Published on February 10th, 20110
Random Photo Memory: Costa Rican Deluge Detour
When is a crummy pic better than a wowzer pic? Answer: When the crummy pic is accompanied by a great travel story.
Technically it was the “rainy season” in Costa Rica, but it was sunny and dry for most of the hotel reviews. Dry that is, until… I was meandering my way amid the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste (normally the most arid region in all of Costa Rica), headed on a dirt road towards the northwest coast to review a remote (in those days EVERYTHING was “remote” in Costa Rica) luxury beach resort. On the drive in, I (naively, as it turned out) admired several little waterfalls trickling down the banks beside the road as I whizzed by. Little did I know then, that but a few hours later…
I easily arrived at my destination and spent a couple of hours reviewing the resort and enjoying a complimentary lunch (trust that when one is reviewing hotels, one is treated exceedingly well by the hotel owner – often including comp lodging in their best room). But I didn’t have time to spend the night as I had one remaining hotel to see that day. Nonetheless, it was late afternoon before I could tear myself away from that beautiful setting beside the Pacific. As I drove away dark clouds were forming in the sky, and soon it began to rain. In earnest. A quintessential tropical DELUGE. I’d not gone more than a few miles from the coast and already I was splashing through six inch deep puddles across the road. Wishing in hind sight that I’d rented a 4-wheel drive, I nonetheless hurried on hoping to make it swiftly back to the main road.
But the sheet of water falling from the sky continued unabated, and those cute little roadside waterfalls I’d merrily noticed earlier, were now creating giant ponds across the road. And finally – a near LAKE spread out there in front of me, barring my way. Prudently stepping out of the car into the downpour, I waded ahead to see just how deep the water was (Answer: TOO deep – leastwise for my little Toyota compact.) Indeed, seriously deep and RUSHING. A veritable flash flood, and the rain still coming down.
Plan B: head back to the resort from whence I came and wait it out til the rain and road floods subsided (in suh-weet comp luxury!) Ah but as I turned around and headed again toward the coast, within minutes I was barred by yet another lake likewise rushing across the road. Uh-oh. Blocked in both directions. Barred at every turn, in the middle of nowhere. Worse, the dim light of evening was rapidly fading, and soon I’d be marooned there alone, in the dark of night.
(Do bear in mind, that in those days there were no cell phones to call Triple A, nor auto-voiced GPSr’s kindly pointing me to the nearest Holiday Inn. Nope. No such handy technos that many take for granted today.)
And then… as darkness fell, I spotted a light – a single lantern wobbling down the hill in the pelting rain. As it came closer, I could see a Tico man and his young son, rushing down the hill shouting:
¡Muy peligroso, Señorita! ¡Venido, venido! (Very dangerous! Come, come!)
Long story short? They guided me back up the hill to their humble home and invited me to spend the night. Utterly grateful for their kind hospitality, they led me to a tiny shed (uh, abandoned chicken coop?) with a concrete slab as a “bed”, and offered me a couple of blankets and a candle as my only “amenities”. Despite such grim accommodations, I was thrilled to be out of the rain, and safe from being washed away in a flash flood on a lonely road in Costa Rica. The next morning, I woke to the cluck, cluck of chickens and the snorting of pigs. And the dear Señora in the photo cooked me a most delicious breakfast of fresh eggs, rice and beans.
And in the end – had that shabby little shed been on my list of hotels to review, I’d surely have given it a 5-star rating!