Written by Emily
Ok guys, i know you are all suffering from extreme blog withdrawal symptoms and have been sitting with clawed hands and red eyes by your computers for the past ten days, hungering for more tales of our Costa Rican antics (either that or you are just continuing to live your lives as usual), but here is the first of a plethora of stories and recounts from our time saving turtles at Gandoca beach. Strap yourselves in.
After an early start this morning, Rach and i found ourselves casually hanging out in the hostel kitchen, packing ourselves a highly nutritious breakfast/brunch/lunch/generally daily food ration of pringles and mediterranean herb crackers, when quelle surprise, who should stroll in, but wizard man. As per usual, he came right on up into our grills with a question of ´So how are ya ladies?´As we both took a mighty step back towards the sink with a weak reply of ýeah, ok cheers´... he seemed to weirdly regress back in to himself and walked away chucking. That major disaster averted, we cracked on with our intense day of travelling.
Like an upper-class mirage, the woman from CRLA who had ferried us around a few days before, dressed as though she were attending Ladie´s Day at Ascot, was waiting patiently outside the gates for us to clamber back into her seatbelt lacking car, and promptly whisked us off to the bus station where we were to get on a coach to Sixaola for six delightful hours. The most part of this drive was fairly pleasant, interspersed only with a small and gratuitously angry man demanding to see our tickets literally about once every 10 minutes, lest we could somehow have leapt off the bus and swapped places with a ticket-less hooligan inbetween time. Ridiculously, during one of these insanely frequent checks, i failed to locate my ticket, and spent so long scrabbling around in my bag that i was eventually dismissed with a bad-tempered grunt and wave.
As the journey wore on, we began to pass through some highly questionable living arrangements, otherwise referred to as ´towns´. This caused a slight seed of panic to sew its way into my subconsious, as we had been told to get a taxi from Sixaola to the beach itself, a mode of transportation which appeared very much absent from the ramshackle, rustic scenery that whizzed by. When we eventually arrived in Sixaola, my fears were not falsified, as we alighted next to some highly suspicious looking Panama border, standing in a dusty dirt-track surrounded by bags, and a cellophane-encased pillow that Rachel had for some reason insisted on buying. Seeing nothing vaguely resembling a taxi in the surrounding area, we decided the best thing to do in the circumstances would be to stand still and argue. After a few minutes of this, disaster struck, as Rachel came out with the phrase ´Crap! I left my sunglasses on the bus!¨This was followed by a few choice swear words from me, as i watched her flee from my side, leaving me to protect about six bags and a freakin´pillow from interested looking locals completely by my insanely weak self. Luckily, after much over-dramatic gesticulation and death-defying running in front of the departing coach, Rach´s glasses were retrieved, and no sooner had she returned than a kindly man cruised over, and asked if we were looking for a taxi. Despite every morsel of info i had ever read about taxi caution and safety, we gladly confirmed that indeed a taxi was what we were desperately wanting. He seemed to aknowledge this, but then just cruised off leaving us alone and confused by the roadside.
What felt like half my life later, he returned, with some highly jovial individual driving a pick-up truck. As much as this seemed like a well-seasoned recipe for mugging/general advantage taking, we slung our bags and general crap in the back, and clambered into the sweltering cabin. A few minutes of stunted spanish convo followed, which consisted mainly of the driver yelping ´vamos Gandoca!´like a sweet simpleton, so much so that i was heard to remark ýeah, er you´ve kind of said it too many times now for me to still feel comfortable.´ We were then casually stopped by the most lax passport control i´ve ever encountered-two hawaiian shirt-clad men waving at cars in the middle of the road. As we have all come to know by now, anything involving passports for rachel and i is a massive, language- barrier-permeated ordeal, and after my flawless explanation of él passaporte, er, er ROBADO!´fell on deaf ears, it sure was a blessing when a pair of wannabe G´s rolled up in their pimpin´mobile, and shockingly possessed genuine linguisitc skills, translating the whole sorry situation for us. Just as we were thanking them profusely for their help, they suddenly turned, fitting their gangsta persona and began to hit on us in Spanish. A peculiar way to try to work the moves we thought...
Anyway, happily trundling along the track, over hearty potholes and string bridges, the heat from the sun slowly melting the plastic covering on Rachel´s pillow into my leg, we spied a large family waiting outside a small house by the roadside, waving the truck over. After an undiscernable converation between them and the driver, they proceeded to clamber in to the back of the truck with our bags and settle themselves down. The rest of the journey to Gandoca was spent in a concerned manner, constantly checking out the old rearview mirror for any signs of bag rummaging or valuble stealing. Once they were dropped off, we had only to stop for a large Iguana, sunning itself in the middle of the path, which had to be forcibly shooed away by the driver with an angry yell.
After about another thousand hours, we rocked up at what looked like a beach, but could see literally nowhere that vaguely resembled a conservation centre. Tired, hungry, overheating and generally ragin,´we aggressively asked the man why he had not taken us to the address provided. He insisted that he had. This went on for several fractious minutes, interrupted only by me threatning to ring the language school, and then realising there was no signal available whatsoever, until he sighed, flopped his considerable bulk back into the cab, and drove us about five minutes further down the road to some kind of deserted bar. Presently, a portly man in a G-Unit t-shirt bowled out, and casually informed us that the station was a sweet 50 metres from where we had just pulled up. After sarcastically calling out ´cheers G-unit!´, we found ourselves jolted suddenly backwards by jovial driver, and reversing at high speed back down the path. I leant over to Rach and growled ´i bloody hope he´s not gonna reverse the whole frickin´way!Predictably, that is exactly what he did.
Once we had eventually located the station and been met by Christine, one of the leaders, we were given some more amazing news by her-´Er, we didn´t actually know you guys were coming...you can share a room with Abby?´And lo and behold, we were shoved unceremoniously into what can only be descibed as two bunk-shelves in the corner of someone else´s shed. After being left alone, we settled down on our bags, and wondered what on earth would become of us next.