So I finished the journey extravaganza! But to start where I just left you, although the hardest part of the journey was over, the most enlightening part of it was still to come for me.
Day 4 had us set out from the beautiful wooden cabins at Orosi, and onto Taus with a much easier 14k cycle, followed by a slightly tougher 17k walk.
This day started me of with the huge news that my divorce is a couple of months away from being finalised. Key happy dance! Which is ironic, as when I first started on this path people would honestly ask me if I’d have a party to celebrate it. And my response then was why would you celebrate the death of a happy marriage. But now my rosy coloured glasses have gone and I know it wasn’t a happy marriage, so bring on the PPPPAAARRRTTTYYYYYYYYY!!!!! This has become the celebration of the end of a painful period in my life, but also a celebration of what I’ve gained. For example, I certainly wouldn’t have taken the time I needed to get the level of fitness I needed to do this trip if I were still with my ex.
The majority of my day was left in contemplation of my divorce and the attacks of Barcelona (which happened the day before) as we cycled through gently loping hills, and hiked into our first real view of the jungle. After stopping to try sugar cane with the group, I loped in front of everyone to get some quiet time and space to reflect on life. Heading out into the peaceful cloud forest with cricket buzzing, bright blue large butterflies floating everywhere, helped my head clear. After this the path gave way to fields with gently doe eyed beige cows.
Taus gave us the last of the most basic camp sites leaving us unconnected to the world, cold showers and basic conditions. But a swim in the river cured everything, taking away layers of stress I didn’t even know were there.
Day 5 gave us a long, but easy 45k bike ride, followed by a relaxing 18k white water rafting on the Pacuare river. Ending in camping at the best site yet, El Nido del Tigre, which translates to nest of tigers. The cycle took us across a tarmac road with field after field of sugar cane crops. Even passing a sugar cane factory from 1882 which mared the soft hills with its rusty and dilapidated appearance. The last of the cycle took us to a steep down hill stoney section. I defied my nerves and made it all the way down on my bike, with a continual mantra of ‘f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k, f**k’ mixed in with ‘sh1t, I’m going to die’.
Once we were in the raft one of my team mates did an awesome impression of superman and catapulted himself out of the raft (much to his wife’s chagrin). And a snake decided it might be fun to try to jump into a raft, but thankfully his aim wasn’t that great! The rest of the trip was fairly sedate much to my disappointed as a adrenaline addict. Although we had a quick stop off to swim in a waterfall pool which seemed more appropriate for the couples in the group (whilst being served chilled champagne and truffles). Sadly not though, instead they got the guide trying to demonstrate his manliness by climbing the waterfall and jumping off instead. But in fairness if I’m not getting any, it only seems fair their mood should be killed too!
When the raft pulled into our campsite everyone’s sighs of happiness could probably be heard for miles away. But this day wouldn’t continue without some more adrenaline to satisfy me. So the ground literally shook whilst we were in the wooden open walled 2 story common room. The vibration ran through my body, whilst the steel bolts in the house screeched, and the timber creaked in response. And I think I could see the moment the guide bricked himself… literally…. Needless to say he’d never felt an earth quake out that far out but we were all safe and sound.
After a refreshing brief cold shower I spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled into a hammock with Silvia listening to bad music off my phone.
Day 6 we had to suffer another day in El Nido del Tigre. The campsite woke slowly with hummingbirds buzzing every where whilst I went hunting for the little tarantula I’d met the night before.
Although it was a free day we went on a hike through the jungle and the girls stereotypically squeaked every time they spotted a rather ferocious looking tiny spider, whilst I tried to get the angle right on my camera for my soon to be national geographical award winning shots of the deadly mites. But sadly no, none of them wanted to seem to do the poses I kept yelling at them. Why can’t they understand English?
The afternoon was spent jumping in the river again before it hammered it down with rain for the rest of the day. The river was a murky brown, with a small cable cart running across the top of the river. For the local Maleku indigenous tribe to run into the village for general products.
I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing in a hammock contemplating the next adventure on my list. Walking 1000 miles on the Camino across Europe. Unsure if I was really ready, but trying for once to be kind to myself and accept that I’d done as much training as I could and the worst that could happen is that I would take longer over it than I wanted too.
Day 7 took us out of our little slice of paradise on the rafts for 18k, finishing at Finca Pacuarito. The river was abundant with Tiger Herons and King fishers. But unfortunately no matter how much I yelled at the monkey’s they funnily didn’t want to appear or even come into the boat with us. The guides spent the rest of the time trying to marry me off to one of the guides. With promises that he was an excellent cook, and only wanted 20 kids. I told them that I wanted 30 and wouldn’t settled for less. Unfortunately I think this was too much for him. Shame, as I really can’t cook.
Day 8 was the last day of our epic journey across Costa Rica. We start off early cycling a brief 27k through banana plantations. Then finishing in what felt like the never ending kayaking of only 11k.
The cycling was the first time I felt the difference between the Pacific and Carribean sides of Costa Rica. Mainly as most of the time men kept yelling come here beautiful, and hello lover to me and Silvia. Which had us giggling like school girls.
At the end of the afternoon we finished at the Carribean coast, which was no where near as beautiful as I’d expected. Littered in rubbish with a grey beach. But hey ho, we’d just finished 258k journey coast to coast, so all I was really thinking was hand me the bubbly!
After this we jumped into a speed boat and I caught my one and only glimpse of a monkey, whilst the wind was making my hair look like a mad woman. We finished our trip in a hotel in Cano Blanco, where we partied till the incredibly late hour of 11pm. On the plus side though, I got a salsa lesson from the barman there. So it wasn’t a complete loss.
After a morning crashing out on the white sandy beach we jumped back into the truck for the long trip back to San Jose, before I flew onto Atlanta.
As my first serious physical adventure I think this has me a little prepared for the adventure of the Camino across Europe. Would I do it again? Probably not, as I’m definitely NOT a cyclist. If you are though, this would be an adventure I’d recommend to anyone for a introductory challenging cycle, whilst you get to sample Costa Rica’s culture and amazing wildlife.