Fish Catching Travel
Earthquake, Dead People, Road Rage, and Hookers.
We are finally home after quite the adventure. As this was our first real travel in Central America it was nothing short of a crazy experience. Our only other experience in that part of the world was an island off Belize, so this was an eye opening experience. I have some more pictures to post but first I want to cover our last day.
We were up at 6 to catch our first boat from Red Frog Resort on Bustamante Island to Bocas Del Torro Archipelago, which is another island. The sea was calm and not raining so the ride was good, and boat number 2 was on time for the half hour ride to Almirante Panama on the mainland. From there is was a 1 hour van ride to the border crossing from Panama to Costa Rica. Then it was immigration and the cool walk across the bridge to Costa Rica. From there Costa Rica immigration and another hour van ride back to Banana Azul in Puerto Viejo to pick up our other bags.
We had a 2 hour layover and while we were eating lunch all of a sudden everything got woozy and it took everyone a minute to realize that there was an earthquake. It was only the second one I have ever felt and you could see the water in the pool flowing back and forth. Quite an experience to add to the trip.
The van to take us back to San Jose for the plane the next day got there at 2 and off we went on what was supposed to be a 4 – 5 hour ride. We headed out on the main road from the Caribbean side up the mountains to San Jose. It is a mess with tons of trucks from the Port of Limon to San Jose. As there is no railroad across the country it is all done with trucks on that one road. I can not over emphasis how absolutely crazy folks drive there. Double yellow and blind corner means pass at least 5 cars. Traffic backed up? Pass on right or left, it is almost impossible to describe.
So when we got to within 60 km of San Jose traffic was backed up on the road for miles, it is only 2 lanes snaking through the mountain rain forest. Our driver hopped out and the guy riding in the front seat translated, “Accident with dead people.” Now as we all know that can back up traffic everywhere, but Costa Rica is another deal. If there is an accident no one moves anything, moving after an accident means you are guilty. And to top it off they wait for the police, ambulance, and get this, the insurance companies of all involved. Are you kidding me! Nothing like your local agent to help clear matters up.
So here we are only an hour from San Jose and we have to turn around and go back to take another route. Unfortunately the only real route meant another 3 or 4 hours to get there. Now that would have been great if it was daylight. For those of you local, think about coming down the hill at Schulenburg, then multiply by 500. We took a road through the mountains that was beyond winding, it was curve, after curve, after curve. Being Saturday night people were walking along it everywhere, riding bikes, it was crazy. Our driver was flat out awesome as we roared through the mountains. It would have been a beautiful drive in the day time. Costa Rica is a so pretty.
We came into the city the back way and went through several towns where of course the traffic was terrible, but in Costa Rica it is what it is. Then we saw a car cut another one off and bump it, and the other driver rammed into the side of the other car. Then he cut across multiple lanes of traffic and the medium and pulled a u turn on a 6 lane road, with his lights off. We then learned our driver was a former cop as he called it in. More on the cop thing later.
So finally after 13 hours we get to our hotel. What a trip, as this whole thing has been. We check in and head to the sports bar at the hotel, time for supper and a cold one. One thing we noticed in our room along with the drinks and chips was there was room service condoms, which seemed strange, but we also saw that in Greece. Then it dawned on us, prostitution is legal. Coming in to the hotel it was a Saturday night and there was few ladies of the evening here and there.
At our hotel there were several American men staying there and guess what, they had a friend with them. It was just different. No one at the hotel thought a thing about it, there are lots of travelers to Costa Rica who come for that. The sports bar attached to the hotel had a poker game going and occasionally someone would meet his date. Just one of the quirky things about Costa Rica. The next day it was to the airport and then home. Of course when we went to get the car the battery was dead but it was quickly remedied and here we are.
A Few Random Thoughts on Costa Rica and Travel
Do not drive in Costa Rica, period. People are nuts and it is just as cheap to take taxis and there is transport available everywhere for a reasonable price, definitely as cheap as a car and less life threatening. Getting rid of the car the last week was the best decision we ever made. If we had been driving the last day and encountered that accident we would have been sitting in line for hours without a clue what to do. Lucky.
Costa Rica is not the safest place we have ever been, it may have been the worst though we had no problems. But it was don’t walk at night, don’t leave anything in the car, don’t carry to much money, those kinds of warnings were everywhere.
San Jose at night would clearly not have been safe. And if you ever think of going to Costs Rica and anyone tells you to go anywhere near Limon they are nuts. Probably one of the worst cities ever, and Nancy has been to Nairobi and it compared to that. Our driver was an ex cop from San Jose who quit to drive the transport because it was to dangerous – to be a cop!
Panama is a different vibe all together. We will absolutely go back and enjoyed everything about our experience there. It has everything Costa Rica has.
They tell you to leave your passport in your room and carry a copy, not a good idea. We encountered several check points where that would not have worked. And if you need money at a bank a copy does not cut it.
In both countries, unless you are in town with a bank, do not plan on always getting money out of an ATM. Get cash, and then get some more. It was nice in Panama as they use bucks and it simplified things.
Basic Spanish is almost necessary in Costa Rica. Try dealing with a locksmith in a small town as it gets dark in not the safest place, that was interesting.
In spite of all those things above, the scenery, the people, the whole experience far out weighed the bad. The wildlife, the fishing, the places we stayed, and the fellow travelers made it all worth while.
Do not let any of the above deter you from going fishing in Costa Rica, it is world class. We were in lots of other places that had nothing to do with fishing. I would, and hope to, go back fishing. It is simple, a transport to the coast and hotel. Taxi to the marina, plenty of restaurants in safe walking distance. It is not as dangerous as it might seem, it just takes some common sense.
A Few Final Pictures
Ryan the bartender at Palmar in Panama
This is Ryan an expat from Oregon eating the rest of Nancy’s supper off her plate. These guys were great. A tent camp on the beach, it is owned by a couple of young Americans. If you want it cool with some hilarious guys at a great place this is it! http://www.palmartentlodge.com/
Red Frog Beach Panama.
The sloth I showed you the other day, he finally moved 2 days later.
Our resident friend on the deck of the villa.
Coming in to Bocas Del Toro.
Better than the water.
Nancy headed back across the bridge from Panama to Costa Rica. Time to go home.
If you are a bird lover Costa Rica should be on your list.
The last picture of the trip. Sloths are just plain weird!
So there you have it. One of the more interesting trips I have ever taken. The fishing with Quepos Fishing Adventures was more than I could ever have imagined. The river rafting was a hoot. Walking across the bridge between countries in the rain forest was one of the highlights of any of our travels. There really is not more to say than I already have, what a trip. I have some video that I will add to future posts as soon as I get them edited.
Now it is back to real life. The weather looks good and it will be back to the fishing. I can’t wait to get back to the Gulf and see if the fishing has remained as good as it was when I left. There are also a few reports and comments that I got while gone and I will get those up in the next couple of days. So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.
Good Luck and Tight Lines