Published: February 28th 2010February 28th 2010
Gaudy Leaf Frog
Is there something on my head
We've had a great week here in Puerto Viejo - both staying busy and doing nothing at all. Monday, we hit the beach at Playa Negra and played in the waves for a bit. We also found a nifty little book store tucked away in the jungle and were able to sell the books we'd finished and get some much needed new reading material. We even found time for some souvenir shopping.
Wednesday, it was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to take advantage of the great weather and head down to the small town of Manzanillo and the refuge there for some hiking. The town is small and sleepy, and there's only a couple of restaurants, and a small store. The beach is lined with palm trees, which are painted red, yellow and green reggae colors at the base. Small boats are tied all along the shoreline and the water is incredibly calm, clear blue and inviting. The park extends from Manzanillo to the Panama Border. There's a bit of a dispute over who has the right and responsibility to administer the park (government vs. local municipality) so the park area has no admission fee, and there aren't
any signs. We intended to hike to Punta Mona, at the far end of the park and have a swim there - but the lack of signs on the trail made it a bit difficult so we didn't make it quite that far. We did hike around the coast line and the jungle for a good long while, and enjoyed some truly beautiful scenery. The water was clear turquoise blue and the ocean was calm. There is a huge coral reef there and some interesting rock formations. Part of the trail led to a path right over to a rock bluff overlooking the coral and water below. The trail was pretty rugged, and it felt great to do some serious hiking, but it was HOT! We did find a lovely secluded beach area, and took a little break and had a snack. After a couple of hours, we decided to make our way back into town. I took a nice swim at the beach in town, the water was warm and clear - perfect way to end off a hot, sticky hike. We visited the bar & restaurant in town - Maxi's for an incredibly icy cold beer while we
waited for a taxi cab to head back into Puerto Viejo. It was nice to return to our little bungalow, and have a kitchen to make a nice feast for dinner - all that fresh air works up quite an appetite!
Thursday morning, we woke up to thunder and lightening at about 5am. The power went off shortly after that and when we got up we had no water our internet. Not having water has actually been pretty common occurrence while we have been on the Caribbean side of the country. It usually comes back after a short while, but is a bit of an inconvenience The power was only off for a few hours. The rains continued all morning - at times it was so heavy and loud, that holding a conversation was difficult. It was the perfect day to veg out with some DVDs and a pizza on the couch (but we didn't have any of those things). The rain kept coming through the afternoon, and eventually flooded the garden area outside our little house. We kept busy reading our new books we'd purchased earlier in the week and by playing cards. The rains finally let up
in the early evening. In the aftermath, there were lots of critters out - frogs, mosquitos, cockroaches and we even had a tiny scorpion on the patio. Friday, we woke up to more rain, but were a bit stir crazy - so ventured into town to visit the post office and check our email. We had a very nice breakfast at a place called Bread & Chocolate - you can't go wrong at a place like that! The rain finally let up in the afternoon, and we crossed our fingers for a sunny dry Saturday.
We had heard about the Jaguar Rescue Center from some other guests. Its a small facility that helps injured animals and works closely with the community including animal pickups, and rescues and education. The center releases animals back into the wild when the animals are ready. In an effort to acclimate the animals to life in the wild - they let the animals out to spend time in the jungles behind the center and to socialize with other animals. The animals have the opportunity to be in their natural environment, and return to the center - eventually, when the animals are comfortable, they stop
returning. We planned to rent bikes to ride to the center, but that didn't work out, so we decided to hoof it. It was a bit of a walk, but we love to walk and it felt great to be outside and moving around after 2 days of rain. The tour started with their collection of snakes. They are the only animals that the center does not release back into the wild. They had boas, vipers, coral snakes, fer-de-lance, and bushmasters there. If a snake is in a residents yard or house, the center will go to remove the snakes - in an effort to reduce the number of snakes killed. We were also able to see a Margay cub whose mother was killed. There were 2 cubs, but one of them has already returned to the wild. He did return to the rescue center once when he had gotten in a scuffle with a porcupine and was covered with quills. The staff was able to remove the quills, and the margay returned back to the wild. The remaining cub spends his nights in the jungle and returns in the morning, although he doesn't like going into his enclosure when
he returns! There are baby howler monkeys who were injured or orphaned as well. We were able to go right in the cage with the monkeys - who were very playful and fast! They skipped across our shoulders, heads and backs. A baby Jaguarandi was also living in the cage with the monkeys - very unusual. He had been rescued from people who tried to keep him as a pet. For now, the living arrangement is working and the monkeys have taken to the wild cat, but eventually - he will have to move from the monkey enclosure. There's an owl who was rescued from a French couple who only fed him bananas (owls eat rodents). And of course there were baby sloths. At the end of our tour, the guide brought us to the Frog Pond. She showed us one of the red eyed gaudy leaf frogs. We have been waiting 3 months to get a close up picture of this guy! Unfortunately, there were a about 20 people on the tour, and we just couldn't get a shot. So we lagged behind as the hour moved on and we spotted another frog in the reeds. Edward was able
to scoop him up and put him on my hand for some great shots. (Yep the frog jumped on my head!).
After our visit to the rescue center, we headed back to Playa Cocles and had a very leisurely lunch and made our way back to town. When we got back to the Casita we found out that all the rains had affected the bridges on the road to our next stop at the turtle volunteering project. Our journey there should be a bit of adventure for sure. Its raining again today, but we are hoping for some dry skies on our travel day. We'll be offline while we are at the turtles. We can't believe we are almost to the end of our journey - 3 months has gone by quickly.
Until the next time and our final installments....
There are more photos below