Costa Rica: San José & Tortuguero

My third blog in two days.  My brain hurts.  My vocabulary is depleted.  I don’t feel witty.  I will never allow a whole month to pass by without blogging ever, ever again.

Irazú Volcano

Irazú Volcano

So, after almost two weeks in Santa Teresa, a feel-good surf village with good vibes and happy dogs, I was ready for something new.  As I touched upon in my previous blog, going to the beach is, in a way, a form of masochism in that it’s pure torture to sit in the sand and look out over an expanse of fun that I can’t completely enjoy.  Because I can’t do much at the beach, it’s absolutely boring, and I’m bored with being bored.  I’m bored with the beach.  I need a serious break from beaches, which is quite difficult considering I’m in Central America.  I do realize how pathetic it is for me to say that, considering that much of the world is sitting behind a desk right now, preparing for winter.  But, whatever, I am beached out.

Scary

Scary

In order to get out of my beach funk, I decided to spend a few days in San José, Costa Rica’s capital city, with Maria Jose.  Her parents have an apartment there and she was kind enough to offer me a free place to stay for the weekend.  I arrived late Friday night on the bus, and after picking me up from the dodgy bus station, MJ and I went out for a drink and bite to eat.

Rusted Roofs.

Rusted Roofs.

The next morning, Maria Jose played tour guide, beginning with a drive up to the nearby Irazú volcano, the highest active volcano in Costa Rica.  On a sunny day, you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from the volcano’s peak, but it was a bit cloudy by the time we arrived.  We checked out the craters while gabbing away like schoolgirls.

Contrast.

Contrast.

We then had lunch at a nearby soda (what Ticos [Costa Ricans] call a small family-run restaurant serving up local fare) before wandering the halls of the Duran Sanitorium, the “most haunted place” in the country.  We didn’t see any candle-wielding nuns or coughing children, but we did manage to get a few good pictures of the grafitti-covered walls.  I have a feeling it’s an absolute fright-fest after the sun sets.  That night we hung out in front of the TV with a bottle of wine, antipasti, and good conversation, and with the next day being a rainy one, we went out for Chinese and a movie.Graffiti.

Monday morning, feeling more normal and recharged with city life, Maria Jose took me to the bus terminal, where I caught a bus-bus-boat to the tiny Caribbean village of Tortuguero, a region of canals and rivers nicknamed “Central America’s Amazon”.   I checked into the very basic Meriscar Guesthouse (can’t complain for a private room for seven bucks!), cooked dinner, and went into town to book some tours.

Road to Tortuguero.

Road to Tortuguero.

Being beached out, I ignored the ocean views in favor of the canals.  Early the next morning, my guide Francisco and I set out in a canoe to explore the flora and fauna of this biologically diverse region, and we saw a sloth, caimans (little crocodile-ish thingies), iguanas, howler monkeys, white faced capuchin monkeys, and a crapload of birds.  I was so very happy to be out in the wild again.  Nature feeds my soul.

Hello, my friend.

Hello, my friend.

That evening, under a full moon, I went out with Francisco again, this time to head to the beach (exceptions can be made) just in time to catch a large green sea turtle laying her eggs in the sand.  Once she had covered up her eggs-o’-babies and slowly made her way back into the sea, I walked back to my guesthouse and crashed.  I was exhausted from the long day.

Canals.

Canals.

The next morning, feeling satisfied from my wildlife fill, I left Tortuguero to head south to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, another beach town near the border of Panama (why do I do this to myself??).

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