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Published: April 6th 2018
The alarm goes off at 6:30am and Karen's not happy. She says she wants to relax. She should know that traveling with me is not always relaxing. I had asked her before we left if there were any excursions that interested her. She offered no opinion and so, out of desperation and so as not to just sit in the port doing nothing, I chose several activities for a few of the ports. Now the day of reckoning is upon us and she's balking at the thought of leaving our stateroom to venture out into the unknown. But I've already spent $90pp for this tour so we need to see it through.
Following a quick breakfast, we meet our group on Deck 2 at 8am. There appears to be some delay in boarding our buses. It's crowded on the narrow pier with people and vehicles moving about. Finally it's our turn and we board one of two buses. They're modern, comfortable and with air conditioning, an important feature since the temperature is forecast to be in the low 90s. We settle in to our seats, 41/42. Karen takes the window seat. Always. Our guide explains that Costa Rica's main three
exports in order are pineapple, bananas and finally coffee but the top industry is tourism. The average worker in Costa Rica makes around $240/month.
We ride for about 40 minutes to a railway crossing where we leave the buses and board a train. This same train route is used during the coffee season to transport the beans to town. We get decent seats with Karen again next to the open window. Actually, all the windows are open with wooden bench seats, kind of like the "Wild West" trains a hundred years ago except that an old diesel locomotive is pulling it. I have no idea where we're going but we are moving ever so slowly. We travel right through towns, in between houses. We are still going slow. Throughout the whole trip we go slow. About 15 mph for around 15 miles. Since we pass through the back yards of the village people, they come out to wave. The kids like the train. The old folks just sit in their chairs and stare at us. I don't think the train runs so often to be irritating to the residents as they are all smiling. Our guide, Chris, says everyone
in Costa Rica is always happy. Their motto is "Pura Vida" or Pure Life. From the appearance of many of these homes and the condition of the town, I would think that perhaps they're saying, "Ay ay ay, mas gringos riding on that goofy train."
The train stops in the middle of a town, right in front of the public park. The local dance school has arranged for their students to demonstrate their dancing skills for our group from the ship. Dressed in traditional period costumes, they offer several performances and later pose for pictures for cruise ship travelers. Taking advantage of the influx of tourists, a number of townspeople lay out their wares in the park, selling fruit, jewelry, hats and trinkets. Karen finds a small bracelet for $2. Soon we're back in the same bus and we make 30 minute stop at a store, El Jardin, selling souvenirs, coffee and all sorts of stuff. Karen finds a coffee cup she liked with a macaw on it. With her prized coffee cup in hand, we get on board and find our seats with no problem but others boarding after us are experiencing issues since someone sat in the
wrong seat, others followed and now it's all a big mess. We're not involved but others are and some are pissed.
Leaving the gift shop with many of those on board the bus now sitting in different seats, we turn off on a dirt road and travel about 40 minutes to the Tarcoles River mangroves. Karen finds a good seat aboard one of two flat bottom boats and we set out into the mangroves, scouring the shores of the brackish water in search of crocodiles, snakes, birds or bats. We find all of those but the snakes and the crocodile is pretty small. We spend over an hour on the water before returning to our buses for the final journey back to the ship. It's back down the 40 minute dirt road and another half hour back to the ship. The bus drops us right on the pier next to our ship. While some in our group choose to shop at the foot of the pier, we board the ship and return directly to our room for showers and a wardrobe change. We have reservations at Sel de Mer tonight at 5:30pm.
We report to the maitre'd and
we're seated at a table for two. Dinner is a treat tonight at the most expensive restaurant offered on the ship. We begin with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. While looking over the menu, the chef sends out a complimentary scallop and seaweed dish. Karen orders Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, broiled Maine lobster and crepes Suzette. I had the Steak Tartare with Caviar, Whole Dover Sole Meunière and Crepes Suzette followed by some truffles and coffee. Everything was delicious except for the Caviar. Ugh. Karen loved it. They served some baguettes with toppings and some sliced cheese. I tried some of the cheese with rock salt and chives and offered some to Karen which she also enjoyed. Our waiter returned and, picking up the cheese plate, asked, "Would you care for some more butter, sir?" To which I replied, "Yes, it's delicious." Apparently, neither of us are cheese connoisseurs since we can't tell the difference between cheese and butter. It was good though, especially with the rock salt sprinkles.
We finish at 7:30 but decide to skip the entertainment for the evening and return to our room. I work on today's blog and Mom watched "House Hunters International". Tomorrow it's
Nicaragua. Man, that butter was good!
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