The Costa Rica Tourist Board has published a very helpful pamphlet titled: "Crocodiles in Costa Rica". Some of the recommendations include the following:
- "Do not put your hands in the jaws of a crocodile." This is helpful as, otherwise, I expect many people would be tempted to do so.
- "If attacked by a crocodile, find its eyes and stick your fingers in them." Of course, this assumes that you followed rule no. 1 (above) and still have fingers.
- And my personal favourite: "Be aware of the crocodile's reproductive season, which is when you should be more aware of their presence." I presume this means you should decline if asked out on a date, but it could be something else they're getting at, I suppose.
Today, we had the shortest driving day yet - barely an hour from Manuel Antonio, down through the little town of Quepos, and then south for just over 40 km. to reach Dominical..... and then a little more south past Dominicalito but not as far as Uvita.... and at about mile marker 154 (starting from where, I don't know) you turn to the water and enter the grounds of Hotel Cuna del Angel ("Cradle of Angels").
The hotel was built by a German (where was he in 1942?) and is very eclectic in borrowing building motifs and styles from the Greeks, Aztecs, Romans, as well as at least half a dozen other European countries. Spain (or is it Tijuana?) is well represented in the style of the casitas. Each room is named after a different Angel, rather than a designated room number. This makes it interesting when signing for dinner as, you need to include the name of your angel.
We initially unpacked and settled in to the Rashiel jungle room (Angel of Earthquakes - who knew there was such a thing?). The air conditioning didn't work (or hadn't been on for a long time) so the room was very very warm and sticky. Debbie arranged for us to be upgraded to a different wing (what I will call the 'good Angels wing', for lack of a better metaphor).
Anyway, now we are in the Micah room. Micah seeks every opportunity to reveal God's divine plan. That can be a bit harder to grasp than the angel who watches over earthquakes but I'm thinking it may be as simple as this: God's divine plan clearly includes us staying in the nice room while Miguel & Colleen drown in the heat & humidity of their jungle room (Seraphille - the Angel of Tuesdays - kind of second-rate compared to revelations of God's divine plan, if you ask me).
The heat and humidity is clearly taking it's toll as my eyes keep closing while I'm typing. That last line took 23 minutes to type and, for 22 of them, looked like this: aaaaaaazzzzkkkkkllllllzzzzzz........ds Until I woke up and deleted it.... until I fell asleep again and then just left it.
We are on the Costa Ballena (Whale Coast), the south pacific coast area of Costa Rica renowned for long stretches of gorgeous beach. Playa Hermosa is closest to where we are staying. 3 km. south of us. It took us about 2 hours to find it.
Some of the time was used up when we missed the entrance the first time around and just kept driving south until we reached Uvita, home to Uvita Beach and to Ballena National Marine Park which contains the "Whale's Tail", a formation made up of volcanic rocks close to shore which look pretty much exactly like a whale's tail (from the air, anyway - we saw a great aerial photo) and which you can walk on during low tide.
Some more of the time was used up looking for the beach in Uvita. As usual, our effort was in vain. The rocky & bumpy road we followed dead ended at a school.
To celebrate the fact that we have no clue how to find a beach - even though we can see the fershtinkenuh ocean through the trees as we drive on the main road no more than 100 meters away) - we stopped and ate lunch. We figured that we'd better fortify ourselves for what was surely going to be a long, long trek around most of the southern half of Costa Rica looking for a road that actually leads to the beach.
When in doubt, ask locals. Luckily, we found some locals at lunch. Well, they actually just moved here 6 months ago from Connecticut but their directions were spot on and so after lunch (they were out of fried fish sandwiches so, naturally, that is what we all ordered) we finally found the entrance to the Marine Park and walked up to pay our (hefty for Costa Rica) $6 per person entry fee only to be turned away because by the time we finally got there:
a. The park was going to close relatively soon; and
b. Anyway, it was high tide and there was nothing to see of the Whale's Tail - not from land or sea.
We were told to come back at 8am the next day - low tide. And so, we have pretty much decided that the beaches of Costa Rica are all just urban myth (like the various waterfalls we've been trying to find in vain as well). To us, the presence of an alleged beach or waterfall (whether on a sign post or a printed map) just means a drive for 2 or 3 kilometres down a bumpy, winding road until it dead ends or we give up and just turn around.
But wait, you say - don't give up so easy guys. You can do it! Well, thanks for the encouragement - it worked. On the way back to the Cradle of Angels we slowed down at each and every turn off the main road and peered down the bumpy and winding road, wondering if Shangri-la might eb at the ofds (okay, those words don't make sense either - it's really time to just go to sleep!).
But no, I can't leave you in the middle of this cliffhanger. Indeed, we found Hermosa Beach - 3 km. from our hotel where it was supposed to be - and a mere 2 hours after we set out to find it.
Here, then, is what I can tell you about Playa Hermosa: It's name means "Beautiful beach" and it stretches for nearly 6 km. with great waves for surfers, albeit smaller than those north of us. The water was warm and wonderful. We frolicked on the beach for hours. Well, for an hour, anyway. It's hot out there and although Miguel and I were happy to be pushed around by the waves, there is a pretty strong undertoad and rip-tide as it was getting close to high tide when we visited.
And so, we settled in for the rest of the afternoon back at Angels Stadium. We booked a reservation for dinner at the fancy restaurant an hour prior to the arrival of a tour bus full of people from Belgium and then spent much of dinner wondering if they were Flemish or Walloons. Yep, these are the kind of high-minded pursuits we get into while simultaneously lighting the Chanukiah (5 candles tonight) and drinking the duty-free bourbon (we are not down to about 1/5th of the bottle left and there is a chance we will actually finish it before we leave Costa Rica, though I'd still be against it).
Tomorrow...well... I don't want to spoil the surprise. But I do want to go to sleep So tune in then. Buenos Noches.