Ah Costa Rica. After flying off of the Nicaraguan coast for 2 hours, green coastlines edged with beautiful white sand beaches came into view. Our arrival in Liberia was smooth including immigration and customs unlike our other entries into a new country. It was also relatively easy for the airplane….. likely because they require that you employ the services of a “handler” to assist with completing all the necessary aviation paperwork and make the payments to the government.
That doesn’t mean it was superquick… there were plain clothes police, bag searches and a lot of questions. All on the pavement, in the heat. Then an air conditioned van to the terminal, and lots of back and forth to offices for stamps on permits, copies of licenses, and of course, payment. The parking fee for the airplane was $10.00 per hour… so we hoped not to be there too long. But, in the end we were only there for an hour and a half- which is lightening fast… Then the filing of a flight plan for our final destination of the day, Samara, and a landing on a beautiful grass strip inland from town.
No one was there, except a security guy who is watching water well drilling equipment across the street. We obtained permission to stay there and camp after talking to a guy in a house near the strip…he called someone else, who said it was fine. As it turns out, this was a private strip, used by a tourism company that offers Gyrocopter tours of the beach, and jungle. Ultimately we met the german guy in charge of the local portion of this business, he was really helpful and kind. He explained that it was vital to file a flight plan for every flight we would take in Costa Rica, for the security of the flight, but mostly to ensure that we weren’t mistaken for narcos….
We set up a tent under the half completed patio that was being built for guests- which turned out to be perfect, because the thunderstorms (called tormentas in Spanish) were fierce! The light show that night was multifaceted… Incredible lightening, with thunder that would roll around for a long time, but also fireflies in the grass all around us- it seems like millions of them, all around us and all the way down the airstrip. At first- you weren’t sure that you were seeing things correctly.. it kind of seemed like we were hallucinating! I found a firefly in my shoe…..
We camped there for 2 nights, it was great..we would walk into town for supplies, then come back and cook, relax and hang out with the fireflies..during one thunderstorm, Paul took a cooling shower under the downspout of the gutter on the half finished palapa. We were grateful for the roof! It took us a while to identify the wierd zombie like call we kept hearing from the jungle…howler monkeys- we also spent some time dealing with “donk”, the donkey who we kept having to shoo away from the plane- they have been known to chew on airplane fabric…
After 2 nights we moved into town, into a room rented via Airbnb by a couple. Our room had a giant fan that was like a jet engine, which we learned to appreciate since it was too hot to sleep without it! And… a proper shower and modern plumbing! (Yay) The house was very small- and 2 girls were renting the other room…it took a little time to adjust to the tight quarters! But- this is how you meet people! Once we settled in, we walked on the beach, watched the surfers, swam, hung out with our housemates and just relaxed. Then we started planning…or so we thought….
It has become clear that we need an internet connection every few days in order to plan our next step of travel. We wanted to go next to Corcovado National Park, on the Oslo Peninsula. There are airstrips within the park and we had been told that that we could fly there, and then camp at the ranger station as long as we had a guide, and hike within the park. Corcovado is known worldwide for its biodiversity and remoteness. After completing an online application and having it bounce back from a bad email address before finding the correct one- and confirming a guide- we got shot down. The park was closing for the next month! Foiled…..
How about “Skip’s Place”? Paul had heard that there was this nice gringo named Skip who had an airstrip not far away, and that it would be just fine to drop in unannounced and camp… (!) we had no contact details…..
Our flight to Skips place worried me.. He didn’t know we were coming, we didn’t know him… But, there it was, a great airstrip between the river and the ocean… we landed, and a new friendship was made.
The strip and landscaping were well kept and green. The housekeeper called Skip, who was in town. He was super nice, and said welcome!. We tied down the plane and scoped out some camping spots. Skip arrived later and could not have been more welcoming or nice. His wife made delicious hamburgers with salad we walked the property and set up the tent inside his hanger so that we would be undercover in case of rain. Skip told us about how long he had been there, what he had to do to keep the place kept up and that a boa constrictor ate his cat. Paul and Skip shared flying stories, Skip has 30,000 hours of flight time, and I think has seen it all. He told us about his time flying in Alaska, and about his crazy crash there. He clearly knew a lot about flying in Central America.
We didn’t want to monopolize his entire evening, so we withdrew to the hanger and our camping site with promises to join them for breakfast. We ended up eating dinner inside the tent (pb&j’s) because of the noseeums were so bad that we could not sit outside.
Another incredible lightning storm, accompanied by fire flies in the grass.
Over breakfast the next morning, we watched San Jose morning television to see if we would be able to fly past the Turrialba volcano, that was belching out ash (bad for airplane engines) Once we determined that the flight was a go, we filed our flight plan and were on our way. Next stop, Moravia and a hacienda that takes guests- and has an airstrip!
Miles to date: 2,372 NM