Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cruising the Caribbean

Last weekend I traveled south to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean.  When traveling, I always travel by bus.  The bus system in Costa Rica is very inexpensive with routes going everywhere.  Unlike other parts of Central or South America, the buses in Costa Rica are very punctual.  Most tickets are between $6 and $10.  I traveled to Puerto Viejo alone which actually turned out to be a lot of fun.  On the way down, the bus was stuck in traffic due to an accident, so I got the chance to meet a lot of people on the bus.  Most of the people traveling were tourists from all over the world.  There were a couple of surfers from Australia who have been traveling around the world surfing for the past year!  They were coming from the Galapagos and heading to Manzanilla just south of Puerto Viejo.  I also got to know a group of Americans on vacation.  They were all coworkers and their boss paid for their week-long trip to Costa Rica.  I want a boss like that when I return to the States!

The main room for hanging out.  There is a deck with hammocks behind me and the beds are upstairs.
I stayed at a very nice little Hostel called Walaba in Punta Uva which is a few kilometers south of Puerto Viejo.  Puerto Viejo is a nice little beach town with quite a few hostels that are known for their parties.  I decided that I would rather stay at a hostel that was a bit more relaxing.   Walaba was perfect: tranquil, clean, and nestled in the jungle.  Each morning we could hear the howler monkeys as they moved through the jungle to the beach.  The hostel was very close to the beach, and I went swimming each morning.
These aren't my hands!  This is our guide holding a juvenile green iguana before he handed it to me.
 On Saturday, I joined a tour last minute to visit the Kekoldi Reserve for the indigenous BriBri tribe.   First we visited an iguana farm.  The BriBri family raises iguanas and then releases them as adults in order to help preserve the endangered species.  We got a tour of the farm and learned about iguanas.  I even got to hold one!  Then we went to the home of a BriBri family who makes chocolate using the methods of their ancestors.  A young girl about 16 or 17 years old showed us the chocolate fruit tree, how the chocolate beans are dried, crushed, and then mixed into chocolate.  She also told us about many of the customs of the BriBri and how cocoa is used in many of their customs.  At the end, we sampled many different types of chocolate, and I bought a few to take home.  The young girl was amazing.  She spoke BriBri, English, Spanish, and French.  She taught herself English and French by reading!  I think I need to read more books and watch less TV!
The picture on the left is the sign outside the chocolate house with the top line in Bri Bri. The picture on the right is of the inside of the cocoa fruit which is orange.  The black/brown cocoa seed is covered in a white, soft fruit that you can eat.  Normally the seeds are left our for about a week and the white fruit ferments and falls off the seed.

After the Chocolate house, we went to the home of a shaman.  He took us for a walk through the jungle and showed us the plants they use for constructing their homes, making hammocks, clothes, dishes, plants for medicine, and plants they use for painting.  I really enjoyed watching the shaman show us how to make a hammock and a torch from the rubber tree that will continue to burn even in strong winds!  Next we went to a waterfall to swim.  The water was cool and felt great after a hot day outdoors.  There were a couple of locals at the waterfall.  They took me to the top of the waterfall so I could jump off!  It was so much fun!  
The shaman is showing us how to create rope from a plant leaf related to Aloe Vera only much larger!
After a nap in the hammock at the hostel, I was ready for dinner with a group of friends I met at the hostel.  The hostel was a great mix of tourists from all over the world: Canada, Britain, Belgium, Holland, and Germany.  In fact, I was the only American!  For dinner I went to Puerto Viejo with a guy and a girl from Belgium, a guy from Holland, and a guy from Germany.  We spent the evening at a beach bonfire talking.  It was a great experience.  They all spoke English, but I still enjoyed listening to them speak in their own languages. 
Inside the cave with a hole in the top and two awesome vines for climbing!
Sunday, I spent a relaxing day at the beach with the Heinz from Belgium and Harold from Holland.  We rented bikes and just biked from beach to beach.  We ended the day in Manzanilla at a beach with an awesome cave.  Even though I spent less time talking in Spanish this weekend and hanging out with locals, I had a great time getting to know people from so many different countries.  Sunday evening there was a big rainstorm, so everyone hung out at the hostel, talked, and listened to guitar music.
Just one of many beautiful beaches at Manzanilla
Monday, I spent the day in Puerto Viejo and caught the 4pm bus back to San Jose.  This time I traveled with Harold.  I really enjoyed having someone I knew to travel back with because I was so tired I don’t think I would have had the energy to meet anyone else!  The bus ride back was over too soon, and I had to say goodbye to my new friend. Though, we did exchange contact information.  After hearing him talk about the festivals in Holland and the beauty of Amsterdam, you never know, my next trip just might take me to Europe!
Pura Vida

1 comment:

  1. Kara, This is just the BEST.. Reminds me of the days when I hitched hiked through Europe (22 yrs old). Just "putting yourself out there".. meeting new people, learning new things. I have dear friends in Holland (going there this summer). You would LOVE Amsterdam!! Put it on your bucket list... again, thanks for sharing~! Lynda B