Heredia -> Orotina (via the old road) -> Puntarenas -> Playa Naranjo (by ferry)
We started our descent in a light rain and hardly noticed as it changed into a downpour because we were entranced by the rare and spectacular resplendent quetzal we spotted. By the time we ran into the road construction (perhaps it would be better to refer to it as road destruction) 25 km outside of Orotina, there was a river flowing in the roadbed and the sun was headed down.
Without the construction, which consisted of tearing the surface off of 20 km of road then abandoning it, we would have cruised into Orotina just at dusk, tired but happy after a very long but satisfying day.
There was no turning back because we had just dropped about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of elevation, so we ploughed into it. The mud exposed by the removal of the road surface was sticky and deeply rutted. It clung tenaciously to our tires eventually clotting up in the brakes and around the frame racks and panniers grinding us to a halt.
We slowed from a 35-km per hour pace to about 10 and sunset caught us over an hour from anywhere.
We carried lights, but nothing like the twenty pound spotlights we would have needed to cut through the rain and illuminate the track clearly enough to ride with any confidence. We picked our way through gullies and around erosion exposed boulders half by feel and half by instinct.
We didn’t see a single car and there was nothing but forest along either side. By the time we literally felt our way across a rickety old suspension bridge and up the last hill to Orotina, we were coated in mud and grit, exhausted beat up and scared silly.
It probably would have been fun in the daylight with fresh legs.
From Orotina it was an easy, paved, sun drenched 50 km of rolling hills to Puntarenas where we loaded onto the ferry for the crossing to Playa Naranjo on the Nicoya Peninsula.
We had visited the Oasis del Pacifico in on the beach just east of the ferry terminal in 1996 and knew that we had a treat waiting for us when we disembarked. The food is influenced by the Philippine heritage of half the couple who own it, the king size mattresses are replaced regularly, the deep sea fishing is one or two on a boat, the pool is Olympic and surrounded by flowers that attract dozens species of birds, and the hammocks swing longer there.
And, in case you’re planning a trip you should know that their rates are low enough that we could afford to eat well after paying for the room even on a budget of $50 a day for two people.