Your roving reporter, Jo Topham
Having spent four and a half hours driving from Bochete and listening to Jim’s inimitably stylish collection of Johnny Cash, we arrived at Esquinas Lodge.
It is, and I quote, “an enchanting oasis surrounded by the exuberant wilderness of Costa Rica’s newest national park, only a stone’s throw away from the Costa Rican jungle.” For once the brochure did not lie.
The lodge is run and partly funded by the Austrian government a part of a programme of study into the wildlife and its habitat in the rainforest. It is a non-profit making organisation that improves the local people’s standard of living by investing in eco-tourism as a means to counteract the current trend towards deforestation.
Our guide, Jose Angel, was brilliant. He was able to show us the wildlife that is being preserved, such as the various hardwood trees, which is currently being replaced in other parts of the country with an unsuitable fast growing tree. He was able to offer us lots of information including the fact that the frog which a fellow passenger had been kissing on Saturday night was deadly, and she would have been a goner had she licked her hands clean at any point. Caroline: “Ooooh! kissy kissy. Look, it’s urinating because it’s scared.” No Caroline, it’s trying to kill you.
Some of the plant life was almost science fiction. Take the walking tree for example. It has leaves, a trunk, bark… and feet. Should it need to take a stroll it simply lifts one rooted foot, slides it across and replants (sic) it. A most excellent arbol.
The best part of exploring the area was not the tour walk. Fifteen loud, clomping pairs of feet scared off the rarer creatures. More of an adventure was had on the quiet wanders. Ron helped (or hindered?) the local farmer to round up his escaped pigs while others (on a cigarette hunt) encountered what we think is a bushmaster snake, several lizards that walk on water, and iguanas.
It is possible to meet the local people, although in the nearby village Caroline and I were regarded as local curios. Can you recall an advertisement which features two girls in a village, a water pump and a certain bottle of shampoo and conditioner combined?
Monday morning and we’re heading off to Manuel Antonio national park. Monday afternoon and we’d like to be going somewhere now please Jim. The battery went flat (thankyou Bosch) so we tried to see if fifteen people could push a ten ton truck up a hill. As if. Or start it by rocking it back and forth. Nope. But in the seemingly genericly relaxed Costa Rican attitude, we were told “No hay problema” because we could just jump start off a jeep. There was not enough charge. But “No hay problema” because we could start it off a tractor. The farmer had taken the battery out and gone into town. Finally, “No hay problema” and a new battery was found.
This place was the business and well worth every minute (the dangerous and the ridiculous). As they say here, “PURA VIDA!!!”