Monday, October 10, 2005

Pura Vida, Maje

Since my last entry, I've had a great time, met lots of people, and crisscrossed Costa Rica on its mountain highways. I crossed into Southwestern Costa Rica last Tuesday and spent a couple of days on the Peninsula de Osa. The National Park there is closed right now; the roads are washed out due to rainy season floods. But I got to go for a walk in the woods and see lots of wildlife...including a group of monkeys which had killed a toucan and were eating it, dropping entrails onto the path below. I met three American guys there--two live on the peninsula and one is looking into buying land--and got a ride with them to San Jose. The roads go up and up and around the mountains, through clouds and the inevitable downpour or three. It was a hair-raising ride, especially at the hands of Will, who I think was warming up for the Indy 500. The roads are filled with potholes, and despite all our dodging and weaving to avoid them, just an hour outside of San Jose we slammed into one and got a flat tire...only to change it and discover that the spare was also flat! But the gas station nearby had clearly seen its share of flat tires and we were on our way in no time.

In San Jose I caught up with my friend Marco, a former colleague from Lucerne who now lives in Mexico City but who was back for a week of work. It was great to see him, meet his friends, go out, and basically see a different side of San Jose, through a local's eyes. But we were back on the road for Saturday night; one of his friends had rented a house for the weekend in Puerto Viejo, so we drove all the way back down to the far Southeast of the country. The house was great, fairly secluded and right in the woods (We were all awakened in the morning by extremely loud howler monkeys right outside the house) and with easy access to the beach. Yesterday we stopped off in Limon, also on the Caribbean, to check out the Carnival happening there and have a delicious homecooked Caribbean meal prepared by the mother of one of Marco's friends. Chicken in coconut milk & tomato sauce, rice & beans, fried plantains...yum! And thankfully Marco is a much more sane driver than Will, so I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Now I'm up in the north, at La Fortuna, the jumping-off place for visits to Arenal Volcano, which I'll see tomorrow, followed by a soak in the hot springs. The volcano looms over this little town, and as it is active, supposedly at night you can see it glowing, and occasionally spouting lava. But for the moment, it's raining and I can see nothing through the clouds.

I've got some great photos from the last few days; hopefully I'll get to upload them soon.