Loc: Playa Pavones
Acc: Hilleberg Allak tent
Dist: 15,6 km
Start: 9:00 End: 12:10
Yesterday evening, my coastguard contact Adrian had to change the emmigration style – I need to come to the immigration office, as the officer feels unable to come to me as originally planned. But I get a ride with the coastguard boat from my beach. The deal is a person from the coast guard will be guarding my kayak and gear while I drive to Golfito. Also a good solution.
I hear an unusual noise is around my tent in the darkness. I think of a small furry critter, and make a sharp hissing noise to chase it away. No reaction, the same noise stays. I grab my torch, and shine outside to where I hear the noise between my outer tent and my kayak. A fat twenty centimeters bullfrog is smiling at me, trapped between kayak and tent. Oh well! This creature is at least not likely to rip my tent when wedged, and I am also sure he does not hear well and runs away when I am hissing. I quickly grab my camera for a few shots before I bend a bit the outside tent pole to let him pass. I am not tempted to kiss him to maybe become my price, and frog legs are also not on my dinner plan.
I am ready for the coast guard boat to pick me at six o’clock. They are perfectly in time, but do not dare to back up close enough to the beach that I could hop on somehow dry. I am prepared for that, and packed all my papers and phone in my Aquapacs. I signal I am happy to swim out those ten meters to enter the boat. A coast guard boat never has a convenient entrance for a swimmer, I experienced that already in many other countries with similar vessels. The only way to get on is to be lifted by two of the guys, each pulling on one of my hands until I can sink my bum on a lower rail close to the three strong engines. I am on, thanks! Soaking wet, but water and air are warm.
It takes a while until the four guys to realize I need in return a guard at my kaak and tent. I left it set up as it was soaking wet this morning. They first suggest to load everything on their boat, but no way this is going to work. Two of the four men decide to stay on te beach, strip all electronics and their guns, and hop into the water to swim to the shore to guard my stuff. Thanks!
Off we go, in the one and only speed a coast guard boat with three engines and two young men on the wheel knows – top speed. But the ride is comfortable, as the sea surface is flat. I had it differently in Colombia, when the boat was jumping hard on wave crests. I am warm on my upper body with my fleece shirt and anorak including the hoods plus sunglasses for eye protection, but my lower body suffers on the fast ride from the cool draft on my wet lycra leggings. It almost feels like being in aircondition blow. I have to cover my private parts with both my hands to hopefully prevent a bladder infection. The ride to Golfito takes about forty minutes, until we tie up to the marina dock where a coast guard car is waiting to bring me to the immigration office.
All works perfect. The officer does his paperwork in multiple copies, and soon I have my desired stamp in my passport and on whatever papers. On the ride back, I also protect my ears from the roaring engine noise while crossing my legs. But all is fine, thanks. The guys seem to be impressed my my mission they could read on my card. I hop into the water to swim back to the beach. The two men on shore offer to help launching my kayak, but I reject politely and tell them I do this every day myself, and it takes some time to get ready. They swim back to the boat. It takes them a while to meet with the vessel, as it is drifting away from them. One guy tries quite a climbing stunt from under the bow via a rope and a bow loop he can grab, but also finally needs a hand to get lifted on board. The other one is pulled up like me.
I pack, and launch without problem on the single mellow dumper. The coast guard boat is still floating in the bay. We do some mutual picture taking, and I wave them good buy. But it seems they have a mission to escort me across the Golf, but they see reason it is not necessary as the water is calm, and I explain my float plan to them. I will only cross over to the other side today as I launched late, and paddle tomorrow down to Playa Bonita. The following day, with the low morning tide and low wind, I should get around Punta Burica pretty allright and can reach Puerto Armuelles in Panama the same day, where I have to sign into the new country.
After a while, the captain calls me and offers me his coast guard hat as a souvenir. Thanks, very much appreciated. It adds well to my collection of a dozen of coast guard and Navy hats of the other countries I already have. But I notice this one says only ‘Guardacosta,’ with the local marine anchor emblem, but not Costa Rica. The captain has the solution, strips his PFD and his armour vest, unbuttons his jacket, and I already whistle naughtily and lick my lips on this unexpected striptease. Will I now get his underwear? Soon, he pulls off his t-shirt, and I have to close my eyes not to pass out on this pleasant display of an attractive bare male upper body. He donates me his coast guard t-shirt, which finally says ‘Guardacosta Costa Rica’ on the label. Does he now expect me to strip my shirt with my signature label, like in a soccer game? My card must do, but thanks very much for the souvenirs!
Finally, I am alone. A huge luxurious motoychts enters the Golfo Dulce, and crosses behind me. Money floats also here around. I aim for the best visible beach spot, which are rare on this side. But my waypoint would also have guided me here. It looks like a doable landing, and I glide with the right timing on a moderate steep sandy small beach between reef rocks. Where to camp? The owner of the property just across comes out to check on his fishing lines, and I ask him if I am allowed to camp here. He invites me to his backyard, where I can camp on a nice flat green lawn, and do not have to landscape the top of the beach which might be not dry on high tide. Thanks! I just have to pick a spot between the palm trees where there are no coconuts to fall down, a serious matter here in the tropics.
His property seems to be on a special beach where the current drives a lot of plastic trash to shore. Carlos is an avid beach cleaner, and collects all the bottles, fish boxes, flip flops, and broken kiddy toys in a huge mesh cage. He also salvaged some boards and smaller boats. But his most amazing find is an unused, fifteen meters long empty shell of a handmade Colombian semi-submarine used for narco-trafficking, which drifted to his shores ten years ago. I have seen similar models brought up by the coast guard displayed in Colombia and Guatemala. An amazing find!
Carlos prepares a small boat to go fishing at four o’clock. He will stay out with three other men in the bright moonlit night until midnight. He confirms the seas are very low these days, on others the waves trash five meters high here. Thank goodness I caught a slot of low seas around thoses crucial points!