bulletTravelogue Costa Rica — Day 9, Friday, 26th November 2010

Santa Elena — Rincon de la Vieja NP: 157 km (98 mi)

As yesterday we wake up by sunshine. Excellent conditions for the sky walk which we missed yesterday because of the rain. We go there immediately after breakfast and book a guided tour which is 30 $ per person (without a guide the tour is only 20 $, but we wouldn’t recommend that). The next tour normally is in one hour only, but we get an unscheduled private tour because we tell the girl at the ticket office that we don’t want to wait that long.

On a loop trail of about 2.5 km (1.6 mi) we cross 6 swinging bridges of different length (about 100 – 300 m). A unique opportunity to explore the cloud forest from the bird’s view and to walk above the tree tops. Our guide Michael knows a lot of interesting facts. Some of his explanations we knew from our yesterday’s visit to Monteverde, but we also learn new things. The most impressing information er receive is the fact that a tree here has to carry up to 5 tons of additional weight. This can be the weight of all the epiphytes which populate a single tree. For proof of this Michael shows us one tree with about that weight of epiphytes.

A very amazing animal is a centipede Michael shows us. When taking the centipede in his hands it coils up to protect itself. Then Michael rubs the animal until it produces a toxic secret: cyanide. It smells like almonds.

The tour lasts about two hours and is really a great experience. A clear recommendation! When we get back to the parking area we still have the opportunity to see some guys doing ziplining. After that we drive back to Rustic Lodge and check out there. At 11:00 a.m. we are on the “road” again. In fact it’s not a real road but a terrible and bumpy dirt road.

More than one hour we are mercilessly and thoroughly shaken. We labour along trying to avoid small and big stones as well al numerous potholes. Our average speed is only max. 15 km/h (9 mph). It is really ridiculous to find signs at the roadside reminding us to observe the speedlimit of 40 km/h (25 mph). But therefore sign posts are missing completely again. Fortunately however our GPS knows the way.

When we finally again have asphalt under our wheels we hear an ominous sound created by our right rear tire. Shit, the tyre deflates! We are lucky to make it just to the next town, Las Juntas, driving already on the rim when we stop in front of a garage.

Two guys immediately knuckle down and replace the flat tyre by our spare tyre. The screws are so tight that a lever is needed to loose them. Sure we wouldn’t have been able to manage that with our tool kit.

Now we can drive to a nearby tyre dealer where our flat tyre is repaired and mounted again. For that they charge us only 8,000 Colones (16 $). Now I realize that the 10,000 Colones I gave to the two guys at the garage, because I considered it as an appropriate tip, was a little bit too much. But we were just happy that somebody helped us and we could avoid to change the tyre on our own somewhere in no man’s land.

Some miles further we reach the Panamericana and turn right towards Liberia. On our way we stop at a big open air restaurant for having lunch. Next stop is in Liberia at a big supermarket. There we withdraw some cash from an ATM and buy some beverages and food we need for our hike tomorrow in Rincon de la Vieja Nationalpark.

About 5 km outside Liberia (3 mi) a very good gravel road leads to Rincon de la Vieja Nationalpark. After 13 km (8 mi) we reach our accommodation, Casa Rural Aroma de Campo. The access road to this beautifully located B&B is rather adventurous: very bumpy and steep. To our surprise we are welcomed in German by Kirsten, a nice German woman from Recklinghausen.

Our room is – let me put it that way – very modest. It’s very small because besides a very small double bed there is also a bunk bed in the room. For sure not the standard we are used to. At least it is clean, and we hope it will be o.k. for two nights.

But you have to see the overall picture here: the kind hosts who go out of their way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. The relaxed ambiance, the long wooden table where all guests gather for breakfast and dinner (breakfast is included, 3 course dinner is 18 $), the small refreshing fresh water pool, the many blooming exotic flowers, two dogs and a speaking parrot. Really a unique ambiance.

We are a large party for dinner: 6 Dutch,4 Germans and 2 Swiss guys. We are talking about the usual subjects: what we have experienced so far in Costa Rica and where we still want to go. Food is plentiful and delicious. At 10:00 p.m. everybody has gone to bed.


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