Purple Sunsets
in Tortuga Beach, Costa Rica on 4th April, 2013


We have been getting used to San Jose's rundown bus stations and overheating buses packed with teenaged Mothers holding their crying children. We had an early morning bus down to the South Western part of Costa Rica to a place called Turtle Beach.

Before setting off Google Maps told me of three routes to get there. I assumed the bus would use one of them and, while driving onward to a more southernly location, would drive by our resort where we could jump off. The bus ended up using none of those three routes.

The costal parts of the country are touristy, expensive and generally hotter than the inland. We were the only foreigners on the bus and the bus driver was dropping and picking people up door-to-door using an inland route which wouldn't go anywhere near our hotel (unless we wanted to walk through 30KM of rugged mountains to get there).

During the trip there was a temperature reading showing on an LED display. It showed the temperature ranging between 22C and 34C throughout our drive. By the time we were close to our destination the bus driver kept the door open while driving in order to cool down the bus.

Eventually the bus pulled up at a bus station 30KM south of where we wanted to go. We collected our bags and found a taxi to drive us the remainder of the way. When we got to the resort it was on a lookout. The car barely made it up the 400 meter mud slope to reach the entrance. I would have died climbing up that slope with the bags so I'm glad we had the taxi.

We agreed $30 for the taxi trip when we set off. The taxi driver demanded $35 when we got there. I refused, gave him $30 and sent him on his way.

We could see the ocean from everywhere around the resort compound, our room had about 15 meters of lawn in front of it before a cliff drop off and there was a warm water pool right next to the restaurant and bar.

The only problem with the place was it's remoteness. There was one off license at the bottom of the hill and from there it was a 2KM walk along a motor way with almost no shoulder up and down hills to the nearest beach. If the walk there didn't kill you the walk back with the final 400-meter stretch up the mud hill would have you in tears. I'm sure most of this would be fine in mid-20s temperatures but it was mid-30s temperatures that we had to deal with almost every day.

On the second day we did a tour heading out on the pacific ocean to do some turtle, dolphin and whale watching. The whales are normally only spotted about once a week but turtles and dolphins are seen just about every time. The boat was driven up to a beach, dropped onto where the tide was coming in and as waves would roll in it would be carried bit-by-bit out to sea. When the boat was at stomach-level we all ran into the ocean and jumped onboard.

I'm never really certain about the security situation in any of these countries I'm visiting for the first time so I tend to keep half my valuable stuff in my hotel room hidden around and the other half spread around my pockets and backpack while I'm out and about. In my backpack I had our passports, money, iPhone, backup drive, camera, lenses, etc... I held the bag above my head and walked into the sea to get on the boat. Once on they warned the waves could be high during the initial set off so we put our bags into a storage hole at the front of the boat.

The two guys conducting the tour kept in touch with other boats in the area with an iPhone and relayed any dolphin sightings to one another. Eventually we'd come across the dolphins in small pools and they'd swim along side the boat, occasionally breaking away to do flips in the air.

While searching for a new school of dolphins we came across a bird which was floating on the water. It had broken at least one of it's wings. It looked calm. A woman picked it out of the water and placed it in a small spot underneath the captain's wheel. The captain promised to take it to an animal rescue centre. Triin kept a periodic eye on the bird during the remainder of the boat ride.

Towards the end of the boat trip we came across a turtle swimming near a remote shoreline. It would keep just below the surface of the water for all but a few moments when it would lift it's head above the water before quickly diving again.

The next day we got one of the two guys working at the resort to offer us a free lift down to a beach about 20KM down the road from where we were staying. Once there we spent the day walking around one of the best-looking beaches we've seen on this trip and had a lovely lunch nearby.

When we wanted to get back to our resort I went to an off license and asked if they knew of a taxi company. Three people used five different phones to call around and eventually found a company willing to send a driver. Without a car in these parts you leave your mobility in the hands of others.

Throughout this trip we usually got two of the three where ever we went: air conditioning, internet, good choice of food. Here we were missing air conditioning. It wasn't as bad as when I didn't have it for a few days in Thailand last year but I still hated the feeling of being wet and sticky all the time. Waking up with a wet pillow isn't nice.

Before we left I made a small Happy Birthday video for my Dad. I would be in Cuba during his 66th birthday and I wanted him to have a message from me just incase I couldn't make contact on the day.


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