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June 8th, 2007
As a lot of you know, Maria Luisa and I are fond of taking weekend trips to places in Costa Rica that neither of us have been to before. For me, that is easy, but for my Tica wife, you would think she would have been everywhere after living for about a half a century. Not the case. One of the truly amazing things about Costa Rica is that for such a tiny country, it abounds in places that even Ticos do not know exist. Some are getaways just for weekends, while others are places you might really like to live! This is one of the reasons why I advise those moving here to not buy right away. Explore! You will find treasures and likely pay half of what you will pay of you don’t do this. The place we visited falls into the getaway category.
So ML tells me it is time for us to go somewhere. To getaway for a few days. I suggest the beach but she wants the mountains. I must have the only Tica wife that really could care less about going to the beach!
A little investigation gives me a name of a place 9 KM (6 miles) off the Pan American Highway going south toward Panama. This is located along a stretch of road know as el cerro de la muerte or roughly “the hill of the dead”. I am not sure from where came that name, but maybe from the fact that a bunch of folks get killed there every year because the winding mountain road becomes shrouded in fog and rain most afternoons year around. The trick, of course, is to drive it in the morning!
So reservations are made at the Savegre Mountain Hotel for the next weekend, and we start getting excited… until we realize there is nobody to watch the house while we go play in the mountains. This problem gets resolved when housekeeper Maritza says she’ll spend the time guarding the house and feeding the animals, so the planning begins. We will leave early in the AM to avoid the fog and rain on the cerro de la muerte.
We start the trip directions in hand and head south. We must pick up the Pan American Highway after Cartago. This is normally simple, but there was an unexpected problem when the idiot behind the wheel (ummm… that would be me) took a wrong turn that took us on scenic but incredibly boring tour of Cartago’s open aire market.
Back on the road, we map read to discover that we must find kilometer marker 80 where we will make a right turn to pick up the 9 km road that leads to the hotel. I see no markers, but my eagle eyed wifey does… little stone thingy’s that could pass for gravestones for really tiny dead people. We begin the count them as we head up the mountain.
Now I like to sort of be prepared, so as she counts them off, I subtract that number from 80 and add it to the trip thingy on my odometer! That way, I will sort of know when KM 80 is coming up!
This process probably would work well in any country, but somehow I have forgotten I live in Costa Rica.
She reads off “KM 33” so I do the math (80-33= 47) and add 47 to my odometer 230 + 47 = 277!
This works quite well until we travel another 3-4 km and she cheerfully reads off “KM 41”. “Ummm, are you sure? That is not possible!”, says I. After a short fight (that she wins), and another maybe 2 km, we reach the next
grave marker. “KM52” says she! HUH???
It is clear my system will only work if there is some relationship between the km markers and reality. I sort of give up. We sit in peace for a while until she sees KM 65. “Cool” thinks I. Only 15 klicks mas!
After traveling at the most about 1 KM, she screams “There it is! KM80!”.
She is right. There is the marker and 200 feet later we see the road we seek leading off to the the right… as advertised.
I make the turn, and we begin heading toward our final destination. The hotel provides a helpful description of this last 9 km: “…until you reach kilometer 80, where you take a detour to the right for 9 kilometers on well-maintained country road, finally reaching the slopes of the Savegre River – your tranquil destination.”.
The key phrase here is “well-maintained country road”.
This road actually is in pretty decent condition. Left off is the small fact that you are almost vertical as you descend.
This might be nerve wracking to some, but you can be comforted by the fact you can’t really go very fast as there are maybe 73 hairpin (180 degree) turns as you descend. Also, as there are no guardrails protecting you from the maybe 800 foot vertical drops, you do tend to keep the car in first gear as advised by the numerous road signs.
So this is how our weekend adventure starts!
I will post Pt 2 or “How Tim screws up twice while trying to take a photo of a Quetzal“, perhaps tomorrow… and maybe with more pictures!Filed under Bird Watching, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Ecology and Nature, Expatriate Life, Food and Eating, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Travel | Comment (1)