Today my heart nearly exploded on the camino Costa Rica according to my Apple Watch tracking my heart rate. The culprit- shadeless high heat, humidity and at times a near vertical walk on a seemingly endless mountain road.
What happened I ask myself? This road started out as a paved highway. On google maps the road is designated as road 403. So why go from asphalt to a rocky road to a 4×4 trail before becoming a navigable mountain stream?
Just like the camino Costa Rica- a work in progress.
Today we walked stage seven of el camino de Costa Rica while Conchita in her trusty caballo blanco Mitsubishi 4×4 followed and at times led us after rescuing yet another injured pilgrim. She credits her 4x4s vehicles ability to climb but, I know better. Not anyone without off road driving experience can come out unscathed at the other end as she just did.
So, whom might you ask ask is Conchita? Possibly about as close as one can ever get to the original founders of the camino Costa Rica.
In 1982 it was Don Valiña Sampedro Elias’ idea to mark the entire camino de Santiago (Spain) with yellow arrows, a part he energetically took a part in. Elias’ camino project was made easy once pilgrims could find their “way” by simply following yellow arrows. The donated yellow paint came from the Spanish highway department.
In 1984 about 1,000 pilgrims walked the full camino de Santiago. After the movie “The Way” came out in 2004, over 300,000 pilgrims walked the Camino and now the numbers are staggering.
Conchita and her nonprofit group Mar a Mar (caminocostarica.org) are working hard to make this camino another tourism beacon for Costa Rica bound pelegrinos looking for the adventure of a lifetime, by walking from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean.
Coast to coast walking that the average intermediate hiker should be able to complete within roughly a two week timeframe.
Of course you will still need a guide through indigenous lands and starting real soon several camino multi day tour options become available through local tour guides such as Via Lig Tours) Fincavialig.com.
So, if my heart truly would’ve exploded then not to worry, at home my recently acquired Compostela sits after recently walking the camino de Santiago. A Compostela issued in Santiago allows one to bypass the purgatory period before being allowed to enter heaven.
A similar passport is being tested on us now on el camino de Costa Rica. It is made entirely out of biodegradable paper. So far it is holding up to Costa Rica rainy season quite well. Mine is well secured in a zip locked bag.
This camino will never become a walk in the park or ever fail to challenge you. One of our pilgrims during my camino injured her knee while walking through indigenous jungle lands. A mere two hundred floors of up and down jungle trail climbing. So, are you up to the challenge? In my opinion anyone fresh off the camino in Spain that walked their way from France to Finisterre is capable.
According to my Apple watch today we tackled 215 floors climbed, 16.3 miles of walking and over 30,000 steps taken. The high humidity and full sun took it’s toll on us, plus the rocky road did a fine job of tenderizing our feet.
Amazing vistas at the top but, did I die getting up the mountain.
Well then – it was just another adventure.
The trail now throws at us more sugar cane fields, the river down below and truly amazing scenery all about. Past Cipal there is another long climb.
We just finished lunch atop a mountain top cooked fresh by Armando. Homegrown skewered mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, and pineapple. On a separate aluminum wrapped offering was a larger than normal mushroom stuffed with locally grown cheese.
Another side dish-offering included a ripe plantain banana about a foot long and stuffed with cheese. Lunch dessert was a pineapple slice soaked in a homemade juice, charcoal fire smoked to perfection. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you you can easily carry your own lunch.
“Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,
nor hankering after an imagined past.
It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness that seems as
transitory as your youth once,
but, is the eternity that awaits you.”
– R S Thomas