Tortuguero or not to-rtoguero that is the question

Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
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9
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Trip End Oct 04, 2007


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Saturday, August 18, 2007

From Arenal we decided to head to the Carribean, since we didnīt get any good beach time on the Pacific coast. The guidebook said the easiest way to get to Tortuguero National Park (where there are turtle nesting beaches and beautiful canals) was to take a bus to San Jose, one from San Jose to Cariari, and then get a boat to Tortuguero. So simple, or so it seemed. . .
We caught the first bus from Fortuna at 5:30 AM and got to San Jose around 9:30. We left for Cariari around 10:30, having declined to take the $15 tourist transportation to Tortuguero. Once we got to Cariari, we got tickets for the bus which would take us to the boat, which would take us to Tortuguero. We waited paitiently, but the 1:40 bus never came to the bus station. The woman who sold us the tickets came out and told us that there was a problem, that the bus didnīt come to the right station, so we would have to find another bus to take us to the dock. She got in a taxi with us and brought us to the public bus station with about a million other people, who all jumped on to the bus we needed, leaving no room for us and another half a million people. So we waited,  and waited for the next bus to come that could take us to the dock. Eventually it came, but we were afraid we would miss the boat because we were leaving after 2 and the boat was supposed to leave at 3:30 PM. The woman who sold us the tickets assured us that the boat always waits for the bus, so there shouldnīt be a problem to catch it. She also called the boat people to let them know we were coming and make sure they would wait for us. So we werenīt worried. After a slow ride through huge banana plantations, we got to the dock probably about 3 minutes after the boat left. We saw some other tourists who had just gotten off the boat from Tortuguero, so it was obvious that the boat had not waited for us. That left us and a few more people to sit around under a small sheltered area in the rain and wait for a boat that we werenīt even sure was going to come.
After around 2.5 hours, a jeep pulled up and a bunch of tourists got out. This was a good sign. The boat company guy was also with them. So a boat was definitely coming, we just didnīt know when. Another almost 2 hours later, the boat finally came. We and the rest of the gang (a few Tico fishermen, and a group of students at the University of Peace - a Mexican couple, and Egyptian couple, and a woman from Sudan) all finally got on the boat. It was around 7 when we finally left. The students were fun though, we had a nice running joke about the cargo of plaintains that was also on the boat with us - one guy thought they were bananas and tried to eat one, only to discover that it was not tasty at all, as the Sudanese woman, Isra, had told him. Then the Egyptian guy kept referring to the plantains as giant bananas, much to the annoyance of Isra, who had already explained several times what a plantain was.
After a long ride through a dark canal during which we encountered several crocodiles, we finally arrived to Tortuguero. Itīs a cute little village accessible only by boat through the surrounding river and canals or by plane. We were exhausted but we had to find a place to stay so we wandered around town only to find that everything was full (because there had been lots of people on the boat we were supposed to have caught). Eventually we decided to stay at the $25 a night place because there just werenīt any cheaper options. The cool thing about it was that there is a resident Amazon parrot named Mattias, who actually really liked Phoenix, but didnīt care for Ido very much.
We went to bed early, exhausted from the realllyy looongg day, but glad to finally be on the Carribean.
More about Tortuguero to come. . . .
Phoenix and Ido
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