Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Tale of Two Jonahs

Are you aware of the biblical story of Jonah? Jonah was thrown into the sea and ultimately swallowed by a whale as the crew of the ship upon which he sailed, believed him to be responsible for the many disasters the ship suffered. Thereafter "bad luck" people were called a "Jonah" by shipmates.

Catherine and I are "Jonahs" for Sansa Airline.

We awoke this morning at 4 am to get to the airport for 5:15 am to take a flight to the remote Tortuguero national forest, which is only accessible by boat or plane. No roads wind through the astounding rainforest which surrounds the village. Awoken and duly served fruit by the conspiracy theorist American hotel owner who sounded like what I imagine Robert E. Lee to have sounded like (did you know the twin towers were brought down by a drone missle launched by the federal government to instil fear in Americans and bring about a police state?) and fed Pinto Gallo.

To the airport thereafter. In a crowded room filled with travellers the Sansa desk man kept commenting on how beautiful was the name Catherine Hunter. He loudly asked her:"How much do you weigh" and she easily responded: ¨120 pounds". It then came my turn. He turned to me and conspiratorily whispered: "How much do you weigh?" acting as if he was trying to sell me drugs. I responded only to be asked a second time in a harsh whisper: "How much do you weigh?!?!"...worst part is I wasn´t lying. The day didn´t get better from there.

Onto the small 12 person plane and off to Rio Colorado to drop off a group of Americans at a lodge then to Tortuguero. The plane landed with a cracking thud as the local dogs came wandering out to greet the plane. Having deposited the Americans off, we, C and I, two crazy rich Venezulans, and the American wife of one of them, started down the runway. Suddenly the plane started shaking like it would come apart at the seams causing my teeth to literally rattle. We promptly came to a halt. The pilots jumped out and then advised us that we could not fly, and they would have to call a mechanic from San Jose to fix the "stabilizing piston" in the engine. It was just after 6 in the morning.

Anyone who read my post from last CR trip "Death and the Loofah Sponge" would see a strange parallel. However at our last castaway spot was a shaded little oasis with swinging couches, an impeccably clean bathroom and a fridge full of ice cold pop, water and beer. Here we were in a decidedly grim little town, where the shack like houses were perched on stilts to avoid flooding from the swampy river which bisects the town. Then the rain started. Luckily we were taken in a by a French Canadian fisherwoman who had become a local, sitting in the foyer of her little store where she sold a few small items such as hair colour and nail polish.

The pilots and the crazy Venezulans retired to a cantina by the airstrip where, in celebration of Easter, everyone was getting blasted on beer at 6:15 am.

The plane with the much hoped for mechanic however failed to materialize by the promised hour of 8:30 am.

Then it was 9am, then 10am and still the pilots and crazy Venezulans sat in the catina drinking beer. We watched the rain pour down while feral dogs wrestled. Finally "Sid", one of the crazy Venezulans came to parly, there was no guarantee any mechanic was coming from San Jose to fix the plane, the pilots nodded in agreement...Sid had a "Plan B¨.

"Plan B" was chartering a boat for $90 US, split between the parties, piloted by Sid´s new drinking buddy from the cantina. Sid´s pitch to me was:¨"You look like a woman who likes adventure!"

Diane, the French Canadian wanted to know the identity of the Captain before we set sail. She checked him out, his name was "Marcos" and she frankly advised me that he had been drinking since at least 6am that morning, but nevertheless had a big boat, could handle his drink and that he would get us where we wanted to go.

With this assurance, C and I hauled ourluggage to the riverbank and put ourselves and packs into a strange, long, open motorboat shared by the crazy Venezulans, the American wife, Marcos and his co-pilot and two Ticos from the bar who, it seems, just decided to come along for the ride.

Marcos suddenly took off like a shot, C and I terrified that we, and all passengers and luggage would be thrown out of the boat. The crazy Venezulans and the drinking companions from the bar, were delighted at the speed and sharp dramatic turns of Marcos machismo sailing, yelling:"!Pura Vida" (Costa Rican for "Yipee"!)at every hairpin turn while I trying clutching desperately at the gunwhales and clinging stupidly to a small, blue rope tied to the front of the boat.

Perhaps most interesting, was the huge lurch the boat experienced, again almost tossing me out. I turned back to the pilot to see what was going on. He had handed the wheel to his co-pilot so he could stand and take a leak out the back of the boat, he had after all, been drinking for 5 hours...

And thus, after 35 minutes of hair-raising speedboating through miraculous virgin rainforest river we arrived at the docks in the town of Tortuguero, the dock being a giant river bank tree upon which our luggage was gently placed. At the dock were numerous Rasta, Tico townsfolk selling Che Guevera hats who watched us with disinterest.

The humidity was stifling, and the whole town was bathed in pounding latin and reggae music, coming from every shop, cabina and bar.

It was 10:35 in the morning.


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