We were going to Arenal Volcano next to celebrate Omnia’s birthday!
Saying goodbye to Manuel Antonio was a little hard, but we were still excited about having even more adventures ahead of us.
After our last harrowing drive through the mountains, we decided that we needed to prepare more for these journeys. It seemed safer to research routes instead of blindly following the terrifying routes of Google Maps. Google Maps would constantly take us on “Shortcuts” which looked quick on a map, but were so impossible to navigate that it would triple the length of the journey.
I’m not sure what exactly happened to our plan, but somehow we found ourselves back on the mountain, following Google Maps through more endless and winding terrifying roads. Fortunately Mike was healthy now and able to take charge of the driving.
We had embarked on many mountain roads throughout this trip, but this time daylight was not on our side. Nor was the weather. As we proceeded onward, the skies darkened, an opaque fog consumed us, and it slowly began to mist all around us. The dirt paths were becoming worse.
Despite our spotty cell service, we had been following google maps through these treacherous roads. We weren’t on as dizzying mountain peaks as the last trip, but we were definitely lost deep in the jungle There were random horses walking the roads. There was no sign of civilization anywhere and we had been driving along this road for at least two hours. It was night now and lightly raining. Mike was concerned that we would soon become stuck in the mud.
Around this time is when we realized that there was something very wrong with our directions. According to Google Maps, we were very close to the location of our next hotel. But the map kept showing the hotel to be in the middle of the swamp next to us. We knew there was no hotel here, or any way to get near the area. In fact, there was no sign of civilization anywhere. This was the middle of the jungle. Google Maps had screwed us again!!!
Mike was pretty upset and was contemplating turning around. The rain had picked up and the roads were mud. He was rightfully concerned that if we got stuck in the mud there would be nobody to help us except wild horses. But if we turned back, it would be at least two hours to get back to civilization, and those roads were probably all mud by now too. The chances of us getting stuck on our way back were probably just as high as they were if we went forward. We didn’t know what to do. We were lost in the middle of the jungle.
Why did every trip to a new town end up being such a harrowing ordeal???
Omnia called the hotel to try and get directions, but the lady spoke no English. She handed the phone to me but I was not feeling confident speaking Spanish on the phone, and especially not enough to maneuver us out of this jungle we were lost in. I struggled to communicate with the lady in Spanish. I told here that we had followed the directions from google maps. She sighed sympathetically and told me that google maps wasn’t accurate. I tried to get directions from her. She seemed to understand that the google maps location was wrong, but she didn’t seem to know where the location was or how we could get back. I tried to explain to her where we were, but being in the middle of a jungle on an unnamed road next to a giant lake was not very helpful. I’m not sure I could have even done this in English. Eventually she gave me directions from a nearby town. We convinced Mike that we weren’t horribly far and that we should continue onward.
We started down the dark and murky jungle path again, feeling relieved that we weren’t TOO far away. Proceeding onward seemed a much better option than turning around to risk driving for two hours back into the jungle. And it was nice to know that we were close to the hotel and civilization.
“Yeah, we may be close,” Mike said. “But I wonder what is standing in between us and that hotel.”
And he was right. Minutes after he said that, we encountered our most ridiculous obstacle yet.
We had continued forward along the path when we came upon a rushing river that over ran the road. This river was maybe three feet deep, full of big rocks, and probably 50 feet across. How the heck could we cross this? There was no way! It was too deep to cross, too rocky to drive, and the current was too strong to risk . After all this time, were we going to have to turn around and drive hours back through the dark murky night jungle?? How could there be a big river over the road and no bridge to cross it?
We were stuck. We were absolutely stuck. We had driven hours, lost deep in a jungle, only to find a river that we couldn’t drive across. This was no little stream. We looked on google maps and found that this river even had a name. How did people cross this? How could there not be a bridge?
We didn’t know what to do. It was so late. We were so close, and yet there seemed to be no way to cross this river. What if we tried? What if the car got stuck in the mud? What if all the big stones and rocks busted one of the tires? What if the rushing current got the best of the car and swept it downstream and down the drop fifty feet away?
Mike got out of the car and began walking through the river. It seemed about three feet deep, some parts shallower, some parts deeper. He was surveying the area, testing the current, figuring out which places seemed smoothest and shallowest.
While Mike did this, Omnia, Brian, and I began to talk. If we turned back, it would take hours to get to civilization, and we could still get stuck somewhere. At least right now, we were maybe half an hour from civilization. If the car got stuck, we at least had cell phone service here. We could call, we could walk, we could try to get help.
So while Mike was out there surveying the river, the three of us had a unanimous vote that Mike was going to try to drive across the river, and if anything happened we could take the long walk to a nearby town and get help.
Mike came back into the car a few moments later and said “Ok you guys, we need to take a vote.”
“Yup,” Omnia said. “We voted already and decided you are driving us across the river.”
Mike seemed pretty satisfied with this. We secured all our belongings, psyched ourselves up, and then Mike gunned it. The car started racing towards the river. As soon as we entered the water the car started bouncing on the giant rocks beneath us. We could feel the sloshing of the water surrounding the car and the drag as the car fought the current of the river. Mike drove faster and faster. The path was violent and terrifying, and I realized as we continued that the river was so much wider than I had realized. The stones got so bad at the end I was sure we were about to pop a tire or two. The further we got into the river, the more prepared I was for the worst to happen.
And suddenly we had cleared the river. It seemed unreal. Had it really just happened? We started screaming in excitement. Mike was a superhero driver. We hadn’t gotten swept downstream. We hadn’t gotten stuck mid river. We hadn’t even busted a tire. Incredible.
Now high on adrenaline, we continued driving down the path, hoping to find the hotel easily. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. It took a long time to find the place. But after driving across a the river, it didn’t matter so much. The threat of being stranded in the jungle had passed. We were in a town now, we knew we would eventually find a place to stay.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, it was time for another celebration. We were so relieved to have ONCE AGAIN survived another harrowing Costa Rican drive. There were a bunch of cows randomly walking around next to the hotel, and Omnia commented that these cows were the most normal thing we had experienced all day.
It was so late by the time we got to the hotel. There was no time to explore the area or the volcano. Honestly, we didn’t want to anyway. Fording a river was enough of an adventure for one day. We had dinner, drank a couple beers, relaxed, and congratulated ourselves on another excursion survived!