A Sweet Farewell to the Luscious Pacific Shores of Costa Rica

Pacific PalmAnomaly.  That would probably be the most befitting word for San Jose, a city plopped down right in the middle of one of the most gorgeous countries in the world, and yet completely lacking in any real beauty or allure of its own.  Somehow I had managed to dwindle away over a week and a half in that rainy and depressing place.  I’m not really sure if that was originally my intention, but upon arriving in the city, after having traveled for two weeks to deliciously exotic parts of Costa Rica and shared my time with the best of friends, I began to fall into its dismal slump, and before I knew it I was sinking deeper into the mire.  Not to say that its truly such an aweful place, its just that constant rain, overcast skies, and suburban sprawl tend to bring out the worst in me.  Although my welcoming host, Wilson, quickly became one of my favorite new friends in Central America, with his winning charm, knowing intellect, and easy going manner, there weren’t too many other bright stars in my memory of San Jose.  However, I did also manage to make a fun new friend named Diego while I was there, and after spending some days getting to know each other and heading out to enjoy the nightlife, it definitely helped me to feel even more at home during my stay.


But after so many days in the San Jose I knew that it was once again time to start moving again.  I consulted Wilson as to the route ahead and we were both able to finally agree that taking the road that went over Death Mountain (Cerro de los Muertos) probably wouldn’t be the most pleasant of rides, so I opted for the flatter, more inviting coastal jungle road.  The following day I was on a bus back towards the Manuel Antonio and the Pacific (would you believe it?) to begin my journey South, as Wilson had mentioned that it was quite illegal to ride on the highways of San Jose and there were apparently no other clear ways to escape the city.  Arriving to a rainy afternoon on the coast, I decided to spend an overnight in Quepos and set off first thing in the morning.  For some reason I had also arrived in Quepos completely exhausted and within a couple of hours of my arrival, I was already in bed and snoozing away.


At dawn next day I was up and at ’em, bags packed and ready to go.  After the free breakfast at the hostel at which I had slept I began to ride towards the edge of town and not fifteen minutes beyond the outskirts I was met with quite a shocking surprise.  The pavement ended.  What I was soon to discover was that from here on out almost the rest of my riding that day was to be over a rocky, muddy, rutted dirt road, which, perhaps on an unloaded bike wouldn’t have been such an affliction, but as it were my panniers (with all of my possessions inside of them) didn’t much enjoy the ride, as more than once they took the liberty of jumping off into the mud.  Apart from this unpleasant detail, however, it was a particularly lovely ride that day, first through miles of perfectly rowed coconut groves and then through peaceful meadows and shady jungles.  At one point I even found myself unable to continue onwards due to a bridge that had been completely dismantled during a construction project.  Although I waited near two hours for the bridge to be reinstated, things didn’t look promising and finally I decided to wander along the riverbank for some few hundreds of meters to a shallow point and take things into my own hands.  Then with the aid of a pungent smelling, one-eyed, afro-caribbean gentleman who had been waiting to cross the river on his bicycle as well, I managed to roll up my trousers (well, just an expression, as I was actually wearing shorts) and we forded the river together: he guiding the bike across from the other side while I pushed it through.


The Streets of DominicalA few hours after the river crossing I was emerging from the a leafy wood back out onto paved road and arriving in an isolated but touristic surfing town called Dominical.  Although I had been considering camping under the palms that lined the beach on the edge of town, after stopping for lunch and scoping out the scene, it looked a bit to gnarly and summer-break valley girl for me, not to mention rife with beachcombers just looking for an easy target, so I decided to carry on.  According to my handy guide book, there was apparently a sleepy, old-fashioned Pacific coast farming village called Uvita about an hour’s ride South of Dominical, which sounded like exactly the ticket for a relaxed evening of low budget coastal camping.  The rest of the ride to Uvita also proved to be quite scenic, as the road weaved and undulated through the low coastal mountainside, exposing gorgeous vistas of vivid green foliage, shimmering emerald waters, and neon blue sky for miles along the coastal horizon.


It was getting late in the afternoon as I approached Uvita, and from the looks of what greeted me, civilization had begun to encroach on Uvita since the last time my guide was updated.  After pulling over at the new American style strip mall to make sure that this was indeed provincial Uvita, they assured me that it was, but were also able to point me in the direction of the rural part of down a short way further down.  As I turned off the main road to enter the village, the road once again turned to dirt and rock, however this time somewhat more brutal than the ride from that morning, and so I rolled slowly along, through pastures and small Costa Rican cottages.  There was really only one road in town, so it didn’t prove too difficult to find the campground that I was looking for and after being greeted by the landlord of the small property, he showed me to where I could pitch my tent, below a suspended creeping thicket and beside a high wooden fence.


The gentleman and his gracious family appeared to be quite trustworthy and ubiquitous within the property, and therefore I felt little anxiety as I left my well protected bicycle and campsite to discover the nearby beach.  I stopped down the road for a loaf of bread, a block of cheese and a bottle of water, then made my way to the coastal park entrance to dine on my simple picnic.  Fortunately, by this point I had figured out the Costa Rican park entrance game, and at the gate I informed the attendant that I was a resident of Costa RIca and working in San Jose, successfully avoiding what would otherwise have surely been some ridiculous entrance fee.  After a short stroll down the coast (as the afternoon shadows were already beginning to grow long), I found a picnic table on top of which I situated myself to escape the stinging ants down below and was finally able to begin preparing dinner.


Pacific SerenityAs I sat there, the most marvelously serene scene unfolded before my eyes.  As the sun dipped down behind a hilly peninsula that jutted out into the Pacific Ocean, the coastal mists painted the layers of hills in endlessly fading tones of blue as they disappeared off into the horizon.  Each puffy and streaked cloud in the sky was gently silhouetted in shades of azure and silver, and the glittering tide lapped lazily back and forth along the long, shallow beach.  As I listened to the gentle rhythm of the ocean and heard the distant laughing and shouting of children floating on the cooling breeze, I felt glad that I had finally escaped the abysmal drudgery of San Jose and I felt a contented tranquility within myself.  And as I sat there and smiled softly beneath the delicious twilight, I thought to myself that I hoped I would remember this moment forever, and I only wished that I could share the happiness that it brought me with those who were far away from me, and perhaps feeling the way that I had while in San Jose, but whom were always in my heart.


1 Response to “A Sweet Farewell to the Luscious Pacific Shores of Costa Rica”

  1. January 8, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I think you may be giving San Jose too little credit. Stroll around. Get lost for hours. You will find cool architecture, the occasional river, a park here or there, neighborhood fairs, art displays, and amazing people. There are neighborhoods in Escazu that just blew me away.

    Now if you you want to see a city of unrelenting, non-stop suckitude, check out Belize City.

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