Picture this: I’m sitting on a deserted beach in Costa Rica… black sand, blue waters, sun approaching the horizon.… drinking in the breeze and the salty sea air…. When suddenly I notice a man walking toward me, with the distinct outline of a machete in his hand…!!!!!
Last fall, I spent 6 weeks solo back-packing in beautiful Costa Rica.
Some of my most amazing encounters there had an animal or two (or THREE) in them.
Did you know? Central America is full of stray dogs & cats? And in Costa Rica, there are even stray HORSES, apparently!!!!
I’m going to tell you of four such encounters: the ones that really blew my mind.
First, we have Chiquita. (I named my furry companions myself.) This was the cutest little mutt that “adopted me” on my walk along the nearly deserted Playa Negra (black sand beach) of Puerto Viejo.
She began to walk with me at the outset of my stroll. And boy, was I glad she was there! Backing up to the scene I just described.… there I am, enjoying a nice, quiet, tranquil evening, all ready to watch the sunset, when this man approached me with a machete! Chiquita was the first to become alert of his approach, & she began barking… & had me very cautious & aware of my surroundings.. (as in, where could I get help, if needed.) Luckily we weren’t too far away from town, & civilization. As he grew closer, my heart is leaping in my chest… & Chiquita calms down. I took this as a good sign. Turned out, he only wanted to chop off the top of a fresh coconut, not my head! I bought a refreshing coconut for one coin: 500 Colones (about $2 American), thanked him, and after he walked away, I decided maybe it was best for ME to high-tail it back to my hostel, and NOT be out after dark. (Lol). Chiquita walked me home, I thanked her, gave her some water, & we bade farewell.
Just a day or two after that, I was walking along another deserted stretch of beach, working my way toward a little peninsula I wanted to explore, and these TWO strays began to hang out with me along my journey. These two were CRAZY! They were VERY active! At first I couldn’t tell if they were playing, or fighting, and I was very nervous because they were “all up in my business”. After a bit of watching them frolic all around me, in the waves, & with each other, I finally concluded they must be siblings, and were just play-fighting, so I calmed down a bit. Turns out, these two were also my saviors, just like Chiquita… for all of a sudden, off down the beach a ways, out of the jungle comes bounding a whole GANG of stray dogs… about six of them! I was the only one on the beach, so I could only assume they wanted to check me out—potentially attack me! What to do????!!!! Well, these two coo coos hanging out with me– I named them The Siblings– saved the day! They got in front of me, and took up positions of defense, & barked their heads off. I was sooooo scared I was going to be in the middle of a HUGE dog fight! But their defense worked! The gang backed off, & went on their merry way to a different location. WHEW! I sure loved those 2 kooky dogs after that! They got me safely to my destination.
Now, AT my destination, which was this nice, quiet city park that included a beach, I was taking a nap, when suddenly I was awakened by BIG OL hoof steps! Yes… hoof steps! I sat right up, looked around in a daze, and to my bewilderment, there were 3 stray horses standing a few yards away from me! WHAT?!? They had no saddles, no harnesses, no leads, and no humans in SIGHT. I just stood there, amazed. I had three little apples in my pack, so I tried to make friends with them, but they were clearly not having it, and I ended up tossing the apples their way. But the leader of the pack ate ALL of them! GREEDY! Later that day, I saw them strolling the path along the beach again. And again, no human. Super interesting!!!
My favorite story is of Choco, the chocolate Labrador dog, who adopted me on my epic hike to Cabo Blanco, near the end of my trip in Costa Rica.
This day was an incredible journey for me! At the end of the day, I ended up hiking & walking a total of about 17 miles… pretty huge for me, as previously the most I had ever done was about 6 miles at a time. I set off by about 7 AM from my hostel, as I knew I had several miles to walk before I even reached my destination: I wanted to hike the mountainous jungle of Cabo Blanco to reach the secluded beach. It was a 9 kilometer walk just to get to the entrance of the Nature Preserve.
This lab joined me nearly from the beginning. I couldn’t believe he was walking with me such a long distance away from “home”, though I began to wonder if he even HAD a home, & perhaps he, too, often walked between towns…. (these towns in this more deserted part of CR, consisted of a few homes, & one grocery store).
This road paralleled the ocean, & at one point we came upon a surfer’s beach, about 2 miles into my walk. I saw a big log, & decided this would be a great place to take a break & have some water. Up to this point, Choco had been very friendly toward me, and very playful. As I was sitting there, enjoying the rest and the view … I became vaguely aware of a couple of men, not too far away from me, who seemed to be having a conversation.
Well, Choco began barking AT me. Acting very strangely. I just KNEW something was up. I quickly decided to just pack up & head back out. As I was packing up, I was watching these men from the corner of my eye. One had pulled up in a car, and one had met him, coming up from the beach. They seemed to be getting heated in their conversation…. It honestly seemed to me like there was perhaps a drug deal going down. I was more than happy to get on my way. After that incident, Choco was just as sweet & playful as he’d been before, so I could only think, in amazement, that he had sensed I was in potential danger, & had warned me to get going. He never left my side, the entire rest of the walk to the Nature Preserve. At that point, sadly, I had to say goodbye to my faithful companion, as he could not enter the Preserve, and the very friendly park ranger offered to take him back to town.
As you can see, each & every time I encountered trouble, or potential sticky situations, there was a furry companion there to be my champion. That is what got me thinking: Do Angels Wear Fur????