Part Two of the “Costa Rica On The Cusp” Series
By Gary Davis Please Recommend This!
See The Introduction to The “Costa Rica on The Cusp” Series Here
I had been to several of the Southern beaches, on the typical wild goose chase that the realtors in C.R. seemed to relish in putting me through. I simply wasn’t finding what I wanted and had heard Playa Coyote in the southern part of the Peninsula Nicoya in the province of Guanacaste was nice and undeveloped (you could say that again).
Peninsula Nicoya is a large peninsula maybe 1/8 the size of the Baja peninsula. I didn’t know any realtors there so decided it would be great to just take a look and for once not be frustrated by having to deal with a prostitu… err… realtor.
There was only one small problem. I was driving a 4 wheel drive that sometimes started right away and sometimes made me think it was never going to start (I found out later the problem was with the key, not the car).
If you have the best map you can get of C.R. it still won’t be accurate. I think it might be because they add and subtract roads at will. Not the government, who is supposed to be in charge of the roads, but people who own (or think they own) land. And if there is more than one way to get to a place, which there usually is, one way may be passable, another not, and you have no way of knowing and for that matter the locals may not know either, because conditions can change season to season and especially during the season. And of course the government is completely clueless and is incapable of keeping up with the myriad of dirt roads that squiggle all over the place.
So my map showed a couple of choices, I got to the place where I needed to make a choice, stopped a local, showed him the map, made a choice. Wrong choice (or maybe not, because I wouldn’t have had this adventure if I’d made a different choice)! I take off. I come to a place where there’s an intersection that’s not on the map (not unusual).
I’m stopped, trying to decide whether to take my chances or go back to square one when a red Toyota pickup comes by and takes what looked like to me to be the most likely choice. It’s a beautiful country, it’s a beautiful day, I’d been lost other times and things always worked out. The people are very helpful and friendly and it doesn’t look like I could be lost for more than a hour anyway. And I figured I’d stay close behind the Toyota so if I really needed help I could honk.
No problem staying close because what started out as a narrow road soon became nothing more than a cat track and I never got out of second gear. After about an hour of winding around through these beautiful mountains and almost running off the road a few times because it’s very difficult to keep up with someone and look at the beautiful vistas too, I began to realize I may never make it to P. Coyote. No problem. There hadn’t been too many other cat tracks crossing this one so I knew I could back track out of there.
About another hour goes by and we come upon another intersection and there are a couple buildings there. The Toyota stops. They were aware that I had been following them so when I pulled up alongside to ask for help they had this amused, “what the f… is this crazy gringo doing way out here”, look on their faces.
So I tell them where I want to go. I’ll be damned if one of them didn’t speak a little English! What luck! Because he was able to say “go to this (landmark) turn right, go to the next (landmark) turn left, and so forth. Had he not known a little English I wouldn’t have had a clue because these landmarks were words in Spanish I didn’t know.
I take off, find the landmarks, make the turns and whoopee, I’m at the beach in another hour. There’s absolutely noting there except a Tico house with an extended covered patio that they sort of called a bar/restaurant. And they had one customer, a cop. In the boonies like that the cops ride dirt bikes (must be fun).
So once again I’m in luck because by now it’s getting late enough in the day that I’m a little uncomfortable thinking about trying to back track and since I know there’s got to be another way out, I show the cop my map. Sure enough, not only does he know exactly how I should go but he also knows exactly where I shouldn’t go. He knows where the road is washed out and impassable but how to get around it.
So I buy us a beer, he’s happy, I have a little lunch and just then these two young guys (gringo’s) in another 4×4 pull up. They’re lost too. So we go over my map. Make sure we’ve got the cops directions down right. Have a couple more beers and they’re ready to go. I tell them not to take off until they see my car move and they say “oh, no, we need you to follow us anyway because our car totally craps out now and then”.
Is this the blind leading the blind? My car starts, we’re off and I swear we’re back to where I started from in less than an hour using the cop’s directions. But by this time it’s around 4pm, we’re almost at the end of Peninsula Nicoya, there’s a ferry that goes from the end across the gulf to the mainland town of Puntarenas, and we decide to take it. We get to the ferry, stop our cars, buy our tickets, it’s time to get on the ferry, my car starts, theirs is dead.
The two guy’s (brothers) with the 4×4 that kept dying standing on the deck of the ferry
We push their car onto the ferry, about an hour later we’re in Puntarenas, push it off on the other side with a little speed, it starts and then the search is on for a place to get it fixed. That’s almost a whole other story in itself. But I was headed to Jaco for the night, which is about an hour from Puntarenas and a whole lot more fun, so I offer them a ride. Yes, they say, and they’ll hitch hike back for their car the next day. I left them at the eye candy store (a bar with a multitude of pretty ticas) late that night after many more beers. I guess they made it back to their car the next day.
This shot I took as we made the ferry crossing to Puntarenas
But before I leave this adventure, let me tell you about the ferry ride. This is an old ferry but it has both an enclosed deck and an open deck. When there’s nice weather, which is about 95% of the time, people gather on the open deck. There’s food, beer, a well stocked bar and it’s totally party time for the hour or so that it takes to get across the gulf. I got the most beautiful shots of a sunset I’ve ever been able to get (you can see one at www.plumitapacifica.com) and we all had fun!