Atlanta

OK, you wouldn’t normally expect Atlanta, Georgia to feature in an itinerary of Costa Rica, but on this occasion, thanks to good ol’ US of A immigration, it did.

The last night in CR was fine, we took a hotel near the airport run by a Geordie and her Italian husband, not this one though:

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Then we were treated to an hour on the tarmac at San Jose due to some immigration issue there, then on our late arrival into Atlanta where we should’ve had a couple of hours’ layover, we were met by queues that were miles long at immigration, supposedly due to the automatic passport machines going down.

Surprise, surprise, we missed our connection then had to queue for hours more to re-book the flight and see about a hotel. They booked us for a flight the following day but were told all the hotels were full, due to hundreds of other passengers also missing their connections. So we were left to our own devices, and eventually got ourselves to bed at 1.30am.

Next day we had a few hours to kill so went to Atlanta’s midtown area on a whim, for a quick walk in the rain around Piedmont Park and then lunch at nearby Joe’s on Juniper. Not the most subtle of gay bars, though it took us a while to figure it out. The clues are all there though, the “Adult Trivia night”, “Salad Tossed Daily”, “Eat, Drink and be Mary” and the back of the servers’ T shirts which read “100 beers and stiff cock-tails”.

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And so a great trip had to come to an end, and the sleepy folks prepare for the long drag home.

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Posted from Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

Cahuita

The road to Cahuita was reasonably long, but fairly straightforward. For about 100Km or so we were on the main highway feeding the ports of Moins and Limon, but it’s just a regular two lane road and FULL of very slow trucks. You can quite often get sections that are straight enough to overtake, even though the lines usually tell you that you can’t, but they are duly ignored. The problem is there is so much traffic in both directions that this is easier said than done.

At one point there was a truck in front of us, and ahead of him I could see what I thought was a dead animal in the road. I expected the truck to straddle across it, and I was getting ready to either do the same or swerve around it, as it looked quite big. Instead the truck stopped, and I went past it, only to find it was a live sloth! We’re not sure if he had fallen from a tree or was taking a leisurely stroll across the road to find a new feeding ground. He was so cute, I hope he made it OK.

For quite a while we followed this chap on his bike, who seems to have a small wheel alignment issue – he’s actually (somehow) driving in a straight line here. God forbid he ever needs to use his brakes!

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A typical local coffee brewed at your table in a roadhouse stop

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On arrival at Cahuita we found a very pleasant little traveller’s town on the coast, and found a chalet operation, the Alby Lodge, which was deserted and had the place to ourselves

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Well apart from plenty of crabs who were living in every corner

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And the caiman that lives in the pond

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A well earned rest on the porch after a long day

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More importantly. a refreshing drink

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The town has a beach either side of it, Playa Negra to the north, with sand that is really quite black, though perhaps that doesn’t show so well in the pic

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And to the south, Playa Blanca, with beautiful golden sand. Unfortunately we forgot our cameras the time we walked along this properly

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A few kilometres up the road is the sloth sanctuary, not the best presented of places really, I have to say. They could do a lot better with it. Nonetheless, they are CUTE!

This is Mille, a two-fingered sloth with a hangover. Interestingly it’s incorrect to say two “toed” sloth, as they all have three toes on their feet, it’s just their hands that are different.

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Next are Johnny Depp and Taz, also two-fingered, who live together, which actually doesn’t happen in the wild. In the tree tops, they would mate for 40 seconds, with a 100% pregnancy success rate, then go their separate ways.

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This is Toyota, a three-fingered sloth. They are more active during the daytime than the two-fingered variety who are more nocturnal. That’s not saying a lot though as they barely move. Toyota literally has three fingers, (not six) as he’s only got one arm! He lost one when he grabbed an electrical cable on a pole when moving between trees. This is the number 1 cause of sloth deaths and it’s very unusual to see one survive it at all

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A baby sloth

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Finally this is Buttercup

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We were lucky as she decided to come down for us and say hello

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A genuine tree-hugger

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High-five

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Cahuita was a wonderful ending to the trip, more so because we hadn’t really planned on going down that far originally. However, that time has come when we need to start packing up and head back up near the airport for our final night

Posted from Cahuita, Limon, Costa Rica.

Tortuguero

This was a fairly epic journey, from coast to coast. Coming off the peninsula we did a balance of what the crazy lady on the GPS wanted us to do, versus common sense and it worked out well. We retraced our route across the ferry and then foolishly ignored crazy lady by taking a route over the north of San José towards Guapiles. This has us driving up some nutty steep mountain roads over all sorts of terrain in some crap weather, heavy rain and fog. I’m sure the views from up here would be epic on the right day. Hours later we arrived at Puerto Viejo where we overnighted in another zoo.

Breakfast time at the cabin

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Right outside the cabin we got to see out first sloth in the wild. You can’t really make it out here as they’re very high up in the tree, but this is mother and baby here.

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We got a lovely cabin for the night, featuring a typical gringo shower where they basically stick an electric shower head on the end of a pipe. Health and safety is always forefront here though, as you can see by the “do not touch” sign. A slight snag with this is that the power switch is on the unit itself.

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From here it was just a couple more hours’ drive to La Pavona which is where you park your car and get a boat to Tortuguero, as this area is only accessible by boat or plane, but not by road! The boat was interesting as there’s not really any water in the river in dry season, so you’re constantly dragging along the bottom or scraping the banks, desperately looking for a few inches of depth to make passage.

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The engine on our boat was overheating and kept cutting out, but still we were faring better than one we passed coming in the other direction who’d spanked his motor against a rock and cracked the gearbox case. We had to carry on for several miles before our guy could even get a phone signal to summon help, so I hate to think how long they were stuck there.

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Eventually you pop out of the river into a series of deeper water lagoons which is where Tortuguero Village lies, and old logging village now given over to tourism. Although we scored an excellent room in the Casa Marbella on the waterfront, the vibe in the village was a little weird, and they really hadn’t made the most of the restaurants, many of which were dark and dingy, whereas they could have lovely outdoor areas or waterfront decks. An alternative to staying in the village is to stay in a resort out in the jungle of which there’s several, but you’d need to organise yourself a bit to arrange the boat shuttle to get there and once you’re there you’re sort of stuck there and fully reliant on the resort’s facilities to get you around, which is not always my cup of tea.

A huge lizard at the hotel, he’s about 3 feet long

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For the next morning, we had a choice of taking a motor boat into the marine national park, or an electric canoe, or a kayak. For some inexplicable reason we chose the kayak, the only one where we had to exert any effort. This is the only time we had our paddles in sync

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The rest of the gang – a couple of mad Swiss who we think later missed their flight home, who were more concerned about lighting up a fag than the tour we were on, and an American girl who I don’t think was even awake

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We saw a variety of stuff at close quarters, most of which hasn’t come out well on film, but I did catch a good one of this caiman, who wasn’t at all concerned about how close I was

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Similarly with these anhingas, male and female

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Later in the day we did a trek through the park, which was frankly rather disappointing as there was next to nothing to see. In the right season you’d see the turtles as they are coming up the beach to mate, but without them there wasn’t a whole lot else..

Next day we braved the boat back up to La Pavona, thankfully there’d been a bit of rain so there was at least a fraction more water in the river than when we came down. A caiman watches our boat

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Safely having picked it up (the car, not the caiman), we’re making our way south down through Limon province along the Caribbean coast to Cahuita

Posted from Roxana, Limon, Costa Rica.