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Moving closer to the border.



Travel day today, we left La Fortuna and went south to go north, just the way the buses go! What was on the internet as a 2.5 hour 2 bus journey turned into an over 5 hour, stop at every bus stop on the way, journey.

We had breakfast at the hotel, then dragged out luggage 10 minutes to the bus station. We were actually running early so we were able to catch the 9.45am bus instead of the 10.10am bus, but really we did not depart until 10am so not sure which one we were one anyway. Drove through the forest most of the way from La Fortuna to Cuidad Quesada, over some very dodgy looking bridges that I thought would not possible hold the weight of the bus and its cargo, but of course they did. It took us just over an hour to reach the bus station at Quesada, luckily we did not have long to wait for a connecting bus and we were on the road again within the hour. It was now almost 12 noon and the internet had advised we would be arriving in Los Chiles at 12.30pm. Ha, not a chance.

As we drove out of Quesada I saw a sign that stated Los Chiles was 89km, and we arrived there about 2.5 hours later. It was quite a nice drive into the very north of Costa Rica. We passed lots of sugar cane fields and I also saw a cane refinery along the roadside, which momentarily filled the air with the sweet smell of molasses as the bus zoomed by. Most of the fields however were pineapple plants. Pineapples for as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road. The plants seem to be grown a lot closer together than what I had seen in Australia. Perhaps the dirt here is good and they can really jam them in. There was no pineapple scent in the air and I could not see any fruit on the plants but they were big and healthy looking so perhaps they had just been harvested? Pineapples in the supermarket here are about C1100 = A$2.60, which I think is quite expensive for the locals to pay for a fruit that is grown in abundance.

I had pre booked our accommodation yesterday so after the bus had dropped us at the end of the line, the Los Chiles bus station we just had to find our bearings and walk to Cabinas Felicia where we are booked in for 2 nights @US$30 per night. I asked a man in a soda (local food outlet) and although his English was not so good, he and a few of his customers were more than willing to help us out with directions. 'Down there, right, left, right'. We found the place with these perfect directions and were buggered after dragging our luggage the 4 blocks in the hot sun.

No one at Cabinas Felicia spoke any English but they were expecting us after receiving my email so all was good. We were shown to a little 2 bedroom cabana with spare beds in the living area as well. So for the next 2 nights we all have a bedroom each. There is a little kitchenette as well but only with very basic facilities, so Lyn will not be cooking cordon bleu here. lol.


After claiming our respective sleeping areas and spreading out our respective belongings we found ourselves heading out again to find something to eat for lunch. We hoped to find a cheap soda (eating place) where we could use up the rest of our Costa Rican money. We had a stroll around town, not much here, although there does seem an abundance of clothing shops and shops selling bicycles, too much of these 2 things available for what looks like the small population of this border town.

We ended up stopping at the soda near the bus station, same one where I had asked directions earlier. There was no written menu, but lucky for us there was a customer who spoke a little English so we could order chicken and salad and make sure we had enough money to cover it. Worked out in the end this guy told us the wrong price anyway and we were short just a couple of colones, but the owner seemed ok with it. The chicken had been deep fried and threatened to be crispy and dry on the inside, instead when I bit into a drumstick the chicken was lovely and moist and delicious. Our meals came with a 'natural' drink, which is some kind of fruit drink which for all we know could be cordial of some kind, but it was cold and tasted of pineapple so good enough.

After food we stopped at the supermarket to buy some supplies. Tragedy! they only had one can of rum left, however Lyn & Dolly settled for a local beer which was on special for only C400 = $A0.94. We had no local money left but were able to pay by credit card at the supermarket.

Returning to our cabanas we did a bit of housekeeping (ie washing clothes), had a drink on the balcony and then settled inside to watch some cable TV. Managed to find a channel in English (after watching a bit of Mama Mia in Spanish, the songs still in English) and I watched about 4 movies before turning off the telly just after 11pm.



