Ok, so we decided to drive to Nosara yesterday. The rain had been plummetting down – we didn’t know there had been a landslide in San Jose and 20 people had died -,so we set off when the last drop of rain had fallen…so we thought….
It was 10.30 our time, cocoa time for you lot.
Down the track, right onto the tarmac road, left past the one roomed church and then right past the bulldozers and new apartments. The road soon petered out and we were thrown about like so many loose coconuts in a crate, so the driver made an executive decision to turn back. Back over the ravine, onto the main highway to Nicoya and a new start as we headed towards Nosara beach and a fancy lunch in a hotel.,.so we thought
Before Jim got the car into fourth gear it started to spit, okay if I’m really honest it gobbed it down, and by the time we had to turn left onto another unmade road I could feel our adventurous spirits take a dip.
People still hitchhike in Costa rica, and people still stop to give them lifts. Two old men, standing opposite each other in the pouring rain, thumbed us down. One, four teeth, leather cowboy hat and a very determined right thumb, climbed aboard, the other looked like a Mexican rustler with his moustache and weather beaten skin. he climbed onto the other side of the truck and we set off.
Not many landmarks to report as the rain teemed down. The four toothed muchacha hit the back of the windscreen and Jim skidded to a halt, as he climbed off a young man in a blue anorak ran towards us.
‘They’re getting younger.’ said the daughter.
He slipped his bum over the edge of the truck and we set off but not before our four toothsome tour guide told us not to go to Playa this or Playa that and that Nosara was something or other.
‘I wish I spoke more Spanish.’ said the frustrated daughter.
The old git negotiated pot holes, puddles, ravines, dead racoons and more craters than on Michael Parkinsons face when the Mexican rustler hit the windscreen and leapt out by a reforestation area and a long haired lover from Liberia leapt onto the back to take his place.
I could feel us losing our nerve, Nosara was meant to be 3 kolometres up the road but there was no sign of Nosara or nothing. The long haired botanist pointed us in the right direction as he ran into a biological garden, the heavens opened and we hit a gas station. Not literally, we all needed a loo stop so we climbhed out of the four wheel drive. it looked like we had been driving through the jungle which Goddamn it we had. Bee’s arm was spattered in mud where she had it out of the window, my trousers were covered in red earth and Jim was covered in confusion. Right before our eyes was the deepest,reddest river we had ever seen. Jim was prepared to drive thorough it as we had the vehicle for it it took me to SCREAM very loudly that I would divorce him if he tried to part the red sea, he wasn’t Moses and I wanted to live to see my unborn grandchildren.
‘The riber is too high.’ said the man with the key to the lavatory. ‘The riber is too high, you cannot cross, round and round you must go and to your left you will find Nosara.’
After our pit stop we did as he told us but round and round we went and round and round again. We could not find Nosara for love nor Colones. We passed the same drunken mechanics, the same bars, the same landfill site, three times when we finally decided to call it a day.
It was now lunchtime and we were hungry. We decided against the fish restaurant and drove into what looked like Forest Row in East Sussex. Forest Row is full of hippies, yoga teachers and health food fanatics. Thats where we were only in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. A miserable Canadian who had invested her whole life in a new cafe, ZEN, with an Om sign for the ‘E’ served us up a less than Zen like lunch of wilted salad and very dry gluten, sugar, and dairy free cookies. My daughters face dropped, Jim tried to keep smiling and I was just pleased that we were on dry land eating dry cookies.
We set off back to the villa. There was the sign to Playa Samara. Hurrah we thought it took less time than we thought, the return journey always feeling shorter. This time the landmarks were obvious a rusty coloured wall with black spikes atop of it – like Alcatraz – a herd of white cows grazing underneathm coconut trees and only 3kilometers to go before we hit home only WHAAAAAAAAAAT! The biggest, deepest, fastest rolling red river we had ever seen, since three hours earlier.
Jeremy Clarkson turned round the four wheel drive and we returned the way we came, mud spattered, weary, worried with a ‘wherethehellarewe’ vibe going on.
