Archive for the ‘Costa Rica’ Category

Costa Rica 3 014, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Tamarindo has all the flavor of a frontier town. The roads are alternatly dusty tracks or soggy rivers – depends upon the time you visit. Atv’s, dirtbikes and Vespas are the way to travel.

Everywhere there are surf shops – neon lights at night – rastafarians, dreadlocks – California dudes and of course – the ever present “weed-weed man”. It is an interesting blend of traditional and modern. Million dollar condos spring up like mushrooms in a cow pasture, dry hills and lonely beaches spread out to either side. From here it is possible to take any number of tours – river boats, rafting – surfing and snorkling.

In the above picture surfers and fishermen head out from Tamarindo beach for deeper water and better waves.

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Costa Rica 3 278, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Saw these guys on the way to the Peninsula de Papagayo – Nicaraguan Melon pickers.

In Costa Rica the locals favor the plush jobs – dealing with tourists. The Nicaraguans do the dirty work – construction, farm labour etc. Stopping the van, I introduced myself and shook hands, they seemed shy and confused but went along with my strange ritual so as not to insult me. These guys earn around 7000 colones a day. I asked them what time they started work and through Alan our interpreter I was told they were up at 4 and working by 5.

On the outskirts of Tamarindo, a town plagued by excessivly hasty development I tailed a group of Nicaraguan construction workers as they left their work site. It was a purpulish twilight and stalking along behind I remained an illusive voyer. In small groups the workers broke off along paths into the bush. Many were staying under sheets of wriggly tin. I can only imagine the bugs and insects making life a living hell.

 The dry leaves and undergrowth were crawling with all sorts of hazards, not least of all snakes and scorpians. At that time, just after the first few rains of the wet season, the baby tarantulas were making an appearance – UG! imagine sleeping in that. I passed several of the workers rooting around beneath a mango tree, they had shopping bags and were picking fallen mangoes for their dinner. Peering for bruises and rubbing the over ripe skins I was able to pass by unnoticed.

In leaving the farm workers (above picture) they offered me a melon and though I offered to pay them, they would not take any of my money – what amazing people!

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It is not so unusual to see long nosed bats in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica 3 356, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The bats cluster here under a shaded tree trunk along the edge of the Tempisque River. They arrange themselves in this linear formation to emulate a serpent. When one moves they all move, it gives the impression of a wriggling line – something like a snake on the tree trunk. This fools would-be predators.

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Costa Rica 3 320, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

In part, my absence from the blogging world was taken up by a trip to Costa Rica from which we had just returned two weeks ago. My goals were two-fold, firstly to gather information for an article on eco – travel up the country’s rivers and secondly – a personal goal – to visit the Barra Honda Caves.

From the time of my arrival I worked to set up a trip. The Barra Honda Caves are situated at the inner elbow of the Nicoya peninsula. We were staying in Tamarindo – a surfer town on the Pacific Coast. Sadly the trip never materialized but if you are considering the same you are best advised to turn up in person at the Barra Honda Park and hire a ranger who will take you there.

By all accounts the cave is at least an hour’s hike into the jungle. I was told by a tour company operator “nobody ever goes there, it is too hard, two extreme” – looking at my belly – “You gotta be in good shape”.

I understand that there is some kind of pit just past the entrance – the no can do tour operator said it was at least 200 feet deep, the guy who took me as far as this picture said, it is only about 30 feet deep.

I was told that the caves lie within the above mountain. Is this true? I am not sure but next year when I return to Costa Rica, I will not leave until I find out!

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Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Cartago was once the capital of Costa Rica but it was replaced in 1823 by San Jose. The town began to grow in the 1500’s and as early as 1562 the pious locals erected a church to St. James the Apostle. Unfortunately the quakes and eruptions of the nearby Irazu Volcanoe threw down every structure that was ever raised on the site of the old church. Finally in 1910 the townspeople gave up. A massive gothic cathedral that had been erected there was shaken down by an earthquake once again. It was just not meant to be.

The town sits on pretty shaky ground, all of the grandest of colonial buildings have been destroyed and what remains is subject to a continual trembling assault. Earthquake damage is a fact of life here. Renaldo , our taxi driver explained the outrageous crevice running down the middle of the road near Parrita as being from the earth quake six months ago.  The bridge just outside town also appears to have moved. The tar is stretched up to the edge of the concrete, like distorted skin over a broken bone. The cars had to slow to a virtual standstill to negotiate the bump. 

Irazu’s last eruption was in 1994 whereupon it poured ash over the area for more than two years. Roofs collapsed from the weight, the stench of sulphur was ever-present and as though they lived in an endless ash storm, locals waded through the settling mire with black-stained umbrellas. Nearby San Jose had to clear their streets with a snow plow.

The site of the toppled cathederal is known to locals as “Las Ruinas”. It is a gloomy place at the town’s centre. The windows are high and narrow and a great arching span of rock supports a precarious stairway within. It is far to fragile for human feet and so it is now only trodden by angels. The populous live close to their gods and miracles and divine intervention is an ever present fact of life.

The curious are kept from the cathedral’s gardened centre by bars across the entry portals. Ferns now grow from between well trodden paving stones within. We skirt the outer perimeter of this apparently impenetrable structure and find our most advantageous view beneath a large green bell. It would likely have rang out desperately as the earth shook and the roof tumbled inwards.

Along it’s streaked grey walls local teenagers gathered. Several girls in school uniform flirted with youths attired in the height of American fashion; baggy pants, hoods and runners. It is the Costa Rica “gangsta” look. My attempt to photograph the gathering was met with the characteristic modesty expected of young ladies. They turned their backs and walked away.

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P0000119, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

An old guy staggered out of this seedy looking establishment with a pail of some kind of fruit. Inside it was dark and dingy- like a bar, but it was early in the morning and the place was still pretty crowded. I think prostitution is legal in Costa Rica and my impression was that this was a brothel (I might be wrong). As I mentioned in a previous post we passed the “Porno disco” on the banks of the Sarapique River, “river-boat access only”.


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