San Gerardo de Dota – Keep on rollin baby
After the boat trip back from Bahia Drake it was time for some roadtrippin again. The next destination were the Costa Rican highlands around San Gerardo de Dota. First we drove along the Southern coast and visited one or the other viewpoint before we started to climb the serpentines. We passed a gas station and I knew that I would have to refuel sometime soon, but I still had a range of 80 km, so I decided to take the next gas station. We bought some fruits and Tamzyn got some Spanish lessons from the nice man at the fruit stand.
Somehow it was immediately clear that San Gerardo de Dota is on the agenda of only very few tourists. That being the case encounters with the people are completely different to the touristy areas. You get into conversations with the locals a lot easier. We continued our journey and fought our way up the serpentines. The fuel needle went on in direction 0 and there was no petrol station in sight. Tamzyn found one on Google Maps, but it was still very far away. However, we were so far away from the last one that turning back wouldn't have been worth it either. So we drove on – deeper and deeper into the mountains. There were no villages any more, but a great view... The fuel gauge had switched off at 50 remaining kilometers and now only said “Go immediately to the gas station”. Since the time of the 50 remaining kilometers we had already covered almost 50. So it was only a matter of minutes until the car would break down with no fuel left. At this point we saw a sign informing us that there were still 36 km to the next gas station… Damn it…
This sounds completely crazy now, but somehow I was convinced against all facts (36 km up to the gas station with approx. 5 km fuel range) that it would work somehow. - And then we reached the highest point of the mountain pass and were on approx. 3,300 meters altitude. And from then on it was Keep on rollin rollin rollin down the mountains towards the gas station...
So I rolled and rolled, Tamzyn counted 5 km downwards and informed how many kilometers we still had to go. We rolled past the exit to our lodge and kept going straight. In between the road became flat and I had to step on the gas pedal, sweating and hoping the car wouldn’t stop. The road fell off again. 25 km, 20 km, 15 km, 10 km, 5 km, 1 km and finally we could see the gas station.
With the last drop of petrol, we rolled into the gas station, happy and relieved. Happy we asked the guy to please fill up the whole tank ...
With far less tension we drove back until we hit the dirt road leading to our lodge. After 10 km we arrived at our sweet accommodation “Suenos del Bosque” and moved into our wooden hut at the lake.
And then there was a very special highlight: Using the laundry service of the hotel. All our clothes were still clammy from the rain at Bahia Drake, the backpacks were mouldy, the shoes were soaked and you can only imagine the nasty smell. So handing in our laundry was the best thing ever.
Our accommodation beside a small lake also had some hiking paths through the highland forests and the next day after a small boat round we went on a hiking tour, among other things to spot the Quetzal bird for which the area is known. But our main goal was to see a sloth. Tamzyn hadn't seen a single sloth during her entire time in Costa Rica and was firmly convinced that it was only a widespread myth. Our hike was then shortened by the onset of rain. We didn't want to get completely wet again (even if I always go to the hike armed with my garbage bag from now on) and quickly agreed on a break. We heard the Quetzal bird, but we did not see it and the sloths will probably always remain a myth for Tamzyn.
The next morning, we had to drive back to San Jose, but not without visiting the Irazu volcano on the way. Since we had to return the car at times and it was not clear whether there would be any roadblocks on the way to San Jose, the visit had to be quick... The Irazu volcano is easy to reach by car anyway, so we didn't have to go on a long hike. When we arrived at the crater, it was free to see and had a bright blue watercolor. This short detour was definitely worth it.
Unfortunately we didn't see much of the area around the volcano, because clouds had just come up. The view is supposed to be spectacular... 🙂 After a short but very nice stop in Irazu we finally drove to San Jose without a roadblock (only obstacle a cow) and gave the car back. - Official roadtrip end.
Since my flight to Guatemala on the following day didn’t leave until the afternoon, I still had time to explore the city. Therefore, I booked a photo tour with the fotographer Scott via AirBnB. Scott is American, but has lived in Costa Rica for a long time and used to work as a fashion photographer. He gave me a lot of ideas for editing photos and for helpful editing apps. Then the photo tour turned into a walking tour through San Jose. Through Scott I got to see places I would certainly never have found myself and so San Jose, who everyone says is not worth getting to know, got a completely different charm. Here are a few impressions:
So my time in Costa Rica came to an end. But I had another wonderful farewell: The Uber-driver Ernesto, who brought us from the car rental to the hostel, drove me to the airport and because we still had time, he made a side trip to a nearby city and showed me the market place and a monument and decided that we still had to drink a farewell beer before I left the country. So we got two cold beers and toast my farewell from Costa Rica. He offered me, the next time I would come to Costa Rica, I could rent his second car and would not have to fall back on the expensive car rental companies. So if anyone is interested, let me know, I will gladly put you in touch with Ernesto.
Finally arriving at the airport, I reflected a bit about my time in Costa Rica and was really looking forward to finally getting to know Guatemala. Although I was still a bit sad that I had decided against Nicaragua.