After crossing the border between Panama and Costa Rica, we spent the night anchored in a large, shallow bay in the Costa Rica waters.
The next morning, January 8th, we arrived in Golfito, a very protected gulf within the larger Golfo Dulce. We decided to spend a few days in the Banana Bay marina where Claudia, the marina manager, kindly briefed us on how to deal with the formalities to check in Costa Rica and described the amenities of the area, including several natural parks and the duty free zone.
After weeks of solitary life in wild and mostly uninhabited places, we felt suddenly catapulted in the civilization again! The formalities to check in required us to move to different places (the immigration office, the customs and the port authority) and took us most of the afternoon. Then, we had dinner in the restaurant of the marina that was referenced as one of the best in Golfito; we celebrated Gemma’s birthday enjoying an excellent meal and a bottle of good white wine. The following morning we received the visit of the inspector of health who, after a fast check to our fridge, enthusiastically described the natural beauties of the places around us and especially the wildlife: several kinds of monkeys, the easily to be spotted red parrots (Ara macao) and suggested us a few walks close by Golfito. So, as soon as he left, we decided to follow his advices and reached by taxi Parque Naranjal. This is a small natural park at the edge of the village, just after the airstrip used by small touristic aircrafts. We followed a trail that took us to a pond of fresh water where two guys where standing armed with cameras and binoculars. Since we were curious we asked them what they had spotted; they, a Swiss couple, explained us that the day before, in the same place they were surrounded by dozens of small monkeys and had seen, in the thick of the woods a tucano. Envying them for such an “extraordinary naturalistic experience”, we continued walking hoping to be as lucky as them. Unfortunately it was not the case, though we truly enjoyed a very nice walk. When we reached the main road, all of the sudden we spotted a tucano ignoring the roaring of the departing aircrafts; we started developing a theory by which wild animals in fact prefer the urban life.
Since it was time for lunch we decided to go to the nearby restaurant of another marina in Golfito, a bit more luxurious place than where we were docked. While choosing our table, we saw the Swiss couple we had met in Las Secas, the owners of the catamaran Kianga, who welcomed us to their table. We talked about our respective stories since we met in Las Secas and our future plans. They were going to leave the boat in Golfito for a couple of months and then recover their journey toward the Sea of Cortez. Since they were going to rent a car to visit the nearby area, they invited us to join and we readily accepted. We agreed to leave in two days. In the meantime, we spent a day walking for 14 km to reach “Las Torres”, that we discovered not to be ancient towers but rather very modern antenna towers. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a fantastic landscape of Golfito and spotted our second tucano.
On Sunday morning Daniela and Beat, the Swiss couple, picked us up at the marina and we left towards San Vito, a small town founded by Italian settlers in the years after the second world war. In search for the road to get to a small church on the hill, we ended up in a villa that we found out to include the church as part of the property. We were welcomed by Cecilia, a woman who amazed us for her personality and very welcoming attitude, and that we discovered to be the daughter of the founder of San Vito. It was very enjoyable to listen to the story of his father, an official of the Italian navy, who felt in love with the nice of the President of Costa Rica whom he met at an official party. The second world war interrupted their love story, but seven years later they met again in Paris, got married and transferred to Costa Rica; he later founded the Italian colony of San Vito, where immigrants arriving from Italy could thrive thanks to the coffee plantations.
The following day we went to Altamira, where we met Pancho Quesada, an artist following the footprints of Gaudi in a very personal way. He invited us to visit his “atellier”. We were fascinated by the number of objects he is collecting to create his artifacts.
Upon his advise, we went to visit the Boruca People, an indigenous tribe of more than 2500 members, who are known for their art and craftwork, mainly painted balsa wood masks and textile works. We visited their small museum and enjoyed some live demonstration of textile production.
The day after we went to Puerto Jimenez where, walking in the streets, we heard the unmistakable sound of some Scarlet Macaws (Ara Macao, a large and colorful parrot typical of the area) sitting on a branch above us.
We walked for about ten minutes and in a small wood a few hundred meters outside the town, we enjoyed an amazing show of hawler and squirrel monkeys jumping all around. This area is in fact quite close to the Corcovado park, one of the most important parks of Costa Rica.
We then planned to return to have a guided visit of the surrounding area. A couple of days later we took a ferry from Golfito to Puerto Jimenez where we had organized a driver and guide to come to pick us up at the dock. After a half hour drive we parked the car and continued on foot. During this half day walk we could spot a lot of birds and monkeys. Following is just a small sample!
When we returned to the boat we decided to take care of a never solved problem with our main sail, that kept ripping off due to the hot weather, for which it is not designed… After a thorough investigation we realized that our preferred option – replace it – was not feasible in Costa Rica due to the outrageous costs associated. We therefore decided we will purchase it in Italy and transport it in a suitcase! So we had to work on an extensive temporary repair…