After loading Anjuli on the M/V Happy Dover in Golfito, Costa Rica, it was time to get ourselves and the boat cat, Kitt, up to Victoria, British Columbia. The Happy Dover was scheduled to arrive in BC on June 30 so we had some time to kill. We rented a car in Golfito from Solid Rental Car and headed out. It was a Ssangvong Korando – a Chinese-made compact SUV. Who knew China made such nice cars? I sure didn’t.
First stop was Wilson Botanical Gardens, the most famous botanical gardens in Central America, near the town of San Vito in Costa Rica. We rented a cabina with a view of the rainforest at Cascota del Bosca near the gardens. Cascata del Bosca is a sweet little hotel with four cabinas and a restaurant/bar, set amidst the mountain rainforest, far enough from the steamy coast and high enough in elevation that you actually need a jacket in the evening. We spent the next day touring the Wilson Botanical Gardens located at Las Cruces Biological Station. Operated by the Organization for Tropical
Studies, the garden features a huge variety of tropical and subtropical plants, including rare and endangered plants from Costa Rica and elsewhere, as well as the second largest collection of palms in the world. We saw some amazing plants including a 50-yr old stag horn fern, as well as numerous capybaras, giant (2-ft tall) rodents.
If you go, make sure you visit in the morning because it rains every afternoon (at least between April and December). It rains a lot – like 12 ft during the rainy season.
After leaving the botanical gardens we drove up the center of the country, passing by Cerro Chirripo, the highest point in Costa Rica, where on a clear day, you can see both the Pacific and the Caribbean. The countryside is spectacular. The operative word is green – everything is green, and lush and beautiful.
You pass by coffee fincas, small modest homes with well-tended yards, and stunning vistas of green. The mountains of Costa Rica are one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, and it is no wonder that many of the small towns you pass through have thriving ex-pat communities. By the way, driving is Costa Rica is no different than driving back home – we found the roads to be in good repair, signage adequate and drivers to be no worse than back home. That is except for the capitol city of San Jose, which is utter chaos. We caught a direct 6-hr flight out of San Jose for LAX, and were very glad we had obtained the expensive live animal export permit for the cat, which was closely scrutinized, but ultimately accepted.
After touching down in the good ole US of A, we rented another car and headed north on scenic Hwy 1 which follows the coast. There was a minor snafu when we got to Big Sur and found that a giant landslide had closed the road a few months previously. We had to backtrack 40 miles but who cares? It is a stunningly beautiful drive. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, which I had never done, and up through the redwoods, which never cease to amaze me. The trees seem somehow wise, demanding quiet reverence when in their midst.
We traded rental cars in Portland, Oregon, and headed north again. We had been scheduled to be unloaded in Victoria, but due to Canada Day celebrations (July 1) a cruise ship bumped Happy Dover from the Victoria dock to Nanaimo. Then to Esquimalt, then back to Nanaimo… We made and cancelled hotel and car reservations several times. We finally made our way to Anacortes, Washington where we stayed the night with friends on their sailboat – they were kind enough to drive us to the ferry at Tsawassen, British Columbia. On the ferry we were relegated to a rather smelly “pet room” in the center of the lower car deck where we had to remain for the duration of the trip since we had an animal. Minus 10 for BC Ferries!
Departing from the ferry, we found no bus, no taxi, and a 14 km walk. About a third of the way in we managed to flag down a taxi and at long last made it to the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf to meet the Happy Dover and Anjuli. We were pretty excited to see the big yellow ship come around the point and pull up to the dock with Anjuli onboard! Unfortunately, the repeated change of docking locations seemed to pique the interest of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Customs officials, who deemed that a thorough search of the ship and all the yachts was
necessary before unloading could commence. What’s one more day at this point? Luckily the yacht transporter, Sevenstar, put all of the yacht owners up in a nice hotel and bought drinks, dinner, and breakfast the next morning. By 1:00 pm the next day we were back in the water, and soon tied to the public dock in Nanaimo where we washed the salt off the boat, hung the sails, and bought some food and drink.
Next day saw us anchored in beautiful Montague Harbor on Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands – cruising again, albeit in a different climate. Oh Canada!