According to the itinerary we were leaving at 6:15 am. But Julio our guide was ringing our room at a little before 6 am to say it's time to go. Apparently, there's a change of plans. This would set the tone for the rest of the trip. Costa Rican cannot be faulted for tardiness. The fact is they are strict with time and even commence the tours earlier, not ever late.
Thankfully our hotel serves breakfast from 5:30 am, which meant that we were able to partake of some sustenance before our trip to Tortuguero.
There was a good spread at the buffet breakfast, but I found out that day that my stomach isn't awake before 7 am, so this is all I could manage to ingest.
At the lobby we met our group – 7 of us. A couple from Baltimore, a couple from Sacramento and his mother from OC, and us. Just 7. Our friends from Philly attempted to sign up for this same trip, same group and was told that the trip was fully booked. 7 people and this trip is fully booked. Interesting.
A big tourist bus was waiting outside the hotel, which means we were’nt the only ones going to Tortuguero. Our suspicion was right because after they loaded us and a few others in front of our hotel, we drove around San Jose picking up more passengers from different hotels and hostels, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was sightseeing for free as I saw it. Nice to see the city streets not crowded in the early morning hours and the city waking up.
I like watching people go about their daily business.
The trip took us up and over the Continental Divide between the Pacific and Caribbean watersheds and thru the spectacular Braulio Carillo National Park. We saw changes in landscapes and vegetation. We were going down to the Caribbean coastal area and Tortuguero.
Our guide was Julio, he was pretty good with his spiel. I was not listening the whole time. I was letting my eyes drink in the passing scenery. Verdant lush green treetops, dense wooded areas, part of a forest/jungle also a national park, houses along the highway. Difficult to get some shots, some parts of the road were curvy and I was getting a little dizzy. I don’t get car sick, but the airconditioning was weak and the bus was full. I wanted to sip water but I was afraid I’d pee. From the looks of it, there wasn’t any place for pit stop.
A soda is a local restaurant where locals eat and where we had most of our meals as well.
Around 10 am we were pulling up into a gated compound. Beautiful garden filled with tropical plants and flowers and trees and ferns, all so green and colorful. We stopped at El Ceibo restaurant in Guapiles, midway from San Jose to Tortuguero. This breakfast – our second breakfast, we’re hobbits – was again buffet style and was part of the package. Filled in on eggs and ham and rice and beans.
We gobbled down our food rapidly so we can have time to explore the surroundings and make a stop at the restrooms. It’s so beautiful out there, clean air, butterflies fluttering about and birds singing and other unidentifiable bugs chiming in to the symphony of tropical sounds. Then another sound was distinct. There was running water somewhere. A little creek runs behind the restaurant, we got to take a peek. The orchids are simply adorable and are everywhere.
Apparently everyone in the bus with us would all be going to Pachira Lodge and we were loaded again after breakfast. I was so glad to be back to the comforts of the AC bus after that brief exploration of the garden because the sun was bearing down at full force and it’s not noon yet.
The rest of drive to Tortuguero was more enjoyable for me, the sights of real Costa Rica. Houses along the way have their front doors wide open – which reminded me how we have them back in our province. I told my husband how the minute my mom wakes up in the morning, she would open our front door and then go to the kitchen and cook. That front door will not be closed again until we go to bed that night. Same holds true for everyone’s house in the neighborhood. Oh how I miss those times, how safe we all felt.
We passed by banana plantation where we stop briefly to watch a guy pull bananas for packaging. We also passed by a pineapple plantation. We saw grazing lands and beautiful landscape. The road was unpaved and we were crawling at about 15 km an hour.
A drive by can you believe it!
Oh just a few short hours and we'll be in our destination for the day: Tortuguero or the land of turtles.