Friday, July 30, 2010

Jungle Boat Ride

We were up late last night turtle-watching, and then both of us read until about 11:30, so it was a rude awakening this morning at dawn when the Howler Monkeys began - well, howling! - to (re)claim their territory! After breakfast we once again got on boats for a jungle boat ride - like Disneyland, only real! - where we viewed lots of other jungle life... The caimen pictures are from the river in front of our lodge. (This afternoon there is a kayaking option, but Taylor and I have decided that a) given the caimens and b) the rowdy boys in one family on the trip, we will opt out and go to the pool instead!) My zoom lens doesn't focus very well, but these pictures will give you some idea of what we saw...

Deeper into the jungle

Thursday was a long travel day as we made our way (leisurely) by bus and by boat to Tortuguero National Park, seeing lots of interesting things (including these remains of a rhinocerous beetle) along the way. We toured at a Pineapple Plantation - fascinating - and again at a Flower Farm, and stopped at a banana plantation enroute to our boat. This area gets 300+ inches of rainfall a year, but even without the rainfall our clothes are soaked (from persperation!) and nothing dries... Our lodge at Tortuguero is very primitive, and we're slathered in Off and sun screen (I actually ran out of sunscreen and had to pay $17 for a small bottle of what must be gold standard sunblock to see us through the rest of the trip!). After dinner, we all dressed in black - long pants, long sleeves - and made our way by boat to the turtle nesting area. There, we hiked through the jungle in the dark (the only light was from flashes of lightening and the occasional peek of moonlight when the clouds parted) to the turtle laying area... Taylor was right up fropnt, following closely behind the guide and picking her way expertly between the trees and along the path... She didn't want to miss a thing! Apparently last night the amount of light was making the turtles nervous because two aborted their laying chambers and bolted (as much as a turtle can bolt!) for the sea. However, we were finally successful in seeing a turtle lay her eggs - over a hundred!... Fascinating - and an almost sacred time! There were no pictures allowed, but the experience was amazing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zip Lines and River Trips!

The entire staff of Playa Hermose lined up on the driveway to bid us farewell as our tour bus pulled out on our way to the Avenal Volcano. After crossing the lake, we took the tram up to...well, I don't know "up to" what, but high, and into the clouds! Then we were all outfitted with the appropriate equipment and given the appropriate instruction (take off and landing positions; what to do "in case" as in, in case you get stuck before you get to the landing platform!) and prepared to zip line down! One by one we descended, platform to platform, ultimately going along 9,000 feet of line descending 4,100 feet... The kids (and some of the adults) found it great good fun. I kept asking myself, "What the hell are you doing?" - but, once "in" there was no way out but via the line, so down I went. It wasn't that I found it frightening - I was just so busy trying to remember the instructions that I couldn't relax and enjoy the ride! Still, I can say I was proud to have done it! Today we spent on the river. We've seen Jesus Christ lizards (the inspiration for Jurassic Park), iguanas, poison dart frogs, crocodiles, lots of birds, an armadillo and a sloth, and tons of howler monkeys, some of whom protested our invasion of their territory by pooping and peeing on us in our boats! It's been a fun day! Tomorrow we're of to Tortuguero...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Volcano Mud Baths

Taylor's new best friend is caladryle - our tour guide arranged for the bus to stop at a pharmacie so we could find some anti-itch relief for her multiple bites (she has rearranged her estimate of bug-bites-acquired to over 1,000 by the end of the trip, and we have started calling her a "mosquito magnet"!) She now sports pink polka-dotted skin as she tries to combat her itching!) This morning we all experienced what is known as "Costa RIcan Car Massage" as we traveled on dirt roads to the base of the volcano known as "Rincon de la Viella" where we divided into three groups - for tubing, waterfall swimming, or mud baths. Taylor decided tubing was too rigorous, waterfall swimming too cold - and a mud spa treatment sounded perfect (although they cautioned that it takes ten years off you, so children should be cautious lest they disappear!)... Then the more agile mounted horses to ride to the mud baths, and we indulged in a morning of sauna, mud baths, and hot springs! Time even to ride an ox on our way back to the hotel (Taylor is here pictured with another new friend, Morgan).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Snorkeling Trip

After a room service breakfast (of course!) we headed for the beach where we caught the boat for our snorkeling trip. (One good thing abouit being on the water, Taylor says, is that the mosquitoes don't fly that far! Taylor has counted her bug bites and done the math, and at the current rate (and the bugs seem to like her more than they like me!) she figures she will end the week with 504 bites!) We s[ent a delightful few hours sailing and swimming and snorkeling. We explored an open cave which filled with water with each wave, saw mating sea turtles (they have to stay together 24 hours), dolphins, puffer fish, oysters, clams, spider star fish, urchins... It was quite an excursion! That water is warm and refreshing! We're of now to the "Welcome Dinner" and about to begin the official tour! (Although Taylor has announced that she'd be happy just to stay here at the resort for the rest of the week!)
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Costa Rica: The Jungle and Rain Forest Adventure Begins!

The move completed (FINALLY, about 4:30!) Taylor and I had a couple of hours to relax before heading to the airport for our grand Costa Rican Adventure! Although she made scrupulous lists and schedules of what we were going to do (including allowing for half an hour of sleep on our red-eye!) she was asleep before the plane ever took off about 11:215 - and stayed asleep through the landing in Miami! After a layover we were indeed on our way to Costa Rica! When Tauck picked us up at the airport, we discovered another grandmother and granddaughter who were also arriving for our tour, and Taylor and Mia spent a happy afternoon playing together!
We enjoyed a "welcome drink" on our patio, and then had lunch (have subsisted on a junk food diet the day before!). THe dining room of Playa Hermosa opens onto the beach - and a chicken yard! (Breakfast or dinner, we wondered?) There was other wildlife as well, including this iguana who joined us at the pool...
Tomorrow we are going to take a sailing and snorkeling trip, and then our tour starts officially at 6 p.m. with the "Welcome Dinner."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Transition Week"

This week is "Transition Week" for Alex as she starts Pre-School. Parent and Child spend an hour a day together getting introduced to preschool, and helping the child get comfortable with teachers, structure, facility. Alex is finding the playground great good fun - but the group stuff? The "sit on the floor and listen" part of school? Her response: "Not me! I'm done! I'm going home!" (That was the first day. She IS getting better!)