We couldn’t stay in paradise forever.
After a tour of the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary the rest of the group packed up the van and departed for San Jose, from where they would fly out the next morning. We had decided to stay a few more days in order to celebrate Roberts’s birthday in Costa Rica, but we only had one more day on the south coast. So after saying farewell to the brother-in-law, his fiancée and the rest of the party, we spent some time in the pool and relaxed, saving up energy for the days to come.
When scouting out a stopping point on our return trip we had settled on Playa Hermosa, the beach south of Jacó. Where Jacó has evolved as a party-oriented beach resort, the strip to the south is less so, with sand bars providing consistently good surfing but only a few hotels and hostels catering to tourists, and therefore little of the nightlife typical of further north up the shore.
We had little interest in anything other than the beach and pool, with plans to arrive in the early afternoon and leave before noon the following morning. Our hotel was directly on the beach, and after a quick lunch we headed out for a few hours in the sand and sun. Surfers were bobbing up and down beyond the break, sunbathers stretched out in the sand watching. The riptides made swimming unsafe and so we stuck to the sand, searching for treasures washed up on the beach.
In addition to the little crabs scrambling to escape our curious boys we saw pelicans flying their formations, skimming across the waves. The highlight was the sight of two scarlet macaws, birds that mate for life and are usually seen flying over the treetops, not cruising by a dozen yards away. Parque Nacional Carara is nearby, and the macaws fly back and forth between the forest and the coastal mangroves, but the sight of their spectacular plumage took our breath away.
With Vilis getting heavy in the carrier and the sun slowly setting we chose to spend the rest of the evening in the pool. The next morning after a traditional breakfast of rice and beans it was back to the beach for one final au revoir before piling into the car and continuing north. We had one last stop after leaving the coast to head inland, the bridge over Rio Tárcoles. The American cocodrilo makes its home in rivers throughout the Pacific lowlands, but at the mouth of the Tárcoles River populations of more than 200 crocodiles per mile have been counted. We preferred a vantage point from veeery high above.
Hunted for over 400 years, the crocodile populations have made a comeback since gaining protected status in 1981. The adults can reach lengths up to 20 feet, and although weights are typically around 800 lbs or so, giants up to 2,000 pounds have been recorded. With a diet typically consisting of birds, fish, reptiles and small mammals, aggression towards humans is rare.
As the highway curved inland away from the shore my thoughts turned to our last days in Costa Rica, for which we would return to the rainforest. First we had to make our way through Alajuela, but soon we were winding our way up into the mountains; the temperature dropped by a good 15 degrees, the rain and fog once more descended, and Volcán Poás loomed ahead…