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Appalling folkloric show


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Saturday 12th October 1985

Explore town and have a Big Mac, quite a change after months of tortillas. Have a coffee in the classical looking National Theatre. Parks & Maps office closed as it is Columbus day. San Jose seems to have plenty of dodgey looking bars, but they usually serve cheap food.

Watch appalling folklorique show in the evening. Enthusiastic amateurs who would be unwise to turn professional. A 100 year old lady was the guest of honour and she sat on stage and sang three songs in a very loud voice and paying no heed to the poor guitar accompanist. She was the best of the evening, but the experience was a tragic waste of a dollar.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:13 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

carnival in Port Limone

trek to Cahuita national park

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Sunday 13th October 1985

Catch the 8am bus to Port Limone on the caribbean coast, 3 1/2 hour ride over the central highlands.

On arrival find a carnival in full swing in a hot tropical rainstorm, its been going on for a week and the place and everyone looks pretty wrecked. Today is the last day. Every street stall and palm frocked bar has loud enough reggae music to wake the entire coast. Mostly black people, their english has a very strong caribbean accent.

1 o'clock bus towards Cahuita national park. Spend the late afternoon walking to Puerta Varga and back, 14km with a bus helping part of the way home. Tuned out to be nothing much there but a park office, a small camp site with no facilities, lovely and isolated but no food.

Found Jenny's place on my return to Cahuita, down by the sea, 150 C for a quaint wood, bamboo and batik room on stilts. Jenny lives in easy going style on the first floor. I think there is only one room. Extra ordinary water collecting system with a number of different taps for different things. The drinking tap tastes the foulest, mostly of iron. Outdoor showers beneath 10 galloon drum. Its all very swiss family robinson. Very peaceful.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:19 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

explore peaceful Cahuita park

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Monday 14th October 1985

Up with the birds. Walk along the coast path through the park. Hot steamy and swampy, not a soul about. Alligator skeleton, fish eagle, howler monkeys. They make a tremendous noise and I now realise what I heard in Palenque.

You can pitch a tent at the park headquarters, they have fresh water and showers but no food. large dirty pelicans flap inches above the sea.

The other way from the park is Playa Negra, where there are some cabanas to rent and daisy's place for breakfast and dinner.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:46 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

search for spanish gold

and fail, sleep it off.

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Tuesday 15th October 1985

Hire some goggles and flippers from Daisy 150 c and head out in search of spanish gold. It is an hours walk to the point. This swampy promontory juts out in to the sea, protected for millennia by the reef, sweeping back each side are long beaches, like caries in the white dentine of the coast.

Snorkel for 40 minutes but it is too rough and I see and find nothing. There is a spanish galleon on the reef, which you can snorkel over when it is calm. Snooze in my hammock in complete isolation and slung between coconut palms.

Disappointed by the reef.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:51 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

talk of Olive Ridley turtles

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Wednesday 16th October 1985

Have to get back to Limone for the bank today if I am going to spend the rest of the week in Tortuguerro. Bus arrives into Limone nearly one hour late. Much gentle wit in the high street. He says in strong patois "what u looking for Gloria? She says " I got to find my son right away" and she sits down resignedly.

A lot of wailing and clapping from a small congregation in the Evangelical church last night. They sounded amused elated and frightened in turns and kept it up for 2 1/2 hours.

Thomas, my neighbour at Jenny's is on the bus, heading for Tortuguerro too. He is a tall softly spoken German with scandinavian looks. He was in Santa Rosa park with some scientists watching 1/2 million Olive Ridley turtles nest at Playa Nancite. He saw alligators pigs vultures and pumas enjoying the turtle feast. Also turtles bitten in half by a sharks. The scientists are marking and counting. Thomas marked 300 turtles in one night.

