Day 51 – Bagaces, Costa Rica

10 September

The large, modern city of Liberia, Costa Rica was a good place for Fr. Miguel, Ignacio, Eduardo, and Leo to make new friends and rest for a couple of nights. It served as a sort of “base”, since there was nowhere to stay near Pelón de la Altura. Fr. Guillermo graciously provided shuttle service, picking the team up at Pelón de la Altura, taking them to Liberia to spend the night, and returning them to Pelón de la Altura the next morning so that they could actually walk to Liberia (the next stop on the Camino), and then hosting them for a second night.

But all good things must come to an end, so on Friday morning the team said their goodbyes to Fr. Guillermo and got an early start on the road to Bagaces, Costa Rica. When the birds are making this much noise, there’s really no point in trying to sleep in anyway. 

The whole team is delighted to have Leo along for the rest of the journey.

Are they giving a thumbs up because of the Taco Bell sign? And is that a KFC sign in the background?

Walking in Costa Rica during the rainy season means that one is likely to encounter at least a bit of rain every day.

Fr. Miguel took this beautiful shot of one of the famous guanacaste trees for which the region is named.

Eduardo likes food…and animals. When the team was leaving Pespire, Honduras, he rescued a small cat that was promptly named “Pespirita”.

Today, he rescued a turtle. I wonder if he gave it a name…?

There isn’t much along the 17 mile route between Liberia and Bagaces. But the Ponderosa Adventure Park, just outside the small village of Salto, is a well known attraction throughout Costa Rica. Unlike many places in Central America, they even have a website. Too bad the team didn’t have time to stop there and explore. Eduardo would have had plenty of animals to enjoy!

The many streams and rivers of western Costa Rica swell and become quite dangerous during the rainy season.

By early afternoon, the team had arrived in Bagaces, the capital of the canton of Bagaces, which has a population of about 20,000.

Bagaces is named for Bagatzí, who was chief of the tribe that inhabited this region when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. His name, in turn, is probably derived from the Nahuatl words “baga”, which means “reed” or “cane”, and “tzi”, meaning “place”.

Bagaces is home to the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT), one of Costa Rica’s most active conservation organizations. This group is responsible for administrative oversight of the nearby Palo Verde National Park and the Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve. In addition, ACT takes an active interest in the protection of the Tempisque River, the main water source for this region of Costa Rica.

Near Bagaces is the famous Llanos del Cortés waterfall, a popular place for swimming, not too far out of the way.

If you’re up for a little exploring, at the base of the waterfall is a quiet stream.

The water is full of tadpoles, frogs, and small fish.

And if you’re lucky, you might see a Jesus Christ lizard, so named because of its ability to “walk” on water.

Unfortunately, the team didn’t get to visit Llanos del Cortés either, but they did get to spend a little time in Bagaces’ Central Park.

And they stayed at the beautiful Parroquia San Caralampio.

The church is named in honor of Saint Caralampio (“Charalambos” in Greek) who was a Christian bishop in the late 2nd century. At the time of his martyrdom in 202AD, he was reputed to have been 113 years old, making him one of the oldest Christian martyrs. Despite his advanced age, his torturers scraped all the skin from his body using iron hooks. He is reported to have said to his tormentors, “Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life.” His name means “to shine with happiness”.

The team was warmly and enthusiastically greeted at the San Caralampio rectory and settled in to recuperate from the long day of walking.

Once Fr. Miguel was refreshed, he was able to send the wonderful pictures from their day’s journey.

But the team is far from finished with their trek. Check back for updates from Fr. Miguel, Ignacio, Eduardo, and Leo as they set out tomorrow for Cañas…