Hands Wet on the Wheel

Two days of hard driving brought us back to our beachside haven in Playa Blanca. At least hard driving for us. I have to admit, I’ve gotten pretty soft in my old age. No more hell runs down to Cabo with no break these days. PJ did all of the driving and I got to do a lot of reflecting and snapping the occasional photo.

We left Villa Marina around 8:00 and made it to the border around 2:30 passing through Chitre, Santiago and David. Traffic was light and the crossing turned out to be really simple. No copies of anything, no questions about onward passage and almost zero fees, just a few bucks to an official looking non-official that hustled me through the exit process. The only thing customs took offense to was the driftwood pieces PJ had collected to create art from. They claimed it was plant material and confiscated it giving us a stern warning about bringing organic substances into Costa Rica.

It began to rain steadily as we crossed into Costa Rica soaking unwary cyclists and motor bikers. The smart ones were pulled to the side donning their slickers and pedal pushers extracted umbrellas from somewhere on their bicycles. We decided not to push for another ten hours home, so I called our bro Luis with the converted shipping containers in Uvita and he set us up for the night. A nine hour day of driving.

The following morning, the howlers overhead and crowing roosters made sure we were up with the sun. We sipped some coffee and chatted with the Massachusetts couple next door for a few moments before continuing on for Guanacaste. Luis’ nephew got divorced and flogged off his super energetic bulldog on him. She was a beauty but WILD! One of those English bull terriers with the long snouts. She took a liking to me, but her idea of affection was some hard ass nips. I couldn’t help but play with her nonetheless.

No women or children

The road from Dominical to Parrita is mostly lined by huge banana republic era plantations of palms. It wasn’t until I was here in the nineties that I put together that the Palmolive company meant palm – olive. This is where a majority of palm oil is refined for things like cosmetics, soaps and cooking. I’m not sure where the olives come in but this is palm country.

Palms for hours

The roads are slowed by tractor trains hauling the big palm berries. Carts drawn by mules, motorbikes or water buffaloes collect the palm fruit from deep inside the groves and gather it in big containers that are hauled to the rendering plants and squeezed for their oil. Whole communities are dedicated to the palmeras and to a lesser extent, the rice paddies that define the region.

Along the highway, small company housing tracts sit with a horseshoe of fifteen to twenty colonial plantation houses circling a playing field. Every few miles another group of worker houses dots another soccer field. Children play on the porches as the families work the trees.

Ever since the old days, I’ve never been able to pass the Tarcoles bridge without a quick stop to have a look at the crocodiles. There were tons of tourists today as we leaned over to check out the giant brutes below. We had bite to eat and let the car cool off for a bit before continuing through Puntarenas and closer still towards Junquillal.

There was a stretch of new road being worked on just before Limonal with stop and go traffic until we got past. Then it was over the Tempisque bridge and into Nicoya where I hit the fish market to stock up on fresh dorado and tuna. From there, a short drive put us in Santa Cruz to run final errands: buying groceries, reactivating the cell phone SIM card, grabbing some colones and gassing up the car. Then it was the home stretch and some well needed rest as we arrived as the sun was finishing its rounds for the day.