After taking 3 buses, we arrived at the breathtaking Orosi Valley on sunny Saturday morning, to the center of the quaint town, nestled among the mountains and forests, the scenic Reventazon River meandering through. At the coffee shop we purchased some fresh empanadas and a few danish to take with us to the Tapanti National Park. We walked back to the center of town where the taxis gather, and asked a driver for the rate to the park. On the map it appeared to be about 5 miles away, so we were quite surprised to hear that it would cost us $18.00! We wondered if this was one of those experiences that we read about in the guidebook, where drivers take advantage of tourists. Since we had engaged in a nice conversation with the women at the cafe, we returned and asked them what the going rate to the park might be. They too, said about $18.00. “But isn’t it only about 10 minutes away?” we asked. No. As is often the case in Costa Rica, what looks like a straight shot on the map, can be very deceiving. We wrestled with the dilemma of coming this far to see the park, but wondering if it would be worth the price of the taxi added to the Park’s entrance fee. Perhaps we could just wander around Orosi. As we walked back toward the town square, we noticed a young couple sitting on the bench perusing a guidebook. Approaching, we explained our situation. They were considering what they would do with their day, having just arrived from Turrialba, for their weekend break. They were volunteering at CATIE (Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza). In English, that is Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, where another Fulbright scholar is working, who is collaborating with Rod. Patrick and Rachel were actually working under Landon, Rod’s connection! Small world in Costa Rica. They agreed to go with us, sharing the cost, and the 4 of us hopped into Luis’ taxi. It didn’t take long before we understood why the cost was so high! The first mile was paved, and after that Luis demonstrated the skill of a scout, dodging the rocks and holes. Five miles took about 30 minutes, and most likely repair needs are much higher in this area than in San Jose! We arrived at the Park around noon, arranging for Luis to come back for us at 4:00, closing time. There are no buses that travel on this road, and few cars.
Main Street of Orosi
We began our hike on the waterfall trail with Rachel and Patrick, listening to their stories of their work as wilderness fire fighters in Utah. Finishing college 8 years ago and not finding jobs, they began doing seasonal work, and traveling. I was impressed by the way they creatively lived during difficult economic times. Rachel spoke of enjoying all the travel, but missing the ability to plant a garden. Inspired by their bold way of living, I also, in her longing, saw value in my rootedness.
Hearing the rush of water, we left the path for the river, crystal clear, many boulders taller than us.
And then we saw it, high in the mountain, water rushing through the forest, breathtaking. Untouched nature, I could only imagine Eden.
Finishing the Waterfall trail, we went our separate ways from Rachel and Patrick, and headed down the Pava trail. Starting down the switchbacks, tromping down, down, down, we decided we were too tired for this trail, and climbed back, up, up, up. Taking the last turn, there was Jonathan with his wife and little boy, who we had met on the last trail, guiding them to the location off the path to view the waterfall. Jonathan was pointing toward the tree, at the perched Pava, a bird about the size of a chicken!
Pava Negra (black)
So few people crossed our path the entire time we hiked, wilderness so tranquil and pure. The wonder of colors, shapes, sizes, sounds and vistas were soul energy.
Luis pulled up right on time, and our tired bodies crawled into the taxi. As we bumped down the road, Luis told us stories about working in the coffee fields lining the road, the hard work and long hours in the sun. Only following parts of the Spanish conversation, I wasn’t sure what we were doing when he pulled off to the side and turned off his car. Piling out, he began to show us the flowers and the beans, teaching us the cycle of the harvest, each tree taking 3-4 years to produce its first crop. Starting coffee plantations was truly an act of delayed gratification and faith!
It was not only the nature that made this day special, although that certainly was well worth every colones, but the people we connected with along the way. Patrick and Rachel, Luis, and the young Costa Rican family, each added their stories and kindness. Returning to San Jose after nightfall, to a terminal unfamiliar to us, Rod asked a young man from the bus if he would point us in the direction of Avenida 2, where we would find the Granadilla bus to take us home. He did so much more, walking with us until we recognized the street of our bus route. The guidebook prepared us for dangers and scams. Yet, we continue to be surprised at the kindness, the offering of story, the stranger who goes a few blocks out of his way to guide us to known places. The slower pace seems to allow time for people to be human toward each other, touching us deeply.