This morning we got up early and headed to Alamo to pick up our ride. They gave us the smallest possible SUV known to man, a Suzuki Jimmy. They told us that if you want to go to Mal Pais you have to take a 4×4. So we hopped in our ride that we named “Bad Betty” went back to the hotel, packed, ate breakfast and we were on our way. We wanted to take the coastal route because we thought it would be a lot more fun seeing all the beaches and it would make the day more of an adventure. We got more than we had asked for.
Driving through the dirt roads was a hassle. It was like driving through a minefield, we couldn’t even have a conversation because I was so concentrated on avoiding the gigantic potholes that covered the roads. If it wasn’t potholes it was the numerous rivers, or ponds that also created roadblocks. Or better yet a stampede of bulls, or a group of vultures picking at a dead monkey. Yup we saw a lot. We even saw a monkey crossing the road. Only in Costa Rica. Even though there was a lack of signage and our map was pretty much no use what so ever we made it to the half way point – Playa Samara. After a quick lunch on the beach we were back on the road. This is when things got interesting.
The road quality quickly deteriorated and now instead of driving through small creeks, we had to drive through actual rivers. Every time I had to get out of the car and walk through to make sure Bad Betty wouldn’t sink. We would put her in four wheel drive, get a running start and once we were in the water we would hold our breathe and slam on the gas. The first couple were not that bad. Then we pulled up to a river that was about 25m wide and about 2ft deep. Now I was worried. But never the less Bad Betty made it across. I was starting to stress every time we were near a river. After a bit more driving and getting lost, we came to a fork in the road. We knew we had to go right because going left meant heading in the opposite direction than we needed to go. So we marched forward conquering a few more giant mud puddles among the way and then it happened. We stopped on a river bank. Except this time I knew for sure that there was no way we were making it across. We couldn’t even see where the road continued on the other side. We were sure we took a wrong turn and with no GPS or other gadgets on hand, we turned back. The worst part was that we were only 15km from our destination.
Now we were about seven hours into a journey that should have only been about four, according to google maps. For the next three hours we drove around trying to find a detour, but the only possibility was to keep driving away from our destination. Whenever we found a side road and asked a local if the way was correct, we would try driving but the roads were too much for Bad Betty and we would have to turn around. At one point we actually almost drove over a pedestrian bridge.
With nightfall quickly approaching and our frustration increasing we had to make a decision. We knew we didn’t want to spend the night trying to traverse steep, slippery and narrow winding mountain roads so we called Kurt in Tamarindo and told him that we needed our room. After about another 30 minutes we made it to the main highway and two hours later we were back in Tamarindo. Making it back from our eight hour journey in two hours was frustrating but also a relief.
This was by far the most stressful day of our trip. If anyone watches the British Top Gear, I would describe it as the episode when the guys have to drive their trucks off a barge and through the dense South American Jungle. Not cool.
We are also displeased that Alamo would rent us a car that wasn’t even able to make it to our destination. Not Cool!
The last photo is a Google Map screenshot of where we couldn’t cross. We came up in the left side and the pin is where the road supposedly continue.