domingo, 7 de junio de 2009

Cruising while Writing—An Introduction to the Gulf of Nicoya

The Coco Palms Hotel is the cruiser’s hotbed at Playa del Coco, Costa Rica. Hours after parting ways with Swell Ryan and I were seated at its poolside restaurant, ordering a small lunch and using their wireless internet. Many of the friends we’d met in El Salvador were still around, and chatter was constant between the tables. My future plans were uncertain; but one e-mail changed all that.
Before leaving San Diego I had completed the writing of my first book, The Voyage of the Atair, and had submitted it to many different publishers. After receiving a hearty fill of rejection letters and a couple more rejections by phone, somebody decided they’d publish me. I knew little to nothing about the company, Publish America, and with my departure imminent I neglected to do any real research. I just wanted to see my first book in print, and this company was willing to do so. Thus, before departing I submitted my manuscript in its entirety, and now after a couple months of lying fallow in the publishers hands I was e-mailed a copy of the page proofs. I had two weeks to peruse the proofs, note any and all changes, and submit the book once and for all for publication. By July 5, the day of my twenty-first birthday, my first book would be ready for publication. In the meantime I’d have to work hard everyday on one final rewrite. With this in mind I decided the best course of action would be to head for the Gulf of Nicoya and work while making the short daysails between anchorages. This would keep the scenery fresh and Ryan could explore new places while I worked my long hours. By my twenty-first birthday we’d be in the tourist hotbed of Jacó where I could submit the manuscript and celebrate with a few beers.
My plan set, I started the motor in the early afternoon of June 23 and Avventura motored out of Playa del Coco. It was a Friday, so to appease Neptune we turned 360˚ to port, and just in case I recorded the day in the logbook as “Thursday +1.” In most aspects of life I’m far from superstitious, but when it comes to sailing where so many things can go wrong and so much depends upon Mother Nature, superstitions fall into the category of “what can it hurt?”
Following my superstitions kept us from harm on the short motor west towards Bahia Potrero where I planned on stopping for the night. As the anchorage in Potrero came into view (off the remnants of the now defunct Marina Flamingo) I could see hordes of boats clustered together. Seeking some solitude, I asked Ryan if he’d be willing to motor another hour to find an anchorage to ourselves, and when he said he was we rounded Punta Salinas and entered Bahia Brasilito, giving the reefs in the middle of the bay a wide berth and anchoring off beautiful Playa Conchal in the south end of the bay. We were indeed the only boat around, and with no swell in the water the anchorage was flat calm.
Once settled on the hook I cooked up the slabs of fish Liz and Shannon had procured for us at Ollie’s Point on the grill in Avventura’s cockpit and enjoyed a beer as the sunk slipped into the sea. Silence descended on the anchorage as night fell, and only the gentle surge of the small surf ashore could be heard. It was the perfect spot to get some work done. After pouring my heart out into my journal about our recent stay in Bahia Potrero Grande, I settled in to a night of deep sleep.
When daylight illuminated the beautiful anchorage we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave it. Instead I passed the day working intensely on my book, taking breaks every couple hours to go for long swims or paddle around on a surfboard or do a bit of snorkeling. Rain showers passed throughout the day, the worst of which arrived at sunset and was preceded by a strong twenty-five knot wind. The squall caused us to drag anchor a bit, so I let out an extra fifty feet of chain, reset the anchor, and all was well again. Just as I was prepared for the wind to continue the squall passed and all returned to a dead calm. The night was sticky and thick, and the damp air hung heavy aboard Avventura making sleep difficult at best. When blue skies peeked through in the morning the time had come to carrying on down the Costa Rican coast.
Between the Gulf of Papagayo and the Gulf of Nicoya there are only a few scattered anchorages, none of which are very protected and all of which are uncomfortable with any swells (and often untenable in the rainy season). But if you travel when there isn’t any swell running you can sail all the way through Costa Rica without ever having to remain at sea overnight. This we accomplished by motoring south all day and arriving just before nightfall at Bahia Carillo, halfway down the Nicoya Peninsula. Bahia Carillo opens to the south, and while the east end of the bay provides some protection from the swells there are a group of moorings there for the locals’ pangas. Thus Ryan and I tried anchoring in various spots throughout the bay looking for any protection or comfort. In the end we anchored amidst the moorings and tied one to our stern to act as a stern anchor. Even thus protected and with a very small swell running the anchorage was rolly and uncomfortable despite its natural beauty.
