Road, Costa Rica

From hell to heaven- on our way to Longo Mai

On Costa Rica in most of the places, it's all about the money. And big money. It's an overpriced country, you pay really a lot and what you get in return is not so great. With big money come big people in this case, taken straight from McDonald's. I guess their wallets are as big as their stomaches as prices can get really insane, let's say vacation in Holland would be cheaper and not nearly that crowded. On Costa Rica you won't miss any animal in a national park because there will be a huge crowd staring at it, taking pics in "oh and ah" atmosphere and another crowd next to the first one asking what is there to see. It's difficult to find a place that would be different. That's why it's such a pleasure to end up in the middle of Longo Mai and feel that is all about community and nature...Road, Costa Rica
But before that would happen for us (Ton and I) we rented a car. And hit the road really late. We were already behind the schedule so we didn't want to waste any precious time. Google knows best so we obviously trusted Google on the navigation. When googled proposed a shortcut we gladly took it. Driving up and down, from one hole to another with a speed of maybe 10 km/h we started question our navigation guru. We were intensively thinking about turning back when I saw a shock on Ton's face. The brakes stopped working... Middle of nowhere, no one to ask for help, no one to even rob us... So it was high time to call the rental company. Obviously all of the people there asked us the how and why question and while say "cuz Google sent us..." we felt more and more stupid. But finally they decided to coke and rescue us. There was not much to do so we took a nap and at 3.30 am when the guy came we all went to sleep in a bigger car in a wait for the sun to rise.

Half a day later but with new brakes we arrived at Longo Mai. True paradise after a night from hell.
Longo Mai is a extraordinary community project that gave shelter to refugees from aboard (mostly from San Salvador) but more then that nowadays it's all about environmental projects and eco-tourism as an alternative of preserving the incredible nature in the area and an opportunity for income for still quiet poor community. There are definitely natural beauties all over the rainforest over there: rivers, natural swimming pools, weird plants and bugs. And in the middle of it Antonio's mom. She is an incredible woman very much into all the projects there. To help, to inspire, to teach. An artist on so many levels. We were truely in heaven and it only got better from there. We were gonna make chocolate!! Being completely honest Antonio did the majority of grinding so the most difficult part since I don't have any muscles and Ton's are only to show off. But we helped him eating for sure!:)

Isla Venado

Isla Venado

Isla Venado is one of those fewer and fewer places where kids play football barefoot, where they play with each other and not with a PlayStation, where people talk and don't whatsapp and where life is simple, cheerful and slow. It's a place that very recently had marriages between 13 year old girls and men in their 30ties and it was nothing extraordinary or weird. That's how we came to the island. Childhood neighbor of Antonio (friend of my ex-housemate Ton) came from that island to the main land when she met her own John Smith in the person of a Spanish artist. She was a little girl and he was a man in his thirties. Back then the island didn't have electricity, not a single car and school every now and then when the teachers had a sober day. Thanks to her and Antonio we (Antonio, Ton and I as Jandirk was still in Colombia) stayed with her brother and his family. It was an incredible time filled with fishing, talking, appreciating the simplicity and beauty of the surrounding. We went lobster fishing and we actually caught some huge lobsters and we learned how to peel and open a coconut Castaway style, although with our speed we would probably die of hunger and dehydration anyway. From the coconut shreds the family made "apretaditos" simple ice cream which is sold in a plastic bag.Isla Venado Absolutely delicious but the process of making was a true challenge with a home-made knife which cuts the shreds out from the coconuts. I gave up after 5 minutes, covered in sweat and I could tell that the mother of the family thought I was too slow anyway. Next to Isla Venado there are other beautiful small islands one of which was actually a jail (Isla San Lucas), today a tourist attraction and Isla Tortuga where we went to enjoy sun, beach and snorkel... Even though there was nothing to see underwater.
Another income on the island is definitely shrimp fishing which we absolutely wanted to try. I love shrimp and what could be better than to see how it's done and have it fresh. How naive. So in the evening we went for a fishing night, we dropped our net (well Antonio, Ton and I were more of a watching crowd, Freddy our host did the manual part obviously) and cruised around for a couple of hours. Then it was finally time to lift the net and see what we got in there. As soon as the net reached the boat level I saw we had hundreds of small fish in there... The whole content of the net went into a container and the 3 of us had to start selecting shrimp and bigger fish and crabs as our prey and the rest had to be thrown back into the water. To my horror almost all of the fish were dead... Fish, few rays, few eels, many jelly fish. All dead. I felt extremely sick and shocked that for few kilos of shrimp we killed so many kilos of fish and other water creatures. Antonio explained delicately to Freddy that we felt sick and we wanted to go back. But it wasn't over, the shrimp still needed to be sorted from other dead creatures so we did that on the shore standing in water full of dead fish... The shrimp we ate on the next day did not taste the same and probably they never will.