Hotel Cariari 125 C.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:58 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

a green turtle heaves herself out of the sea

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Thursday 17th October 1985
Egg laying

Egg laying

6am bus to Puerto Moin. Then problems at the dock, too many people for the small Japdeva canal boat, everyone is returning from the carnival. Surprised to find about 12 foreigners waiting for the boat too. Local people get priority. In the end a barge is lashed behind as a whole Nicaraguan baseball team has to be accommodated as well, and so we head up the coast.

About 100km through lagoons and canals straight up the coast to Tortuguerro, separated from the sea by a narrow strip of tropical forest, see alligators, sloths and monkeys on the way.

On arrival find some cabanas and share with Tom for 230 C. Walk for 40 minutes along the beach and am rewarded by the sight of turtle tank tracks, they typically come in at 8 -9pm, only late arrivals now as the peak season was last month. She is covering her eggs by flinging sand about. Enormous effort. The dutch woman is aghast. As we approach the turtle in the inky black night, we hear its laboured breathing, the dutch woman stops 10 feet away and says 'Oh no its my first turtle and its soo moving' The turtle is emotional tho, its cloudy eyes wet with tears, some weigh over 300kg and moving on land takes a lot of effort, she is floundering in a big crater, every few sweeps of her paddles she pauses, extends her neck and takes a long noisy breath, respiratory rate less than 10/minute. Later she lumbers back to the sea, has to rest every yard, it all seems primitive primeval vision of the past.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:10 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

A Beach Like The Somme

rain 28 °C
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Friday 18th October 2012

Rice and beans 3 x a day.

staying in a small shanty village with limited resources. Fruits called Coco-plum and June-plum hint at an english influence in the past. The Swiss, Dutch and 2 Americans leave. Two remain, teachers from San Jose on a long weekend, Paul and Doug. In May 600kg Leatherbacks visit, but now it is the tail end of the green turtle season.

The beach by daylight looks like the Somme, thundering waves, black sand littered with jungle debris and huge tree trunks rolling dangerously in the surf. The top of the beach is pockmarked by turtle craters. Broken eggs litter the sand, poached by turkey vultures. Wide tank tracks lead from the sea to last nights nests. Each green turtle returns to the beach 2 or 3 times a season and then leaves to wander the oceans for 3 or 4 years. They take 20 years to reach breeding weight.

Tramp through the swampy jungle, the mud comes half way up my calves. They have 200 inches of rain a year here, and a lot of that fell today.

Posted by 1985 trip 09:49 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

the beach at night

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Saturday 19th October 2012

Take a dugout canoe 3 miles up the wide river to its opening with the sea with Tom. Takes us 4 hours there and back. Simple thatched houses of the coconut farmers along the way, and small looking Tortuguerro lodge.
My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

Search for hatching turtles at dawn. Find one hatched nest with a hundred scampering trails to the sea, just missed them. They will swim for 6 days to reach the Saragossa sea and hide in the sea weed. Fresh coconut bread later, baked in a dutch oven. She lit a fire below a big metal cauldron and another one on the lid. The result was delicious.

Leave the others to their beer and chess and walk for an hour up the dark beach. Solitude, wind waves and inky dark the moon hidden by thick cloud. On the way back a turtle has just arrived and I sit with her for the next hour and half, right through a thunder storm. She digs as I sit beside her watching the almost mechanical motion and rhythm of her back flippers, listening to her heavy breathing. Its a slow struggle digging the nest, she seems on autopilot, faraway look in her milky tear filled eyes. The big crater is made by flinging sand backwards with all four flippers. The nest pit at the base of the crater is dug by the back flippers formed into scoops. She stretches deep down by rocking her shell backwards for extra depth bring up a scoop, of sand then resting for a few seconds before scooping with the other flipper. When she can scoop no more she coyly crosses her back flippers behind her and starts to lay the pingpong ball sized eggs with a gentle rocking action. When finished she kneads the sand back over the egg pit with a side to side action rubbing her rear end across the warm damp sand. Finally there is a great celebratory fling about of sand with all four flippers to disguise the exact location of the egg pit and she starts the laborious haul back the the sea. They will hatch in five weeks and the sex ratio varies with the temperature of the nest.

