Costa Rica Day 9 A monkey in the hand is worth 20 crocs in the river
And we got both. After sunning ourselves all day yesterday, to the verge of crimson, we decided to take today to try something a little different. After a little research and a lot anticipation, we decided to try a little river trip down a big river and hoped to see some more wildlife, especially some crocs. We didn’t want to see zoo crocs, we wanted to see crocs in the wild, and we got more than we bargained, or paid for.
The day started without a reservation or a clue as to where to go. A little googling and I found a river that fit the bill perfectly, the Tempisque River in the Palo Verde Reserve. I noticed that most of the tours started from Playa Del Coco with a bus ride to the starting point Bolson. So we decided to skip the middle man and go straight to Bolson. Can you say adventure, we had no clue where we were going, how to book trip or what to expect. What we did not expect was a 30 minute drive down a dirt road littered with farms and iguanas who think they own the road.
Several times we thought for sure we were lost, I mean whatever comes at the end of a rough dirt road with no houses, stores, stops, nada nothing but farms. But, we had no agenda, no time frame, so on we drove, a car rattled so hard my teeth hurt and our bladders were ready to burst, but on we drove. Finally, with all faith in our GPS we arrived in Bolson, our journey thus far causing us to have guarded hearts of muted anticipation. We were not incorrect, the town, if you can call it that, was about 13 houses and crackled paved basketball court in the middle. We were the only car we had seen for miles, and every Tico stared us down, “what are those expats doing here?”.
We decided to turn around, and drove up and down the 3 roads and there we saw it, a colorful sign promising a boat tour on a house aspiring to be 1000 square feet. We sat outside, “could this be the place? This can’t be the place, it is just a little tiny casa.” Just then a car drives bar and gives a little honk and a four foot chica in shorts and a tank runs out and motions me in. I indulge.
She does not speak a lick of English, but I point to the picture and between my pocito espanol and her little English, I manage to determine that Guillermo was coming to take me to Pedro. I ask the ever present “cuanto cuesta?” she indicates Pedro has all the answers. Needless to say I was a little nervours. Here we are in a foreign country, in the smallest town I have ever seen waiting for Guillermo to take me somewhere to see Pedro. While we waited, she told me it was muy calor, which made me feel good, becuase I thought I was just a heat wuss. The house had no air, no breeze, nada just dead air. She pointed out pictures on the wall showing me Pedro and some crocs he had wrastled. They were huge. I asked about crocs and manos and she shook her head promising us mucho manos and crocs.
Guillermo showed up on his bike as promised and he spoke excellent English for a young teen boy. We introduced and he told me he was to ride with us in our car, unusual but I obliged and off we went. After paying for the Park fee, $6 each, we continued on the dusty hot rocky windy road, dodging iguanas the whole way. We were introduced to our captain Pedro, he was a jolly Costa Rican, and he already had two elderly couples on board waiting for us, so off we went.
The river was breezy and nice, about 10 degrees cooler in the covered boat, so it was in the 80s. Immediately as we pulled out we saw a croc, and he swam away, no worries we were promised as there were many more to come. They were not lying. We saw many many crocs, too many to keep track of; birds of many kinds;more iguanas of several types than I knew existed; and much more.
The highlight of the trip was the monos, we saw three different species and they were fantastic. Our favorites were the white face. The white face came to the boat and ate, not just from the boat, but from our hands and it was an experience to say the least. Tracy was overcome with joy at the cuteness of these monos, they were like little kids begging for our bananas, and we gave them freely. They ate bananas like me eating baby back ribs, it was not pretty, but very efficient.
The river trip could have been the highlight of our trip. Half way through he dropped the elders off the boat and it was just me Tra and Pedro, and we had a great time. Him grilling me about Alaska and telling us his life story, how he left home at 15 and what he did, it was a bonus and by the end of the trip we had a new amigo. I cannot say enough how incredible it was to see the things we saw and the conversations we had. At the end as we disembarked, I told Pedro we had not paid. He seemed surprised, so again I asked “cuanto cuesta” he asked what his wife had told me and I replied $5 dollars, and then punched him in the arm. He laughed and said how about $50 for both of you. For a nearly three hour river trip with all that we saw, I thought that was a fantastic bargain, and I tipped him the same. He hugged us both and as we left Tracy was still beaming with joy, for a monkey in the hand……..