Driving to the Carribean Coast

We just got back from a week long road trip over to the other side of this small country.  We left from our Pacific Ocean, hot, humid, lovely sunset side of the country -- passing over a horrific, rainy, cloud forest winding mountain, trucking lane, highway -- to the wetter, less developed side on the coast of the Atlantic.

The ride over the mountain was pretty scary.  Call me crazy, but I tend to get a lil' nervous driving through rainy mountain passes pressed between semi trucks and crazy drivers trying to pass in near zero visibility around blind corners in the pouring rain.  In Costa Rica, this is just called "commuting"....I guess.  I took a seat in the back, and tried to keep my eyes pasted out the passenger windows at the view of the jungle and the small waterfalls cascading down the sides of rock mountains.  It was better than seeing my life flash before my eyes!!  That's for sure!

Pass on the left??  Uhh...no thank you.

Soon after getting past the scary mountain pass there is a change in the terrain.  It's lush, lush, lush, green in every direction and there are what seems like endless miles of banana farms.  It rains in this region more than any other part of the country - which is great for vegetation, but not great for your home or building that may be in an area prone to flooding.  For this reason, many of the houses are built up on stilts which gives the place a real rustic, tropical vibe.

About an hour past the the mountain, you begin to approach the port city of Limon.  Along the highway (which is only 2 lanes most of the way) there are tons of cargo containers stacked up like small container high rise communities.  There are more semis, tanker trucks, traffic and you can see the commerce that moves from the port to and from the rest of the country.

At the coast, you can either head into the port or you can hang a right and head to the more desirable areas of the coast.  Limon is worth taking a quick drive through just to see, but it's a port city just like anywhere else. Dirty, busy, and a little sketchy.

Port of Limon....from afar.
Having been through Limon before, we opted for the right turn taking us onto a gorgeous coastal highway that stretches for miles and miles to the wonderful beaches that lay ahead.

There is a noticeable change in the faces and culture of this part of Costa Rica compared to San Jose or the Pacific coast.  It's like another country.  The Atlantic side is heavily influenced by the Caribbean islands because in the late 1800's workers from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands came to Costa Rica to build the railroad and work on the emerging banana plantations.  Today, the majority of the population are of island descent.  Most speak English as a first language (like the islands), Spanish with island laden accents and you also hear a lot of Patois.

You can see the Rasta influence everywhere.  Street signs, light posts, cafes, bikes and buildings are painted in the Rasta colors -- red, yellow and green.  There are posters and sarongs bearing Bob Marley's face and you hear reggae music everywhere.

Building (a house?) in Manzanillo.

The drive from Limon down the coast is beautiful.  On one side you have the ocean where you can see the cargo and cruise ships heading into the port.

On the other side there are pueblos and small, scattered cottages among all the deep green foliage.

There's a number of abandoned structures as well, 3 walls standing, roofless, with years of plant life growing and their own private jungle home inside.  We spotted one, the toilet visible full of plants. Nice pot!

There are tons of rivers -- some large, some small that run from inland out to the ocean.

Around dusk, we finally arrived in Cahuita at the cute little house that a friend of ours was nice enough to let us borrow.  Tired from a long day in the car, but excited that we were finally there, we showered, got a quick bite to eat and settled in relatively early - hoping to wake to the sun for a day at the beach....

Stay tuned for more pix, stories, etc. from this trip....