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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Costa Rica - Part 2


The alarm went off at 5:00 and we dressed, repacked and headed to Denny's for a light breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt. The bus was a little late, but only about ten minutes, so at 6:20, we were on the road to Pachira Lodge at Tortuguero. You can't just drive to Tortuguero, you have to either get there by boat or by plane.

We had a great guide, Hernande and our driver, George was very nice. George would take us as far as the river, but Hernande was coming all the way with us. He was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour. We couldn't stop on the winding road for photo ops, but he did warn us in advance when one was coming up. I did manage to get a quick picture of the place where two rivers meet. The one on the right is clear and clean and one on the left is filled with silt.

We drove through Braulio Carrillo National Park where we stopped for a real breakfast at Guapiles, our guides' home town. Just about all of the meals served are buffet style with plenty of choices for those who like to try new dishes. After breakfast, we went for a short walk around the grounds, which were beautiful.

We walked down the path to the river with another couple, Cathy and Ellis and took some pictures.

We then continued on and turned towards San Albert Nueva. In this area we went through many banana plantations, which are not a new thing for us. However, we are not used to driving through gates with guards to get through them. The first one was Chiquita Bananas and the second one was Del Monte. We actually drove right through the processing areas.

They have banana trains which are a series of poles and cables that start in the growing area and run to the processing area. The blue wrapped bunches of bananas are hooked to the cable and are pulled to the staging area. There the workers take them off the hooks and discard the blue plastic. They are put into a wash or bath and rinsed, then sorted and the bananas going for export are rinsed again, before being packed into cardboard boxes ready for shipping.

We all wave goodbye to George as he heads back to San Jose with a bus load of people just coming in off the river.

Here we see Hernande helping Debbie and Gary onto the boat we will take down the river to the lodge. We are about to enter the rain forest.

We cruised down the river and saw plenty of birds.

Here we have some spoonbills watching us from the river's edge.

We arrived at the lodge and after checking in and finding our cabins, it was time for lunch before heading out across the river/lagoon to the village of Tortuguero for a tour of the beach and see where the green turtles nest.

What amazed us most was the beach. The sand is black from the volcanic rock and the waves were huge, a surfers beach for sure.

The pictures don't do justice to the size of the waves, but you get the idea. They told us that this was an extremely calm day. I am not sure we wanted to be there on a rough day.

Here, we can see how black the sand is and it was very gritty sand, not smooth like we are used to here.

After the beach, we wandered around the village and checked out all the souvenir shops until it was time to head back to the lodge. Here is a picture of the local church in the village.

Once back at the lodge there was time for a cocktail before dinner.

Someone, I won't mention any names Bob, let it slip to our travel agent that it was our honeymoon and we were presented with a drink at the dinner table. A hollowed out pineapple covered with fruit flowers and balls was filled with Pina Colada and two straws for sharing. It was really very nice, but now the cat was out of the bag and our fellow travellers knew what was up. After this, it was time to head to our cabin for some much needed sleep.

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