So here we are, 23 weeks after leaving home, sitting in the Holiday Inn Express at San Jose airport on the eve of our return. It seems like a long time ago that we were sitting in the departure lounge at Gatwick worrying about whether or not we’d be admitted into Mauritius but on the other hand the time has passed very quickly. We’re quite surprised that we managed to keep this blog going all of that time but, in doing so, we’ve succeeded in creating a permanent record of our big adventure which we can refer to in future years when we’ll only be able to look back on this sort of thing! Also Google analytics tell us that we have 53 people in 14 countries, (OK some of that’s spam!) who regularly log on to read it so we hope that some of you have enjoyed at least some of the waffle.
We’ve spent the last 12 days by the sea at Playa del Cocos, in the north-west of Costa Rica where the climate can only be described as very hot and arid. Most days the mercury was around 35 degrees Celsius, enough to keep us sheltering indoors for
much of the time with the air conditioning on. We did manage to fit in 4 days of diving whilst we were there, during which Jan successfully undertook the PADI Advanced Open Water certificate. We didn’t pick the best time of year for diving here, the visibility wasn’t fantastic and the water temperature was around 22 degrees – so it was not dissimilar from diving Swanage Bay in the summertime! With the main exception being the marine life; we managed to see a few Manta Rays and some reef sharks as well as multiple devil rays, a few
massive Moray eels and amazing shoals of smaller fish. Unfortunately on the 1st dive Ian’s underwater camera housing, rated to 40 metres, flooded, destroying his Canon compact, adding another casualty to the technology toll on this trip; iPad lost in Sydney, Canon battery charger lost somewhere on the east coast of Australia, external hard drive dropped and damaged on-board the Great Barrier reef dive boat and now, the trusty underwater camera! (The very next day an American diver with a similar Canon housing suffered exactly the same fate, not that it helped any, but there’s a lesson in there somewhere, even if Nauticam is 4 times more expensive than Canon’s attempt at underwater housings!)
Over the 12 days in Coco we changed accommodation twice, the first time because we arrived a few days earlier than planned and the second because we stayed a day longer so we had to fit something around the AirBnB that we’d booked. The first place, Marina Lofts was like something out of a north-American soap opera; it was a home from home for retired Canadians, escaping the winter. They pretty much took over the place, sitting in and around the pool chatting in loud voices, playing card games and generally having a great time. Every morning the waste bins around the pool were full of beer cans and empty Bourbon bottles.
After our 3 nights there it was time to move to our AirBnB and this move was quiteentertaining; on arrival we couldn’t get the air-con to stay on, it kept tripping out and then we noticed that the fridge wasn’t working. Whilst playing around Ian noticed that moving the fridge plug to another socket caused the air con to switch on and then, bizarrely, turning the cold water tap on made the fridge work! The place had definite wiring issues and, to her credit, Olga the Russian landlady, didn’t hesitate to move us to another and better apartment, up on the hill behind the town where we spent the rest of the week mainly chilling and enjoying the swimming pool which we had all to ourselves. Other highlights of our time there included watching the pelicans feeding off the beach in the evenings and also the magnificent sunsets every night. (Unfortunately we can’t
include the nightly happy hours that all the bars offer as a highlight as the cocktails were very much watered down!) We didn’t stray very far but ironically when we did, moving to our accommodation for the final night at neighbouring Playa Hermoza we found another little slice of paradise. The beach was beautiful (yet another one), lined with cafes and restaurants and mostly quiet. At night we found a very laid back Chilean restaurant where we ate out under the stars listening to their chill-music with the temperature still hovering around 30 degrees at 10pm. Whilst enjoying the ambience we did register the fact that it will be quite some time before we’ll be doing something like that again!
So today we retraced our steps to Liberia airport where we got the little Cessna for a bumpy flight back to San Jose. The Holiday Inn Express is convenient for the airport, we couldn’t face the stress of hauling ourselves in and out of the city centre with the manic traffic. The downside of course is that its wasteland out here; our main choice for eating is the Denny’s American Diner across the parking lot. Still only one more night, I’m sure we’ll survive. Tomorrow morning the flip-flops will be going back in the suitcases and the socks and jumpers will be fished out. Our flight leaves at 14:05 for the first, 4 ½ hour leg to Atlanta where after a couple of hours lay-over we catch the flight to Heathrow.
Back to the real world!