Catching up with our Costa Rica scouting week team on their fourth day of paddling in Costa Rica was like entering into a marathon in the last third of the race-when everyone has found their stride. This was particularly true given that plans changed while en route to Costa Rica to Plan B: Plan A being to head over to the costa to do some reconnoitering for our Class III trips. But landing in San Jose in torrential rains was the first hint that things were not as they should be. And then hearing the news that the west coast of Costa Rica was suffering an unseasonable flood clinched the deal and it was worked out that I would meet up with the boys.
Starting the day at 6AM is a lot easier here in Costa Rica because of the fact that daylight comes bright and early: 5:24AM when the sun pops wide open with no pretense of easing into dawn. Fortunately we started the morning out with the Costa Rican “tipico” breakfast—gallo pinto, delicious black beans & rice & eggs that is to our body what filling your gas tank with premium petrol is all about.
Fully tanked (and diet coke in hand) we headed out for a three-river day. For starters there was a warm up on the middle section of the Balsa (hopes were high for the Upper Class IV section, but water levels deterred us on that one). The Balsa is a good reminder that you are in a whole different type of paddling when in Costa Rica; departing the put in and not until about three miles downstream did we finally encounter an eddy to stop in. Fast and fun water. We zipped downstream so quickly that the sound of a monkey chattering on shore registered with us only after passing the spot where it was probably hanging out.
From the Balsa we headed to the San Lorenzo. It has been several years since we last paddled the San Lorenzo due to some big time flooding that had scoured the river. But today was awesome with pretty blue water and a shore line littered with iguanas and toucans. At one point we floated by a tree that had a toucan chattering away in the tree, with toucanitas (little toucans) flying away from the tree, and a group of parakeets circling above. Wow!!The San Lorenzo and the Balsa come together and form the San Carlos river—which if you continue downstream you can eventually wind up in Nicaragua.
To top off an already great day of work we headed to the Rio Toro. Rumored to have once had the most gorgeous gorge in all of Costa Rica, the Toro has been the victim of one dam already, and a second power plant in the works. Fortunately, a gorgeous deep canyon waterfall infested Class IV run is still a fantastic run; and a good way of calling it a day.
Well, almost a day–we still had a drive to the hotel ahead of us, broken up with a stop at one of the incredible open-air restaurants along the route for a dinner and an Imperial beer.