|So, did we make it up Volcan Baru? Oh yes. All 13.5k, uphill all the way- not surprisingly, but we hadn't expected that to be virtually all at a 45 degree incline. The trail was poor to appalling, even 4WD vehicles had a really tough time getting up it. Oh, and by the way we were carrying our packs with camping kit so that we could sleep at the top and see the sunrise. Now guess whose idea this whole mad plan was. That said, we had great weather, no rain until after we had put the tent up, and a gorgeous morning with fantastic sunrise. The views from the top were amazing – we could see both the Pacific and the Caribbean from the same spot, Apparently it is the only place in the word where you can do that. Curiously there is a Volcano in Costa Rica which claims the same thing – watch this space!!! The trail was so bad it took over four hours to come back down again, and my muscles are just about back to normal three days later!
We left Panama the following day, and took two buses to reach the border with Costa Rica, and a further two buses to get to Puerto Jimenez where we have stayed three nights. There was an immediately noticeable difference as we crossed the border - the buses are shabbier, the roads are in a far worse condition, the people are not quite so amenable, and everything is much more expensive. It is only now apparent how much Panama has benefited from the canal and the enormous fees paid by the ships to transit. Everything there was of a higher quality than here in Costa Rica. By the way, the photos of the canal only showed the locks; most of the canal consists of a huge man-made lake, which covers most of the width of the country but it is 100ft above sea level so they need the locks at either end to raise and lower the ships from and back to the sea. So the main part of the canal is a lot wider than those photos suggested!!
Anyway, back to Costa Rica. We spent yesterday exploring this town and beach, until early afternoon – that's when the rain started. It rained ad it rained and it rained. Here most of the rooves are of corrugated iron and the noise was incredible. The road became a river in a matter of moments, and we just stood on the balcony and watched. It did at least relieve some of the oppressive heat – sorry to hear about the snow back home by the way.
Today we took a collectivo (sort of community bus) to Cabo Matapalo to spend the day hiking some jungle trails and lazing on the beach. When I say bus, I really mean cattle truck with benches along either side. There were about 20 of us inside, mixture of gringos and Ticos, and we shook, rattled and rolled all the way to the beach - about an hour and a half along a potholed and flood eroded “road”. It was worth it for the walks, wildlife – which included huge bright blue butterflies just like in Avatar, the waterfall we climbed, and almost deserted beaches. Again it was very hot, even a dip in the sea was more like a bath. We are now 6 hours behind UK time, and it gets dark around 5.30. This was while we were waiting for the collectivo to come home and it was amazing to hear the jungle nightlife start up ( a chorus of hundreds of frogs and who knows what else) and to see fireflies dancing on the road.
Well, that's us up to date for now, thanks for all your messages, it's the first thing I look for when we log on so please keep them coming! Lots of love from us both xxx