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Wednesday December 14: Uvita

Friday December 16: San Jose to Boston

Thursday December 15: Uvita To San Jose

Worse Traffic than Boston

This is our last real day in Costa Rica. Tomorrow we fly home.

It was originally scheduled as just a transport day to San Jose, but with the confusion around the kayak schedule, the hike at a local forest preserve that was originally scheduled for yesterday afternoon was moved to today.

Amy got up at 5:30 to meet the guide for some birding. I stayed in bed. (From what they said, I would have been bored silly if I had joined Amy.)

At 6:30, Sam and I got up, and we went down to breakfast at 7, where we met Amy and Jose. After an uneventful breakfast, we went upstairs, threw our stuff together, and were ready to leave.

There was a larger group of birders (I think) leaving at the same time. I had to make sure that the porters didn't grab out bags and put them on the bus that was being loaded.

The hike was along a level trail in a private preserve. There actually wasn't as much to see there as on other hikes. Sam was not impressed and just wanted to get it over, so we could leave.

Resting Coati?
Interesting Fungi
White-faced Capuchin
Resting White-faced Capuchin
Interesting Fungi

In the parking lot (and periodically along the trail, and pretty much everywhere we had gone in Costa Rica) we saw a trail of leaf cutter ants. It was like a long ant highway, with a constant stream of empty ants going one way, and ants with leaf bits going the other. These could stretch for 50 to 100 feet or more. I have to wonder about that. There are plants everywhere. Can't they find leaves that are closer? Perhaps they favor leaves from some particular plant, and they've killed all of that variety that was closer.

Then we had a fairly long drive back to San Jose. At one point we were stopped for a while because they were doing road maintenance. Fairly late (maybe around 3) we stopped for lunch. It was at a place our guide had never been before. We got a table in back that had a good view of the forest.

Jim Waiting for Lunch

I think the restaurant guy pegged us as Americans, so to make us "feel at home", he put on Johnny Cash music. For all of lunch, we heard nothing but Johnny Cash. I wonder whether he was particularly fond of that, or whether he figured that this is what "American music" sounded like.

The basic route was supposed to be up the coastal highway, and then inland on the central valley highway to San Jose. However, when we turned to get on the central valley highway, things got interesting.

It was a toll road, so we had to go through the first of many toll booths. The car two cars in front of us went through the turnpike fine. The car ahead of us tried to follow, but slammed on its brakes when the gate came back down. He seemed to be saying to the toll collector that the car in front was supposed to pay for two cars, but apparently it hadn't. Maybe the guy in the car in front of us had no money?

The car just sat there. The toll people seemed to try to make some phone calls, but either the phones weren't working, or they thought better of it. Jose really couldn't get into either of the other lanes, and at one point, he was considering getting out, going forward, and paying the toll for the guy to unblock the jam.

Eventually, the guy from the first car, who had apparently parked a short distance ahead, walked back, paid the toll, and then had the guy in front of us drive him back to his car. It was very strange.

We paid the toll and continued, but only for a very short time. The traffic in front of us seemed to be a huge mass that was moving somewhere between slowly and not at all. Jose asked us if we were OK with him doing something not quite legit, and when we agreed, he made a very sharp turn (right in front of a K-9 officer) and carefully went down an on-ramp. He exited onto a cross road and proceeded to take us along an older, more "scenic" road. This one led up over a high ridge, and we recognized it as the road that Danny had taken a few days previously.

The road was narrow, windy, and hilly. It was hard to believe that it was faster than the highway, but at least we were moving. They seem to have a lot of one-lane bridges in Costa Rica, so that if two vehicles approach it from opposite sides, one has to yield and let the other one go first.

After a while, based on Google Maps, he decided to rejoin the highway. At first that worked well, but the closer to San Jose we got, the worse the traffic got. The main problem, from what we could see, were the toll booths. The highway would fan out into 8-12 toll booths. All of these lanes would have to merge down to 2-3 lanes, which was a slow chaotic process, and then a short distance later, it would all repeat.

Bad Traffic In San Jose

I thought that Boston traffic was bad, but San Jose makes Boston traffic look fast and efficient. I've never seen rush hour traffic that bad.

We got to the hotel around 5:30 or so, which means that Jose had been working for 12 hours at that point. After dropping us off, he still had an hour to drive to get home, and then an hour tomorrow morning to come back and pick us up.

We went up to our room and got settled. I took a quick shower and discovered that my ankles and some spots on the tops of my feet had gotten more toasted than I realized.

It is almost time to head down for dinner. Then it will be time to pack stuff up, hit the sack, and then head out early (not unreasonably early) tomorrow morning.

 - -

Our last dinner in Costa Rica was rather less than impressive. It was also very confusing.

I think that perhaps we were originally scheduled to be on our own for dinner, but due to things getting screwed up, they decided to treat us.

This hotel doesn't seem to have a restaurant per se. We went down to where the breakfast was served, talked to a gentleman, who seated us at a table. He never asked us what we wanted. He gave each of us a glass of juice, and then gave us each a small bowl of salad. We thought it very odd that we weren't being given any choice of food.

After we finished the salad, he brought over a plate each with some chicken curry, rice, and vegetables. It was extremely salty. Sam ate little. Neither Amy nor I finished the chicken, mostly because of the amount of salt that it had. We asked for some water, because Amy and Sam had finished their juices, and with the salt we were very thirsty.

The dessert was rice pudding, which seemed to be basically some rice mixed with some sweetened condensed milk with a touch of cinnamon.

From what we could gather as we were leaving, there was some sort of function going on, and this was their meal. They had the individual items in warming things, like you would have in a buffet.

As one of our last memories of Costa Rica, this left a lot to be desired. In some ways, it is convenient having your food included in the trip and essentially prepaid, but it can be a real pain when you aren't sure what is allowed for the meal or the available option isn't so good.

Up to CostaRica, 2022 main page

Wednesday December 14: Uvita

Friday December 16: San Jose to Boston