Central America Costa Rica North America

Lydian – Day 50 – Don’t Trust the Guidebooks

Now that I’ve finally gotten over my cold that I’ve had, and had time to process the whole experience of going to Tortuguero, I suppose I’ll start posting again. So, like I said, we went to Tortuguero. Driving there was bumpy. The roads were horrible after getting close to La Pavona. La Pavona is a small farm, not a town, but there are signs leading to it. You just have to look hard enough.

There’s a large parking lot where you have to get a parking ticket of sorts to park in a specific place. From there, you walk to a shelter and wait for the 1 o’clock boat to arrive. You’ll see people emerging over the hill. If you need to use the bathroom, be wary, there weren’t any lights, and the doors fool you into thinking that they’re locked so that people can walk in on you. That’s what happened to me, at least. When we got to Tortuguero, I continued to see the same woman who had walked in on me in the bathroom for our whole trip. My family and I decided that I continued to see her for the rest of our trip in Costa Rica, that I should probably think about talking to her. I haven’t seen her since our trip to Tortuguero.

In this shelter place, there is food. Your tickets for the boat will be sold in the same place. If you have a group of people, you will still have only one ticket for all of them. It’s a little confusing.

While we were waiting, there was some T.V. that people were watching that was the older stuff that didn’t have words and was only video. It was kind of interesting I guess, I’ve never watched any older T.V. before. My thought was that this kind of T.V. is probably a little more active than regular T.V. watching session. When you watch a muted T.V. show, you kind of have to put the plot together. That’s what’s so cool about it, is that you can create your own story.

So anyways, soon enough we saw some people coming over the hill from where the river was. It was about 12:45ish by then. We waited till about 12:50 to go down to where the boats were, and were shocked by our discovery. There were river boats down there, and they were in the river, and there was a one handed boat captain. I was expecting something a little more like… Well, like the Strait of Gibraltar. You can see all the way across to the other side, but it’s still far enough away that you have to take a “luxury ferry” with a snack bar and tables. Yeah. Not like that at all. First of all, the river is not very wide across. Second, you go down the river, not across it. Third, I somehow doubt that this river was even wide enough to support a ferry like ones that I’m “used” to. I was scared of this “boat”. I remember looking back at my mom kind of like, “really? Yeah, I’m not doing this anymore…”, but we did get on it sometime around one. I’m really not sure what time it was exactly.

We sat in the front. The view is pretty good from there. I would recommend it. The boat ride is about an hour and a half to two hours. There are lots of stops that the boat will probably take when you get close to Tortuguero. One of these is a town named San Francisco, but don’t let the name fool you, it’s so small it barely looks inhabited. You’ll know when you stop at Tortuguero, trust me. There’s a large, bright pink, cardboard karaoke bar, and a small boat dock.

That’s the trip there, it’s the waiting for nightfall that’s difficult. When we got to our hotel we asked about the turtle tours that they had, and got told that we would have to basically wait for a little while until they knew when they were going out for sure. We found out that they were going out at 9 o’clock that night. We stayed in Casa Marabella by the way. It’s actually a really nice hotel that’s clean and only has a few bugs. When you’re in Costa Rica, you totally can’t guarantee no bugs. There’s gonna be at least one everywhere even if a place is really clean.

So we went for a walk. On our walk we discovered various things. One of my favorites was the aloe vera juice that we found at one of the abastecedors. It was really good, and if you find it, get some of it. Another thing (or should I say person) that we found was a man selling coconuts. Two men were selling coconuts in Tortuguero, actually, but this dude was unique. He had this weird pointy hat that he was wearing that reminded me of something that one would put on a scare actor, and his demeanor was extremely grumpy. The other guy kept shouting about one dollar coconuts. He seemed very not grumpy. Me and my parents decided that if we were to buy any young coconuts, that we would purchase them from the grumpy hat man.
It was really hot out, so we decided that we were going to try and take refuge in one of the hopefully air-conditioned tourist shops that were lining the one occupied street that didn’t look like some scary alley. It wasn’t anything special really. On the walkway outside there were these circles printed on the pavement, they were kind of neat actually. Right outside of the tourist shop there was a sort of a park that had these big statues of sorts. There was this one toucan one and some other ones too, but I can remember them all. There were a number of them.

Inside of the tourist shop there were various items from hackeysacks to local artwork. Everything a person could possibly want was in that store, even Pringles and wine. Now, me and my family have a lot of food allergies, so we couldn’t eat anything there except for the regular Pringles. They were a nice treat later on.

As I was wandering around the store, I decided, hey, why don’t I go try to find the jewelry section. The back of the store was arranged where there were, well, cubicles of sorts, that each had different things in them. One of them was almost (ALMOST) completely devoted to jewelry. As I had just taken a slightly stumbled step into the “cubicle”, I noticed that a woman working at the store had decided to ‘hide out’ in this little area that I was hoping to look through. I stared for a couple of moments as she texted grumpily before deciding that even if she really hadn’t taken much notice to me, it would look weird just to walk away. So I walked in, and, nonchalantly, looked at the jewelry for about five seconds, and left. Then she stared at me. I tried to make the whole thing causal, but I guess that that didn’t work very well.

I then proceeded to find my mother, who was looking at the artwork. I noticed some neat coconut shell purses, and held one up to my dad: The indestructible purse! I waved my mom over, and we took a look at them. My mom opened one up, and can you guess what was on the inside? Ants! I think that they were dead, but I’m not sure, really. Maybe they were just playing dead.

We bought some bug spray here too, accidentally. We had to go return it. The little thing of OFF! was thirteen dollars by itself, not including any of the few other items (Pringles included) we had bought. It felt a little bit like an ordeal to return it, but we did return it, and peace was restored to the Tortuguero tourist shop.

After going back to the hotel, we took a long and refreshing nap on relatively comfortable beds. One thing that I’m beginning to find here is the one cannot have both a comfortable pillow and a comfortable bed at the same time. For instance, in Alajuela, the bed was comfy, but the pillows were thin. Here in Atenas, the pillows rock, but the beds suck. In Tortuguero, the beds were good, and the pillows were weird. If you can imagine really thick pieces of fabric stuffed messily into a pillow case then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the pillows were like. They were strange, but not necessarily bad. We did eventually get up though and go eat dinner.

We ate dinner out on deck outside of the hotel. It consisted of refried beans and salsa on tortillas on a plate, and for dessert, chocolate coconut cookies from Bio-Land. I’ve decided that these are the only things keeping me going, by the way. Our dinner actually wasn’t half bad.

We went out for another walk up and down the one street after dinner because we had an hour and a half to spare and nothing better to do. So that’s what we did. On our walk, we noticed various things from the fact that we weren’t the only ones with uncomfortable furnishings in our home, to the fact that some chick was walking down the street with an umbrella above her head when it wasn’t raining, and hadn’t been for the whole day, as far as we could tell. So this is what we did until it was nearing our time of departure for the turtle tour. Then we went on the turtle tour.

For a more detailed account of how to get to Tortuguero, see my mom’s post.

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