The experience was very moving, especially when she disappeared into the dark waves, her labours over. The earth feels eons old.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:02 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

rush back to San Jose

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Sunday 20th October 1985

Get the barge back to Moin, bus to Limone and last bus last seat out of Limone to san Jose and return to Tika Linda's. Someone nicked my umbrella.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:21 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

joys of Post Restante

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Monday 21st October 1985

Visit the post office and find five fabulous letter in poste restante. Happy boy. Elaine has sent me some Body Shop bath bombs, they have leaked quite a bit so all my letters are very fragrant. Haven't seen a bath in months. She is in Ethiopia now.

Confirm flight, do washing, change money, pay departure tax. Bump into Simon from Tikal, he was captured by guerrillas.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:26 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

leave Costa Rica for Columbia

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Tuesday 22nd October 1985

Fly to Bogota El Dorado airport via San Andres. Too nervous to leave the Hotel Presidente. There is an en suite with a bath. Use up all Elaine's bath balls.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:32 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Riots in Quito 1985

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Wednesday 23rd October 1985

Arrive in Quito to find a riot in full swing. Groups of youths are taunting the sinister looking riot police with piercing whistles, there is the distinct bite of CS gas in the air. I initially thought the slight choking feeling was the altitude until I spotted empty CS gas canisters in the gutter.

Checked into Hotel Gran Casino (aka the grand gringo) for 150 Sucres a night. Got very drunk sharing three bottles of the local fire water with Marcel, Shirley and Jessica. marcel is a Brazilian architect who was working for a while in Managua. Nicaragua is dirt cheap it seems, hard work spending 2$ a day. People find the country interesting and the Sandinista authorities friendly, firm but friendly. They may well rip all the film out of your camera, but they will be pleasant about it. Marcel was also in Tikal when it was captured for a day by the Guatemalan Guerrillas. They were very friendly too. The army didn't counter attack because of the 20 foreign tourists staying there. It was a PR job for the guerrillas to show some westerners that they weren't animals and to give the government an impression of how easy it would be to stop the tourist cash flow. At the end of the day they just disappeared into the jungle again.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:42 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

hangover at altitude

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Thursday 24th october 1985

Recovering from last night at 9350 feet. Some headache.

Old town Quito is full of narrow streets, the houses are painted white, thick walled and with terracotta roofs, colonial style. The Plaza Indendencia is very attractive. met John and alan in the evening, a pair of likely lads form Liverpool. They had been working in the luxury hotel trade in London'd west end. It was illuminating to hear all their stories about the cons and fiddles the American and Middle Eastern visitors suffered at their hands. It just takes a bit of nerve apparently. Perhaps they were on the run.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)


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Friday 25th October 1985


Explored town with the likely lads. Alan has a good collection of bank notes. He gets them plasticised.

It is chilly at night, and the hills or the caffeine gives me palpitations. Quito sits in a valley between the two main Andean ranges, so the scenery is good.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:06 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

market day in Quito

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Saturday 26th October 1985

Visit the Museum of Prehistory through an unmarked side door of a bank. Not many visitors. Usual ceramics, plethora of tribes with different pottery styles. Good gold artefacts. Hence the bank perhaps.

Market day and lots of locals in town in blankets and hats sitting surrounded by their goods. Very little begging, occasional feint touch on ones arm, and a toothless smile. They seem a very gentle people, the conquistadors must have been a shock. Many of the streets are packed with these vendors. One sits in front of a whole roasting pig.

Decide to go the Cuanaca tonight. John and Alan have already left for Banos. I want to hurry down to southern Peru. Take some photos as it is a lovely sunny day. The air is crisp and dry, except when the old busses pass, they seem to run on two stroke. Have a coffee and all the waitresses try to find the time for a chat.

After a time wasting major confusion on the town buses eventually locate the coach station and get the all-nighter to Cuenca.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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