Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pura Vida

3/8/13               Newark -> El Zota Biological Station

Woke up at the buttcrack of night this morning.  Not the buttcrack of dawn, the buttcrack of night.  2AM to be exact.  I proceeded to get everything together for one final check before heading out to meet my ride at 3.  Kevin's dad was kind enough to drive Kevin, myself, and Michael to the airport.

By the time we made it onto the plane I was super tired and ready to sleep.  All I wanted was to pull down the tray table and sleep on it.  But alas, it was not to be.  It was snowing as we attempted to leave Newark International airport and the plane had to be de-iced on the tarmac.  I eventually just leaned my head on the seat back in front of me and fell asleep.  I was jerked awake about 30 minutes later as the plane took off, only to fall asleep again.  I was just happy to get some more sleep.

Getting into Costa Rica and through customs was overall pretty easy I think.  At least compared to my other experiences.  Anyways, we made it outside where we met up with our guide, Isreal, and our drivers.  We then climbed aboard an amazing blue minibus and began our journey.

We drove through San Jose to a restaurant- La Casa de Dona Lela- where we received platters of absolutely delicious Costa Rican food.  Rice, beans, tortillas, cheese, meats, salsas, plantains, and yuca.  So tasty. 

After that we began our 6 hour drive to Estacion Biologica El Zota.  We drove out of the city and up some mountains, into an afternoon storm.  We then had to descend the other side- about 900meters.  This was one of the scariest drives of my life.  And I wasn't in a window seat.  The only good things I have to say are: 1) Guardrails, 2) Our driver was awesome, and 3) Fog= couldn't see a thing over the edge.

The trip was only just beginning, however.  We drove through the town Cariari and out into the countryside, past some Chiquita banana plantations (super cool).  Soon we left the paved roads behind, as well as daylight.  As night descended the gravelly roads turned bumpier and the luggage began to fall onto the back row of guys (poor things).  Soon we were met b the owner of El Zota, who transferred some students into his Land Rover and sped away into the dark (not exaggerating the speed aspect).  We were alone once again for another 30-45 minutes driving down this road.  When he returned it was my turn to ride the beast.

This man, Heiner, was a beast of an off road driver, and boy did that road turn muddy fast.  I, unknowing of what was to come, sat in the sideways facing seat in the right rear corner of the vehicle.  It was worse than the last car of a roller coaster.  No joke.  Luckily the ceiling was cushiony because I hit it more than a few times.  But within 15 minutes we arrived at El Zota.

The night wrapped up with one more bus transfer, a delicious dinner, room assignments, and some basic rules and safety guidelines.  It's now almost 10pm.  The frogs and geckos are chirping away, insects are everywhere, and I'm a sweaty mess.  But it's all okay because I'm in Costa Rica, where there is no snow and where we are going tramping through the rain forest starting tomorrow.  Let's do this thing!

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