Thursday, 20 February 2014

Feliz Cumpleaños a Mí - A Trip to Catarata Llanos del Cortes.

I suppose I should really start by saying it was DH's birthday ten days ago, and it was a BIG ONE!!!! 

Photo: Felíz cumpleaños dear Stella Browning and lots of chocolate to youuuuu !!!!

Sole xx
Cake made by Sole.

Funny how things have changed over the years: before we met, DH celebrated his 21st with a surprise party and a stripper; then for his 30th, he was lucky enough to have another surprise party, this time thrown by me, but no stripper; for his 40th we had  a family weekend away to Mallorca along with his brothers.  And this Big Birthday? Installing a kitchen followed by a BBQ with the carpenter, his son and apprentice as well as Jose, the builder, his wife and granddaughters!

These two little girls certainly kept ES and YS on their toes!

Then last Sunday was my birthday. No milestone for me though this year. Nevertheless, for my treat, we packed up a picnic, some Pepsi's and a few cold beers and took a trip to another waterfall, this time further afield between Liberia and Bagaces. We had been told that it was only a few hundred meters past the bridge at Liberia, but it turns out that it is more like 20km south of the city. 

Catarata Llanos del Cortes

No 'tourist sign' or 'brown sign' like in the UK, to direct you to this hidden gem. Instead, along the Pan-American Highway, "Catarata Llanos del Cortes" is marked by a small hand-painted wooden sign. Naturally, we missed the sign and drove further along to Bagaces, where we stopped and asked a petrol-pump attendant which way we should be heading. 

Quick u-turn and we were back on our way. Turned left at the 'sign', down a dusty dirt track, along with one other lone vehicle, packed to the brim with Tico's. At the gated entrance, we were greeted with a "Pura Vida", the obligatory phrase uttered by the locals - meaning 'Pure Life' - and a hand-written note asking for donations for the school. Dutifully, we deposited a couple of dollars into the grubby hands of the dreadfully smelly man; looking back, however, no school was actually visible in the immediate vicinity! Oh well I am sure our donation was put to good use somewhere. 

A little further on, we arrived at the car park and the universally vital high-vis jacketed attendant directed us to a vacant spot, although the place was pretty much empty. Grabbing our belongings, we followed the unmade rocky path down towards the sound of the gushing water.

The Precipitous Pathway.

When we reached the bottom, we were surprised to find a secluded sandy beach, shaded by beautiful trees, with howler monkeys high above guarding their territory. Apparently not many tourists know of this beauty spot, but I would hazard a guess that today the area was populated by an equal number of Tico's and Gringo's; not many of either though as we easily found a cool, shady space to settle in and relax for the afternoon. 

Firstly we munched on our grub, whilst watching a school of tiny little fish devour the breadcrumbs that the boys were feeding to them. To myself I am thinking "Oh God please don't let these starving fish be piranhas." But then my rational side kicks in and my fears are eased somewhat when I spy a couple of Tico toddlers paddling close-by, (piranhas are surely not picky when it comes to nationality are they??). Of course then my mind goes into overdrive, and I can see crocs hiding in the bushes and anacondas gliding upstream, all waiting to attack; it wouldn't surprise me if 'Jaws' made an appearance too!

Anacondas, Crocodiles and Piranhas. All there, hiding!!

YS and I then  headed for the cool and refreshing water. Delicious. Crystal clear in the shallow bits, so much so that you could see fish darting about, but dark and threatening in the few deep ares of the pool (Stop! That's enough of those ridiculous thoughts! This is real life, not some B-rated movie!). 

We headed for the cascade; neither of us have been behind a waterfall before. For the first time in months, I actually felt cold! The spray from the streaming shower was incredible; the force with which the water falls is immense. YS and I were drenched from the deluge. The rocks were seriously slippy, but we managed to scramble to a parapet and watch the merrymakers through the curtain of water: absolutely wonderful! 

Scrambling to Safety.

Looking Out from Behind the Water.

Taking a Shower.

A few young men full of bravado, perhaps trying to impress their girlfriends, jumped off the nearby rocks into the pool below. A couple of teenage girls attempted the jump too, but ultimately were not brave enough, and instead slid awkwardly into the water.

The boys then decided it was time for exploring the locality. Somehow, they found their way to the top of the waterfall, about 30 metres up, where they found the land was surprisingly flat and full of fields. Being boys, they roamed around a bit until they found themselves at the summit of the shoots, whereby they climbed along the exposed edge, getting a fantastic areal view of the place - meanwhile giving me palpitations! 

Can you spot the boys?

They are at the Top.

By about 4.00pm, the vendor at the little makeshift stall that has been selling ceviche and other snacks all day, starts packing up ready to go. Because the gates close at 5.00pm, other people start to follow his lead and pack up their belongings too, as do we. Although a shady ascent back to the car, the Pipa Frias that are being sold by the car-park attendants daughter are a welcome refreshment when we get to the top.

So Happy Birthday to Me. A great day had by all I think. Topped off by a beautiful sunset on the drive home.

Another Birthday Over. 


Steve said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'll definitely be taking my family here very soon!

stella B said...

My pleasure Steve. I hope you enjoy the waterfall as much as we did.