It was about a week ago that I left San José for Golfito, which is a small town on the Pacific coast near the border to Panamá. It used to be a hot spot for banana plantations, but it´s easy to see upon arriving that those days are long gone. The forest that is behind the town seems to be reclaiming it´s ground, but nobody seems to notice.
I didn´t go to Golfito to stay in Golfito; however, I also didn´t really know where I was headed. I knew I either wanted to take a ferry to Península de Osa and visit the famous Corcovado National Park, or go further south to Pavones, famous for (supposedly) the longest left hand break in the world. I was looking forward to see a part of the country that I didn´t have the opportunity to visit when I lived here. The fact that this part of the country is also a bit off the beaten tourist path was also enticing.
I arrived in Golfito to a torrential downpour, which isn´t really a good sign when considering trekking across a rainforest where river crossings are involved. So, because of that I decided to head towards Pavones. I found the bus with no trouble and started chatting with a local. He informed me that the bus probably wouldn´t be able to make it all the way to Pavones, but there would be a colectivo (shared taxi) to take us the rest of the way. "Sounds ok," I thought to myself. After all, there has been more rainfall this year than usual and dirt roads in backwater Costa Rica are not very reliable.
I wasn´t really looking for an adventure, but I quickly realized that I had found one when I saw a sign that read 32 kilometers to Pavones and we were maybe traveling at a speed of ten kilometers per hour. Hmmm, maybe this wasn´t the best plan? But too late now, pura vida.
So, literally more than three hours later I finally arrived in Pavones in a more than run down 15 passenger van. I still have no idea how we made it through all the mud and pond like puddles. I quickly found a place to stay, where I might add I was the only guest. At that time, I was too tired to be that concerned about the fact that the only public transportation to leave was that colectivo van, which probably only left when and if the driver thought he could make it out of town. I settled in for the night and so did the rain.
I woke up quite early the next morning to find that I was one of the only tourists there, the beach was full of debris, and there were no waves in sight, only rain clouds. I had a look around the town, which took about ten minutes, and then got something to eat. By that time, I realized that I wanted to leave, despite the fact that I had just arrived. I decided first to inquire about the colectivo. I asked a variety of people: the girl who worked at the supermarket, local gringos, the hostel owner, etc. In Tico fashion, I got a different answer every time, which led me to the conclusion that nobody knew what the hell was going on. Someone told me it depended on if they fixed the road, another person told me it depended on the rain and another person gave me the cell phone number of the driver. Hmmm?
A couple hours later, I finally ran into a couple of tourists who were talking to a guy about getting a 4x4 taxi to the border of Panamá. Although I didn´t need to go to the border, I did want to get back to the main highway. After some contemplation, I decided to go with them.
This turned out to be a two hour adventure, including a small river crossing where the driver got out of the car and waded across first just to see how deep it was. He also insisted on stopping and asking everyone about the condition of the roads and which way was the best to get to the main road. Once again, everyone had something different to say, but the general conclusion was that with four wheel drive anything was possible.
It was a bumpy ride to say the least, but I made it to the main road in time to catch a bus to Río Claro and then another bus to Uvita, north of Golfito. It was already dark when I arrived in Uvita, but it wasn´t raining and that seemed to be a good sign. It indeed was.