Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
Jan 9, 2020
Starting from David, I headed to Paso Canoas to cross the border into Costa Rica. Busy land borders tend to be an exercise in patience, but this was streamlined to the point where one can do it blindfolded. With no lines at either immigration, it was the fastest land border crossing I have ever experienced. Despite its obvious age, the helpful board at the bus station with timings for buses proved to be accurate, and I was on the bus into Golfito with no waiting.
What was once abundant natural forest has now given way to palm plantations for miles on end. This is like traveling in Malaysia – not a happy similarity to my mind. A few farms sat interspersed between the plantations, the buildings mostly humble ones, dotted with a few more elaborate ones. For sale signs cropped up frequently along the road, prominently displayed. A usual signal that all is not well on the economic front, I wonder if that is true for Costa Rica but have no one to ask. The locals on the bus extend buenas dias readily enough but are not particularly interested in conversations.
We arrive at the dock for the boat to Puerto Jimenez and again my luck holds or perhaps the timings are designed as such. The launch pulls in just as I arrive. Each seat has a life-jacket strapped to it and every single passenger has dutifully donned his or hers for the barely thirty-minute ride. I wonder if an adherence to rigid rules is the norm here and sigh inwardly. Travel in Costa Rica is not for the faint-hearted!
Puerto Jimenez in the Osa peninsula is a tiny town, with barely three streets, a mix of dirt and paved ones. The houses are a mix of tin-roofed ones and spacious cement ones. The main street boasts a long line of travel agencies, banks, cafes and restaurants. Corcovado National Park which occupies most of the land on this peninsula is the attraction here but access to it has to be with a guide. My allergy to being herded is as strong as ever but I wondered if I could arrange for a private tour into the depths of the jungle, preferably overnight. With memories of my jaunt into the Amazon playing through my head, I asked about a trek in the jungle. A different climate promised different flora and fauna; this could be fun!
“Oh yes, we do tours into Corcovado” was the smiling intro at every single travel agency. But they have their set routes and just about all involve walking along the beach at the edge of the park and then retracing it back with varying lengths of walks. The price for this strictly follow-the-leader tour is steep for what it offers, nor are the agencies/guides interested in any variation. They have better fish to fry.
Tourism is the mainstay of Costa Rican economy and there are scads of tourists who arrive on package tours with itineraries resembling inch-thick manuscripts. Goggle-eyed at the idea of seeing monkeys or leaf-cutter ants, they are by far, easier customers than a pesky woman who has her own ideas of where to go and what to do. Not particularly surprised, I sigh to myself.
The huge grounds of my guesthouse has resident iguanas and birds, inspiring excited conversation among other guests and I wonder how long I will last. Yup, Costa Rica is definitely not for the faint-of-heart!