The rainy season started here in the Central Valley. In fact, it has been raining non-stop since Monday afternoon. I’m learning what this means besides water falling from the sky. For starters, all the critters that lived in the sewer system get flushed out and make new homes wherever they can. We are hosting a possum (zorro) in our roof and I think maybe between our walls, too. This is not necessarily a bad thing – possums prevent rats and other more damaging creatures from taking up residence in our home. He sure did sound scary at first, scraping around the ceiling and walls as soon as the sun went down. Now I’m rather partial to the critter, imagining him as our protector from the rats. But all good things must come to an end – possum are suppose to be transient animals, we’ll see who moves in after his stay is up…
Other things I’ve learned about the rainy season so far are that your clothes will never dry on that clothesline no matter how long they hang, and the roads are getting very slippery, soon the flooding will start.
I discovered this neat interactive map today that illustrates the rainy seasons around Costa Rica. If you hover the mouse over certain parts of the map, you can see the months it rains and average yearly rainfall. Costa Rica Rainy Season Map.
So what have we been up to besides eating breakfast at artsy resorts?
Well, last weekend was Julio’s birthday and he got the day off of work, so we took the dogs and the Samurai down to Playa Jaco. It only takes a little over an hour on the new Autopista del Sol, but that would be easy, right?, so instead we chose to drive over the mountains. Julio is all about the journey and not so much the destination. His master plan was to wake up at 7am, get on the road, stop for breakfast in Orotina (the fruit capital of Costa Rica), explore the mountains, stop for lunch in a restaurant in the middle of the jungle, explore more mountains, and then arrive in Jaco early afternoon to enjoy some sun on the beach, before dark. Who were we kidding? I’m Erin and Julio is a Tico. So what really happened was we got up at 10am, drank coffee for an hour, spent 2 hours cleaning around the house and packing the car, then finally hit the road at 1pm.
Skipping the breakfast in Orotina, we drove straight to the 1st half of the mountain exploration near Bijagual de Turrubares. In this part of the country, the mountains are spotted with clouds, the plants are always green, and the earth is a really rich red.
We spent a few hours playing in this landscape before we decided to head over to Silencio del Campo for lunch…dinner? It was 4pm by then. Silencio is really cool – it is nestled in a crevice in the jungle without anything else around it, like an oasis. They have a lake in which they raise tilapia that you can catch and they will prepare. They also have horse tours and camping.
We ate our lunch in the gazebo in the middle of the lake. It was very peaceful and the food wasn’t bad. The salad in the photos is actually superb for comida tipica. Usually you don’t get salad and if you do, it’s transparent iceberg lettuce with transparent, flavorless tomatoes. I had garlic shrimp with papas (french fries) and ensalada. They also served a bowl of rice with my meal – in Costa Rica, it is customary to eat two large servings of starches with every meal…and those starches count as vegetables.
After our meal, we went to visit Julio’s friend Jorge who is a hunter and a master craftsman. On his property, he has built several cabins and a traditional Costa Rican house. The traditional house is not so far behind in their history – in fact, Julio’s mom grew up in one and we saw them being built and lived in on the BriBri land last year (BriBris are native Costa Rican Indians living near Panama and the Caribbean coast). Jorge showed us around his shop – he makes beautiful furniture and intricately carved doors from mango wood.
He also invited us inside to check out his latest prize – this HUGE beetle and a Tepezcuintle (Paca). He found the beetle when he was cutting the grass at their church and thought it would be a good idea to bring it home to hang out in their kitchen.
The Tepezcuintle is an orphan. Some of Jorge’s hunting friends killed her mother before they realized she had babies. Apparently the Tepezcuintle has highly prized meat – very tender, tasty, and expensive. So once they realized that the one they killed had babies, they nursed the last milk from her body and used that to track down the young. They only found one…usually there are 3 or 4. Jorge volunteered to raise the orphan Tepezcuintle until she is old enough to be released back into the wild. How cool is that? They are taking care of Tepezcuintle Bambi!
Tepezcuintle is pronounced Teh-peh-zquint-leh. Here is Julio happily posing with it, trying not to freak out about the beetle crawling towards his ear.
And now for the scary part of Julio’s Big Birthday Adventure. (Mom – don’t read this paragraph!) We waited so late to start our journey, that by the time we needed to make the last leg of the off-road mountain trail to Playa Jaco, it was too dark, too rainy, and too cloudy. We pushed through anyway until we got to a point where it appeared there was no turning back. And that is when we realized we needed to turn back. All of a sudden the road drastically narrowed to barely the width of the Samurai and the rocks all disappeared – it was only mud! This is a horrible situation to be in because there is really no controlling the car and it can slide off the mountain in a heartbeat. Since I couldn’t see anything in front of us, I decided it was less scary to focus out my window into the black chasm below. And we were very very very close to the edge. We got stuck going forward on this terror trail for about an hour. Obviously we made it – Julio found a few inches to turn the Samurai around in and expertly maneuvered the vehicle up the seemingly impossible steep mud slide. We call that trip “the one we will never ever forget”…and I suppose I’m also calling it “the one I will never ever repeat”. Julio swears there were rocks and the trail was wider last time he drove it – I’m guessing maybe we took a wrong turn since there was NO visibility!
I’m not going to show any pics of us after the trip, but here is one of the dogs. They can’t even keep their eyes open!
Once we finally made it to Jaco, we unwound by partying like rock stars. We needed to celebrate life. Pura vida!