Monday, October 05, 2009

Bats, Monkeys and sloths! OH MY!

We have docked in Costa Rica and are off on our excursion. The first part is by bus through Limon, where our tour guide starts educating us on Costa Rica. His name was Eric and he was very educational. The buses were also large and comfortable with great air conditioning! Eric told us that Costa Rica is only about the size of west virgina and has about 4.5 million people. The took the money they would have spent on the army and put it into education and are now also using it to build up their reputation as a great ecotourism destination. He said that they now teach ecotourism as a subject starting in grade school all the way through high school as their #1 industry is now tourism.

The bus ride took us to a banana plantation which was also very educational. It was the Del Monte Filadelfia plantation and I had no idea that bananas weren't native to central America because they are everywhere and grow like weeds. But they were brought there in the 1890s from asia. We watched as they processed the bunches of bananas and both me and Kevin thought it would be really weird to be a worker in the plantation and every day have people come by and take pictures and video of you doing your job.

The bus then took us to a little train that is a refurbished 1940s train they use so tourists can ride through the jungle and along the shore to take pictures of wildlife. Anytime someone spotted something, we'd stop for everyone to take pictures. Along the way there were howler monkeys, several sloths and lots of jungle which is pretty neat as long as you're in the train and not walking through it. At one point, the tracks run alongside a beautiful black sand beach that is completely deserted and undeveloped. We all got off the train and tromped around taking pictures for a while and that was pretty cool. The waves were beautiful.

Once back on the bus, we went to the river and transferred to boats. The boats were pretty loaded and rode about six inches above the water which of course has caymans and crocodiles in it (though we didn't see any). What we did see were bats hanging upside down on a tree trunk, lots of various birds and exotic butterflies as well as numerous sloths again. Coast Rica must be sloth central and they are the perfect animal for photo ops as they move so slow. The boat ride was fun and when we got back to the dock they had a little buffet of fresh bananas, pineapples (which were also imported as a crop) and fresh coconut. If you've never had a tree ripened banana, its fabulous!!

All in all it was a great fun day as we saw a little bit of everything that Costa Rica had to offer. I'd definitely go there again!

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