Costa Rica Trip Report – Day 4 – Part 1
Friday was our first big adventure day and we were up at 5 am ready to go! Okay, the adventures didn’t start until 10 but the sun rises so early and we had gone to bed at 9 ;). The hotel stay included a breakfast buffet where we had scrambled eggs and gallo pinto. After wasting some time one of the guides from Desafio Tours picked us up and took us to their office in La Fortuna. We had about 30 minutes to kill before it was time to get on the road so we walked around the town and did a little souvenir shopping.
We got back on the tour bus with some other tourists and were on our way to pick up more guests as well as some of guides who lived on the way. If there is one thing that has stood out to me universally on every single international trip I’ve taken it is how jarring an American accent can sound when you’re not expecting it. I can remember the first time I traveled to the UK and was having dinner in a nice little village restaurant when a group of businessmen sat down with their American colleague. He was the only voice in the whole restaurant that stood out. I’m not sure if it’s the accent, the volume, the animated speech or what but it was that same shock as the other American tourists boarded this bus for our whitewater rafting trip. This was really the only place we had run into any other native english speakers on our trip. Most of the other guests we met were local to Costa Rica or from other spanish speaking countries.
The rafting guides were very outgoing and fun guys who either were very passionate about rafting or had been instructed to create excitement along the way. Along the way we stopped at one of the many roadside fruit stand to buy fruit for our trip. Little Star was especially excited to have some Pipa Fria (or fresh coconut water) served straight from the coconut. I also gave it a try and while I despise the boxed coconut water we get at the grocery store the real stuff was much more enjoyable. We also tried some rambutan (like a lychee) which was red and covered in spikes!
Once we arrived at the rafting location we got off the bus and got geared up with our helmets and life jackets. The guides gave us a bit of instruction and broke us into smaller groups and we were on our way. Our guide was Herman and he was definitely in for some fun. The very first thing he did was stick pineapple leaves into our helmets so they looked like devil horns.
This was my first time white water rafting and I was a little nervous – I’m not really crazy about rides and other adrenaline sports. Fortunately, these were only class II and III rapids so they weren’t too scary. Although I will admit the first few rapids we came upon got my heart racing. I definitely got more water up my nose than I expected and my legs were sore for days from locking myself into position. After about an hour or rafting we came to a calm area in the water and Herman invited us to jump out of the boat and float down the river for a bit. I think this was my favorite part. It was so relaxing and the river moved at just my pace. Getting back in the boat was a bit more challenging and Herman ended up throwing me into the boat face first – oops!
We rafted a bit more and then stopped for our snack. We got out of the boat onto some rocks and all of the guides were proficiently slicing up the pineapple and watermelon with their machetes. (Note, all gardening in Costa Rica also is done via machete!). The rest of the ride was a bit calmer and Little Star and I got to sit in the front. Except now Herman insisted on making the front the back and we were riding backwards down the river. This was the point I started falling all over the place. I didn’t really pick up on how to brace my feet in the boat facing backwards and had no grip. Fortunately I was falling into the boat not out.
Sadly our ride came to an end (actually I was pretty exhausted and my legs weak from holding on, so it was a good time to stop) and we changed and got back on the bus for our lunch. I was not expecting much from lunch, maybe some bagged sandwiches or a quick barbeque. I was pleasantly surprised with what we got. We ended up driving for what seemed like hours on dirt mountain roads until we ended up at a family’s house. They greeted us with shots of “moonshine” and welcomed us to make our own plates from their kitchen. We filled our banana leaf plates with a delicious chicken in sauce, rice and beans, fried plantains and some other goodies. Overall the food in Costa Rica did not impress me – but this meal was outstanding.
We also spent a bit of time on the families farm where they showed us how they use cows to power their sugar cane squisher machine and invited us to try both the cane and the juice the cow powered machine squeezed from the cane. They also showed us the local way of brewing coffee, which is basically hanging a sock filled with the coffee from a metal holder and pouring boiling water through it. The coffee was delicious – no surprise since it is all locally farmed. Finishing the rafting excursion on this note was perfect – highly recommend!
Rafting could have been a full day adventure on it’s own but we only had one day left in Costa Rica and so much to accomplish…