Sunday, 24-08-2014. Day 5.
Dogs and motorbikes.
Our time at Essence Arenal had come to an end. We ate breakfast, packed the luggage intoDorothy, settled the bill, and headed off down the hill for the last time.
As soon as we turned onto 142, we started seeing signs for Toad Hall every few kilometers. There were so many (free coffee!), and we saw them for so long (don't miss it!), it turned into a running joke. When we finally got to Toad Hall, it was just a small building in the middle of a town. We didn't stop. We looked it up later and it's a hostel of some sort and people seem to like it, but the whole thing felt like the Mystery Spot or Wall Drug.
The road around Lake Arenal is anything but straight. It's got many twists and turns, ups and downs. I was in front of a long line of cars, and there was no room to pass me most of the time. That's always pretty stressful for me, especially if I'm driving a car that has troubles climbing hills. I felt lucky that we were only almost run off the road twice.
When we arrived in Cañas, a sizable town where 142 meets the Pan-American Highway, the ladies had to use the restroom, so we stopped at a gasolinera on the 1.
We also needed to replenish our supply of colónes, but it was Sunday, and still early, so nothing much was open. I asked about an ATM, and one of the guys at the gasolinera pointed us into town toward the banco, which was about 500 meters down a city street.
There were six Banco Nacional ATMs inside a small, hexagonal building. I was surprised that it was air conditioned, that I was offered an option for instructions in Inglés (though I still had to convert to colónes in my head), and, mostly, that I was not charged any service fee. Using bank ATMs is definitely the best, cheapest way to get local currency here.
We were told that Costa de Pájaros had no restaurants, so we stopped off at Mini Super Leticia for groceries. We bought $45 worth of food that was enough for lunch that day, dinner that night, and breakfast the next day (a budgetary win!).
As we checked out, Osvaldo, the owner, chatted us up about our trip. After learning where we were heading, he told us that, in case we needed it, the chief of police in Costa de Párajos was a good friend of his. Then, twice, once as we left and once loaded the groceries into Dorothy, he told us to "be careful."
We weren't sure if we should be alarmed about this or if he was just being polite.
The directions to the house we were staying at seemed a little confusing (though very detailed), yet despite some concerns the place was easy enough to find. For the last 500 meters, we had to drive up a bumpy dirt road that was wide enough for one car (but was two-way). On our right was a steep drop-off into some farmland below. I remember thinking I was glad it wasn't dark or raining (careful readers will note the use of foreboding foreshadowing).
At the house here we had no internet (other than an edge connection through Claro that occasionally teased us with 4G), but we did have television. Luck was with us, because we turned it on just in time to see the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who. So we ate dinner, then watched Doctor Who as geckos scurried across the walls.
As we got ready for bed, the familiar scent of skunk filled the air. This wouldn't have been a problem (we occasionally have skunks in our backyard at home), except that the bathroom adjacent to one of the bedrooms was only accessible from outside the house. And this skunk smelled really close. So I stood guard while the ladies went through their pre-bedtime rituals—though I'm not sure what I would have done if said skunk wandered into the hallway.
Costa de Pájaros is home to a lot of dogs, and once one of them starts barking, the rest of them sound off. This goes on pretty much all night long. Add to that the regular buzz of motorbikes zipping along on the road below and you realize that, even here, complete solitude isn't always easy to achieve.
- Hours driving: 3.5
- Cautions received: 2
- Skunks smelled: 1 (or more)
- Hours of television watched: 2
- Meals cooked: 2