Bribri Reservation and a Sunset Ride on Playa Negra
This morning Rayna and I had a tour scheduled in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca at 8:30, so there was no time to sleep in! After the twenty minute drive to Puerto Viejo (about 14 km) we stopped at a small cafe in the hopes of finding some good, albeit strong, coffee. Little did we know what an oasis we had stumbled upon!
Bread and Chocolate is located in the heart of town and the smell of fresh, French-press coffee and homemade breads beckoned us. Beyond the coffee, which I knew would be great based solely on the aroma, their fresh sesame seed bagels were delicious, especially when toasted and spread with cream cheese. YUM. The personable staff complimented the great menu and atmosphere, so we knew we would be back to sample their homemade chocolate treats.
Just a few minutes across town, Puerto Viejo Tours offers a wide arrange of excursions including trips to Gondola and Manzanillo, tropical bird watching, white water rafting, surfing lessons and canopy tours, to name but a few. Though all of their tours sounded like fun, Rayna and I were excited about their Bribri (an indigenous tribe) Reservation tour. Our guide, Boogy-Boogy, was great and almost completely bi-lingual; however, since most of the others on the tour spoke Spanish, it was conducted almost exclusively in that language. While I don't speak Spanish, I understood the main concepts and relied on Rayna to fill in the gaps.
The Bribri Reservation is south of Puerto Viejo. On the twenty minute van ride we passed many a banana plantation. Once we were out of the van, we followed Boogy-Boogy across a foot bridge which could have used a few new boards. (Actually, avoiding spots where the boards had split only added to the adventure!) A little hike through the jungle led us to the house of an indigenous Bribri family.
While we listened to the head of the family, many other members of the family did the same. No doubt it was a talk they must have heard a hundred times already and, yet, a grandmother, grandchild and three teenagers in a hammock all seemed as engrossed in the story as we were.
Our host talked a little about the history of his people and their current struggles and concerns. They are a happy, family-loving people with a strong sense of community. However, what he seemed most interested in communicating to us was how close the Bribri live with nature. This we witnessed firsthand as chicks, kittens, puppies, adult dogs and birds all roamed the open-air living space while we sat listening. After about twenty minutes it was time to leave. We thanked our host for taking the time to talk to us and waved goodbye to the family which has, undoubtedly, seen many a tour come and go from their "living room" before.
Adventure number two on this extraordinary tour consisted of a short hike which crossed a few small rivers leading to the Volio waterfall. Along the hike, Boogy-Boogy pointed out some tiny, brilliant red tree frogs, lots of cicada carcasses, lizards, some brightly colored mushrooms and, then, we saw our destination. The beautiful waterfall nestled in the jungle produced a cool breeze. I had a great time swimming in the small pool at the base of the waterfall and following Boogy-Boogy's detailed instructions on how to climb up into the falls so I could jump into the pool from above. We had a blast!
Once back in Puerto Viejo, Rayna and I rushed back to Cahuita for a sunset horseback ride on Playa Negra! Brigitte's horses are beautiful, healthy, strong and FAST! If you ride, you know that feeling when your horse shifts gears into a full gallop. Well, these horses shifted with little persuasion and seemed to love the ride as much as we did. Galloping along that gorgeous beach at sunset, splashing along the water's edge - there is no topping that for me. The sides of my mouth actually began to ache from the huge smile I was incapable of wiping off my face! It was a perfect ride.
Before checking out of Brigitte's Place, Rayna and I had a chance to sit and talk with Swiss-born owner, Brigitte Abegglen who has been in business for over twenty years. She has two small rooms as well as a couple cabanas for rent. In addition, her restaurant serves breakfast all day. Brigitte's main business and real interest, however, are her horses and the riding tours she offers. She raised most of her eight horses herself and thus they are rider-friendly.
We just checked into the Hotel Yare which is on the south side of Puerto Viejo. Our little cabana is comfortable and the big beds are extending us an invitation which is impossible to refuse!