Arriving at the park entrance to Tortuguero National Park.
Costa Rica 2013: Day 4: Tortuguero Day 3:
5am comes pretty early! We were at the lodge's docks by 5:15am. While we waited for our guide to arrive, the lodge staff offered to bring us plates of fresh fruit for an impromptu breakfast, so we ate some great fresh pineapple, melon, and watermelon while we waited. Pretty great considering they don't serve breakfast until 7am. They even asked us if we would be wanting breakfast a bit late. We told them we'd have lunch in the village, but we'd definitely be here for dinner tonight. Just as we were starting to wonder about our tour, a launch from the lodge left for the village to pick up some staff just as the guide came into sight.... having rowed all the way across from the village! We never imagined they'd have our guide row all that way, we just didn't think the lodge would be able to take us to the village in time for the tour! We really felt sorry for the guy, especially considering a lodge boat had just left ahead of his arrival. The guide even asked why we didn't take the lodge boat, so we
Most beautiful flower in park, so said the guide.
had to explain our misunderstanding, apologize, and help him row back to the village for the start of the tour. It turned out we not only needed to be at the village, but we had to arrive at the park entrance by 6:15am or wait two hours, so we helped row again so we'd make it in time.
We'd already paid the information office $20 each for the tour, but we had to pay another $11 each as a park entrance fee. Still, for a couple of hours touring the canals by canoe, with a informative, friendly guide (Eduardo), it was a good deal. We got to the park in time, paid our entrance fee, and headed into the canals. I probably can't remember all the cool plants, birds, monkeys, caimans, and lizards we saw, but that list pretty much covers it. Their were some really neat plants and trees, all of the which the guide knew about. Along the way we spotted at least 3 caimans, sort of a small aligator, at least two of which we floated right up next to, being able to not only photograph, but reach out to with our oars! Now
I don't remember what the name was, but the guide said they look like footballs, and I agree
that is close! We spotted numerous monkeys, including spider monkeys and howlers, one of which helped wake us up this morning! Unfortunately we didn't get as close to any of them as we did the caimans, but they were still close enough and quite easy to see and photograph. Our guide was very at spotting birds, monkeys, and lizards, and frequently stopped and backpaddled so we could spot them. We saw a couple types of herons, one of which is name a blue heron, but is only blue when it is young. The one we spotted was just turning white and still had some blue feathers. We spotted one of the Jesus Christ lizards in a tree, but unfortunately we didn't get to see one run across the water, the action that earned it the name of Jesus Christ Lizard. After over two hours canoeing through the canals, spotting soemthing every few minutes, we headed back to the village. When Eduardo dropped us off at the village docks, we remember the extra effort he'd made rowing across, so we tipped him an extra 5,000 colones (about $10).
It wasn't even quite 9am by this time, so we
One of the many Green Herons we saw, stalking their insect prey.
decided to find a place to have our first cup of coffee for the day. The Dorling Bakery and Cafe was open, so we stopped in there. I think two cups were 1,600 colones, or about 3 bucks. After our coffee, we wandered back to the park, since we had tickets that were good for the whole day. Sometimes you have to rent boots to enter the park, but apparently it hadn't rained that much lately and the ranger let us in without boots. On a side note, if you visit Tortuguero, about the only restrooms you don't have to pay 500 colones (1 dollar!) to use the restroom, is at the entrance to the park, or of course anywhere you have a meal or drink. A dollar to use a restroom seems a bit steep to me, but you might not have much choice. We entered the park after getting directions from the ranger on what path was open today, and almost immediately spotted a bunch of little lizards on the path every few feet. Just a few minutes in, I spotted to large birds walking along the path ahead and stopped Manoli so she could get a photo.
It may be hard to tell in the photo, but it was the smallest adult duck I'd ever seen.
I'm not sure what they were, but they looked like large pheasants. I tried to find them on the internet and asked lodge staff, but nobody recognizes it. Oh well. As we continued down the path, we also spotted several monkeys in the nearby trees, and of course the ever-present leafcutter ants trails everywhere! All in all, it was also a very pleasant and worthwhile trek.
After our walk through the park, we returned to the village for lunch. We ended up picking El Muellecito restaurant, the one recommended by the information office as having the best fish, caught locally. We both ordered the breaded fish plate that came with rice, fried plantains, and a decent small salad. With a mango smoothie, the bill came to about 7,000 colones, or 14 dollars. Everything was very good, especially the fish. I've started putting their ketchup on the rice. Believe it or not, its quite good that way. I got the idea from watching locals doing exactly that. Maybe its the fact that their ketchup is a bit sweeter than ours in America. After lunch, we grabbed a water taxi back to our lodge. I took a short nap
Yes, there are at least two monkeys in that tree... somewhere
while Manoli watched a movie in Spanish on NetFlix, then we both when for a swim in the pool. Refreshed and happy, we sat on our porch using the computer and the Ipad, and waited for dinner.
Dinner was pretty special. The waiter set a table up for us in the little lounge area right over the canal. We had candlelight, rose-shaped napkins in our glasses, etc. First our waiter, Miguel, brought out two smoothies, then a bit later a delicous bowl of tomato soup. The main plate was fresh battered fish with vegetables and mashed potatoes with potato chips sticking up from them. We both almost finished the main plate, but asked if they planned a dessert. They had a passion fruit mousse ready, so we stopped eating to make room for it. Everything was delicous, especially the mousse. After our delicous dinner, we headed back to the room to pack and relax before going to bed early for our 5am departure. We will be taking a launch to the village, then a boat back to La Pavona, then a bus to Cariari, then another bus to San Jose, then the final bus to Monteverde. All
Caiman, Up Close!
One of the caimans that we got quite close to.
of this in one day. I hope it all works out right and I'll be writing next from the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica.
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