I began the morning over an excellent cup of cafe con leche that I observed being made over the kitchen fire. Hot water is poured into a sock-like filter over ground coffee beans, causing the dark brew to drip into the coffee kettle. Fresh hot milk is mixed in from a pan and voila – perfect coffee.
Steve, Davy, Ryan and I sat around the big dining table at La Carolina to discuss the plan for the next leg of the trip. We didn’t have specific directions to our next destination – just a printed out email from Davy’s friend that described in a narrative how to get to the beach house. We pored over our road maps to find the best way to Junquillal, almost 200km west through the mountains and dry forest of Guanacaste. Being the navigator I transcribed the written directions in my notebook and we said our goodbyes. We’d meet the rest of the group at the beach house that night if all went as planned.
Ryan and I embarked on the tiny road out of Santo Domingo toward Uppala, excited to be on the move again. Ryan raced around the corners of the dirt road knowing we wouldn’t meet any other cars along the way. Suddenly I felt like I had to tell him to slow down and watch out for cattle, and lo! Around the next bend a herd of beautiful Brahman and milk cows stood on the roadside idly munching away. The cows in Costa Rica are so calm and docile but they don’t moo back to you like the cows in the states. We continued on at a less breakneck pace and headed south on 1, the Pan-American Highway that is the biggest – and only – road connecting Costa Rica to its neighbors Nicaragua and Panama.
Just like the rest of the trip we had no complications in finding our way to the next destination. We followed the funny directions like “go past the concrete iguana and the out-of-place cement area” and found ourselves almost unexpectedly at the deserted beach. We’d made it to Playa Junquillal, a little known hamlet on the most western part of the Guanacaste peninsula.
After finding the beach house Ryan and I headed back into Rio Seco to find lunch and await the arrival of our friends. We shared a fantastic lunch that was prepared by a little old lady in her outdoor kitchen and served to us while Spanish soap operas blasted at full volume on the tv. After lunch we discovered everyone made it down from La Carolina so we all jumped in the water. Perfect temperature. Big waves. Very strong current. We were each tossed at least a few times by the breakers and had to knock water from our ears.
In the sand dunes scores of small Halloween Crabs scuttled around looking for food, looking at us, or just looking around. They’re incredibly fast and as brightly colored as my favorite Lisa Frank stationery when I was a kid (remember?). We chased them and watched the crabs move in droves, mesmerized by their candy-rainbow legs and claws.
Our part of the beach butted up next to the delta of two small rivers and protected land. The sand was black and coarse and because of the strong waves, got stuck everywhere. It took me a week to get the last of the sand out of my hair! It was great to sit on the beach with a beer and watch the sun set. Tomorrow we’d do a bit more exploring and find some surf-able waves…