Cocos Island, C.R. 2005

I'm writing this on board a 757 on our way home from Costa Rica. We've had a great dive trip to Cocos Island.

It's the island in the opening shots of Jurassic Park. Lush rainforests cover almost every inch of it, rising in isolation from the Pacific, 350 miles south westish of Costa Rica. The steep sides where the trees cannot find purchase is covered with trailing lianas and mosses. All around the coast, romantic waterfalls cascade white ribbons to the blue ocean. It reminded me of a green Uluru doming out of the pacific but the island has grey volcanic roots, not sandstones that would have been washed away millennia ago by the pounding of the rolling waves. On some rocky outcrops just off the island we could see the characteristic columns formed by lava cooling, similar to those at the Giants Causeway at home or at Staffa.

The island is a marvel; both a national park and a world heritage site. It inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Pirates used it from the 17th to 19th Century and rumours abound that there is a king's ransom hidden away there. There was no treasure hunting on our trip though - the resident park rangers strictly enforce the regulations. Nothing may be removed from the island or it's waters. All landings on the island have to be authorised and supervised. Sometimes that seemed a bit harsh considering how isolated the island is and how few visitors it receives but I whole-heartedly agree that it needs to be protected. And I haven't even begun to write of what awaited us beneath the waves....

So then, the trip report....

We had 24 hours of airports and flights to get to San Jose and a brief nights sleep before boarding a bus to take us through the mountains to Puntarenas where we boarded the Okeanos Aggressor. San Jose is in a valley at the top of a Munroe, if that makes sense! It is at an elevation of over 3000ft. The drive through the mountains was interesting; we drove along winding narrow roads up into the mists - past coffee and banana plantations then down again - passing orchards and semi-arid vistas, all the while trying to remember the names of our fellow trippers and getting to know them. They turned out to be a great bunch. The experience that we are now grateful for was thoroughly enriched by their company. Duane (handsome 30ish-going-on-9 Canadian) was the first we met. His humour and down-to-earth conversation lasted the entire trip. Laura and Francisco (Paco) appeared shy at first but that was a function of their not speaking English and our lack of Spanish (yet again shamed that we cannot speak another language) but we struggled by and shared many great dives, laughter and entertainments. Richard and Julie, aggressor employees along for the ride, then a bunch of Americans - Jerry, Jackie, Lyne, Linda, Barbara, Paula, Vicky, Kirsty, Bill, Jim, Ric and Ken. Perfect companions on the trip; sharing, interesting and entertaining.

When we arrived at Puntarenas it was HOT. We were tired. We were in the wrong time zone. I wanted to sleep and there was plenty of time for that as it was a 34-hour sail to Cocos. The boat was good - an old marine research ship converted for diving - it and its crew fulfilled our needs for the week.

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