Deanna ([personal profile] dr4b) wrote2015-12-29 08:31 pm

Costa Rica, Part 2

I think the last entry left off on that first day in Tortuguero, where after a bit of settling in and naps we went and got on a boat ride to Tortuguero town. The town has about 1500ish people although I have no clue where they all live as it basically has one main street that goes through it, which is mostly shops and eateries, although I guess there were some houses along it too. Carlos warned us not to buy coconuts and to be careful of getting ripped off by the locals, and to stay on the main street, so we did, and walked the entirety of it, which must have been about a mile. At the end you get to the gates to Tortuguero National Park. The weird thing is, most of the park isn't really accessible from there unless you have a boat. I still don't quite understand how it works; we had to stop in there and buy admissions to the park before going on our boating tours the next day, but it's not like anyone actually ever checked them.

I dunno, the main street had a ton of interesting-looking trash cans in the shapes of parrots, monkeys, owls, sloths, etc. And there was a church and there were some abandoned machinery things and whatnot. We stopped in at an ice cream place when it started raining and got some ice cream (one scoop for 500 colones which is basically a dollar). There were lots of dogs running around but very few cats, too. The dogs never seemed to be leashed or collared but also didn't seem like strays.

After buying a wildlife pamphlet in the gift shop, we got on the boat back to the Lodge. The next thing after that was going to be a sunset walk along the beach to look for turtles. Unfortunately, turtles are seasonal and we didn't find any; Carlos found us several turtle nests but they were all empty of actual turtles. Probably the most amusing animal thing we saw was... well, this dog had started following our group along at one point, and so we were walking along the beach and the dog started just barking at the sand and pawing. Eventually the dog unearthed a crab, all wriggly and full of claws, about 2 inches long. The dog barked, the crab wriggled. First the dog kinda jumped back like it was startled, but then when the crab wriggled again, the dog basically just ate it. CHOMP.

The other thing that happened on the beach walk was that the skies opened up on us. Chris and I hadn't brought our raincoats though I did bring an umbrella. He chose to stand outside it and get wet, so another woman stood under the umbrella with me. She was from Spain and her husband was from Belgium and they had just gotten married, this was their honeymoon. So when I mentioned I was from "San Francisco", this other group of ladies also turned out to be from SF -- well, east bay really -- but they were like "I figured, you had that SHN umbrella and all!" The other crazy thing was that the younger one, she had been studying abroad in Japan at the same time I was there, in 2010. Weird small world I guess.

After the beach walk there was a tour to go look for frogs, in the frog park. They come out at sundown, so we went in once it was dark, and Carlos got out a flashlight and people got out cellphone lights and we went and found a few of the frogs. It was pretty crowded though so it was hard to get pictures or really see them.

We had dinner with a bunch of random people again, which was Christmas dinner, with turkey and ham and stuffing and things. I remember they were playing Christmas music and I asked about it and was told it was a traditional children's song from Spain, so that was kind of interesting.

The next morning there was an optional 5:30am tour, so Chris and I went to sleep super early yet again and got up super early yet again.

The 5:30am optional tour and the 8:30am for-everyone tour were similar except for what part of the river we'd be going to, and obviously, the time of day. 5:30 was intended more for finding some rare birds that only come out super early. We got in a smaller boat -- it seated 18 and had no roof, though they brought ponchos for everyone. We stopped off at the Tortuguero park entrance, where Carlos explained that "this ranger hates me -- he asks for my ID when I come here. I've been doing this for 37 years. My ID number is 001. Come on." We got off and paid our admission fees and got back on the boat, which was a bit of an odd experience.

Since our entire boat was English-speaking, at least we didn't have to hear everything repeated in Spanish. There was a French group with a guy named Remy who had a really good zoom lens so he got shots of all the rare things we saw. We saw a Pudu bird, something like that, it looked like a stump on a branch. We saw a bunch of other birds, one called aninganinga, some other things too. We learned how to see Jesus lizards blending in on trees. At the end of the first run, we were in a narrow creek area with a bunch of tall sunny trees and pretty much every damn tree had at least one iguana in it, so we got really good at spotting them. Carlos said that people in Costa Rica call iguanas "chicken of the tree" kinda like tuna fish are "chicken of the sea". Note: we still haven't eaten iguana here as far as I know.

We went back and had a break for breakfast and to grab gear. Carlos said to be back at the dock at 8:40 prompt, and we'd keep the same 18 group on the same boat since it'd make the park tickets easier. He also said to grab a towel from our room to protect us from the sun, so Chris and I brought out our super badass hiking hats that have neck protection and all. And we were earlyish to get back, so we got on the boat first and stole the front seats! That part was exciting since we got a nice view of everything.

The 8:30 tour, we saw some more birds, and TWO sloths that had come down from the trees to poop (sort of funny since like, three boats all pulled up next to one of the sloths to take photos), and a super poisonous red frog that Primo the boat driver went up on shore to fetch to show us, and probably the most exciting part was when we were going down this one river and suddenly we saw some white-faced monkeys! There must have been around ten of them, and they were running up and down branches and jumping across the river, running up trees and hanging on each other and playing and doing all kinds of silly things. Carlos said it was very rare to see them at all, let alone see them just kinda playing and doing antics for us. They were practically posing for photos on the branches near our boat and just monkeying around.

Unfortunately at some point in the tour, around when we were finding crocodiles, my stomach felt really sick, which sucked, because we were kind of in the middle of the lake and I knew we weren't heading back to shore any time soon. I just had to sort of deal with it as best as I could, but it did make things kinda bad. Also it rained quite a bit and so we got out those ponchos and all, which also made it harder to see things and take photos of things and all.

We got back to shore and had lunch, which was at a table with yet another different group of people. Carlos was having a botanical walk at 4pm and until then was free, so a whole bunch of us got in the pool. Funny thing: while in the pool we spotted an iguana in a tree, and a toucan in another tree, and some other birds. Julie and Sebastian turn out to be super crazy bird watchers and they had binoculars and bird manuals and all and could tell us what all the things around us were.

After maybe an hour in the pool we got out to change and shower and do the botanical walk, but it turned out to be kind of boring.

(to be continued -- should sleep now again -- we're about to finally get the fuck out of Manzanillo, thank god)