5th July: El Dueno, the owner of our camp-site in Samara, tells us he saw lights out in the bay last night. ‘Drug-runners,’ he says, rubbing his naked, fat belly. He points to the reef with the shaft of his rake. ‘But the lights disappeared in the storm’, he adds He thinks the heavy seas and the reef may have got the better of whoever it was out there. Apparently it’s happened before. And then a couple of days later bales of cocaine, followed by a couple of bloated corpses, were washed up on the beach. There’s a glint in his eyes when he tells us this and I realise why he’s been spending so much time leaning on the fence, scanning the surf. In the last earthquake, which occurred two years ago, the reef out there rose by several metres, he tells us. Most people fled from Samara, fearing a tsunami; being made of sterner stuff, El Dueno stayed behind to watch his property. The reef has since retreated back into the waves, still a menacing presence for those who deliver their goods during a storm . In the far corner of the camp-site a tent is pegged out beneath a corrugated tin roof. A couple of sun-bleached wooden chairs stand guard by a hammock swinging in the breeze. The tent is occupied by two Englishmen. One of them explains how he’s bought a piece of land down the coast, and the other one tells us he’s been in Morocco for the past 27 years. I think they could be wanderers, adventurers, perhaps what Rudyard Kipling might have termed “Gentleman at Large”, for they remind me of Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot, Kipling’s characters who go off to seek their fortunes in The Man Who Would Be King. After making Peachy and Daniel’s acquaintance we go off to the bar and watch Holland beat Costa Rica. The Ticos seem to take the defeat pretty well. I think, deep down, they never expected to get any further. When we get back to the camp-site we meet Neli. She barks at us as we approach, but soon enough she’s licking our fingers. Neli is travelling with her family in a camper. They’ve driven down from the States. Neli is a dog on a big adventure. She writes her own blog at http://www.nelisbigadventure.com
6th July: We decide to stay another day at Samara. It hasn’t rained in 24 hours – reason enough to stay for another day. It has been raining a lot recently. El Dueno comes for his money by 10 o’clock. I ask him why the six policemen came to the camp-site at sundown the previous evening. I notice he’s leaning more heavily on his rake today and his words don’t flow quite so easily. Someone arrived in the camp-site on a stolen motorbike, he says, and then some more hombres malos arrived and El Dueno thought about fetching his pistol to sort them out, but called the cops instead. He slaps his wrists together to signify how all the mal hombre were clapped in irons and then I’m assaulted by a beery waft and a few incomprehensible words. We commend him for his vigilance, even though we never heard a thing. What an exciting world El Dueno inhabits.
7th July: We decide to definitely leave today. El Dueno is raking the leaves and fallen coconuts with a little more vigour today. He has a cut above is right eye which has been stitched. He laments to Christine how he had a domestic accident, though he tells Peachey that he had to sort out a few ruffians in the night. Outside Peachey and Daniel’s tent a map of the world has been drawn in the sand. They’re trying to decide which country to conquer next. They’ll start with Bolivia and they might get there by working a passage on a boat down to Ecuador, and then striking out on foot for Lake Titicaca. Then they might go to India. ‘You could work a passage to India,’ I suggest to Daniel, who pulls a face. ‘Nah, too much bloody water,’ he says. ‘We’ll go by plane.’
Our last couple of nights were at Canas Castillas, a farm owned by a Swiss couple, Guido and Aggi, who have been living here in Costa Rica since 1997. Each morning a troop of spider monkeys made their daily journey through the the treetops. They were a challenge to try and capture with the camera. Note how the tail plays such a part in their movements in this sequence of natty moves…
And how could we leave Costa Rica without a final shot of a sloth. This one was found abandoned by its mother on the farm and is being reared by Aggi.