After a few days in Golfito, Costa Rica, jumping through the necessary immigration hoops, we began the process of preparing Sequoia for shipping home. We watched the messages from SevenStar Shipping, which have come on a nearly-daily basis, with a prediction of when we might expect the MV Kraszewski in Golfito. The date keeps slipping, so as of this writing they’ve changed the arrival of the ship to a window of the 17th-19th of May. They’ve also changed ships, and the new one (the Kraszewski) is evidently much bigger, much deeper draft, and the loading will take place 14 miles away from our marina. (Previously they were to load within a mile of where we are). The weather is slipping into the rainy season, and nearly every afternoon there is rain, sometimes heavy, and sometimes accompanied by several hours of thunder and lightning. We’re wondering whether they will continue with loading in such weather, or whether that will occasion additional delays. And of course we can’t purchase our return flights to Portland until we know for sure that we really can leave on that date!
So we’re living in a state of uncertainty, and, damn, the weather is unbearably hot! Most days the temperature climbs over 90°F and the humidity over 70%. We have begun to look forward to the rain, because it does have somewhat of a cooling effect. We try to do one strenuous boat chore at 6:00 or 6:30 am each day, before the sun hits the boat.
The best strategy to beat the heat has been to leave Golfito for a road trip. We first spent 4 nights in San Vito, 3000 feet up in the mountains, inland from Golfito and near the Panama border. We joined with George and Sue to rent an SUV and stayed in a bed & breakfast called Casa Botania. I can unreservedly say this is one of the best lodgings I’ve ever stayed in. (Mountain Home Lodge in Leavenworth, WA would be a close second). It’s almost a matter of a psychological vibe that suffuses the place. They’ve done a beautiful job of landscaping with gorgeous tropical plants – many in bloom – wild ginger, Chinese ginger, palms of many sorts, bananas, “poor man’s orchid” (not sure what that actually is, but very pretty), amaryllis, bougainvillea, bromeliad and so many more whose names are unknown to me. Lots of birds are attracted, most notably many hummingbirds and kites. George and Sue were in a constant state of excitement about all the birds (known to them, as longtime birders) they were seeing. A wonderful breakfast every morning including fresh eggs from hens in a forest enclosure on the property, lots of fresh fruit and amazing home made bread. One evening we had a delicious Costa Rican/Belgian dinner (the proprietors, Pepe and Kathleen, are a Costa Rican/Belgian couple). Two other evenings we put together dinners from a San Vito grocery store, and the staff very kindly put out all the dishes and utinsels we would need, together with a loaf of their homemade bread.
From Casa Botania we made a couple of excursions to the Wilson Botanical Gardens, a 50+ year old enclosure with tropical plants from around the world and supporting research through a consortium of 52 different universities operating as the Organization for Tropical Studies. Needless to say there is a vast bird population attracted by the gardens.
We also visited a group of coffee farms and observed many aspects of their operations (although no harvest happens for the next several months). They sell most of their product to Illy, the Italian coffee company, but they do sell a small amount locally, and we bought a couple of bags to take home. At the end of the tour we participated in a tasting, being invited to comment on “acidity, fruitiness, body, balance…” and some other characteristics that I can’t remember and couldn’t really understand. It was quite an experience. (See George & Sue’s blog post about the coffee plantation
We were back to the boat for 48 hours, while George and Sue took the car to another mountainous area. It was again beastly hot in Golfito, and we took off on Tuesday for what we believed was a beach resort with air conditioning. When we got to the place, though, it was a right turn off the road (away from the ocean) and about a mile up a steep, rutted grade. Never mind, this resort is also a lovely place, with Toucans and Fiery Billed Aricaras (see photo at top of this post) in frequent close-up view, a swimming pool, beautiful view, lower temperatures than the beach, and an adjacent wildlife sanctuary. Although the vibe doesn’t quite live up to the Casa Botania, I can also heartily recommend this place. We found it to be cool enough that we didn’t need the air conditioning. One afternoon I had a massage out on the deck of our “villa”. There is really nothing more relaxing than a massage to the sound of rain and frogs and birds in a pleasantly warm climate.
Well, tomorrow it’s back to Golfito to launch in on further necessary preparations. I won’t write about those in this post, so that we can retain the lovely relaxed feeling of these two beautiful retreats.
Best wishes to our friends and family.
Craig & Barbara Johnston