Aguas Claras, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, Central America, Earth...
There are so many things to observe here that trying to remember them becomes the great task. First is my new all time favorite saying : “Que rico hacer nada, y descansar despues” “How nice to do nothing, and then rest afterwards” It’s not exactly like that, but it could be.
This journey began with an absolutely horrendous flight from S.F. to Miami on an American Airlines 757, truly the cattle car of modern airlines. OK, so as an american, I am spoiled by the ease with which we move about the world. But honestly, while I’m a big person, I’m not extreme, and there was no room in my seat. No matter how far I scrunched back in my seat, I still could not escape contact with the seat in front of me, which was occupied by a teenaged girl, who seemed to believe the only way to make herself comfortable was to raise herself off the cushion 6-10 inches and slam back into it. This maneuver apparently did not satisfy, however, as it was repeated over and over and over throughout the 6 hour flight.
I had given up my assigned seat, across the aisle and back a row, to a portly gentleman who was traveling with 2 small children and had been unable to book seats adjacent to each other. It seemed a small accommodation at the time. But shortly after I found myself seated behind the petite, teen-aged, human jackhammer, it became apparent that the “portly gentleman” was also traveling with a 300 pound mother hen. This woman insisted on repeatedly ping-ponging her bulk down the aisle 15 rows of seats, bouncing off the shoulders and heads of passengers who were trying to sleep, only to try to stuff more food into the faces of her loudly resistant charges. This aroused the ire of the surrounding passengers, which attracted the attention of the flight attendants, who convinced the woman to return to her seat, whence everything seemed resolved and the monster hen ping-ponged her way back to her seat, followed by a gradually subsiding wave of grumbling and growling. Things were more or less peaceful, the little jack hammer aside, until about 30 minutes later when the monster hen could no longer resist the urge and here she came again, crackers , juice or apple slices in hand, bouncing her bulk off everyone between her and the poor waifs, who we learned were her grandchildren.
Normally I can create for myself a neutral mental space from which to observe. Unfortunately, this time I was seated on the aisle and every one of the 10 round trips that she made had an impact. A cascading impact, in fact, for the little jackhammer did not respond well to having a fat woman’s breast jammed into her face. She vented her displeasure by redoubling her efforts to get comfortable by slamming the seat back harder and faster against my knees which were withdrawn as far as was physically possible, yet still wedged against the seat back.
Needless to say, while I didn’t exactly kiss the ground, I was very eager to disembark. Kelli had fared no better than I. We had 7 hours before departure for San Jose so she purchased a 1 day membership in the Admirals club and we found a quiet place to sleep, albeit in an upright position. This is normally not a problem for me. Many times I have awakened at 2 in the morning, having fallen asleep in a chair in front of the nightly news. In the days before high speed internet, I even fell asleep in front of the computer waiting for graphics to download. But Miami is a 1 season airport and it had been unseasonably cold in the southeast. So it was a balmy and welcoming 56 degrees in the Admiral’s Club. We were traveling light and prepared for the tropics so we were freezing. Kelli took a hot shower, I layered up and found my neutral zone and waited.
The flight to San Jose was wonderful. A bulkhead seat in the emergency exit row with a window, lots of leg room and a view. The Airbus 800 is not the same cattle car as the 757. There were no problems in customs or the rental car place. The clerk there was careful to give us explicit instructions for navigating downtown San Jose, including specifically where NOT to turn, and we were on our way. San jose was not impressive, as capitol cities go, but it was traversed rather quickly. Suddenly, there we were in the rain forest. It was a good road, predictable traffic, if somewhat slowed by many large trucks climbing steep hills, and occasional incredible views across verdant canyons with waterfalls and exotic trees and birds. There were pockets of fog and clouds chasing away the few brief patches of sunlight that electrified the landscape.
It was dark when we reached Puerto Limon. It seemed all the trucks in the country were headed there. Semis were everywhere, parked 4 or 5 deep on the side of the road. Every open space was filled with trucks and trailers. The roads were a mess and without signage but our directions were good and we soon found ourselves on the road to Puerto Viejo, some 60 KM south. At first it seemed a breeze. After the rutted and rough roads of Limon city, the pavement was relatively smooth and flat. Then, WHAM the right side of the car fell into a hole that threatened to swallow the whole kit and kaboodle. Kelli and I turned and looked at each other and said “What in the hell was that?” and WHAM!
OK tourists, meet the “Hueco”. In good years they are famous as vicious destroyers of rental cars and this was not a good year. The road base and asphalt were not up to the combined rigors of heavy truck traffic and the tropical rainy season. Add to that the heavy destruction of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica from several recent hurricanes and the perfectly reasonable re-allocation of resources to that region, and the result is a road so full of holes, which are so extremely large and deep that they threaten to rip wheels completely off if entered accidentally or incautiously. These are legendary and monumental huecos and there were 60 KM of them.
It had rained off and on all the way from San Jose. it was difficult to discern what was puddle and what was hueco but we managed to arrive at Aguas Claras intact, though late. Playa Chiquita, as they call this region, closes early. It was shortly after 9 and we had been travelling for over 24 hours with a teenaged jackhammer, an obsessive eater and feeder on a cattle car, then through rain and fog and trucks and huecos and there was no place to get a drink. But it was a cozy octagonal cabin, very private, with bath, kitchen, ceiling fan and geckos. Everything was peaceful for a while.