

But I asked the guide where did you come from, he was on a sand path, probably not 300 yards from the ranger station where I entered. I was stunned. I said: thatís the main path? He said yes, how did you get here. I pointed to the mountain. He roared, oh my he said, that is a very difficult trail isnít it. I just shook my head.

I had really had it. I was beat and my pedometer was already at four miles. I decided to head home via the back exit and down the sloth trail where Iíd seen all the monkeys last time. I walked it slowly and quietly and didnít see one single monkey, not all morning. I did see at least 1/2 dozen agouti again, and one very large -- 2foot long thing. I was right at the creek where the huge trail turns up hill to the water fall, but I couldnít begin to tackle that one today.

Another guide came along with a Spanish speaking couple and I pointed out the creature to the guide. He told us it was a giant lizard, and not of the iguana family (I didnít see an iguana today either). Today was a trip for lovely and colorful birds, but Iíve yet to see the huge billed toucan, I do get to see one of those in the wild.

I was wet, tired, very thirsty, rubbed raw and wanted to be home. I came to the road and hopped a bus within minutes and walked that last 100 yards past the soccer field very very slowly. I was sore.

I drank nearly 1/2 gallon of cold water from my refrigerator, had a lovely cold shower that felt just awesome, put on clean dry clothes and just relaxed a bit.

In a while I headed to Soda Sanchez for an early lunch, would be my first food of the day (not so, I had a couple of pineapple slices in my room at 5 AM) and that would be my main meal coming up. I got the chicken planchetta and had no idea what I had ordered but expected it was a breast filet, thatís what planchetta sounded like to me.

I was right. But what a gigantic meal. A LARGE, just huge chicken breast grilled with lovely sauce. Large portion of beans and rice, large portion of spaghetti with meat sauce and salad. This was a gigantic meal served on a large platter. I ate every bit. Ah, this feast set me back a full $3.00. Honest. $3.00 for that delicious meal. I had passion fruit juice, freshly squeezed with it, two of those, each was 50 cents!!!!

Now I am just exhausted, ready for a long nap. I am so very tired, but not hurting any longer.

I didnít pack well for this trip to the forest and wonít go back to the forest this weekend, there will be too many people. And since it is closed on Monday, next Tuesday will be my third trip there. This time, in order to carry only the fanny pack and not the back pack (a really good idea) I wore my sandals there and changed to the beach shoes when I got off the bus. The tennis shows over-crowded the fanny pack. And I did bring my book and note pad, a dumb idea. It is very hard for me to leave home without my book.

Iím headed to the grocery now to buy a pack of shoe laces. I realize if I just lace the tennis shoes TOGETHER via two of the eyelets, then I can tie the shoes to the back of the fanny pack in a way they wonít bounce on my back. Iíll practice that over the week end walk the public beach.

If I do that, then I can also fit in a water and the towel I need. It will work. Iíll get it all figured out by tomorrow and try it on my near-dawn walk on the public beach.

Good grief, Jeanne wrote me that a hurricane hit Puerto Rica. I never heard one single word about it. I understand no Spanish and avoid English speaking people as much as I possibly can. I did walk past a bar yesterday and saw a Cardinal uniform on TV. It was Larry Walker up with the bases loaded and he struck out. But, I purchased a Canada Dry soda and watched a few innings of the game. With the Cards winning 4-0 I took off for home since a storm was brewing. Good thing I did, it was a long long and fierce storm. I sat on my little porch and watched it for hours.

Off to see about some rest.... Itís so hot out there today, I hate to leave this air-conditioned internet place.

Bob

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu