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Grrr... go away!


Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Day 67: Down the River

April 15, 2006

The trip to the Turtleland on this Easter morning started at 5AM from a bumpy 2-hour drive to Pavona, followed by another 2-and-a-half-hour boat ride down the Rio Tortuguero. The waterbus stop is next to the guarded parking lot. There is a grumpy old watchman at the entrance, a tiny snack bar and a restroom, and this is pretty much all what Pavona consists of.

As we happen to be visiting Costa Rica during the dry season, the water level in Rio Tortuguero is rather low. Waterbuses are struggling to squeeze through narrow sharp turns, and it is not unusual to see a captain jumping out of the boat to push his vessel through a shallow pass. Sometimes the boats get stuck on shallow patches or in narrow passes so helplessly that all the passengers have to disembark in the middle of the river. This is what happened in our case :) In fact, the engine of our waterbus broke down and we just hung out in the middle of Rio Tortuguero until about half an hour later a rescue boat arrived. Although slightly extended, the journey down the river was indeed spectacular.

Bonus Story. No more incidents for us on this boat ride, but we have one more informative narrative about a trip to Tortuguero. About a month later in Panama we met an Israeli traveler who told us about his adventures on the Rio Tortuguero waterbus.
It is quite common to see bigger boats consolidating passengers en route or taking onboard more people than the capacity of the boat officially allows. The Israeli fellow happened to be on one of such boats. After passing through the inspection point, his waterbus picked up an additional group of passengers, became overloaded and shortly turned over right in the middle of the river sending all the passengers and their belongings to the bottom of Rio Tortuguero. This happened to occur at a pretty deep spot, and some children nearly drowned. All the cameras, laptops, MP3 players and people's documents soaked through, and most of the electronic devices became damaged beyond repair. The travel agency, which had advertised that their boat tickets always included insurance, after a long debate agreed to refund the ticket cost, $10.
Luckily, the waterbus topic came out of the conversation, and we could cheer up the poor guy a little by sharing with him our pictures from Tortuguero. The moral of the story - use waterproof bags for all trips involving transfers by water!!! Even if you and your luggage get lucky and don't soak through, the chances to get wet to some extent are high - after all, you are on a small boat with splashing water all around you!

Back to Tortuguero, which turns out to be an attractive green village with a tiny wharf, a miniature park and plenty of hotels and restaurants. The village is all surrounded by water: the Caribbean Sea from the east and the Rio Tortuguero from the west. The Tortuguero National Park territory starts right behind the village and can only be accessed by water. There are lots of agencies offering guided early morning wildlife watching boat tours, or you can rent a paddle canoe or a kayak and go to see the park on your own. After our independent bird watching expedition in Monteverde, we decided this time we would try to go with a guide :)

To our greatest disappointment, the news about the nesting turtles is not good at all - the turtles are late! They are supposed to be laying eggs at full speed by now, but this year they have not yet started. One of the park rangers suggested we took a moonlight walk on the beach - several days ago a few turtles have been spotted, so we might get lucky - and so we did. The walk was very nice, yet very turtleless :)

Tip #1: Upon arrival to Cariari you will most likely be offered "the best deal": a combo ticket for an outrageous $20, which includes a one-way bus & boat ride from Cariari to Tortuguero. Try shopping around until you get offered an identical package for half the price. $20 for a round-trip bus+boat ticket would be closer to reasonable. There are several hotels in Cariari, which should guard your car for a small amount of money (Hotel Mister Bailey has a spacious gated parking lot). Alternatively, you can drive your own car to Pavona and leave it in the overpriced parking lot ($10/day). You are not very unlikely to negotiate any discount with the old cranky guard, as he knows you have no better choice.

In case you end up with your own car in Pavona, at least try to get a boat ticket at the locals' price, which is $3 one-way. Use your best acting ability and pretend it is not your first time on this waterbus and you know the real price. If that does not help, state out loudly that you know they are ripping the tourists off. They will probably quickly let you pass for $3 just to shut you up before other tourists overhear your conversation.

Tip #2: Tourist rip offs is a rather common practice in Costa Rica. Often times the vendors try to charge the visitors significantly more than the locals. The best way to find out the true price is to ask "neutral" Costa Ricans.
We had no similar problems in other Central American countries.

Tip #3: Waterproof bags for all trips involving transfers by water.

Click on the pictures to enlarge

The ship to the Turtleland

Water bus to Tortuguero

Vandens autobusas

Life on the banks of the Rio Tortuguero

Approaching Tortuguero

Gyvenimas prie Rio Tortuguero

The grand parrots of the central park

Tortuguero central park

Centrinis Tortugero parkas. Paminklas papugoms.

The main street on Easter morning

Tortuguero main street

Pagrindine gatve Velyku ryta

In memory of...?

Tortuguero art

Kaimo dekoracija

Everything else has been rented

It smells, but it's small and cozy

Visa kita jau isnuomota (Skelbimas: "Isnuomojamas tualetas")

In case you have forgotten, drugs are bad!

Tortuguero police station

Tortuguero policija ispeja: nevartok narkotiku - kaukole pavirsi!

