|Costa Rica South (October 2004)
|We left our nice anchorage in Punta Leona and met up with some friends on the sailing Vessel Cloud 9
(Michael and Jeri). We anchored in Herradura, Costa Rica. The kids and Lou got to do a little bit of
surfing. We had a nice reunion with Cloud 9 since we hadn’t seen them since May. They love our kids
and vice versa.
Lou, Michael and Martin went out fishing in the Cloud 9’s dinghy. They were close to some rocks on a
peninsula when a set of waves swept in and flipped the dinghy, tossing the people and fishing gear all
overboard, into shallow rocky water. Lou and Michael were scrambling to keep the dinghy close by
and gather accessories, such as the fuel tank that were drifting away, and Martin swam into the shore
and a beach that was quickly disappearing with the incoming tide. Of course, sunset was approaching,
and nobody knew they were likely stranded here! Michael and Lou were able to get the waterlogged
outboard started again and they raced off of the shore through the big surf, and then the engine
sputtered, just making it back to Ace before it quit entirely. In the meantime, I had been on the boat
and heard Lou yell from the beach shortly after they flipped. I didn’t know what they needed- but I
knew that they didn’t have oars. Our dinghy didn’t have the outboard on it. Emily and I tried to row to
them, but we were not getting anywhere with the current. Then I went to launch the kayak. Then I saw
that they had made it off the beach under their own power. They lost quite a few things from the
dinghy—Martin’s fishing pole, a bunch of lures, our Cutco filet knife. Lou and Michael went the next
day at low tide and found a few things including the fiberglass top for the outboard motor. After
surveying the rocks that they managed to swim and bounce over to the beach, they felt lucky not to
have been badly injured.
We headed on down to Bahia Drake to meet up with Amorita who was having a great time there. We
brought some nasty seas with us. It was the most nerve-wracking experience we have had so far in our
cruise. After a nice afternoon in the anchorage, the seas built gradually until there were 6 and 7 foot
breaking waves coming into the anchorage. It rained so hard, we got 2 feet of rain in one night. There
was debris including huge logs floating out of the rivers nearby. When the waves picked them up,
they were rammed into Ace. We had one breaking wave set Ace momemtarily on top of our dinghy,
Ketchup. Yikes! Some of her floorboards were broken by that. We stayed two nights—intermittently
having some discussions that it is better many times to be out at sea than at anchor. Ace did drag
anchor, we think after a log tripped the anchor, and then reset. So, finally we left. We had to tow the
dinghy because we couldn’t lift it onboard in such conditions. Amorita lost their stern anchor when the
rode chafed through, and on the passage out of Bahia Drake, they lost their dinghy too. Ketchup (our
dinghy) is fine—but we’ll need to replace the floorboards soon.
We headed for Golfito. And were welcomed with a beautiful, calm anchorage. Golfito was the
company town for United Fruit Company (that’s Chiquita banana to you!). United Fruit Company had
their problems—parasites destroying banana trees and striking laborers—and they closed up shop. (It’
s more complicated than this, of course). When United Fruit left, there wasn’t much left for the people
of Golfito to do to make money. Certainly, there was fishing, but nothing that was as predictable as the
steady paycheck from United Fruit. So, the Costa Rican government helped subsidize a back to work
enterprise—DUTY FREE SHOPS. So, each Tico (Costa Rican) can come down to Golfito and spend
$500 duty free every six months. When they first instituted this enterprise, you could come down and
make the purchase and leave. Now, you have to pick up your ticket authorizing to make purchases,
the day before. So this means people have to come down the afternoon before and spend the night .
So, more money gets infused into the community.
I met a fellow cruiser, Raewyn (from New Zealand) who would get up every morning at 5:30 and walk
the dog. I went with her and we would hike up the hill (a Kansan would call it a mountain) that
overlooks Golfito. We would see parrots, monkeys, poison dart frogs and blue morph butterflies on our
walks! Very nice. I learned a lot from her and loved hearing her stories.
We were anchored in front of a cruiser’s hang out, Land and Sea Services. Katie and Tim were
fantastic hosts. You can use the dinghy dock and their HOT showers for $3 per day. Plus Katie has
fantastic connections and arranged for us to go on a trip to a surf camp/nature lodge Encanta la Vida.
We went to this beautiful, remote resort on the Osa Peninsula. It was a fantastic two days of surfing for
Lou and the kids and hiking and enjoying nature for all of us. We also enjoyed the great conversations
with the other guests and the manager. Martin found a great new adult friend named Paul with whom
he schemed about making a trip on a catamaran to all the surf spots in the world. Paul is very
enthusiastic about this trip and I’m sure his wife, Lynn and his grown children will miss him a little bit.
Lynn works at Trader Joe’s and had me salivating for all the wonderful food at Trader Joe’s. I
suggested she could subsidize trips to any place that cruisers were anchored by bringing Trader Joe’s
supplies to the cruisers.
The wildlife was breathtaking. We saw toucans, scarlet macaws, monkeys (spider, capuchin, howlers
and squirrel) and iguanas. You would spot movement in the trees and you would see one monkey and
then a whole tribe of them. Martin and I were walking along the road up to the resort and we saw some
squirrel monkeys in the trees above the road. We were looking up and then I heard some water
coming from above and heard one of the Ticos nearby say, “Urina”—and it slowly came to me that
URINE was flowing down from the trees just inches from Martin’s head. I told Martin to move toward me
and he did---without getting wet! I guess we know what the monkeys think of humans.
The kids organized a Halloween party and went trick or treating by dinghy among the other cruising
boats in Golfito. They were well treated! Then we had a party where among other things Mary, Emily
and Martin tried to teach people the Time Warp dance from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
What we are reading: Mary has been on a reading frenzy: Book of Puka-Puka (about living in the
South Sea Islands in the first part of the 20th century), With Eyes you can See (about a Catholic priest
in Guatemala during the 1970s that got very involved in the struggles of the people), The Valkryies.
Lou has been reading The Wonder of Girls (about raising daughters), Emily has been reading the
Terry Patchett books, Martin is reading the Redwall books very slowly. And thinking about his surf trip
with Paul and others on his catamaran.
|Emiy with her friend, Lynn at La
Encanta Vida. Emily has been very
fortunate to get to know some
awesome women on this trip (cruisers
and people we just meet along the
|This is just one of the beautiful
creatures that inhabited Matapalo
(translates to "killer stick or
strangler fig"). You wanna Iguana?
|Martin and his surfing buddy, Paul,
scheming about their surfing safari!
|Halloween for cruiser kids. We had a
bear, a screamer (same costume for
three years!), a sailor girl, an angel,
a princess and a nerd. The booty
included candy corn, Snickers, Milky
Ways and Oreos.