Bree: Our nighttime walk was in fact fairly benign, although the prospect of walking around any forest with such a diverse and unknown lineup of animals in the dark was enough to make me uncomfortable. As we perused the beach in the dark, our headlamps glowing red, my eyes darted back and forth, worried we were about to encounter a jaguar, raccoon, snake, or poisonous frog.
Our arrival to the pitch black lagoon was possibly the most terrifying, but not because we had any idea about what might live there. We shined our lights into the murky water, prompting whole schools of fish to leap out of the water all at once, making a terrific splash and heightening my paranoia about something creeping up on us.
Ben however, was fascinated, and we easily spent fifteen minutes on the banks of the dark swamp checking the place out. Then, once we’d had enough, we flopped down on the beach to soak up the spectacular night sky over the powdery sand until we were brave enough to face the prospect of our sweltering car-turned-tent for the rest of the night.
It wasn’t really until morning, after we’d sauntered back out to the beach just after dawn, that Ben noticed a strangely placed sign, warning visitors that crocodiles live in that lagoon. I slowly translated the words one at a time, and then again, trying to assure myself that my poor Spanish skills had gone awry, but then I noticed the English translation. The crocodiles were for real.
Crocodiles are not as harmless as the caiman we’d seen days earlier and are much, much bigger. The warnings throughout the country noting the dangers of hanging around bodies of water containing the creatures are numerous. We hadn’t seen the sign in the dark, so we’d been out there ignorantly meandering around without any idea what might be lurking nearby.
Ben: Upon seeing the warning my natural inclination was to head right back over to the lagoon in order to see what we might have missed during the previous night’s walk. The distance to the lagoon seemed much shorter in the bright daylight and in spite of the fact that it was only 6:45 the sun’s intensity had already begun to feel somewhat burdensome.
We approached the lagoon cautiously, and as we rounded the thick forest hiding a small corner of the water we heard a crash as we saw an enormous crocodile run from the shore and into the still, shallow water. The crocodile was enormous. We estimate that it was between 10 and 12 feet long, and much wider than the caiman, who all seemed comparatively puny.
I watched in awe at the edge of the water as he slithered silently away from us. Bree more sensibly kept her distance from our potentially vulnerable place on the shore. With the crocodile out of sight, the lagoon was once again silent and still, and so, a little startled, we headed back to the shore.
The beach was beautiful in the morning light and was pretty much deserted. We meandered a while, checking out the animal tracks across the deep sand. Bree claims it one of the absolute highlights of the trip.
The sun was getting hot and we wanted to do some hiking before it got much worse, so we packed up our gear and started up the dusty non-road. It was every bit as ridiculous as we had remembered and it took us nearly an hour to reach the paved road leading to the museum. Along the way we passed a dozen or so teenagers hiking back to their vehicle 6 miles up the road. They were from Wisconsin and were apparently on a field trip. We were impressed that these kids would hike such a long distance, camp, and then hike back. Not a single one would accept our offers to give them a ride.
At the museum we took a quick walk around a short loop in a dry forest (not my favorite), but it was a nice walk. There were no creatures to be seen, within fifteen minutes we had completed the trail and were ready to move on.
Then we meandered to the nearby museum grounds, which were crawling with iguanas. Two of them weren’t too happy to see each other and got into a pretty serious brawl. With jaws clamped on each other they wrestled and flipped each other for quite some time until they finally called it quits and made off in opposite directions.
Peanut butter and jelly was getting a little old but that was all the food we had left, so we decided to head back to Liberia where we could get lunch and head toward the beach for the remainder of our trip. We found some awesome food at the local supermarket and devoured a heaping plate of chicken and rice, beans, chips, and an amaretto drink. In my opinion it was one of our better meals in Costa Rica.
We topped the meal off with a sundae from McDonalds and attempted to get connected to find a place to stay but their internet was down so it was paper maps and winging it once again!