Next up was the port of Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. We had read many positive things about Costa Rica so we were looking forward to seeing some of the country. Located between Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica has 800 miles of coastline on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. It is known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. Twenty-five percent of the country is made up of protected land and jungles with 75 wildlife refuges, 28 national parks, 13 wetlands and mangroves, 9 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves. It is the only country without an army or military and is called “Switzerland of the America’s” because of its neutrality during international conflicts. We read that Costa Rica has excellent healthcare with reasonable costs. Ninety-nine percent of their energy comes from renewable resources. It has a population of a little over five million. Like Panama, it is very popular with retirees from the United States and other countries looking for a cheaper place to live.
We booked an excursion which was advertised as an exciting tram ride through the rainforest where you see a variety of birds and animals native to Costa Rica. Their advertisement said “feel the adrenaline”. We were also going to visit a sloth rescue center. After the disappointing excursion in Panama City we were optimistic about this one. Well, it was better than Panama City, but not by much. And these excursions are not cheap!!
On the positive side we had an excellent guide who continually entertained us with information about her country. She was enthusiastic and really tried hard to make it a great day for everyone. The poor selection of sites to visit was not her fault.
After a long bus ride through the countryside we arrived at the Rainforest Adventures Jaco park. We didn’t really mind the long ride because our guide’s narration helped pass the time and we enjoyed seeing the countryside.
The exhilarating tram ride was nothing more than a slow moving covered chair lift through the tree canopy. We saw no birds or animals. We rode to the top and the chair lift turned around and went back down. As I overheard another person behind us comment on the way back, “Well that was pretty boring!” Yes, I would agree. But we did see a small waterfall! LOL
A park guide then took us on a tour through a garden area showing us some of the flora of Costa Rica. There were a number of flowers as well as herbs.
He showed us how the berries of one plant could be used for face paint.
One very interesting plant had several small bats sleeping under a large leaf. He explained how the bats chew the leaves of the plants to create a folded area for them to sleep under. If a predator moves the leaves, they are instantly alerted to danger.
At another location he picked up a tiny ant that had a grip on a long branch and showed how that single ant had enough strength to hold up the branch.
We saw a cacao tree or cocoa tree with the fruit attached and a pineapple plant.
We went to a butterfly garden but there were not many butterflies and they rarely landed on any plants to get a picture of them. Bill managed to snap one picture of a butterfly that appears to have eyes on the wings.
Lunch was included and it was provided here. It was a typical Costa Rican meal of beans and rice along with some chicken, beef and salad. Our guide had told us earlier on the bus that the typical Costa Rican family has rice and beans at ALL three meals every day.
I noticed a table with “Pura Vida” painted on it. Our guide told us earlier that is Costa Rica’s motto and means “Pure Life” or “Enjoy Life”, “Live Life”. It is often used in greeting one another and defines the lifestyle of the country.
Leaving there we headed back towards the ship and we stopped at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. We had a very sweet young girl as our guide who nervously said she was trying to learn English and she apologized for not speaking well. We thought she did an excellent job and at the end of the tour told her so, along with giving her a tip.
During our time at the center the animals were being fed in their cages.
I will let the pictures show the animals we saw.
One monkey was released a few months back but returns each day to grab some food.
The sloths in the trees were camouflaged and hard to see.
We did see a two month old baby sloth and a five month old sloth.
At dinner that night we shared a table with a gentleman from Toronto traveling alone, as well as a WW2 Navy veteran from Los Angeles traveling with his daughter. He was going to celebrate his 100th birthday a few days after the cruise ended. He told us he plays bridge once a week and gets there by driving on the freeway. He said his driver’s license is good until he is 101. I had to cringe because Bill and I have both experienced the horrendous traffic on the freeways in Los Angeles. He takes no medication and uses glasses for reading only. He has been cruising since 1976. His daughter said he entertained people on the plane to Florida by doing jumping jacks and exercises. Such are the people we meet at shared dinner tables!
Today, May 1st was a very special day for us, our eleventh wedding anniversary! We felt blessed to be able to celebrate it in Costa Rica.
Next up: A day at sea and then Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala