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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica

We said hello and goodbye again to Fortuitous and Zephyrus at Islas Tortugas. They arrived from Bahia Ballena before we got there on Friday. We had a dinghy raftup cocktail hour to catch up on what everyone had been doing since we left them in El Salvador. They did an inland trip to Guatemala from Barrillas which they enjoyed very much. They're going to Golfito from here before jumping off for Ecuador.

Saturday morning we had a slow sail against the current to our last stop in Costa Rica this year. We're anchored close to the fishing pier in Bahia Ballena right in front of a row of small houses built out on pilings over the beach. They look a little ramshackle from a distance but we took a walk on the road behind them today and they have lovely landscaped yards and gardens. The hibiscus is in bloom and people have planted a wide variety of ti plants in all different vibrant colors.

John dropped me off on shore after we arrived yesterday so that I could walk the short trip to the local grocery store in Tambor. Charlie's Charts (our guidebook) is overstating things by calling it a super mercado, but I guess it's a step above a tienda. Unfortunately we missed an organic produce market that is supposedly run on Saturday mornings. The Tambor mercado (Super Lapa) had a number of surprising items (Nutella, sliced dill pickles, and a healthy liquor section) but was woefully bereft of fresh produce. I bought some tired broccoli and a few green tomatoes (hoping they'll last for the passage), and two big pineapples that haven't started to ferment yet.

Those will last us awhile after we eat the two beautiful mangoes that Carmen, on Isla Jesusita, gave us. Thursday, May 1, we went for dinghy ride around the two islands and stopped in at the house we were anchored off of to see if they wanted a jerry jug we were no longer using because of a small crack it had developed. They were happy to take it off our hands and we made the acquaintance of Angel (the grandfather), Carmen (grandma), Alexander (son), and his son Brandon. Alexander's wife and newborn baby were up at their house on the hill. They kindly invited us back later for fried fish or to walk the roads and trails from their property, but we were getting ready to leave soon. We'll look forward to returning for a longer visit with them next year.

We thanked Carmen again for the mangoes, launched the dinghy, and went around to the south side of the island looking for the howler monkeys we'd seen through binoculars from the boat. Jackpot! We counted 20 monkeys, including babies clinging to their mother's backs, in the trees above our heads. They didn't seem disturbed by our presence so we got a nice long look at them before quietly rowing away.

It's amazing how the weather has changed since we left Puntarenas. The days are consistently cloudy now, with rain every night. Sometimes it's just a sprinkle but there are times like last night when it poured for a short while. So we get up and close all the hatches and portholes and then go back to bed. The flies have been noticeable after all the rain, but we haven't had too much of a problem with no-see-ums or mosquitos yet.

And now a word about garbage. For as progressively "eco" as Costa Rica is touted as being we have come to the conclusion that we've seen more garbage in the water and on the beaches here than anywhere else, including Mexico. I can't recall seeing any educational signs or slogans in Costa Rica asking people not to litter - we saw these everywhere in Mexico. We have been dismayed to find that a literate, eco-friendly, tourist oriented country could have such a huge problem with trash on its beaches and in its waters, and not appear to be doing anything to correct it.

Costa Rica has a beautiful coastline with friendly people, and we hope to return for another visit next year.

Linda and John