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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cruise: Costa Rica

** Nancy and I leaving the ship **

We had a sea day after the Panama Canal before we reached Costa Rica. This was the one place where Himself and I took separate excursions. He wanted to do the zip lines thru the rainforest canopy... which I wanted to do too BUT you could not take pictures while zip lining. So I opted to do a canopy gondola ride instead.

My excursion was an all day one involving both a boat ride on a river including a mangrove forest and then a gondola ride thru the rainforest canopy. I went with a new friend Nancy, her husband and father-in-law.
We started with the river ride. We saw a lot of wildlife! Probably about 30 different types of birds, 4 types of lizards, crabs and crocodiles...BIG crocs!
** Mangrove tree **

** Coconut tree, they grow wild near water **

** One of the many birds I saw **

** Heron **

** Another heron **
My favorites were the lizards. There were several brown basilisks - these are the ones who have the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard" because they're the ones who can run on their hind legs across water. The ones we saw were basking, and there was some joking that we should knock them into the water to see them run.

** Brown basilisk **
** In action (not my photo) **
We also saw some really big iguanas, both the green and spiny types. All those cute little lizard babies you see in pet stores aren't going to be cute and little for very long...

The crocs weren't as interesting as the gators in the Everglades. They were bigger but they just sat there for the most part. There was one basking on a log jam, apparently for a long time, because when he slid into the water at our boat's approach he nearly scared the life out of a small egret who had been perched next to him. I guess the egret didn't realize he had been standing about 8 inches from a very large bird-eating-monster until it moved. I've never heard that particular sound come out of an egret before!

After the ride we had some refreshments of fresh fruit and juice and coffee (Costa Ricans are very proud of their coffee. Our guide said it is considered rude to refuse a cup. If you don't want any, you say "Yes, thank you... but maybe later.")

Then it was back on the bus for our ride to the rain forest.

The canopy ride was nice. The gondola seated 8 people in two-person benches, so everyone had a great view. The ride was about an hour (I'm not sure how far we went) - with the gondola turning around halfway thru, of course. The guide was very informative and if he didn't know the answer he would pull out a book and look it up on the spot. He also had some specimens he would pass around as we came to various points on the ride.

After the ride was lunch there at the tram park. Beans, rice, chicken, baked plantains, fresh fruit, salad and choice of fresh juice (I picked guava) and of course - COFFEE! After eating, there was time to walk around the gardens and to shop in the gift shop.

One of the things available was "Café Britt" coffee. What made that so interesting to me was that on the ship a few days earlier, there had been a "coffee tasting" class. In this class there was only one brand tasted (tho several varieties of that brand) and the spiel was that Princess had a special arrangement with the Café Britt coffee company to sell their very fine coffee -- and you could ONLY get it in large quantities (minimum 10 bags) thru Princess or online. Yet here it was for sale at this souvenir stand. AND the young man who was assisting me said that a particular type was the favorite of his family and you could buy it in the local grocery stores too! Oh... it was 20% cheaper in the gift shop too... I picked up 4 bags.

OK Princess... hasn't anyone ever told you it's not nice to lie?

** On the tram ride **

** Going up! **

** Looking down 110 feet **
** Beautiful plants **

** variegated squirrel **

** Mahogany toucan **

Himself took 2 excursions. His morning excursion was the zip lining. From his telling, I would have loved it and if I ever get the chance, I WILL be doing it! They did 8 zips; some were 120 feet above the ground. Wow!

He had a bit of time before his afternoon excursion left, so he went down to the beach and looked at some souvenir sellers.

The afternoon excursion was a river boat ride, also thru a mangrove area, to a Scarlet Macaw sanctuary. Ended up it wasn't just macaws but also toucans, sloths and other wildlife that had been made pets of then abandoned. The sanctuary rehabilitates those who can go back to the wild, and cares for those who cannot make that transition from pet to wild.

** Climbing to the zip line platform **

** Himself zipping **

** Costa Rica souvenirs **
A traditional coffee maker, a traditional whistle in the shape of a toucan, a small clay Scarlet Macaw, a Christmas ornament with a toucan and macaw, a carved cross and the coffee.

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