Playful Costa Rica - Rio Azul, Friday 2016 November 18

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November 18th 2016
Published: November 27th 2017
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Horses that know the ropesHorses that know the ropesHorses that know the ropes

... unlike the amateur riders.
Our last big adventure – horseback riding!

At the stables, just feet from my room, we watched apprehensively as the wrangler, or “savañero” (man of the savannah or cowboy), saddled the horses. In turn, he boosted each of us up. My horse was called Tico, the affectionate nickname for a Costa Rican. At first I was quite happy that he wanted to follow the leader, Ollie’s horse, Thunderstruck. Over time I discovered that he would do almost anything to keep up to him!

Although we were nervous, the horses were not. They set off in their usual direction, alternating walking and trotting. Every time Tico trotted, I worried he would speed up more, but he “had no gas” and would soon return to walking. Except to go right or left, he ignored what I wanted. Once I gained confidence in my balance, I relaxed a bit. Along the road were small holdings and homes with brightly coloured flowering bushes in the yards. Many areas seemed to be just overgrown fields, thick with bright green grass.

Tico insisted on staying on Thunderstruck’s flanks, regardless of the other horses. Once he pushed between Judy’s horse and Giselle’s, catching Judy’s stirrup
Rio AzulRio AzulRio Azul

Pretty water course in the forest
in mine. The wrangler had to untangles us. Moments later it happened again. Both Judy and I tried to keep a little away from each other. I kept trying to turn my attention to the environment, looking discretely at the trees while attending to Tico’s whims. Roadside ferns were grew in profusion. The road was rocky, with larger stones protruding and smaller stones scattered everywhere. Light rain fell, which meant putting on our raincoats, carried in the van behind us. Lise had twisted her knee and chose to ride in the van the rest of the way.

We crossed a big puddle without incident, then saw an actual ford, approached by a concrete-reinforced entrance and exit down and up. Tico insisted on walking on the extreme edge, and he could barely manage the steep exit. Not much further on, we stopped at a wooden bridge for our first sight of the Rio Azul (Blue River). Minerals coloured the water clear blue like a gemstone. The river gurgled rapidly over the black rocks, stirring up dancing white foam.

We turned aside to ride for another twenty minutes beside the lush grass, accented by a few red flowers. Finally, we
Rio AzulRio AzulRio Azul

Racing and gushing in places
dismounted (aided) near a fence on the Resort’s property. This was another chance to walk through unspoilt rainforest. As our luck has been, the rain started and soon was pouring through the leaves! At least I had my jacket this time, I thought, but after half an hour, everything was soaked through. My little camera performed valiantly, suffering rain drops without faltering.

Up and down the path, we thrilled at the spectacular views of the Rio Azul, rushing under the canopy of ferns and bushes and flowers. Air roots hung in all directions. Moss adorned the tree trucks and covered rocks with wet coatings. Delicate parasitic plants took advantage of higher limbs.

Completely soaked, we emerged from the forest to a pool dammed at the bottom of a big double cascade waterfall. In the front seat of the van we changed out of wet clothes into damp bathing suits, and getting my wet shirt off was more difficult than getting my bathing suit on! Having taken Ollie’s bad advice not to bother with swim shoes, I limped along a short stony driveway and luxuriated in the softness of little grass-type plants at the end.

The pool was
Rio Azul poolRio Azul poolRio Azul pool

Calm surface with persistent undertow
heavenly! Pleasantly cool, the water gave off a light sulfur aroma. The pool was only about four feet deep, with a bottom of stones covered in mildly slippery something. The directional flow was noticeable and discouraged us from climbing over large wet rocks to stand under the thundering cascade. The rain stopped for a while. I marvelled at floating while looking up at the tree canopy and watching drips fall from a great height. One hit my eye and it hurt!

Chilled and hungry, we eventually climbed out for a picnic lunch, fortunately under a shelter, because the sky poured down again. A woman from the Resort had a selection of makings for chicken salad or ham and cheese sandwiches. Naturally, the food was marvellous after our exertions. Eventually, we returned to the van and the Resort.

I didn’t even change out of my swimsuit. My next goal was the volcanic mud bath, but I couldn’t find it. Distinctly chilled in another rain shower, I opted for the hot pool (31-36C). Bliss! After a time, Giselle and Lise came, too. They were also after the mud bath, but I felt sleepy and thought my bathing time was up. However, back at my room, I realized I just needed a rest in the hammock and a pot of tea. To my great surprise, it wasn’t even 2:00 yet!

Searching for the mud bath again, I took a wrong path and found the Butterfly Garden, an enclosed outdoor room for the Blue Morphos, which we have seen several times in the forests. They dart in unexpected directions, as a defence, thus elusive for photos. In the Butterfly Garden I could have captured them resting, because they were feeding, but no camera. The underside of their wings look like an owl – mottled brown with a big “eye”.

After asking a maintenance worker, I did indeed find the mud bath – a sizeable cement pot filled with greeny-grey sludge. You rub this all over your skin. The bits of volcanic rock act as an exfoliant, and the minerals nourish your skin. I sat for some minutes, theoretically drying off, and took a shower to wash the sludge away. My skin was so soft I could feel a spot I had missed on my jaw! To complete the day, I soaked in the warm pool and then in the hotter pool.
The  camouflage of the slothThe  camouflage of the slothThe camouflage of the sloth

Looks just like the leaves!

For a few minutes around dusk, I finally remembered to photograph the beautiful plants here, a bit late of course. Thinking I might be successful at the Butterfly Garden, I headed there. Much too dark and the butterflies had retired to the shadows. Some people were watching a sloth silhouetted against the cloudy darkening sky. Watch the sloth for yourself on video.

Dinner: (same as last night) chicken soup, steak, potato, veggies, Bavaria Dark

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Horses for touristsHorses for tourists
Horses for tourists

The wrangler was astonished at my photographing!
Rio Azul poolRio Azul pool
Rio Azul pool

Fun reward at the end of our rainy walk
Rio Azul fallsRio Azul falls
Rio Azul falls

A roar of water
Pink Ginger Pink Ginger
Pink Ginger

Beautiful flowers way above the tasty root

2 feet tall in my house, 6 feet tall in the garden

Who cares which way is up!

28th November 2017

Sludge and such
I never knew you were such a mud-bath hound, even when the mud is greeny-grey sludge. Good for you. As for the butterflies (and other similarly uncooperative photographic subjects), doesn't that always seem to be the way? When you have your camera, they're not amenable; when they're amenable, you don't have your camera. I was doing the same dance with bald eagles just last week.
4th December 2017

Not sure about mud baths. Might has well try - much less bold than going on the zip line!

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