Our first glimpse of wildlife on the boat trip, a caiman on the bank. Big guy too!
Costa Rica Day 2:Alajuela to Tortuguero:
After a decent cup of coffee at the hostel, we headed to the bus stop to start our trip to Tortuguero. Rather than bore you with the details of our extremely long trip to Tortuguero, I'll just to a brief synopsis. At right around 7am, we boarded a "Station Wagon" bus to San Jose. The trip took about 20 minutes and cost about 600 Colones each. From the Estacion Atlantico we grabbed a taxi to the Estacion Caribeno, paying 1,500 for the trip. We bought two tickets on the next bus to Cariari at 9am, at 1,600 Colones each, with almost an hour to wait. After a much longer, but more interesting, we pulled into the new Cariari bus station around 10:45 and boarded our final bus soon after 11am. I have to mention here, that even though I'd read several places that said you should walk the 500 meters to the old bus station to get the final bus to La Pavona, I have to disagree. We got the bus at the new station, and when we pulled into the old station, there was a long line waiting to get on. We probably
A tree full of oropendulum nests.
could have still boarded there, but we'd have been standing up a long time! For this final bus, you pay the driver 550 colones, or I guess buy a ticket at the old bus station. By the time we finally reached the docks at La Pavona around 1pm, we were getting rather tired and muggey, since the last bus didn't have any AC and we'd be on the go for 6 hours. For those of you who take this trip and don't eat anything before starting, never fear, the building at La Pavona where you buy the boat tickets is also a restaurant. Unfortunately, even though we were starving by this point, we didn't dare take the time to eat, as the boats were boarding. The trip down the canals to Tortuguero was actually quite interesting. Manoli took a lot of photos of birds, trees, and one caiman on the bank. After winding through the canals for over half an hour, we reached the open canal they call a lagoon and hit top speed. After a brief stop at one resort to let an old lady and her family off, we pulled into Tortugeuro village around 2pm.
A large palm tree, rather sagging.
so hungry by this point that we decided to eat there first and then find our way to our lodge. The village of Tortuguero is kind of neat. A bit like you'd expect a small, touristy, Caribean town to be. Since there were no vehicles whatsoever, there were no paved roads. Just wide and narrow dirt and gravel paths. The village is actually pretty good sized, but very disproportionately full of businesses. In our brief time there today, we saw several restaurants, souvenir shops, tour agencies, and even a tiny supermarket. We decided to eat at the little cafe next the Super Morpho that the tourist information center recommended, saying it was more or less fast food. Well, the food was quite good, but it took quite a while to be served. Manoli had a large plate of nachos, I had a good-sized plate of Supreme French Fries, and we both had smoothies. The total was 6,500 Colones, not cheap and not expensive. We both like our dishes and couldn't quite finish them. After lunch, we went back to the tourist info. center and asked about a water taxi to our lodge, La Baula Lodge. The guy there told us
One of Manoli's favorite photos, of a stump rebirth.
they had just left (probably waited for the boats we came in, then left, thinking that was it), but that they'd be back soon. I'm still not sure if he phoned them or not, but 15 or 20 minutes later the La Baula Lodge boat pulled up. We boarded and headed to the lodge. I knew it was a decent place from my research, but I wasn't expecting to be greeted by a guy with a tray of drinks for us! We were then taken directly to the office, with the guy dragging both our bags of course. They told us about the lodge a bit and asked if we were interested in a tour, such as the night tour to watch the turtles lay eggs on the beach. That being one of the reasons we were here, we quickly told him we'd love to go as soon as we could. Well, it ended up we got booked for a tour tonight, from 10pm til 12pm.
La Baula Lodge is even nicer than I expected. I got a good deal on our room, getting 3 nights for the price of two. The rooms are normally $105 per night, so
The Big Lagoon/Canal
Heading down the large canal or lagoon, after navigating the small one.
we paid $210 for the three. The lodge is not in Tortuguero village, or even the same side of the lagoon, so we have to get a water taxi back and forth. At 1,500 colones per trip, thats not so bad. Our room is on the end of one of five bungalow groups, with about 10 rooms in each building. We have a nice double bed, table and chair, and a very clean modern bathroom with a large walk-in shower. Besides the roooms, there is a an office building, a large open-sided restuarant, and a small but nice swimming pool with a little waterfall rock. We ate dinner at 7pm, and it was great. For $15 we had a buffet style dinner with several choices of salads, entrees, and coconut custard for dessert. We tried some of most things and they were all very good. When the waiter heard that tomorrow was our anniversary and that we'd be eating dinner in the village, he came up with two delicous smoothies, just for us! After dinner we met up with the guide for the night turtle tour, along with a group of 30 junior high school kids and chaperones from Denver,
Approaching the small village of Tortuguero.
Colorado. After the boat ride across the lagoon to Tortuguero village, and a hike across the village to the beach, we all walked along the beach, in the dark, for about an hour. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any turtles nesting. The guide had told us there was only a 50/50 chance we'd see one. Oh well, we tried. We did the hike back in reverse and arrived back in the lodge just before midnight. A nice warm shower and a welcome bed awaited.
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