We finally found our road and as the clock struck sunset we arrived back at the villa. The trip had renewed our love of life since we hadn’t drowned in the rolling red Costa Rican rivers..
I made a wonderful supper of celery soup, the best fried rice this side of Sezchuan and a crispy green salad. I used up most of the food leaving us just enough for today and Friday. We were leaving the villa at 3.00 a.m. to get to the airport for our Saturday morning flight at 6.50. After our insect hunt the three of us fell into bed. me reading Paulo Cuelo, she reading Stieg Larsson and him reading Howard Jacobsons Man Booker prize winner. Lights out, literally as we had another power cut and shut eye…AND THEN….you’ve guessed it. the rain started. Four days of rain in one hour,. The plunge pool overflowed. The roof felt like somebody was chucking buckets of gravel over it. A leak in B’s bedroom when at 6.00 a.m. the old git said to me I hope we can get back to Liberia for the flight home.
I climbed out of bed at 8.15. had a mug of celery soup, and sat down to read as there was no internet connection. Then Freddie emerged;
‘Guys..’ he said ‘This is not good. If it dont stop rainin’ suntine we hab big trouble.’ Jim took his bread out of the toaster, B took a huge intake of breath, I put my foot on the starting block, Freddie continued. ‘If the bridge is down we aint getting out of here. We have to move pretty damn quick.’
The three of us packed in less time than it takes to say goodbye to our holiday, the ghekkos, the tree frogs and all the monekeys in the trees. My suitcase was full of black ants, so I had to take everything out, empty the little bastards over the floor and start all over again. We finally left at ten thirty, the rain so fierce even the windscreen wipers had to fight back. There were floods in the road, but Holy of Holys when we got to the bridge it was still standing. Ten minutes later Freddie screeched to a halt. A huge tree had fallen into the road. Cars had backed up, red mud had backed up, the police cars brought local men with shovels and wide smiles to help. Moped drivers wearing black plastic bags got off their soaking wet bikes to help dig out road for us car drivers. And finally with Freddie expertly manouvering the four wheel drive we made it out of the gushing water. We eventually arrived in Liberia at 1.00 o’clock.
Freddies mobile broke the silence. Nick, who manages the villa, informed us that an hour after we had crossed the bridge it had come tumbling down. Samara was impassable. Freddie would drop us off then stay the night at his mothers until he could get back over the raging torrent. And before you could say pass me my gallo pinto our jungle jaunt had come to an end.
Freddie took us to a three star hotel on the side of the road. NO WAY my Jewish Princess inner vouice yelped. A few minutes down the road stood Paris Hiltons hole. The Holiday Garden Inn 5 minutes from the airport, Allan booked us in as Freddie unloaded our cases from the back of the truck. He untied the black plastic bags to keep the rain off and carefully put our damp suitcases in the reception. I cried, Freddie cried, B cried, Jim sniffled, we hugged and said adios as Freddie drove off into the rain clouds and we wheeled our bags and jungle dust up into room 323.
Him and her are up there now drying out our clothes on the air-con heater. I am in the business centre, a big keyboard, a real internet connection and brilliant Costa Rican music playing, but it aint the jungle, no monkeys, grasshoppers, no rice, fried plantains, no Freddie, rain and mucho warmth, but at least we know we will get our flight home.
Our three week jungle experience came to an abrupt end, we are alive and well and grateful for Paris Hiltons bathroom ensuite, although these hotels are the same whereve you are in the world. Anonymous food, staff, bedrooms, corridors. We are here for two nights and then its home to a cold November.
I never thought I would ever say I would miss the ants in the bathroom or the damp smell of my clothes, sound of rain on the roof or Tristran the tree frog, but they say it takes 21 days to make a habit and Samara was growing on me. Freddie wants us to come back next year but told us to come in December when it’s hot, and dry, and not a rain cloud in sight. I’m going to start saving up NOW but I shall miss the occasional drizzel. DRIZZLE…..