Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Peru > Colombia > Costa Rica: A New Years Family Trip, Part 4

Next morning we got up early as we had been told the nearby beach was worth a walk. So after a light breakfast we made our way to the shore (a 1,5 minute walk) and took a left. Pristine blue waters, crashing on the beach in fairly large waves on one side, dense forest in all shades of green on the other, white sand under your feet; cobalt blue sky over your head, sun already powering up for another 12 hours of scorching heat, but a freshly chopped coconut in your hands, straw and all, moisturizing your inner being with its lush milk… nothing can defeat you, this is the life. Kids were going crazy, running over the beach, looking for all kinds of building blocks for the sandcastle I had promised to build with them and we walked on. Until at once, we realized we were walking on a thinner and thinner strip of sand, ocean still on one side, but the vegetation receding on the other, making room for the Palomino River, flowing lazily down the Sierra Nevada foothills for its last, reluctant push into the Caribbean.

 Imagine: You sit on the beach, no notion of the sea except for it crashing in waves on the shore at your back, and you’re looking over this meandering sliver of clear mountain water, bordered by jungle on both side, all kinds of herons standing in the shallow water while modestly sized eagles soar overhead, both in search of fresh fish in abundance. And while you take in this beautiful picture you slowly look up and as the sun warms up and the curtain of clouds vanishes you see the silhouette of the Snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, framing one of the most incredible natural landscapes I have ever seen.

We basically did nothing more then sit here for three days, basking in the sun (abundant fresh water supplies and factor 75 sun screen existential!), talking, taking in the view one more time, cooling off in the slow-moving river, while the kids ran around, building sandcastles, plunging in the river and flat-out having fun. We managed to make a short, half-day excursion, which almost dignified the fact that we spent three times more on a 4x4 then on a normal car, but we decided it was ok. The last days of our hectic Colombia trip were spent in quiet relaxation and we drove back to Cartagena, dropped of the car and flew back to Bogota renewed.

Bogota delivered us our new Colombia Region Manager, Chris (welcome aboard Chris!) and reconnected us to our long-time friends José-Luis and Marcela, owners of See Colombia (look it up, it is great) and their beautiful baby daughter Maria del Mar. We thought we’d only have one evening with them, but faith decided otherwise. JL and Marcela are special people in our lives, but life & work & plans had separated us for a while. This dinner had been long awaited and was over too quickly for all of us. Apparently that message was heard somewhere.

Next day, we had a nice long breakfast before being picked up by our transfer, wedging all our suitcases in the van and heading out to the airport. We walked toward the check-in desk, 2 carts full of luggage and gave our passports to the lady behind the counter. I was already loading the first of the suitcase on the scale, when the lady asked us, oh so politely, if she could see out yellow fever vaccinations.

Full stop.

“Ehrm… we don’t have any, ehrm no, we forgot them back in Argentina, ehrm, can we get them somewhere here on the airport perhaps?” “No, sorry, they need to have an incubation time of at least 10 days for Costa Rica to let you in. Sorry, next!”

What followed is not something I am prepared to share just now, but let’s just say the lady behind the counter did not get to her next passenger, eventually turned white and disappeared. When I finally located her supervisor, she was standing behind her, holding up a copy of a page of the Costa Rican Embassy website, the passage referring to the obligatory vaccination already highlighted. I managed to ask how come we had not been informed about this and the lady informed me the airline only had the obligation to check if its passengers actually had the vaccination going on board, not to notify them of the obligation to have one. Basically they are over-selling seats, expecting a few unlucky souls to be bumped off the flight anyway.  Or maybe Colombia likes to extend its slogan: “The only risk is that want to stay… or have to due to lack of vaccination”. Anyway, stupid of us (and honestly, we have been bumped in the past, due to wrongly stamped passports, out of date residency papers or because we simply forgot to board on time, so the blame is entirely on us) and I went to the ticketing desk to change our flight to the next day, heading a line of people canceling their Costa Rica vacations. The simple fact that we did not have to is that somehow we managed to find a doctor who was kind enough to see us the next morning and taking the hastily faxed over copies of our actual vaccinations for proof enough to write out new certificates. Thanks JL and Marcela! Needless to say we found a van, headed straight back to JL & Marce’s apartment, had a really great evening and made it onto the plane the next day, no questions asked.

Class Adventure Travel offers South America tours across Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Bolivia currently. We're well on our way to adding Colombia, so stay tuned!

1 comment:

Sarah Parker said...

Ahhh! Beautiful and Mesmerizing Costa Rica.