In the base town of Boquete we quickly found out a lot of things were closed because it was the low season but we spotted an ATV and Jeep business with two foreign looking guys outside. We stopped to get the low down on the volcano as we had read that you could drive most of the way up it. They said yes you could if you came in one of their trucks for… get this $150US EACH, or he said we could leave our truck safely with him and he could drop us off at the base of the track 10km away for…. $25 EACH ahahah a taxi for 10km is usually about $5 TOTAL. He finished by saying that there's no way we could get our truck past the huge rocks at the start of the track/rangers station and that if we left it on the road we would come back to nothing because of the "indians up there, they don't have a wheel wrench but it doesn't matter you still won't have tyres when you get back". He put the hibijibis up us a bit but we decided to take a look for ourselves; turns out the "huge rocks" were something only a hatch couldn't get over and the ranger station was empty. It was a peaceful spot so we decided to camp there for the night and see what happened. We took a walk up the track and decided we couldn't risk driving it and getting stuck with out our 4x4 working. That left walking up, but after reading about Corcovado National park in Costa Rica and the thick cloud around us we chose to give the climb a miss and continue for Costa Rica early in the morning. During our time at the volcano it felt perfectly safe and we met one couple who were leaving their car on the road for a 12am climb so the guys story about indians was as bullshit as his prices, come on we have spent nine months on the road we know what things should cost. Who are indians anyway I'm sure the locals don't call themselves that…
The next day was border crossing day so we were up at 5am and headed north. At the border things were a mess as usual, guys trying to help you for money, no signs or obvious order and as usual everyone thinking we are from Chile and yelling 'Chile' or 'Chileno' at us. It was really the same as any other border but a long way from the simple five minute crossings between southern Chile and Argentina; you get the photo copies, the insurance, some stamps, some more stamps, they hardly even look at your vehicle and then you go. Then it was back on the road for 140km to Puerto Jiménez the town that sits at the entrance to Corovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. Lucky we arrived early as getting a park ticket was no easy task. First we found the park office reserved a camp spot and a two day pass. But then we couldn't get the tickets ($48US total) until we had paid, but due to some bureaucratic anti corruption efforts we can't pay at the park office. Instead the lady circles five places we can pay on a hand drawn map. One place tells us the person with a bank account is out of town today so they can't do it, another says they can do it but the transaction cost is $20US! the next one says he has no money in his account to do it and finally the last place tells us they can do it for $5US. We're still not sure what they did possibly some sort of online transfer. Then once the park office had reopened after their extended lunch break we get our tickets and continued down the road to the park entrance.
For our last day in Costa Rica we had been recommended the La Paz Waterfall gardens which were well worth the visit. We spent from 9am until 4:30pm there and even had the buffet lunch. It was our first buffet lunch on the trip and we must have looked like the hungriest people there after polishing off three servings each! The wildlife was also fantastic especially seeing the big cats just after feeding time. The day wasn't over yet though, we crammed in one last thing, a swim at the Tabacon Hot Springs. We arrived at 6pm for the start of the cheaper night pass and soon after were relaxing in the thermal waters. The luxurious pools were formed from a large thermal stream so although there were individual pools they were sand bottomed and shrouded by exotic tropical ferns and trees, joined by small waterfalls. The bathing areas were interconnected by paved paths that snaked there way through the jungle which gave you an experience just moving between the intimate pools. To top it all off there were several large hot waterfalls where if you were brave you could climb into gaps behind the strong flow.
Rochelle & Will