Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day of Meetings and Greetings

Thursday

Thursday was a full day for us. Not only were we meeting Juan and Steph for lunch, but I wanted a chance to see both oceans at once, and we needed to get to our next camping site. To see the oceans, we were going to drive up to the peak of Volcán Irazú. According to the guidebooks, the best time to have a chance at seeing the oceans was first thing in the morning. According to the GPS, it would take 2.5 hours to get to the peak, so we would need to leave at 5:30 to be there by the time it opened at 8am.

DSC04502 The view from our camping spot at Paraíso de Quetzal at 5:15am.

We woke up at 5am. Surprisingly, we actually got on the road ahead of schedule. Even more surprisingly, we arrived at then entrance a full 45 minutes before it opened, meaning we had made great time.  We had time to spare, so we made breakfast of pancakes and chilled until the park rangers showed up. As we drove, it was cloudy and rainy, so there didn’t seem to be much hope to see the oceans. But the clouds cleared as the morning ran on, so we did at least get to see some landscapes other than clouds.

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It was good to be early as starting at about 9am, tons of busses started arriving, including kids on field trips. We left to make our way to our meeting place of Jalepeños Central. Unlike earlier, the GPS said 1.5 hours to the restaurant and it took more like 2 hours. Fortunately, we still had plenty of time until our meeting time, so Jonathan sipped a Coke, and we split an apple dumpling while we waited.

At long last, we finally got to meet Juan and Steph, whom we had been trying to meet up with since late April!  We had a good time chowing down on some monster burritos and chatting about van life and such things. Of course, we also had to show off each other’s vans. Jonathan’s smuggling bin is something which everyone’s interested in seeing.

After the lunch break, we had to drive the remaining distance to Fortuna, where we planned to stay at Gringo Pete’s, which was another 2 hours of driving. And, for some reason, the GPS’s logic took us off the perfectly good highway before it ends in San Ramón and had us take some crazy backroads through the towns and suburbs. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the problem early enough to do anything about it. I tell you, as much as I appreciate having a GPS, it really does some weird stuff sometimes. Despite all that, we made it to Gringo Pete’s safe and sound.

We chose Gringo Pete’s as a place to stay because Jonathan’s great uncle knew the owner back in their high school days. Small world, huh? So as we got signed in to use their facilities as we camped in the lot next door, we briefed Pete on his old friend’s life.

Friday

We thought about crossing the border this day, but with all the events and driving we had done in the last few days, we felt like it was time for a rest. Plus, we needed to get our laundry done, again. So we stayed put and got some things done that needed to be done. Jonathan worked on cleaning brake dust off the rear tires and inspecting a noise we had been hearing from the engine. I worked on plotting our course back to the states and finding campgrounds. Occasionally, Pete would come by and tell us a story. Of course, Jonathan’s great uncle had warned us not to believe anything Pete told us about him. :D

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