Saturday, November 27, 2021

[LIBERIA] Trekking La Leona in Boxers and Flip Flops

Liberia was not really on the itinerary but considering how challenging it has been to find cheap flights or even just a flight to and from Nicaragua, it seemed to me that the only option left was to fly to Costa Rica and take the bus from there. Finding a $100 flight from New York to Liberia on jetBlue, I didn’t need a lot of convincing to book it given how it usually costs so much more. Landing in Liberia means painting Guanacaste on my Costa Rica map red. Now I’m left with just Alajuela and Heredia to paint the entire country velvet.

Despite spending four nights, the only plan for Liberia was to chill. I saw two movies on two consecutive nights in a cinema at the practically empty Plaza Liberia. I also booked a half day tour for my last day. I wanted to go to Rincón de la Vieja but since it would require 6-8 hours of my day, I had to say no. Luckily, there was a half day tour available for La Leona Waterfall. Waterfalls. Okay, fine. This would be better than nothing, I guess. It would turn out to be the most fun I’ve had in a while.

The driver who picked me up downtown looked at my Ipanema flip flops and told me it was prohibited. I had to clarify if it was a regulation of the park or if it was a suggestion coming from the tour agency. He confirmed the latter. Since I am used to hiking on slippers anyway, I shrugged it off and we drove away to the rendezvous point which was a mere 20-minute drive from downtown. There we waited for around 20 minutes for the other participants of the tour.

I booked my tour via Viator but the tour agency is Guanaverde. They will give you a dry bag and orient you on how to use it. This is vital for whatever you are bringing for the daytrip. I thought, shit, why the dry bag? All along I thought I would just be getting off the car, walk a little, and take photos of that waterfall. Surprise, life is not that easy. Apparently, there was some hiking and swimming involved. Wait, what? Swimming? I did bring a pair of boxers in case getting wet was on the menu, but I thought I would be wearing them on my own volition. Apparently, it is a must to get to the waterfall.

Once complete, you hop on an SUV to get to the entrance of the park which is around 10 minutes of driving down and up some dirt paths. There you will find a nipa hut or two where you leave everything you have to take off, mostly clothes and your towel. In the end, all that was placed in the dry bag were my wallet, keys, sunglasses, belt, and face mask. I then stripped down to nothing but boxers and the safety vest, with phone in hand while the guide carried the dry bag.

Most people actually come in swimwear or shorts and a shirt. This is recommended because you will be trekking in the jungle and crossing some streams and rivers. Your skin will come in contact with various flora and who knows what fauna would be waiting there for you. In our case I only saw a blue dragonfly and two butterflies. Wherever the poisonous reptiles were that day is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the sight of my shipwreck survivor physique didn’t feel too appealing for them to consider me as their lunch. Did I just get body shamed by picky reptile predators?

The highlight of the trek is reaching that part of the river with a strong downward current. You have to cling to a rope or swim upstream if you are strong enough to get to the waterfall itself. Once there, it’s a perpetual drizzle and just the sound of water hitting the pool below. The waterfall is not that big and you have to take turns with other tourists to take your selfie. The pool is not that deep but full of uneven rocks which makes slipping and hitting whatever part of your body coming in contact with the ground first a highly likely possibility.

Since I was wearing flip flops, because seriously who wears flip flops to hikes like this, I stubbed my big toe twice. The third time involved a cracked nail and minor bleeding as my slippers abandoned my feet. Fortunately, the guide caught both. Otherwise, it would have been a painful barefoot trek back to civilization. Lesson learned: wear appropriate footwear for Indiana Jones adventures like this one unless you want to get hurt. My big toe is fine now. Was the trip hectic? Yes. Was it exciting and fun? Hell yes. At least that’s something memorable I’ll remember both Guanacaste and Liberia by.

[LIBERIA] Trekking La Leona in Boxers and Flip Flops

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