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Published: February 25th 2012
Wow – this is really the way to see this country! As we travel, our tour guide tells us about the country, the people, the politics, and of course all about the plants and animals and birds. My experience with excursions from a cruise ship is that they drive you in silence to your destination, then you all pile out to look around, then they herd you through a gift shop before taking you back to the ship. This tour with Caravan is a non-stop learning adventure.
On our way to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean side of the country, we drove through Braulio Carrillo park. This is the same park where we went ziplining in the rain in December. It wasn’t raining this time, but it is up high in the cloud forest, so it was cloudy and misty. We didn’t stop, but at least we got to see the mountains with the mist on them, which is a pretty sight.
After that, we stopped at a butterfly garden. There are more species of butterflies here than in any other country, and they are in
abundance here at the butterfly garden. The Blue Morphos is the only name I remember – they are as big as your hand, and bright blue on the back side of their wings. Then when they stop, they close their wings and all you see is a dark underside with a spot that looks a little like an eye. One of the men who work at the garden held one in his hand for us so we could get a picture. A bright orange one liked Steve’s hat, and a big monarch perched on my hand, then climbed up the side of my face (it felt kind of creepy – like a big bug – but I managed to stay still for a picture. There were lots of beautiful flowers there too.
We passed many fruit stands on the side of the highway. I took a picture of this one so you can see the price of pineapples - 3 for 1,000 colones, which is $2.
After lunch, we made a stop at a banana farm. This one is owned by Del Monte, and employs lots of people. The people are supplied
with housing and utilities, and paid $26 per day. They really work hard. Fields of banana plants are planted every day and tagged with a different color ribbon so they know when to harvest. That way, they have a field that can be harvested every day of the year. The average bunch weighs 60 pounds. They are harvested green and never touch the ground. One guy cuts them down, another guy catches them and puts the bunch on a hanger a trolley line. Then, once all the hangers are full, a runner who is hooked up with a harness pulls the bananas along this line to the plant where they are washed, sorted, and packed into boxes for shipping. We were told that a box of bananas is worth about $5 when it leaves Costa Rica, so you have an idea of how many more people get a cut by the time they get to our stores.
We uploaded a video to Youtube so you can see them working. Here is the web address:
for $1, then when you are finished, they will cut it open so you can eat the flesh if you want. It is immature and soft, and only tastes faintly like the coconut we are used to. They also have big Rhinocerous beetles that you can hold and take pictures of. They are harmless, but they sure look strange. The males are the ones with the horns.