One lousy night of sleep was enough to convince me to press on southward, and but for a short swim I never even left the boat in Bahia Carillo. A beach lies at the base of the bay, however, and the rainforest covers the hillsides, enticing one to wander off and explore. In the dry season I’m sure it would be a great destination, but one of the drawbacks of cruising Central America in the wrong season is that many a beautiful anchorage must be skipped or visited briefly. Thus it was another daysail south along the Costa Rican coastline as massive cumulus clouds drifted past and an array of rainbows studded the horizon. We rounded Cabo Blanco as the clock struck noon and, under the penetrating heat of the late afternoon sun Avventura chugged into Bahia Ballena.
We dropped anchor in the south corner of the bay beside a cluster of cruising boats off the decrepit pier of the “Bahia Ballena Yacht Club” and I rejoiced at the flat calm of the anchorage. For the first time in days we launched the dinghy and ventured ashore. The small town of Tambor is nestled at the base of the bay, and we walked around it a bit and used the lone internet café before returning to the yacht club. The Yacht club is now only a restaurant with a book exchange, but Ryan and I played a couple games of pool on the old table and had a nice dinner before retiring for the night.

Over the course of the next week Avventura bounced from anchorage to anchorage throughout the Gulf of Nicoya. We visited a number of different islands, explored numerous beaches, did some snorkeling, met countless Ticos down on holiday from San José, and surfed a small beachbreak at Playa Blanca. Through it all I worked voraciously on the page proofs of my book and unwound at night with the help of Caldwell’s Desperate Voyage. After a pleasant stop at the Islas Tortugas and a few great days off beautiful Punta Leona the calendar turned to July and on the second day of the month I leapt with excitement as I finished up work on the page proofs of my book. A couple guttural hoots escaped my mouth and Ryan asked what was up.
“I’m finished! The damned work’s done.” A moment of silence ensued and I moved up to the cockpit. Surveying the scene, I thought of heading over to Playa Blanca for the day, but, realizing I had been strictly dictating our movements the past week and more I asked Ryan, “What would you rather do: stay here one more night with the anchorage to ourselves or move down to the less-protected, but more popular Bahia Herradura?”
When he said he’d rather go to Herradura I obliged. I needed to e-mail off my changes soon anyways, so the time had come to make a return to civilization. Avventura made the short motor south to Bahia Herradura and anchored in the center of the bay, south of a cluster of local boats and one lone sailboat. All was well with the world.

As soon as the anchor was set the radio sprang top life. The sailboat was calling. I answered and met Ray, the single-handed skipper of Drivers Wanted. (Boat names are notoriously strange, quirky, and often downright weird. Ray worked for Volkswagon in some capacity for much of his life, so one of the company’s slogans began his boat’s name.) Ray had been anchored in Herradura for the last five months, he boasted, and said we should stop by so he could give us the lay of the land. Minutes later Ryan and I had gathered our things together and loaded into the dinghy.
Before I even climbed aboard Drivers Wanted the stench was unmistakable. Marijuana. Mota. Pot. Weed. Call it whatever you want—Ray was clearly a heavy user of the drug, and, I soon suspected, much worse ones as well. The tall, gangly man looked old beyond his years. His nappy long hair was graying prematurely and his sun-beaten face was wrinkled like an old grandpa’s. But the man was outgoing as can be, and tried to help out in any way possible. He told us about the hourly bus to Jacó and where to catch it, and before long we were giving him a ride in in our dinghy (his was motorless after he dumped it in the surf trying to get ashore one day). On the way in Ray tried to explain to me how to land a dinghy through the surf, but I refused to listen to a man who had already lost his doing that very thing. I rode a wave in, let it wash past beneath the dinghy, and pulled up the motor as the bow hit dry sand. Success.

My time in Bahia Herradura was divided between Jacó, Playa Hermosa (a couple miles further south down the Costa Rican coast), Playa Escondida (a dinghy ride north of Herradura), and the little beach town of Herradura lining the bay.
Jacó. A bizarre surf town set on a beach with terrible surf. Bars, restaurants, surf shops and hostels line the main road with supermarkets and internet cafes between. I always tried to keep my time in the actual town to a minimum because it imbued me with a strange, awkward feeling. I never felt very comfortable in it, and spent most of my time in town on the beach.
Playa Hermosa is a well-known beachbreak in Costa Rica that is among the most consistent waves I’ve ever seen. Every time I surfed there it was head high or bigger, but as with most beachbreaks it was hard to pick off waves that didn’t close out on top of your head. Aside from this there were the jellyfish to consider. Each time I paddled out I was stung by at least one. Most people wore T-shirts while they surfed to cover a bit more of their skin. The beach was lined with hotels, one of which (Cabinas Las Olas) had a restaurant beside the beach which served up some delicious breakfast.
