Published: April 27th 2012April 27th 2012
The vote is in and it is unanimous.. we all thnk this is one of the best days of our lives.
Howler monkeys did their job and awoke us at - no before - dawn. At about 6 in the morning we went out on the balcony only to be greeted by chestnut mandibled toucans. We strolled around the grounds - no more than a tiny clearing in the jungle and saw the iconic keel-billed toucan - just like the Fruit Loops one only more alive! along with oodles of amazing jungle species.
After an early brekkie we hopped on an open boat with Norton and headed off deep in little natural canals into the rainforest. My god. Oodles of close-up views of howler, spider and capuchin monkeys (the little white faced ones used in films like Virus -- even though they are not from Africa) - at times two species sharing a tree as they forage different parts of the trees. Crocodiles and lots of their more reasonably-sized caiman cousins up real close. Kingfishers, turtles, and yes again the jungle sounding just like you imagine - reailty imiitating disney art I guess. Red lored parrots and otters, sloths
and butterflies including many of the spellbinding blue morphos. Norton broke off lots of tiny vines and plants for us to taste and smell - like a natural boutique of spices, herbs and perfumes. Tortuguero lodge only employs naturalist guides who grew up in this part of the rainforest jungle.
After hours we boated back only to be greeted at the dock with cold crushed strawberry juice. We lunched on pork and beef and oodles of salsas and then regrouped to decide if we wanted to add another jungle adventure in before heading off to a local school as planned. We alll decided - here we are in the jungle so we have to summon up the gusto and go for it.
We hiired a great young local guide, Mauricio to help us do hikes in the jungle to find deadly eyelash vipers. We boated to the area and Mauricio showed us huge and unpleasant to the max bullet ants, a slaty tailed trogon (cousin of the quetzal), lots of spiders and termites. After we watched leaf cutter ants he showed us a huge colony and he stomped his feet beside the colony. Immediately lots of big red
nasty soldier ants who live and die to protect the queen rushed out of various colony orifices intent on dealing with us. He picked a couple up so we could see their biting mandibles.
Just after a quick visit to the Caribbean shore he found an eyelash viper which we got within a foot of. Very small and hard to see, they are however deadly. Since we clearly did not learn our lesson from the poison dart frogs the night before, we did get up close and personal. Just a minute later Marika found another eyelash viper.
Then another highspeed boat ride back to meet the teacher to go to the jungle school.
We went to San Fransisco school with 25 year old English teacher Natalie. This schoool is in a tiny village and we were met at the shore of the jungle by eight students ranging in age from 8 to 13. Marika and Will led a bunch of English Q&As and games focussed on relations (mom, dad, neice etc) days of the week, colours etc. The kids were really fun and quite good at English. The tiny schoolhouse had open doors and a local dog
came in for a visit and a pet at one point. Marika and Will said what was similar to their classes was how the kids had fun and joked around, and what was different was the size of the school, the desks and that the open doors loooked out onto flowers. We decided that kids are, well kids... Marika and Will had collected 32 POUNDS of school supplies generously donated by the girls and boys in their classes and their families. Natalie was very, very thankful and will distribute them between the San Francisco school and the Tortuguero School. We will bring back a letter of thanks to go to the students and parents who made the very generous donations.
Back to the Lodge for some (gasp) homework and then a dip in the pool, and a dinner of Caribbean coconut chicken with battered plantain and yes, you guessed it, rice and beans. Marika and Will and Kim crashed and were deeply asleep by 8:15 as it won't be too many hours before the Howler monkeys do their wake up duty and we are off to have a small plane lift us out of the jungle on our way
to the mountainous cloudforest in the central plateau region for more and more adventures.
Really an incredible day today - as much experience and adventure and nature engagement as we can imagine in one day, not to mention the honour of doing the school trip.
There are more photos below