Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


From the City to the Jungle

The satellite readings were quite often "very good" indicating that WAAS was enabled.
We traveled the East-West highway toward Tortuguero on the Caribbean side of the country, passing through an incredible rain forest on the way. From atop cliffs 200 foot waterfalls thundered right next to the road as if we were crossing through river rapids. The PK said we were traveling around 35 kilometers per hour, slow enough for me to hear things outside the van. I was marking all these neat points for the next person that came through. Our Guide, Guido, said he had another blind client recently named Thomas from Boston. Between my mediocre Spanish and Guido's English, we communicated quite nicely.
We learned that the coffee plantations must be grown at altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters. The beans are being picked this time of year, all by hand. The workers earn about $1.00 per hour.
The PK tells me the rain forest is in the 600 meter altitude range.
I am happy when the local food is something to look forward to rather than something to endure. Our first meal of Costa Rican food was at a cafe along the highway replete with trucks honking and an air wrench at a service station. Their Spanish word for a mixed rice and beans meal is "casados" or married. You can have casados with the addition of salsa, chicken, beef or fish.
Back in the van and an hour later, I was jolted from my after-meal reverie by a familiar ringing sound at the same time that we bounced on to a dirt road. So, here we were, flying along a graveled pot-holed road at 50 kph, and I get a cell phone call from Charles to tell me that he has made a major break through in the Keysoft 6.1 GPS version. I could hardly hear him the rattling of the van was so loud. It was such a world of contrasts. We were talking about software on a mobile phone with a $6000 piece of electronics on my lap and Charles was speaking from his office in California. I was in the midst of a banana plantation in Costa Rica. Off to the left, monkeys were swinging through the tree tops and egrets were scattering in advance of out our vehicle.
Mike using the BrailleNote PK on the boat
Readings: Continuing Thursday, departing from Cano Blanco, destination Pachira Lodge, 528 pm central time, conveyance a 20 foot speed boat, very good 7 satellites, heading NW 300 degrees, altitude, sea level, 39 kph.
A friend of mine took this very same trip a year ago. As the guide pointed out a crocodile emerging from the bank a few feet away from the boat. My friend suddenly found himself in the water. The boat had struck a log and ejected him and one other person into the river. He said he wasn't too concerned, the water was warm, until he remembered the crocodile a short distance away. Although the guide insists they have a special taste for North Americans, my friend was rescued with no serious harm.
I was feeling very nervous with the PK around my neck as I thought of my friend's dunking and the distinct possibility that the heavens could open up with torrents of rain any moment.
To make things even more challenging, we were going up the river in the dark. The motor was too loud to hear crocodiles or other animals. Our speed had dropped to 15 kph. My wife said the only light to be seen was the eerie blinking of my Bluetooth receiver blue status light. A world of contrasts. She termed this adventure up the river, "spooky cool", which I would agree with as long as we kept avoiding the stumps. It was weird to picture how the GPS satellites could pinpoint one's position whether in Manhattan or up the river in Costa Rica. 10 degrees, 25 minutes, 25.252 seconds North, 83 degrees, 27 minutes, 27.414 seconds West. Because there were no tall buildings out there, only tall trees, the accuracy was around ten feet, close enough to find me if I got ejected from the boat.
After an hour and a half or so, we pulled into the dock at the Pachira Lodge. I was dry, relieved to have had no mishaps, and inspired by the adventure.

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