Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Logbook: New Year 2007

Newyear2007It’s been a great New Year’s weekend on The Voyage. First, the normally boring bus ride back from San Jose on Friday was made more interesting by a four hour delay. About half way, right in the middle of the narrow, winding two-land road that works its way down the mountains from the high plateau to the coast, the bus came to a stop in a line of cars as far as we could see. After sitting on the the full bus for about half an hour, the driver opened the door and some of us got out for a stretch and a look around. Between the people who were walking up and down the road, the animated cell phone conversations and the entrepreneurs who showed up to sell refreshments, it was quite a scene. There was much chatter about what had happened, but most of it was lost on me due to my ongoing inability to follow the rapid-fire Spanish. I was able to catch the words “truck” and “car” so I figured it was a pile-up of some kind. Sure enough, after about four hours of waiting around we started moving and eventually crossed a bridge that had obviously been completely blocked by three trucks and a car which had tangled. One of the trucks had gone over the side and prompted much excitement from my fellow passengers. We passed stopped traffic for miles, and I can’t imagine how long it must have taken for the whole thing to eventually clear up.

Back in Limon, I was advised not to pursue my trip to Tortuguero due to the fact that the turtles are “out of season” and there wouldn’t really be anything to see. So, I decided to skip it and happily spent Saturday and Sunday around town. As Sunday evening -- New Year’s Eve -- rolled around, the town began yet another transformation as it closed up, boarded up and pretty much shut down in a matter of minutes. For a while it was very quiet -- almost eerie -- and I stayed in for dinner at my hotel. As time went on, people began taking to the streets, fireworks started going off and spontaneous combustion of human energy ensued. I kept my distance from the center of things by hanging out with the night crew of my hotel. In our combined broken “Spanglish” we communicated about what was going on and I learned that Limon is well known for New Year’s craziness.

By the time midnight rolled around, the noise was deafening, cars were careening through the streets with horns blaring, the fire department rolled out with sirens wailing and, in general, the scene could have been mistaken for some kind of war zone. My little group hung together, toasted the New Year and had a good time of our own. The mayhem continued until about one o’clock when rain started pouring down and put a damper on things. Yesterday morning I was up pretty early and went for a walk to survey the aftermath. The entire town was still closed up tight, trash filled the streets everywhere and well more than the usual number of people were sleeping on the sidewalks. It was fabulous! The rest of the day was obviously one of recovery, but by last night the town seemed to be back to “normal.”

My New Year’s in Limon was not the “biggest” in my life -- Times Square in NY still holds that title -- but it was certainly one of the most memorable! Tomorrow I will embark on the MV Discovery, so I am making final preparations to leave Costa Rica, Central America and even the land itself. I am looking forward to my upcoming sea journeys and all the exploration that 2007 will have to offer. My very best wished to everyone in the New Year from The Voyage of Macgellan!

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