Up the rich coast

Cahuita: We take the morning boat and then bus to the border, crossing a rickety bridge with alarmingly loose planks, across no-man’s land to Costa Rica, on foot. There, we take part in the border bureaucracy charade of paying $12 for a fake bus ticket to the capital, San José, because immigration refuses to stamp our passports without one.

Hanging in the beach mangroves opposite our guesthouse. He's definitely smiling

We board a half-empty bus to Limon, which rumbles through tens of kilometres of banana plantations – a green, star carpet monoculture for the Chiquita company, interspersed with villages of timber-clad stilted houses.

Where the creek meets the sea

In a short time, we reach the coast and travel up as far as the village of Cahuita. It’s a laid-back place with kids playing ping-pong on fold-up tables on the unpaved main street, music streaming out of verandas, shutters open to catch the breeze and a couple of skinny dreaded guys selling weed. The village is so laid-back that when we reach the guest-house we phoned earlier, the place is deserted. We hang around a while waiting, but from it’s boarded up-appearance, it looks like the owners might be away some time.

Iguanas sunbathe in the tree tops

We stroll up and down despondently, finding affordable shacks in mosquito-infested swamps or very expensive, air-con sterility. Eventually, we bite the bullet and go for a more expensive option set in lovely gardens next to a national park and the ocean.

Little snake on a handrail

There’s a hummingbird nest outside our window, iguanas and sloths in the trees and a gecko in our room. This morning, we woke to the calls of howler monkeys. A nice place to spend Christmas.

A blue heron

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