I must admit it's nice sometimes not to have to share a bed or even a room - no snoring or bed hogging is a luxury when you are travelling with others. lol We shall all lap it up while we can cause this sleeping arrangement is a rarity.

This morning we did a boat tour on the Rio Frio (river Frio). There was a slight misunderstanding with the tour company with regards to meeting place and we were down at the pier at 9am as advised. However, when no one had turned up by 9.30 we went looking in their restaurant to see what was happening. Finally it was sorted out and we were on our way by 10am, almost having the whole boat to ourselves bar 2 other local passengers. Also the owners son came along with us as I had shown my displeasure when I found out the boat captain did not speak English.

Gary (the son) however spoke good English and knew all the names of the birds and animals that we saw along the river. It was a little overcast today but that made the trip not so hot. We saw quite a lot of birds, mainly water birds: cormorants, egrets and kingfishers. Monkeys we saw howler and white faced. Lizards: iguana and JC lizards. And one caiman! So it was a pretty good trip and I thing we got our moneys worth, US$30.

The boat putted down the river that leads to the border of Nicaragua. Before the new near by bridge opened, this river was the only way that you could cross the border in this area. This was going to be the way that we were going to cross into Nicaragua, but unfortunately they no longer have boat crossings. Much cheaper to go via road now.

Our boat did cross over the invisible country boundaries and our guide made a bit of a joke that we were in Nicaragua illegally. This joke started to become a little real when we started to have problems with the boat. When the captain tried to do a u turn in the river he ballsed it up and we ended up crashing into the bank. No harm done but when he tried to back the boat up we hit some submerged trees and then something went wrong with the outboard motor. There was a bit of a mad panic and a lot of tooing and froing, which the captain, guide and the 2 male passengers all working to get us free. Us 3 ladies sat there calm as, enjoying the scenery. We had no problem with the delay at all.


Finally the boat was free and the motor was running and we were on our way back to Los Chiles dock. On our return journey we stopped and saw some very cute white faced monkeys.


It had been spitting with very light rain for some of our boat trip and on the way back to our accommodation we stopped at the supermarket for lunch supplies. When we stepped outside the market it was raining a little harder, but by the time we had donned our rain jackets & ponchos it had stopped.


After lunch we went for a walk up to the bus station to check out bus times for tomorrow to take us to the border. Always more fun when no one speaks much English and we of course are still completely hopeless with any Spanish. We did however ascertain that there are buses hourly to the border and the price is C500 = A$1.18. As we don't have any Costa Rican colones left we asked how much in dollars and were advised US$1. Not a very good exchange rate, but we don't want to draw any more local currency. Having a bit of a joke with the guys giving the info, one suggested we take a taxi (border is only about 6km away) and in the end we managed to agree on a price with a taxi driver who will collect us & luggage from our hotel in the morning and drive us the short distance to the border for an agreed US$5. Bus was going to cost us US$3 so for a couple more dollars we got a pick up and don't have to time or wait for the bus.

As we were walking back past the Milnos Los Chiles a guy on a motor bike pulled up with a back pack. I suggested we go have a look. He pulled out a plastic bag that had maize (corn) kernels both yellow and black and cacao beans in it. This he gave to the mill man which he put into the grinder and started to grind them all together, putting it through the milling machine a few times until it produced a powder the consistency of flour. Due to language barrier we could not find out if this is used for cooking tortillas or bread, but they guy did convey that it was very good mixed with leche (milk). By the smell of it I reckon it would make a very yummy chocolate milkshake. Unfortunately, he did not offer us a sample so we could not try it out. We have seen people coming and going to this mill, I guess it must be where everyone comes to mill their maize or whatever. Pretty cool.


Lyn managed to cook a tasty dinner with the limited cooking facilities and ingredients we threw together. Cold showers all round (hot water not working here) and another night of English telly was enjoyed.

This is our last night in Costa Rica and although we have enjoyed this country we are looking forward to entering Nicaragua.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:47 Archived in Costa Rica

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