We were heading for the beach; we knew that much after weeks in Panama City. What we didn’t know was exactly where we were going – we’d already bent the back of the bus a few days before trying to find the sea down a rocky track. All along the coast, the easiest places to get too are resort/hotel things, huge, facing out over the ocean with the backs to you as you approach down a road lined with armed guards and locked wi-fi. Like they don’t wanna share.
So you have to motor on to Costa Rica: And the first stop was Dominical, on the Pacific coast. Cruising down the beach front looking for somewhere to pull in, we spotted the unmistakable form of a Swiss-converted Landrover hiding in the trees just yards from the high-water line. It was our friends – a Swiss-converted couple who we’d met on the road before – and we pulled in to join them. Dominical is a very cool place to stop if you’re passing through in a vehicle and there was a few people camping. We’d stopped here more or less by chance. I mean, you can see from our globe in the photo above, which is actually the map we use sometimes as we’re going down the road, that we have all the GPS points in the world on there. But the resolution’s not too great: We know the Pacific Ocean’s somewhere over that hill but we’re not sure which road to take.
It turns out that our Swiss friends got here, however, by aiming for a specific GPS point that they had downloaded from the internet. Wow, we thought, our first actual, official kind of public GPS point. We’d never come across them before although, of course, we are aware that there is a brisk trade in .gpx files among overlanders. I never understood how, even though I love maps, I love gadgets and I love driving, I never really got into GPS thingies. We have a tracker in the truck – it’s just there to record the location of photos that we’ve taken – and is really more of an aid to memory than anything else.
We sat back (carefully) in our decrepit folding chairs, watching the light fade and listening to pounding surf; our first night by the beach since way back when… It felt strange and I couldn’t get it out of my head, that we were sitting at a known set of coordinates. All those German-speakers trundling through and sitting here in this same spot enjoying the Pura Vida. Where did those waves start? The ones climbing the beach towards us in the dark – across the ocean, around the world. And all of us ants passing through points. I felt very global.[The next day, I sideloaded the tracker’s .gpx and visualized it with something from the internet. Just out of curiosity. Yeah, I know Dominical’s not on there. This is the route we took going south. This time we’re heading north on a mission of importance that will mean we have to negotiate strange environments and test ourselves to the limit. We don’t have the tracker on. Pretty soon we won’t even have the truck…]