As for Playa Escondida, the beautiful little beach sits beneath an exclusive gated community. Sylvester Stalone is supposed to have a house with a helipad on the point overlooking the beach among other wealthy Americans. Off the north end of the beach a perfectly shaped A-frame wave curls over a shallow reef. There is no shoreline public access to the beach (to my knowledge) so the only way out is via boat from Herradura. Despite this whenever the surf is up there is a big crowd; but the waves are well worth it. On small days I had the place to myself and the fun was never-ending.
Herradura serves as a laid-back coastal getaway for Ticos from all over the country. There is a campground situated just above the sand and each time I have visited the bay it has been overflowing with tents and people. Open-air seafood restaurants line the road fronting the beach and small homes extend inland in the town. A couple small markets are scattered about, but there’s nothing of interest to speak of for the foreign tourist. The tourist end of the bay is the north corner where Los Sueños Resort looms large. A 4-star Marriot hotel stands ashore bordered by hordes of condominiums and fronted by a “world-class marina” complete with teak decks. The gaudy upscale resort seemes completely out-of-place beside the humble town of Herradura and the cheap tourist trap of Jacó, but the motoryachts need somewhere to stay and this is it. The marina is so pricey they wanted $40 a day just to leave our dinghy at their dock. Needless to say we opted to beach it through the surf instead.

Fourth of July came and went almost unnoticed. I surfed Playa Escondida by myself in the morning, caught the bus to Jacó in the afternoon to send use the internet, and returned to Bahia Herradura early in the evening. At eight o’clock the marina shot off some fireworks and I mixed myself a couple drinks, sitting alone in the cockpit and absorbing the beauty of the night.
The next morning I awoke a year older. My twenty-first birthday. I was finally of legal drinking age back home, but since that didn’t matter at the moment I would have rather the day slipped by unnoticed. As it was I awoke in a deeply reflective mood. I thought back over the course of my life and what I had done with it. Tears welled in my eyes as I asked myself what it was I had done to deserve to outlive both my brother, Lance, and his namesake Lance Martin. I couldn’t help but think of how much better my voyage would be with my brother along for the ride, how much more fun I would have with a lively companion and good friend to share each new place and adventure with.
I was grateful to have a couple presents to open to shake these thoughts temporarily from my head. My mother, Carey, had left me with a card when my family flew back home and instructed me to wait till my birthday to open it. (xxx??? Find card to put in anything worthy???xxx) It contained a beautiful short note and sixty dollars for me to “have a fun day with.”
The second gift came from the girls on Swell. On the way back to Avventura after surfing Witches Rock they had handed me a big Ziploc bag with a neatly wrapped present inside and told me to wait till my birthday to open it. I had tucked it into a cabinet out of sight, and when I pulled it out I started with the card. The short note lifted my spirits and brought a smile to my face, and when I turned the single sheet over there was the great Mark Twain quote written out in big block letters. It alone was the perfect gift. The present was a stick of good sunscreen and a small bottle of rum. I appreciated them both, but immediately hoped the girls didn’t have the wrong impression; I’m far from being an alcoholic, though I do enjoy a couple drinks at to help unwind after a long day.
As soon as Ryan woke up I had him give me a ride in and took the bus to town. From there I took a taxi down to Playa Hermosa and surfed the day away. When the wind picked up and the surf became blown out I retreated to the beach (after being stung twice by jellyfish), laid in the hot sand and read. In the late afternoon I returned to Jacó for some lunch before calling home. I watched the sunset from the comfort of Avventua’s cockpit, enjoyed a few beers and the bottle of rum the girls had given me, and was only too happy for the day to end.

Anyone who’s ever traveled outside the United States knows that it goes without saying, football is the world’s favorite sport. By no means is this the hard-hitting American version I speak of, but rather what we yanks call Soccer. It’s pretty telling that a sport the world loves so much we hate enough to call by a completely different name; but alas, even most American kids grow up playing soccer at some point. It is perhaps the only sport where all you need is an open space and a ball, and this convenience helps it attain its popularity in places like Central America. Every place I stopped I found a soccer field, to the point where in French Polynesia each towns soccer field oft occupied the prime oceanfront real estate.
