River Dancin’ In the Rio Claro

Always on the lookout for off-the-beaten-track adventures, our little family ‘tribe’ decided to hire two trucks, doubling as cabs, for a jaunt to the rugged little community of Pavones, a surfer’s haven widely known for its ability to thrill intrepid surfers with long and wild rides on world class waves.

(Cue the Beach Boys, Little Surfer Girl). Our driver, who also owns one of the local ‘tienda de ultramarinos’ (jam-packed grocery stores) explained in Spanglish that the drive was either going to take one hour or two hours, depending.

Over a cup of Costa Rican Café Negro I ruminated to myself, what does the ‘depending’ actually depend on? Like what could possibly make the difference between our journey being one hour long versus two hours? There is definitely no traffic on the stone-rutted dusty roads, other than the age-old ‘why are the roosters crossing the road’ scenario.  Our Zancudo ‘dot on the map hamlet’ has no stop signs, (although it does have a disco… And a really good beach bar); there ain’t no traffic lights, and by god, there sure aren’t any speed limits as witnessed by the helmet-less drivers on their ATV’s, with two kids in the front and a ‘chica’ on the back, who habitually leave us chewing on their dust as they fly by.

So, what could the ‘depending’ possibly be?

The hour time difference in the equation, it turns out, is based solely on whether the ‘shortcut’ (atajo) is available to take, albeit whether or not the road (a very loose term for gravel-kissing-sand) was river-flooded or merely covered with water.  Yes folks! There is a difference- all having to do with axels and accessibility on the must-have 4 x 4 trucks.

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Shortcut on the way to Pavones

Talk about off-roading! (Which come to think of it, is exactly the same as the road itself)  And excitement! And the journey being as important as the destination! We were head-bumping, side-slamming cargo as the truck gear-grated down the mud-slide hill, through the water hole and up the other side.

The absolute best thrill though was our rumble over what passed for a bridge: a four-foot wide, single lane (do ya think!) splintered board plank that groaned mightily as we traversed over the Rio Claro River.  It sure prompted a series of girly-girly-squeals- and that was just from the boys!

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‘River Dancin’ in the Rio Claro – The bridge in the distance

The higher the risk, the higher the reward…. and what rewards our little tribe experienced as, with flip flops and running shoes on, we slip-slided over the rocks and into the sparkling see-through waters of the refrescante (refreshing) Rio Claro.  The sun, mighty in the navy blue sky, little kids giggling riotously as they swung from ropes looped over tree limbs into the shimmery waters below…

All the time in the world
Time enough for life
To unfold all the precious things
Life (and love) has in store
-Louis Armstrong

Of course, a day without surprises for our daring little group, is a day without excitement.  Ten minutes into our river dancin’ expedition, a ‘refrescante’ series of goosebumps climbed from my ankles up to my knees. River risin! River risin!  My niece, a tad over five feet, now had water up to her waist.  Coupla yards further and the water swirled around mine. Carrying my I-pad/camera, my niece quickly raised the carry bag over her head as her shoulders SLAPPED the water and her knees wobbled on the slippery rocks underfoot.

Ah! to be a seven-foot NBA player swishing through what was suddenly five foot deep waters!

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The Rio Claro makes for some interesting hiking

While the boys climbed on, the girls found a respite in the form of a smooth stone slab, whereupon we shucked our back bags, popped a pint, shared my ever-ubiquitous bag of gummy bears, (my ‘G Bump’ of energy for these hot Costa Rican summer dazes), and jumped in for a scintillating swim.

I’ve frequently read about those old watering holes of yore (think Huckleberry Finn), and here we were, living the dream and loving it, on yet another ‘excellente’ Costa Rican day.

The Ticos have an apt description for a day such as ours…. Pura Vida! Mucho Gusto! and Yabba Dabba Do! (Ok….the last I think is more likely Flintstones Gringo!)

Next week…A palm takes a stand!