Sunday, July 31, 2011

Turrialba to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

We were the only two at breakfast today – the other couple who was there didn’t want to wait half an hour for breakfast (late because the kitchen and dining room flooded overnight), so it was just the two of us at the kitchen counter, along with Maria the chef and hotel fairy.  Guy, the B&B owner, came along later to help with luggage, settle our bill, etc.

We headed out, and encountered traffic – not car traffic, foot traffic.  We’re now two days from the festival of Our Lady of Los Angeles Cathedral in Cartago – the big pilgrimage and festival based on a small Madonna statue, La Negrita.  People walk from all over the country and attend mass at this cathedral on August 2 – so there were throngs of people walking by the side of the road, heading to Cartago.  We found it kind of funny that some people seemed prepared to camp out, with backpacks, while others might have just an umbrella and a small plastic bag with water.  Plus a few people in wheelchairs being pushed along.  But this is a huge religious ritual here, and it’s just interesting to observe.  (We can’t decide if the pilgrims are called Negrita-ites, or what – we’ll ask around and report back.)

We thought we needed to go through the town of Siquerres to switch from Route 10 to Route 32, but apparently we didn’t – so we ended up getting lost in Siquerres, and Richard had to get directions (and a Coke Light).  We managed our way out of town and onto Route 32, then headed east again, and down out of the hills and highlands.  Into flat flat flat banana country, controlled by Del Monte, Dole, and Chiquita.  Seriously!  They each have factories, huge trucks, field after field of banana trees.  And there are blue plastic bags over the banana fruit – to keep out insects (especially tarantulas), and I’m guessing to keep birds and monkeys from eating the bananas.  We drove past more and more fields, but fortunately the trucks were minimal since today is Sunday.

We found a shortcut that bypassed the town of Limón, and took that, with a break for lunch along the way.  (There was a parrot at the restaurant, who sat right above the gambling machines, and would squawk until someone pet his head.  Then he'd squawk if you didn't keep petting him!)  Then continued south until we reached the coast, a welcome sight.  South past the sloth sanctuary, various wildlife preserves, the Cahuite National Park, and into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

The small hotel we had hoped to stay at was full, so we went down the road a block and found Cabinas Tropical – we have a two-storey room, which could sleep 5 – apparently the man just wants to fill the rooms, he’s renting the room to us for the normal double rate of $40, and we’re happy to have room to spread out.  We also have upstairs and downstairs terraces, three hammocks, and a hot water bathroom.  (Not all hotels have hot water showers.)  Plus TV, and WIFI.  And a mosquito net for each bed, plus fans.  Very comfortable, and we probably will sleep on one level and use the other for reading, computer time, and TV.  Nice!!!!! 

We walked around town, and found the wonderful artisanal gelato place, run by a nice Italian man – I had half chocolate chili gelato and half caffe; Richard had half choco-cereal and half soursop (guanabana).  As in Italy, the gelato shop is packed by late afternoon, and some of the flavors were sold out – we’ll try to go earlier tomorrow so I can get dark chocolate and Richard can try something new.  The place also had the most fabulous mosaic sink area right outside the bathroom, so of course I took some photos - wouldn't you love a sink like this?

That’s about it.  We’re looking into activity options, but will definitely have some beach time, and we plan to do some hiking, some animal finding, and maybe book something to see manatees.  Plus we’ll go to the chocolate farm nearby.  I mean, how can we NOT?

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