Anyways, on the morning of July 9 Ryan and I took the bus into Jacó to buy some provisions. We planned to leave for a tour of the Gulf of Nicoya the following day and I wanted to stock up on groceries while it was still convenient to do so. As we went about our shopping I started to notice people stopped near the checkstands motionless. Before long the checkers had stopped working and nobody was shopping anymore. I came down the center aisle and saw before me what held everybody transfixed. The World Cup finals was on and time was winding down. Soccer’s Super Bowl had brought a country half a world away to a standstill, and there wasn’t a Costa Rican player on the field as France and Italy squared off.
With the regulation time over and the game knotted at one Ryan and I joined the Ticos in watching the “extra time” unfold. The Italian goalie made a nice save of the Frenchman Zinedine Zidane’s header and more excitement ensued when Zindane, seemingly out of nowhere, head-butted the Frenchman Materazzi in the chest for which the Italian was given a red card and kicked out of the game. As extra time came to an end the score was still tied and the world’s biggest soccer game went into penalty kicks. The first couple kicks were and, and it seemed as if the goalies didn’t even have a chance to stop one. Then, taking France’s second shot, David Trezeguet’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced back. A groan went up throughout the store. Each and every kick that followed went in, and when Italy made the final shot a wild celebration ensued, a cheer went up in the store, and everybody returned to their shopping and work. Only football could bring a supermarket to a standstill in Costa Rica, and I’m glad it did, for it allowed me to witness one of the most thrilling endings in all of sports—a shootout to end the World Cup.

After more than a week in Bahia Herradura I got the itch to move on. The rolly anchorage kept me from getting a good night’s sleep, and though the surf was convenient it was high time for a change of scenery. After a two-day pit stop at the beautiful anchorage of Punta Leona, we weighed anchor early on July 12 and motored north to the famous surfbreak of Boca Barranca. Just outside the town of Puntarenas (the armpit of Costa Rica, as Liz Clark so aptly dubbed it), the long left pointbreak is often crowded, but it doesn’t take more than a couple good waves to make your day.
Dropping anchor outside the break was a bit unnerving because there is no sudden drop-off. Thus, though I anchored a good distance from the break the water was just seventeen feet deep and the swells approaching the boat looked menacing. Once I was sure Avventura would be safe I paddled in. The waves were in the chest-high range and rolling through consistently, and despite the slight onshore wind I had a great time on the long lefts for a full three hours. Towards the end of the session the Ticos began leaving the break and I was left with a handful of beginners, able to catch any and every wave I pleased. The nonstop paddling wore me out fast, and by the time I returned to Avventura I could hardly lift my arms and was cursing myself for not anchoring closer to the break.
Once the anchor was raised we immediately set sail and followed the coastline past Puntarenas and across the gulf. The wind picked up to fifteen knots and before long we were scooting across the flat seas in excess of seven knots. Once past Puntarenas, though, the wind began to die. I took advantage of the opportunity to climb into the dinghy as she was being towed, and snapped a few pictures of Avventura under sail. Almost as soon as I returned on board the wind disappeared, and we were forced to motor the final couple miles to the secluded anchorage at Isla San Lucas.
Isla San Lucas was a long-time Costa Rican penal colony, but in 1991 the inmates were moved to the mainland and the island now lies under the watchful eyes of a Tico family who live in a house near the main building of the prison. The anchorage is very well-protected in a bay surrounded by wild green vegetation with mangroves guarding the east side of the bay. As with many anchorages in the Gulf of Nicoya, thanks to its large tidal range, this one is quite shallow at low tide (9 feet where Avventura sat). Though I spent just one night on the island that was enough to explore all she had to offer. We met the caretaker of the penal colony (who warned us against entering the decaying building), hiked along a series of paths crossing the island, watched a troop of monkeys playing in the trees, circumnavigated the island by dinghy stopping at the various beaches, and opened a few coconuts on the wide sand swath of Playa el Coco. The island is a beautiful place to get away from the filth and grime of Puntarenas, and though just a few miles away feels a world apart.
Just a couple miles away on the west bank of the Gulf of Nicoya sits Playa Naranjo from where a ferry runs daily to Puntarenas. Having been told for weeks to avoid Puntarenas due to the many thieves in the town, and unwilling to attempt the awkward approach described in the cruising guides, I decided against anchoring in town and opted to take the ferry in for a day. Thus we came to anchor in the open bay off Playa Naranjo, once again the only boat in sight.
