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Central America: Costa Rica

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Daily Itinerary: 12.1-12.10:

12.1.04 - Got up early and took a very cramped minibus to Granada. Walked around town, went down to the lake, checked internet, and had lunch. Got another bus to Rivas, where we transferred onto another that took us to Penas Blancas, on the Costa Rica border. No problems getting across border. Met American surfer and an English backpacker. Found out it was too late to get a bus to Upala, so we waited for a bus to Liberia, where we spent the night at a very nice hostel (cable TV!). Had a good chicken dinner and conversation at a restaurant by the bus station.

12.2.04 - Woke up early and met Miriam and David Kemp at the Burger King, who gave us a ride up to Upala. Arrived at Dave's cousin's, Mildred and Levi, where we got a good breakfast. Went with Levi to help upright a flipped-over banana truck, and spent the afternoon exploring farm and riding on rice combine. Also got some writing and photo work done. Had dinner and played Skip-Bo with the family afterwards.

12.3.04 - Got up and had breakfast with the family. Eric spent the morning doing some varnishing around the stairs in the house, Dave went to Miriam and David's house where he helped skin a rabbit. We had dinner there, and returned back to the house where we hung out and took a nap. Visited with the family in the evening and went to bed.

12.4.04 - Got up at 5AM and caught an early bus towards Monteverde. Waited along Pan-Am for connecting bus, and eventually arrived in Santa Elena/Monteverde around noon. Walked 8KM to the Nature Reserve, visited the Quaker Cheese Factory, and stopped at Quaker School along the way. Met Stephen, a teacher who said we could camp on his yard for the night. Left our bags with him, and went up and explored the reserve for a few hours. Watched sunset over Gulf of Nicoyo, and were chased out of pasture by a horse. Came back to Stephen's house, where we chatted with him for awhile before going to bed. Camped out, a very windy night.

12.5.04 - Went to Quaker meeting in AM, and joined them for a potluck lunch afterwards. Walked back to Santa Elena, where we got an afternoon bus to San Jose. On the road out of town, our bus had to stop for an ambulance and fire crew cleaning up an accident...a car went over the edge and two people were killed. Eventually arrived in San Jose in the evening, and looked for a cheap hostel. Couldn't find the one listed in our book, but found a young guy who works at a supermarket who walked us to a cheap one. Lime green interior/exterior, cold showers, and a friendly old woman. Had a good night of sleep.

12.06.04 - After we woke up, we walked around town and worked on internet stuff for a while. We also tried to find a Lonely Planet South America, but after 5 different bookstores, were unsuccessful. We found a decent lunch for 800 colonies, and got a bus for San Isidro de General. Unfortunately there were no more seats left, so we ended up standing for the entire 3.5 hours. When we arrived in San Isidro, we tried to find a way out to the Gorton's house, but found that we would have to spend the night in town and wait for the morning. After walking all over town and looking for a cheap restaurant, we ended up getting some chop suey from a vender in the parque. And then an evening of writing and relaxation...

12.7.04 - Woke up, did some grocery shopping, and got a bus towards Dominical. Following the dirctions given to us by John (friend of the Gordons), we hiked about 7KM off the main road and up a mountain to the Gordon's place. Were met there by Warner, their caretaker who immediately welcomed us and fixed us some food. Talked with him for awhile, relaxed, and explored the property. Later he took us to a 500-600 meter cliff at back of the property. Witnessed an incredible sunset over the ocean. Came back to house, hung out with John and some friends he brought up for the night. Couldn't sleep because of cofee, stayed up late talking.

12.8.04 - Woke up early and walked down to help fix Gorton's homemade hydroelectric power plant. Got the electricity back, returned to house and said goodbye to John and gang. Did some writing, reading and relaxing throughout the afternoon. Dave went for a hike, Eric chatted with Warner. Had spaghetti dinner and went to bed early.

12.9.04 - Woke up with the sun and hiked with Warner to the Casa de Piedra, a large cave back behind a waterfall. Spent some time exploring and enjoying the beautiful location. In the afternoon, hiked to a couple waterfalls, went swimming, did some writing/reading, and enjoyed the sunset. Made a delicious dinner and built a fire to help dry out clothes. Went to bed to the sound of waterfalls.

12.10.04 - Packed up and said goodbye to our home in the cave. Hiked down to the base of the cliff, were we got a free ride to the main road, and then took a bus to Dominical, right along the coast. While waiting for our bus to the border, we laid out our clothes to dry and cooled off in the ocean. Took a long bus ride to Ciudad Neily, where we got something to eat and did Internet work. Another bus to Paso Canoas, where we did our first night-time border crossing, and had lots of hassle trying to find immigration office and buy tourist card. Finally got through, and boarded an express overnight bus to Panama City.


David P. Landis & Eric S. Kennel

July18, 2004