Week of December 21, 2003
We left Tamarindo for a quick stopover in San Jose so we could get Gerson's visa into Panama. While we were in the United States, we had checked not once, not twice, but three times - and two out of three Panamanian consulate representatives stated that Gerson needed a visa and to get the visa in Costa Rica. So of course, Gerson gets to the consulate (which had moved to the other side of town since the publishing of our guide book) and he was told that he does not need a visa. So, with a day wasted in San Jose and a rather large dent in our air conditioning cover (due to a gate header that got lower overnight), we were on our way south to Dominical.
Dominical is a very small surf town that can barely support one horse. Its dirt and stone roads are virtually impassable during the rainy season and fortunately, that has kept most of the developing and speculating north Americans out of the area - for now at least. We again found a terrific camping area just shy of the beach and Cindy slipped right in and Dave and Sherrie pitched their tent.
Since Dominical is a surfing town, Dave got the urge and Gerson threw him into the water for a quickie lesson. Within long minutes of paddling, duck-diving and wave dodging, Dave stood up and rode his first wave.
We decided Dominical was where we were to spend the Christmas holiday so
Sherrie and I wandered around the beach and found the necessary materials to
create a Christmas wreath with a tropical twist. We had already bought
all the food needed for our holiday feast, and that included the traditional tamales on Christmas
Our Christmas day started with a rude awakening at 1:30 a.m. when a moderate earthquake shook me awake and had both Gerson and I scrambling out of Cindy's bunk and stumbling outside to see who the heck was messing with Cindy. Once outside, we were informed that it was an earthquake and suddenly I felt like I was at home in California.
During the day, we walked, swam, called our loved ones and basically did that wonderful thing
called "relax" and got ready for our Christmas dinner, which included
smoked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and some shortbread for dessert.
Not too bad for being in a remote place! However, Mother Nature was not
quite through with us and decided the temperature was still too hot for
Christmas and blessed us with a torrential downpour. Of course, not
knowing the camping area, we had placed ourselves on the downhill slope of the
temporary river and we dubbed the moment "A River Runs Through It" because it
The weather did not dampen our spirits, so we just waited Ma Nature out and
we were left with a cooler, albeit soggier, Christmas night. Dinner was
served and Gerson carved the delicious smoked turkey. Of course, we
finished the meal in about five minutes and spent the next hour happily
complaining how full we were. Tradition!
The next day, we ventured south a staggering 12 miles to Uvita and Ballena
Marine National Park. Ballena protects a coral reef and was named for the
whales that come close to shore during the winter months. Also, there is a
little island accessible at low tide that when viewed from the air, is shaped
like a whale's tale.
We took the opportunity to snorkel the coral reef and enjoyed swimming among
a plethora of colorful fish in very comfortable water. The highlight of my
swim was when a little yellow and black striped fish, no bigger than an inch,
followed me for over 100 yards. He would swim in front of my mask or under
my chin and when I would turn over in the water, he would swiftly swim around me
and through my arms and legs and end up looking at me from my chin. I
actually sat in knee deep water and played with him as he would go in and out of
my hands and across my stomach and around my legs. Only when my booties
were the only things left in the water (about ankle deep) did I see him scurry
off to find another playmate. The entire playtime lasted over 30 minutes.
Uvita is a diverse area and our next adventure was a one-hour hike up to a nearby waterfall. It is one of those waterfalls that have more locals enjoying the cascades than tourists. Of course, once Dave and I saw a local scramble up the side of the waterfall and slide down its 20' length, we had to follow suit. Dave scouted the trail and with a huge grin, he was launched over the waterfall. I was not as agile as Dave, but after one fall into the pool and a few more slips and saves, I made it to the top and was eagerly thrust off the top of the fall. Unfortunately, I was unknowingly screaming all the way down and the impact of the water caused my mouth to abruptly close before I could retract my tongue - fo ow I ahk a wittle funny.
A remarkable event in the day came when we were relaxing by the waterfall and
a family arrived to enjoy the pool. The family consisted of several young
girls and while they were sitting on that little bench/rock to the left of the
waterfall, their brother pointed out a huge and very leggy spider alongside of
them. In unison the girls fled the scene; however, being the curious
person that I am, I had to see this starfish-looking arachnid.