Feliz Navidad de Costa Rica

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Central America Caribbean » Costa Rica
December 25th 2010
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 9.62, -84.63

Christmas morning in Puntarenas is warm and beautiful. We had a full day with all the highlights being Costa Rican animals -- monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, lots of birds and a blowfish.

Chico and Andrew picked us up early for the day and we first stopped at a private house that Chico knew about. The lady who lives there lets people come by and feed the family of monkeys that lives in her yard (for two dollars per person). I don't know if she is on the regular tourist circuit, but we weren't the only visitors that morning. Several of the white-faced Capuchin monkeys were eager to accept handouts, but only after looking in the direction of the alpha male to see if it was okay with him. Philip noticed that the monkeys seemed to know which branches were best for running down, and as long as he held the piece of banana near the stronger branches, the monkeys scampered down and grabbed the banana. Actually sometimes they didn't grab, but were rather gentle when taking the fruit.

Second stop for the morning was to view a waterfall. While we were stopped, Andrew pointed out some small plants on the side of the road that he called sensitive plants. When they were touched, the leaves immediately curled up and closed. They did open back out after a few mintues though.

The next stop was for the Crocodile Jungle Safari, where we were guaranteed to see lots of Crocodiles and birds. A National Geographic team estimates that the Tárcoles River has approximately 3,000 crocodiles living in it. We saw about 12-15 of them. I wonder how many more were close enough to touch, but out of sight. It was just a little creepy being on the water there.

During the cruise we passed many birds, some were on the shore, others flying high above us or just skimming along right above the water. The turkey vultures and the frigate birds were the predominant ones in this area. Much of the river area right at the start of the cruise was newly created by Hurricane Tomás. The hurricane caused extremely heavy rainfall in Costa Rica. The area where we started our cruise was formerly a parking lot and gift shop. Temporary structures have been set up to accommodate the people who want to go on the cruise.

After getting our fill of watching the crocodiles, we drove to La Fiesta del Marisco Restaurante for lunch of ceviche and all kinds of fish with rice and beans. Very tasty and it seemed like we were the only tourists there. Erin ordered shrimp cocktail from the appetizers menu. It was huge with over a dozen shrimp served with a sauce kind of like Thousand Island dressing. She said it was great. Usually when we travel I avoid ordering shrimp although I love it. Many other cultures serve shrimp with the heads still on. These shrimp looked just like they would if ordered in the States, except that they were much bigger. The restaurant did have a big lunch crowd, and a young boy of about twelve was working there wearing a day-glo orange vest directing cars in the parking lots. He was one of the family members; the girls in the family were waiting tables and cleaning.

Before heading back to the resort, we stopped for souvenirs at a woodmaking shop. I am the proud new owner of a rosewood backscratcher crafted by hand in Costa Rica. We visited two different hotels just to see their grounds and views offered. One was quite exclusive and upscale with a gorgeous view of the Pacific. The other more down-to-earth, but with a lovely little church set in a beautiful garden. We also visited a sugar cane plantation and had the opportunity to squeeze juice out of the cane and taste it.

After all this activity, we headed back to the resort. Since it was only the middle of the afternoon, Philip and Erin went fishing on the pier. Chico loaned them his rod and reel and some lures that would be good for coastline fishing. He and Andrew had fished on the river while we were gawking at crocodiles on the cruise, and we stopped to give away their day's catch to one of the families living nearby as we left the Tárcoles River area.

I think the fishing may have been Erin's favorite thing on the trip. She should tell this story, but since she's not here, I'll do my best. She and Philip went out to the pier around 5 o'clock to see what they could catch. After only 15-20 minutes there, they pulled out a funny-looking fat fish with teeth. When one of the employees on the pier saw what they had, he came running over waving and shouting something to them, but it was in Spanish so they didn't understand immediately what he was concerned about. He took over handling the fish right away and, between his little bit of English knowledge and Erin's little bit of Spanish, they finally understood that the fish was very poisonous and would bite. The catch drew quite a crowd of admiring onlookers. The employee removed the hook and lure and held up the blowfish to show everyone. It was rather lethargic lying on the pier, but he rubbed it's belly which seemed to wake it up. He threw it back in the Pacific when Erin and everyone had finished looking.

After all the excitement of the fish, we enjoyed dinner with an International theme. It was much better than the one the night before, or I just choose better things to eat. Erin and I went to the evening show, and saw more acrobats, singers and dancers. The show's are better than I expected considering the size of the resort.

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