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Day 14: On a trail to Hell!

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In the morning the banana truck took us to Carate and trust me it was not an ideal mean of transportation! Everything was banging, creacking, it was as if the all truck was falling apart! The road was full of holes and small river crossing. After 2 hours, we stopped for a Costa Rican breakfast (Pinto: rice, beans, eggs and sometimes fried bananas… As always…)

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We finally arrived in Carate : our trekking start point. We spoke to two locals chilling out on the beach. It seems they were living there (I didn’t dare to ask) anyways, just before we went, I sprayed myself with a maximum mosquito repellent, took my 25 Kg bag and off we went with Jacob, our guide Danny and I. I don’t know how to explain this, but there was something shady about Danny, maybe because he was too much of a sweet talker… “We’ll see” was I thinking.

 

Our trek starting fine with squirrel monkeys, tropical parrots, humming birds, when suddenly Danny drew our attention: “¡Mira! ¡Un puma! ¡Allá! ¡Vamos rápido!” we dropped our bags (as he asked us to do so) on the side of the trail to follow, sprinting Danny among the bushes. As we reached a certain point, we were looking around around, alert to any possible move, when we heard howlings above our heads! It was no puma but a howling monkey shouting at us, something like: “Men! What the heck are you doing?! This is my hood!”

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It didn’t take long before we heard another noise nearby, “¡Allá! ¡rápido!” We are on another crazy run in the jungle, after a possible jaguar or puma, but are spinning, we were mislead again: this was a small mammal which I can’t remember the name, it didn’t take long before the third noise came to our hears, following our crazy guide, breaking branches and pushing away luxurious plants, we were mistaken for the third time, that was a parrot which literally laughed at us as we arrive! We were really far from our bags now and we were already sweaty and filthy dirty, but it doesn’t matter! It was meant to happen. We walked through the forest and Danny told us about various species of plants, trees and animals, we passed by, it was such a weird trek: we were walking alongside the coastline switching from jungle to the beach and vice and versa! Danny mentioned the most important thing was to get to Península Osa’s Cliff before 16:00 or else the tide would shut off the passage allowing us to get on the other side! As we carried on walking back in the jungle, we had the most unexpected surprised ever! We met a black panther!

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“¡Nadie hace ningún movimiento!” whispered Danny! I could not agree more! It didn’t stay long with us, but according to Danny that is a rare spectacle! Normally pumas, panthers and jaguars come only at dusk and they are very furtive… I tried to make a shot but I didn’t catch the time to make a good one! Nevermind! It will stay in my head instead. We got to an Eco lodging where we had lots of water and toilet pause. A few steps away was the National Park Registration Center where we gave our details and carried on our route!  It became more… Interesting! The road was going up and down always with the same patterns: beach – mountain – beach…

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We stopped many times to have a peak at the animals, we found a sleeping Boa in the branches, coatis, termites, spider monkeys and much more! When we reached half of our journey we found a small river where I bathed and we had lunch. We only brought dry food of course, else, they won’t let you get into the park. I mainly brought, biscuits, nuts and dried fruits… Proteins with not fat! And trust me, it worked! You lose water and weight. We had a second break further on, on the beach this time and we bathed our sweat dripping bodies from all this walking!

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We met other groups: a couple from Holland taking time making pictures, a couple of girls from Australia and England doing the same. Danny was busy talking with everyone, almost forgetting about the tide! With not much time left, we rushed to the cliff’s bottom, where we had to run on the beach, avoiding massive waves, gaining on us! What was such a close call! (Thank you for remembering Danny) the other groups made it also… Just on time!  After they passed, they kept on taking pictures and we carried on further pass “The Gate of Heaven” a massive mangrove tree with one of its roots taking the shape of a door passage! Unusual and mesmerizing indeed!

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After that it was a kind of Mario/ Donkey Kong adventure in the jungle… avoiding more massive waves on the beach and carrying on, on very muddy trails until we found a tapir in the bushes, we got close enough so that Danny could take a very good shot and also, he took a very good shot of Jacob and I and the tapir in the background. After, we walked all the way down a muddy hill to stand in front of a huge flooding river… to cross! Mentioned Danny. I asked if it was a joke, he replied “Not at all, we are waiting for the tide to go down”. “Are they crocodiles and bull sharks?” because, from where we stood the river was just streaming straight to the ocean. I watched many wildlife documentaries and it looked exactly like a predator river with muddy water and everything! Danny mentioned “he could not guarantee at 100% that nothing would happen, we would just have to wait for the others, cross quickly when the water goes down as a group”. I thought this guy must be joking! We had an hour to wait and it was raining, so we had nothing else but walking on the beach… Suddenly I shouted “F***ing crocodile on the beach!”

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Danny and Jacob got petrified as they though, it was imminent danger…! Actually it was not, the croc was something between 1m50 – 1m75 and he got scared as he saw us approaching! But it stayed on the shore, not back in the river we were supposed to cross! “So, it’s true! This is f***ing true! There are crocs and sharks in this river! Man, there’s no way I’m gonna cross it!”.

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He was giving us the speech that we just needed to have “cojones” to cross and nothing would happen. I asked Jacob, “What are we supposed to do? Are you crossing?”, “We can stay on this side of the river and walk all the way back!  I’m not gonna lose a limb!”, “But we have no equipment whatsoever!”, “I’ve done that before, it’s all about killing 10 hours and we are good?”, “What about the snakes, mosquitoes and the night animals who want a piece of us? Man, let’s face it! One hour left before sunset, we have no choice!”, “Ok, but the water needs to be at a reasonable level!” it didn’t take long for the other guys to join us! Danny told the truth about the water, it really went down fast and with another guide he crossed the river with 2 bags each on their shoulders. Although the water was at their hips, I could see from far Danny was not reassured… Though both of them went back and forth with no troubles, we crossed as a group with Jacob, the British and the Australian girl, I am tall so the water was no problem, but my bag was : my back was killing me and it was getting heavy. Jacob was crossing fast although the water was at his chest, we both were in a hurry to be done with that! Everybody did it fine, no casualties, no incidents… Good times!  But now, we had 45 minutes before reaching the refuge because at dusk, the snakes are coming out from their holes. Fortunately it was a 30 minute walk from where we were.

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When we reached “Sirena” it was a big field, at the end of it, a camping lager, with the strict minimum: dorms, shower, toilets, a cantina and the reception. And that is pretty much! We were told NOT TO WALK on the grass at night because of the snakes, or else, we die! In the evening, we had a big, well-deserved diner!
And we crashed on our dorm beds with mosquitoes curtains, trying to sleep with all the animals night howling’s! Yeah!

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