Behind the thin stretch of sand comprising Playa Naranjo sits the Oasis Paradiso resort. Friendly to cruisers, the resort had no problem with us leaving out dinghy tied to their pier, and let us use an outdoor shower. They also directed us to the ferry pier as hort hike north of the resort, and told us the boat’s schedule. On the 14th of July Ryan and I woke around six and headed ashore. We boarded the 7:30 ferry a half hour early and took seats in the air conditioned bottom deck near a big window overlooking the Gulf. Within an hour we were tying alongside the wharf in the armpit of Costa Rica.
With a few errands to run, my day in Puntarenas was spent wandering about the dirty streets of the town, talking to machine shop workers, dropping off my laundry to be washed, shopping, and finally using the internet. Once I’d finished all I needed to do I walked down the road to the Costa Rica Yacht Club to check out the facilities and anchorage offshore. Unfortunately the club is so secure that a couple gringos couldn’t even gain access. The guard at the gate kept insisting it was a private club, and finally we turned away and headed back towards town along the waterfront facing the Gulf.
A boardwalk runs along the Gulf coast of town at its west end, bordering a popular beach among the locals. Here I passed the afternoon reading as we waited for the ferry back home. Though Puntarenas was home to some tasty Chinese food, I saw no reason to return and think any cruiser is better served taking the ferry from Playa Naranjo than anchoring in the dirty, uber-hot, mosquito-infested bay. I was thrilled to climb back aboard the afternoon ferry and start the trip back to the peace and quiet of Playa Naranjo.
Aside from the ferry and the comforts of the Oasis Paradiso resort, Playa Naranjo provides little of interest for the cruising sailor. Thus the arrival of dawn on the 15th of July saw our departure. The idea was to spend the day surfing Boca Barranca before retreating to a safe anchorage for the night, but after watching the surf (or lack thereof) for fifteen minutes Ryan and I abandoned the idea and cut back across the Gulf bound for Isla Muertos. The trip across the Gulf was made interesting by the various currents which did their best to knock us off course. The big tidal range in the Gulf causes there to be lots of water constantly moving around, and with the tide ebbing the water was flowing out at an alarming rate in strange streaks visible on the otherwise calm surface. Electronic navigation was a huge help in keeping us on course, and preventing us from having to motor back into the teeth of the current. Aside from the currents themselves one must always be on the lookout in the Gulf of Nicoya for various floating objects. Everything from trash to entire trees float past, flushed out the rivers by heavy rains inland. I saw a number of logs and parts of trees bigger than Avventura’s hull float past, and knew it would be downright stupid to be on the Gulf at night.
Despite its grim name, Isla Muertos is a pretty little island separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. The approach to the anchorage between Isla Patricia and the mainland can be quite shallow (my depth-sounder read just 8 feet at one point) at low tide, but the anchorage itself lies in fourteen feet of water over good-holding sand and mud. Watching the shoreline transformed by the tides can be quite spectacular. As we came to anchor at low tide there was a pretty little beach lined by coco palms ashore, but by the time the tide filled in the water went clear up to the tree line and the island looked much less inviting.
One of the guidebooks I had on board raved about the Bahia Luminosa Resort on the mainland here, so after getting settled Ryan and I zipped across the shallow channel and beached the dinghy. To say the resort was a disappointment would be a massive understatement. The swimming pool was half-full of luminescent green water and by the look of things nothing had been tended to in years. It didn’t take long for us to flee the mosquito haven and return by dinghy to the island offshore. We started off circumnavigating the island, and while cruising up its backside I spotted a sailboat heading north. Apparently I was so focused on the sailboat and wondering where it had come from that I missed the end of the island. It wasn’t until the south end of Playa Naranjo came into view that I realized my mistake and turned around, frightfully low on gas. On the way back to Avventura I stopped by to say hello to the new sailboat which, it turned out, was a local family out for the weekend from Puntarenas. They were anchored off a beautiful white sand beach, and before leaving I jumped in to cool off. By the time we reached Avventura we were motoring on fumes.
Another day, another anchorage. By midmorning we had seen enough of Isla Muertos and were bound a few miles down the Gulf for Isla Cedros. We approached the anchorage from the north, passing between Isla Cedros and Isla Jesuita and dropping the hook in an extremely well-protected cove along the west coast of Cedros. Cedros is separated from the mainland by just a few hundred yards and a tall powerline spans the gap, across which monkeys can be seen walking from time to time. Despite the short distance the anchorage is as quiet and peaceful as any I’ve ever visited—the perfect place to come down with a violent illness. But alas, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
A more serene anchorage one would be hard to come by. From where we sat there was not another soul in sight. Mankind was lost to our world. The islands were covered in dense forest and Mother Nature was everywhere putting on a display for us. The calls of birds and monkeys rang out from ashore while pelicans dove for baitfish offshore. Schools of fish could be seen in the murky waters, and every now and then a manta ray would glide past bound for the shallows. Come nightfall the true beauty came. As the sun set over the south end of Isla Jesuita the sky was transformed into an array of vibrant colors the likes of which I’ve never seen. The streaks of clouds were on fire with oranges and pinks and reds, fading to purples and, it even appeared blues. The sunset lingered till the skies above were black, as if unwilling to depart the beautiful setting.
