Monday, April 4, 2011

Leaving Tortuguero: Day 2

When I recently asked Joel what he remembered about Tortuguero, he told me he remembered the two holes!  Let me remind you that he was in kindergarten at the time.  If you haven't read the first part of this story, "Trip Down Tortuguero," make sure you go back and read that first. See if you can figure out which two holes he's talking about.   This is the conclusion:


When we signed up for this trip, we were assured that we were going to be traveling to Tortuguero at one of the nicest times of the year.  We were in the dry season, a prerequisite to a trip like this.  I guess that was pretty obvious considering that we had so much trouble getting down the canal on the first day. Even if the boat hadn't been overloaded, the water seemed too shallow to get a boat our size down the waterway.  That's why the storm that hit us in the wee morning hours took us by surprise.  But hey, if you're going to have a storm, why not have a good old tropical one?  They say that area gets about 250 inches of rain a year.  It seemed like we were getting most of it in one night.

It was still drizzling when we got up for breakfast, rice and beans again with eggs, bread and coffee.  Sigh.  I was so ready for a bowl of cereal.  And where was all the fresh fruit they had promised?   As we left the gloomy little restaurant we noticed a group of our teachers at the dock loading their bags onto a sleek- looking craft, considerably smaller but much newer than the tub we'd ridden the day before. They'd obviously had enough of Tortuguero.  A few minutes later they were out of sight.  It wasn't going to take them long to get back down the canal at the speed they were traveling. Sigh again. 

Larry decided to go for a swim in spite of the damp, chilly weather.  The Ticos simply smiled at the gringo.  We knew what they were thinking.  The sun peeked out from behind the clouds and we were told to get on the boat, we were going for a ride.  The sun stayed out for a total of two hours, enough time to travel to the entrance of Tortuguero National Park where we visited the beach and then on to a deep lagoon where we jumped and dove off the boat.  Hey, maybe all was right with the world once again.  We got back to the hotel at 12:30 with thirty minutes to pack up everything and leave.  We were now two hours behind schedule and I don't remember getting any lunch.

The rain had started up again, and the long voyage back down the canal was anything but pleasant.   Well, at least Joel was happy.  Dr. Long, the director of the language institute, had found a couple of fishing poles and kept him occupied all the way down the river.  But I was exhausted, and the dreary day was making me all the more weary.  At least the day before had been somewhat interesting with the sandbars and the boat almost sinking.  I'd been able to watch for wildlife and had spied some three-toed sloths hanging from the trees along the bank.   But today it was just dismal and gray, nothing to do but get down the river. And I wasn't feeling all that well.

We had our best meal in two days that evening in Limon, and that's because we ordered off the menu and paid for it ourselves.  I didn't want to look at another bowl of beans and rice for a long time.  By the time we left the restaurant, we were probably running another hour behind.  It didn't look like we were going to make it by nine o'clock.

We hit fog not long into our ride home.   We seemed to be moving at a crawl, the driver barely able to see ahead.  I just hoped he knew this road well.  Mountain roads in Costa Rica are steep with lots of sharp drop-offs.  I could tell Larry was nervous. Suddenly without warning the bus stopped.  Everything was quiet, the diesel engine silent.  The other bus driver stopped and came to the door.  It didn't take long to realize what had happened, we were simply out of gas.  I was fuming!  We had been in that restaurant for almost two hours, and our driver had never bothered to fill up the tank!  We sat there as two gallons were siphoned from the one vehicle and put in the other.  But how far do you go on two gallons?  Not far.  A short distance later two more gallons were siphoned and off we went again.  And then once again.  Finally arriving at a station that sold diesel, our inept driver filled up and continued on towards San Jose.  Hopefully we were on the last leg of this very long, very bizarre adventure.  We pulled onto the Institute grounds at two in the morning, five hours later than our itinerary projected.

I think every dog in the neighborhood was barking as we unlocked and opened the door to our house.  Larry had the suitcase and camera bag while I carried in a very tired little boy.  We fell into bed knowing that it would be a short night with school for all of us the next day.  Larry called a cab for Maria and her daughter Anna as soon as he got up.  She'd stayed an extra night and needed to get home.

It took me two days to catch up on my rest.  Between naps and getting to bed early the next two nights, I was starting to feel human again.  Well, sorta.  You see,  I realized soon after that I had taken someone else on that trip down Tortuguero with me.  Eight months later, in a small clinic in La Ceiba, Honduras she would become an official member of our family, and we would name her Autumn.  

So perhaps it wasn't the best trip I ever took.  Maybe the food and the lodging and the mode of transporation were well, disappointing.  But that's life at times. We have our itineraries all planned out, anticipating how everything will fall into place.  But then we get stuck on a sandbar and our timetable gets thrown off.   Not a whole lot we can do at times like that.  But how we respond to those situations, that's another thing all together.  Those teachers that left early taking the easy way out,  I'm sure they got a good night's sleep.  But I saw the adventure through to the end.  And because of that I have a much better story to tell.
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