On the way to the Pavona parking lot


Kelias i Pavonos masinu aikstele


Wildlife in Pavona


Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

67-oji diena: Zemyn upe

2006 m. balandzio 15

Velyku ryta keliames anskti kaip i baznycia - 5 valanda, linksmai pasisokinedamas per duobes, Nissanas jau rieda link Pavonos. Uz poros valandu labai duobeto kelio privaziuojam izymiaja Pavona - masinu stovejimo aikstele prie Rio Tortuguero, salia kurios yra vandens autobusu stotele (pagaliau aisku, kodel Pavona nepazymeta nei vienam zemelapy ir be vietiniu pagalbos niekada nebutumem jos rade!).
Masinu aiksteles kaina parai - $10. Smarkiai per brangu, bet deja, neturime kur kitur jos palikti (butumem is anksto zinoje - galejom palikti prie Cariari viesbucio ir I Pavona atvaziuoti autobusu, bet gi galvojom, kad Pavona yra miestas, arba bent jau kaimas, kur musu masina tikrai kas nors priims i kiema ir pasaugos uz kelis dolerius). Is sios nepigios klaidos bent jau pasimokom - akivaizdu, kad gavom turistine kaina. Oficiali vandens autobuso kaina - irgi $10 zmogui I viena puse ir dar tiek pat grizti. Kazkodel nesitiki, kad kostarikieciai irgi po tiek daug moka uz poros valandu kelione valtimi.... Vandens autobuso laukia nemazai tiku, tad vieno is ju ir uzklausiame, kokia bilieto kaina. Itarimai, aisku, pasitvirtina - bilieto kaina kostarikieciams - po $3. Ka gi, atrodo, teks ir vel apsimesti vietiniais :)
Bingo! Puikiai pasiseka, ir uz pusvalandzio jau sedime valtyje, isigije po kostarikietiska bilieta :) Lygiai taip pat planuojame ir grizti! - pagarba turizmo agenturoms, sugebancioms taip lengvai turistams parduoti triskart brangesnius bilietus, taciau mes geriau jau tuos dolerius isleisim Tortuguero - bent jau bus siokia tokia parama nacionaliniam parkui.

Kelione Rio Tortuguero upe tesiasi apie 2.5 valandos, is ju pusvalandi pasivilla prasedime vidury upes del techniniu kliuciu - nenuplaukus nei trecdalio kelio, sugedo vandens autobuso variklis, ir visiems keleiviams teko persokti i pagalbon atplaukusia valti - taigi, ne be nuotykiu! Nors valtis plauke labai letai, kelione neprailgo nei kiek, nes vaizdai aplink mus buvo tokie grazus, kad vos spejom i visas puses dairytis.

"Avansu" papasakosime, kad musu autobuso gedimas, pasirodo, buvo demesio neverta smulkmenele! Jau daug veliau kelyje susitikome keliauninka is Izraelio, kuris papasakojo stai tokia istorija. Plauke jis lygiai taip pat kaip mes i Tortuguero parka tokiu pat vandens autobusu, susimokejes $10 uz bilieta, ir gaves turizmo agento pazada, kad i sia kaina ieina draudimas. Praplaukes inspekcija, autobusas nelegaliai paeme dar kelis zmones, ir tapo perkrautas. Dar siek tiek paplauke ir apsiverte aukstyn dugnu. Visi valtyje buve zmones ir daiktai, aisku, sukrito i upe. Dauguma fotoaparatu, videokameru ir kitu elektroniniu irengimu kiaurai permirko ir sugedo nepataisomai, tame tarpe ir naujas istorijos pasakotojo fotoaparatas su visomis jo keliones po Costa Rica nuotraukomis. Bilieta pardavusi agentura apie joki draudima, aisku, nenorejo net girdeti. Labiausiai pasiseke tiems, kurie issikovojo uz bilieta sumoketuosius $10... Siek tiek pradziuginome vargseli, kuriam taip nepasiseke kelione, "pasidalindami" su juo savo nuotraukomis is Tortuguero.
Ta pacia proga - patarimas visiems keliautojams, besiruosiantiems naudotis vandens transportu: dekite visus dokumentus ir brangius elektroninius aparatus i neperslampama maisa, kokiu tikrai buna pirkti sporto prekiu parduotuvese. Istorija, kuria ka tik papasakojome, tera tik viena is liudnai vandenyje prarastu vertingu daiktu pavyzdziu. Bendra taisykle butu tokia - objektai, esantys virs ar salia vandens, turi nemaza tendencija suslapti, bet buna ir laimingu isimciu :))

Pats Tortuguero - mazytis, mielas, labai zalias kaimelis, is visu pusiu apsuptas vandens: Rio Tortuguero is vakaru ir siltos Karibu juros is rytu. Vienintelis transportas - po Rio Tortuguero zujancios valtys. Kaimukas toks mazas, kad jame nera ne tik masinu, bet, turbut, nei dviraciu - per 10 minuciu Tortuguero pasivaiksciodamas pereisi isilgai, o skersai (nuo upes iki juros) - nei 5 minuciu neprireiktu. Taciau kaimas gana gyvas, sen bei ten smirineja turistai ir vietiniai, tik Velyku dvasios - ne kvapo! Atrodo, mes buvome vieninteliai, kurie sia grazia pavasario svente pazymejo kaip priklauso - kiausiniu pagalba! :)

Salia kaimo yra garsusis Tortuguero nacionalinis parkas, i kuri anksti ryte plaukia mazos valteles - 8-10 zmoniu ekskursijos stebeti laukiniu gyvunu. Galima issinuomoti vandens dvirati ir plaukti savarankiskai, be gido, taciau si karta mums tokiu minciu nebekilo - is tu 400 rusiu pauksciu vis tik noretusi pamatyti bent jau dar pora ketsaliu!

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