Before my sickness was able to set in I was given a day to explore my surroundings. I leapt into the polluted waters of the Gulf and swam to the base of the cove we were anchored off. Here I crawled ashore beneath a couple hidden and abandoned huts. From the huts an abandoned path cut up into the hillside and wound through the forest. I traveled the trail barefoot, at times stepping over barbed wire, ducking under fallen tree limbs, and at one point climbing over the branches of a fallen thorn-covered tree. Before long I came upon a clearing where a group of huts were built. Through the huts I wandered till I came to a white sand beach. There wasn’t anybody in sight, though a few pangas were anchored offshore in a beautiful cove guarded by rocky islets at its entrance. After a brief swim in the cove I decided to follow the shoreline back around the island. The rocky coastline forced me to swim at times and after making it about a mile I still had no idea where I was or how far I had to go.
When I came across a pair of abandoned shacks and a path leading inland, I followed it back into the forest. Before long I heard voices and saw a family of Ticos seated in front of a shack drinking beers and chatting. A little girls saw me coming and pointed me out to her father, and the entire group looked at me as if I were an alien walking in their midst. Approaching the group, I waved and offered, “Buenos tardes.”
“Buenos tardes,” the paterfamilias returned.
In my sad attempt at Spanish I asked if the path I was on would lead back to the cove I had departed with the abandoned huts, an when I was told it would I thanked the family for their help and continued on my way. I was elated when I made out the form of Avventura through the trees, and upon reaching the boat I collapsed on deck for a quick nap.
Ever-seeking to take full advantage of every day, I awoke from my nap, loaded into the dinghy with Ryan, and we zipped through the narrow channel between islands and crossed to the mainland. We beached the dinghy beside the ferry dock at the town of Paquera and struck off inland along the road towards town. Before long the familiar chatter of monkeys could be heard, and within minutes a massive troop of howler monkeys was leaping from branch to branch atop the trees bordering the road. A power line stretched across the street, and the monkeys used this to pass from one side to the other, all the while calling out to each other and having a gay old time. I admired their free spirits and endless fun, but when a truck stopped beside us offering a ride I forgot all about the monkeys, loaded in its bed, and we were headed to town.
Only when I arrived in town did I realize it was Sunday. As a result the world was closed. No internet; no supermarkets; just a solitary pizza joint. While Ryan sat down to lunch I walked about town. The Ticos were all welcoming and courteous, though the town appeared to have fallen on hard times. The dirt streets coated the houses in a layer of dust and all felt old and decrepit. Nevertheless the football field was bursting with life as the adults gathered for an intense game and the wives and kids gathered to watch and played on the sidelines. After watching the action for a bit and kicking the ball around with a couple kids I met up with Ryan and we returned to the boat.
There isn’t much worse than being sick in the tropics. I awoke in the early morning hours with the chills and a sore throat and knew something was amiss. By daylight I was vomiting, coughing and blowing my nose. A miserable couple days were set to begin. The tropic heat only added to the severity of the alternating chills and heat I felt, and being confined to the boat in such a beautiful locale was hard to bear. As it was I wanted to get well soon, so for two days I laid around Avventura reading, writing and watching DVDs. The only source of illness I could think of was swimming in the polluted waters of the Gulf of Nicoya. The Gulf is fed by numerous rivers which dump their trash and debris into it and carry downstream all sorts of toxic waste from most of northwest Costa Rica. The water is always a greenish-brown at best, but for me staying out of it was out of the question. The heat of the day screamed out for relief.
Other than another short visit to Paquera to use the internet, I spent the remainder of my time at Isla Cedros admiring the beauty of the scene from the decks of my boat. After three miserable nights of sleep I decided the time had come to move on. My sickness was fast abating and my energy was slowly returning. A quick trip back across the gulf, one final day at my favorite Gulf of Nicoya anchorage of Punta Leona, and Avventura found herself back at on the hook in Bahia Herradura.

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