Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Continental Divide

We drove from Uvita to Turrialba, which is east of San Jose (central Costa Rica) - our route took us up the Pacific Coast to the town of Domenical, then through the foothills to the town of San Isidro de General (and no, we have no idea who this San Isidro is, nor of what he is the general).  Then we turned north onto Highway 2 (the PanAmerican Highway) and drove up up up into the Cordillero Talamanca, the Talamanca Mountain Range, and along the ridge of these mountains that form the Continental Divide in CR.  Cold, wet, cloudy, foggy, some 10,000 feet above sea level.  It really is fascinating, to be driving along this winding road and think about the fact that it geographically splits the continents of North and South America, as well as the Central American region - and forms one almost continuous line, splitting these continents into east and west, Atlantic and Pacific.  Just one of those amazing things about geology and geography.

There are the occasional single-lane bridges, like the first photo - one side has the ceda sign (cede?  like yield?) and has to yield the right of way while the other side crosses.  We call these OMG bridges, because when you come to them you think OMG, that's the bridge????
We stopped outside Cartago for lunch - we both hate Cartago, having been through several times.  And gotten lost trying to get through the city, several times.  Our last visit to CR, three years ago, took us through Cartago, when there was some work on the highway, and the detours made it horribly confusing - we tried to follow the route, got lost, ended up circling around, asked some police for directions, followed their directions, got lost, circled around, ended up right back by the same police - who very nicely hopped onto their motorcycles and escorted us through the labyrinth and out the other side, in the pouring rain.  So, we were trying to avoid Cartago - especially this time of year, when they are getting ready for their huge festival of La Negrita, the miracle of the statue of the Black Madonna - when people from all over the region flock to the cathedral (on foot, and the last X distance on their knees - really, we saw the people walking last time) - anyway, we wanted to avoid Cartago, because the town in confusing and easy to get lost in and just busy in a crazy way this time of year. 

But we managed to get through to the other side, we stopped for lunch - and we looked at our map and our book.  It was maybe 3 PM.  It was time to pick a place to aim for, a town as a goal, and an idea of what we'd do for a few days.  We discussed Orosi, where we stayed previously - cold, wet, site of the oldest church in CR, near a man-made lake, near a wildlife park, one of the wettest spots in all of CR.  We talked about Turrialba, a town on the side of a volcano, which we had passed through, which is near an archaeology site, which is known as the center of rafting sports in CR.  Okay, Turrialba was it.

We navigated, we drove, we wound around mountains and crags and out-maneuvered the big rigs speeding down the county-type highway.  We pulled into Turrialba, found our way to a B&B, and settled in - the only guests at the moment, with our pick of rooms, but we have a very nice room with a big bathroom, wifi, access to a living room, kitchen, garden, sun deck, jacuzzi - all the comforts of home and then some!

A late afternoon/evening walk around town, a trip to the supermarket, and a picnic supper in the park - we're both tired, and need a good night's sleep before we plan what we'll do tomorrow.  It won't be a travel day - we want to explore Turrialba, see what we can do.  I'm hoping for the archaeology site, and maybe a half-day raft trip, especially if we can see some more animals this way.

Oh, I keep meaning to add - in both Sámara and Puerto Jimenez, we saw cats in the supermarket.  In Puerto J, the cat actually had her own bed right in front of the check stand.  So I asked the cashier if the cat lived in the market and guarded the food - and yes, this cat (who was very cute sitting in her bed, and let me pet her) lives inside the supermarket, and kills any mice or rats, and has a nice easy life.  It just makes me laugh - it really is such a reasonable and eco-friendly way of dealing with any potential rodent problem in a supermarket, yet in most of the "civilized" world (read in the US) we'd freak out at the idea of a cat in a market, how unhygienic, how it would spread germs, etc etc etc.  I think it's wonderful to have shop cats, and a supermarket seems like the perfect place to have guard cats!  So I'm going to keep looking for more supermarket cats, and try to keep a record of how many I find.  (And just for the record, we didn't see a supermarket cat here in Turrialba.)

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