12.01.2010 - 12.01.2010 70 °F
We wake up to a very rainy morning… rainy even by rainforest standards. Felico calls it “aguacero,” meaning "downpour" or "very heavy rains" in Spanish. The rain is so aggressive that we take our time packing our belongings and blow drying our damp clothes because we don’t feel safe driving down those twisting mountain roads in a torrential downpour. So after breakfast (Mrs. Li made Matt a special omelet with ham, peppers and onions, and I had cereal) and packing, I work on some writing and Matt finishes drying his hiking boots while watching Lost.
At about 11 we say our goodbyes to the Li family and Felico and head back down the winding road that circles Lake Arenal on our way to Playa Samara. But because of the heavy rains, the ground must have been SO waterlogged that we see remnants of numerous downed tree branches that slid down the steep mountainside into the street. At one point, there is a pile of rocks that slid into the road and blocked one entire lane. Then, we hit a major roadblock, literally. A huge mudslide has completely blocked the entire road about 15 minutes from Kokoro—a big mound of dirt and tree branches several feet high!
We sit for a few minutes in our car, stunned and staring at this wall of mud that is blocking our only road out of town. We eventually turn around and head back to Kokoro to ask the Li’s if there is a better route to take to get out of the mountains. Mrs. Li is the only one at the desk, and she tells us to drive into La Fortuna to meet up with Felico and his dad. Bless their hearts. Felico jumps into the car with us as we follow Mr. Li for an entire two hours down a back road south into the heart of the country, which I guess would equal a four-hour total drive for them. Along the way, we discuss with Felico everything from Costa Rican customs to American politics, which makes the long drive seem quick and enjoyable.
The landscape changes drastically as we leave the rainforest and enter what Felico calls the “Scottish countryside": grassy hills with sparse trees, a stark contrast from the dense brush and tall trees we’ve grown accustomed to the past five days. We travel to a town called San Ramon (where we part ways with Felico and promise to keep in touch via email), then drive back up Highway 1 to cross the bridge across the Nicoya Gulf into Nicoya Peninsula. The entire detour takes us an extra three hours total, which with our late start forces us to drive for about an hour in the dark.
Driving in the dark in Costa Rica (especially in a place you’ve never been before) is definitely terrifying. The roads twist and turn, rise and fall, while cars stop in the middle of the road, motorbikes without headlights or taillights zip past you, and people (and dogs) sometimes walk or stand in the road, unfazed by the traffic. Cars come careening around corners without bothering to stay in their lanes, and the street signs that actually do exist are impossible to read. It is a miracle that we arrive in Playa Samara in one piece without getting lost, or worse.
We find Samara Treehouse Inn fairly easily and are once again pleased with my amazing find. The Inn is located right on the beach, with four natural wood bungalows sitting on stilts and each with two hammocks, an eating area, a grill, and two beach chairs directly below. Toward the street is a small dipping pool (which no doubt will feel heavenly when the tropical heat and sun take their toll on me tomorrow) near reception, and on the other side of the tree houses is the beach, literally just steps from our hammocks.
The inside of our bungalow is just as impressive. With a comfortable sitting area and huge window that opens completely to allow the fresh Pacific breeze and the sound of the surf to saturate the living space, the bungalow is more like an apartment. It has a small kitchen with various appliances and cooking utensils, a cute bathroom and a separate bedroom.
Immediately, we open our window and sink onto our two love seats to listen to the ocean and watch the waves rolling in with the high tide. How is it possible that we are this close to the surf at this amazingly affordable price?
Tomorrow I’m excited to explore Samara and maybe paddle out to Isla Chora. I can’t wait to see my first sunset here in the tropics. It’s hard to believe that back home, the Midwest is being punished with blustery winds and snow showers. I don’t ever want to leave paradise.