Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Located at the tip of a long, sandy peninsula, once known as ‘The Pearl of the Pacific’, but now a rugged fishing port, is the city of Puntarenas. The narrow, and extremely shallow(!) estuary was teeming with ferries, fish boats and pangas going in all directions. Organized chaos! We cautiously steamed ahead and were relieved to finally see the yellow panga pilot boat, and Miguel, from the Costa Rica ‘Yacht Club’ appear to guide us down the channel. Shortly afterwards we were tied to a floating dock and gave a deep sigh, and did what we always do, cracked a cerveza!
As is often the case, the most unlikely places can turn out to be the most interesting, and this was no exception. After a warm reception at the clubhouse and a refreshing dip in the pool, we were ready to go exploring. Our first priority was tracking down someone to build us a Bimini (cockpit cover), as the monsoon season is now upon us. Every afternoon the clouds roll in and a torrential downpour ensues, made even more dramatic by a backdrop of thunder, and lightning bolts. A constant reminder of the awesome power of nature and that we are a mere blip on the ocean!
The cruisers have really thinned out at this point, but we have met up with two boats to keep us good company; ‘I Yam What I Yam’, (no not Popeye and Olive Oyl), but Sandi and Larry from Vancouver BC, and Cindy and Adam of SV Bravo. Two local fellows, Malbey and Oscar have now put in some long hours making our Bimini frame completely from scratch, and stitching it together on an antique Singer sewing machine, right beside us on the floating dock! After a few minor hiccups with the new Bimini, we bid goodbye to our hard-working Trabajero’s, and set the pointy end south for Quepos, and the world-renowned Manuel Antonio National Park.
The verdant rainforest setting of tropical beaches and rocky headlands lured us ashore as we dropped anchor at Manuel Antonio National Park. We set out early with Rick and Roseanna to hike the park before the tourists descended en masse, and the jungle was alive with life! Treading softly and peering carefully into the canopy we were delighted to see Howler monkeys, sloths, squirrels, lizards, iguanas, birds, and raccoons scurrying about. Taking a break on the white sand beach we were surprised by a family of Capuchin monkeys frolicking on the shoreline, oblivious to our presence, their little ‘old man’ faces reminiscent of some wizened old sage.
Surf and Turf!
After a very satisfying day in the park we returned to the beach for a swim in preparation for our dinghy ride back to the boats. A lump rose in my throat as we took in the full impact of the giant surf and breakers that had developed during the day and awaiting us. Huge waves were crashing on the beach right before our eyes! After much deliberation we hatched a plan: The four of us would haul one dinghy as far out in to the surf as possible to get it over the first wave before it crested. Then Rick was elected, (the best swimmer in the group) to row it out to the boat and swim back to help with the second dinghy. It worked. One down and one to go! Next we all heaved the second dinghy out towards the surf, lifting it up over the first wave in the nic of time. Then paddle like hell! The fab four had done it again! Back on board ship I listened to the sound of my heart pounding as I watched the surf from the safety of Chantey V. Just another day in the life of a cruiser!
Bahia Drake: Named for Francis Drake, the real life pirate who landed here in 1589 with a cargo full of gold bullion stolen from the Spanish galleon Our Lady Concepcion. Today it is a peaceful village that caters to the new class of Eco-tourists, hiking the jungles of the Osa Peninsula. We dinghied ashore and tied to the dock of a beautiful resort/wilderness camp on the edge of the forest. A two hour hike along the coast led us through an amazing ‘Indiana Jones’ style jungle rainforest. Delicate lime green lizards slithered along hanging vines. Crimson red and yellow parrots cackled from the tops of
enormous Banana palms, and furry beetles as big as your fist eyed us uncertainly. Daragh gave me a slow smile...”This is what I signed on for!” he said.