Monday, October 23, 2017

Our Journey Part 3

Friday, October 6th – Still in Tamarindo

When we got up in the morning we had electricity and water, but no cable or internet or access to cell phone towers. We still could not call anything at the airlines. We had breakfast and settled in for another day without much to do. But the heavy rains ended a full day earlier than anticipated, the sun started peeking out from behind dark clouds. It seemed like everyone in town had taken to the muddy streets.

Mid morning I decided to walk over into Villareal proper, to the closest grocery store, one run by a Chinese family that stocked a crazy variety of things. I needed to get Jim a pair of flipflops because his sneakers were still soaked through from the day before. Plus the storm had turned my already dying umbrella into a twisted unusable wreck.

They had shoes for Jim but the only umbrellas bore images of Spiderman, so I passed on the umbrella and bought a raincoat instead. Plus I ended up with something even more valuable – information.

I saw a bus bound for Liberia, even as the news I'd seen in that brief late night one hour return of power said that with the flooding from Nate had displaced people, closed roads, closed public transportation and it would be days before things returned to normal. Most stores and all government offices were closed.

I talked to the bus driver very briefly and he told me that his bus line was up and running and another bus going to Liberia would be by in an hour. If I could just get to Liberia I thought I could hop a bus to the capital and the airport.

Stupid, stupid me, I actually believed him, not knowing that the major road I needed, Ruta 1, was closed at many points. I ran home and Jim and I went into a frenzy of repacking after finally getting enough hot water to shower with for the first time in 48 hours.

We got to the bus stop, even as we had to do the wade through water with our suitcases on our heads again. There in plenty of time to catch the bus to Liberia. But the lady at the ticket office said that the bridge was still out near Filidelphia so there were no direct bus going to Liberia. There was a bus heading south to Santa Cruz and from there we would be able to catch a bus going south on the Nicoya peninsula through Punta Arenas and due east to San Jose and the airport.

We saw the bus in the distance making the turn onto the road to Tamarindo. All we had to do was wait, when the bus picked up its passengers in Tamarindo it would swing back here and pick us up and we'd be on our way.

That never happened. After waiting about 45 minutes we got word that a huge tree had fallen, taking out the electrical lines with it, across the main road to and from Tamarindo. The bus was not coming and Tamarindo was cut off again.

While we were waiting at the bus stop taxi-driving, semi-swindling, ever-hustling and karma victim Gus came along on 3 different times, wanting us to hire him to drive us to Santa Cruz. Each time he circled by he shouted out cheaper and cheaper prices. We ended up getting into someone else's cab in front of him, sharing it with two of the Germans teaching at the local private school.

But when we got to Santa Cruz we found one of the bus lines was still closed and heard about more washed out bridges and a landslide with a rock the size of a small mountain right in the middle of Ruta 27 to San Jose.

We talked a long time to the people at a rival bus company who told us about the lack of roads and road closures. They put us on a bus towards the Liberia airport, figuring if we got to an airport we might be able to switch our tickets to fly out of Liberia. I was told it would be a minimum of a week before there was any hope of the roads to San Jose opening again.

Liberia is only an hour away, but we witnessed scenes of great devastation in that hour, houses with three and four feet of water surrounding them, floating bobbing cars and landslides being cleared away with heavy machinery. The bus had to stop many times and it crawled through mud and flood.

Arriving at the airport around 2:30 pm (after leaving the house at 11:00 am) we found that the only flights out had already left for the day. There was not a soul at the ticket counters. But, where there's a will, there is a way. We and four other people spent the night at the airport in hopes of being the first in line to score a ticket and fly out the next day. The only nearby hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn had sold out every room to other travelers stranded by the storm.

No comments: