Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Caught in the Rain

Oops, we found photos of the coffee farm... so let’s quickly back up three countries to El Salvador: Mario Alvarez himself was our guide through his coffee farm “ El Borbollón.” We recommend a tour such as this to anyone enjoying coffee, as it instills much appreciation of just how much work goes into our daily cup.
From starting the plants in nurseries, to caring for and maintaining them in the plantations, to harvesting, to extracting the beans from the fruit, to cleaning and drying the beans to sorting and packing them for shipment requires lots of human labor and delicate handling.
Back to Costa Rica: We read about the Finca Cañas Castilla run by the Swiss Sutter family in Wolfgang Zellinger’s second book (we met him and his wife Anni in Cholula, Mexico; they have been traveling for 10 years) and decided to visit. It was worth it!
The Finca offers warm hospitality, very nice cabins with private bathrooms, excellent breakfast and dinner, guided horse-back tours through beautiful scenery and much resident wildlife. Everyone’s favorite seem to be the howler monkeys, even though their LOUD guttural voice may make you levitate out of bed before dawn. The Finca can accommodate a few small RVs.
Just a short ways south of the Finca lies the Parque Nacional de la Vieja, and we decided to visit this place full of volcanic features, such as boiling mud pots and sulfurous fumaroles.
On the way back from the Park to the Panamericana lies the Sol Verde Hotel and Campground owned by the Dutch couple Ingrid and Gerard vanVuuren. This is a relaxing place to stop, and the hosts offer breakfast and dinner. They are equipped to handle tent campers but can also accept small maneuverable RVs. The facilities are clean and functional and even have hot-water showers.
From there, we decided to head south to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. We made it all the way to Uvita, just 85 miles short of the border with Panama. It would have gone a lot faster, were it not for the infamous 28-mile stretch of bad road between Quepos and Dominical; we took 2 hours to cover that distance.
With the help of the Tourist Information Center in Uvita, (owned by a Colombian) we found the Sueños Tranquilos Hotel and Delicias De Mi Tierra Restaurant, and its friendly and helpful manager Raul. This was very good fortune, because that afternoon our weather luck ran out, and after 12 hours of continuous down-pour, our camper sprung a leak right over the bed at 5 AM.
Raul allowed us to park under a roof behind the hotel, where everything is drying out nicely, now that it stopped raining. Raul is the good spirit here, whose warm eagerness to help secured us a “Peaceful Sleep” (= Sueños Tranquilos).The rain caused flooding south of here and delayed us for a day, but we should make it to Panama City this week still. Look for the next update from there.

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