Saturday, November 23, 2013

Exciting Jungle Adventure Extension!!!

If you see that written anywhere in your tour description ... RUN!!!   I would like to say "not really" here ... but the extension turned out to be something we were little prepared for, thanks to our Tour Company's non-description of the actual trip we were taking!!  They said to bring a raincoat ... what they should have said was bring a poncho, a hat, a huge umbrella and eight changes of clothes.  To say it rained, was an understatement.

At any rate, we started off in the rain in our oldy moldy bus on the coach massage roads of dirt and mud.  We passed through huge fields of bananas, all sacked up in blue bags to prevent the killer spiders from biting the harvest men and to provide a micro-climate for bigger, better bananas.  The bunches are so heavy, they are cut and loaded on to cables that are then dragged through the fields to the trucks.  This setup is for the tourists ... they pulled them out, then pushed them back to the roadside, but we got the idea.
Having seen lots of huge Brahma bulls, I never got a shot through the windows, though I tried many times.  Finally!!!  One sort of clear so you can see their size.  They are revered here ... several towns even had huge statues on the street corners.
We were told we could only have a small overnight bag with us for this three days.  THAT is my major complaint about this trip.  I'm sorry, but they lied!!  We arrived at the end of the road, literally, and debarked to find a group of guides posing, with Carla as OUR designated guide.  As they unloaded the bus, we quickly discovered that EVERYONE had REGULAR luggage.  We were the only two that had large purses for our stuff.  I was immediately unhappy ... why couldn't we bring OUR luggage???
With no answer to THAT question, we walked over the muddy bank to find our chariot to the "Eco-Lodge".  Oh my ... this isn't looking good at all.  Not that I'm a hotel snob, I've spent many nights in a tent and even in my horse trailer ... but I was prepared!!  We were NOT prepared for this!
See the big tanks in the above picture??  Propane is what all the boat engines run on.  That was a shocker ... no fuel here ... and no other transportation of any kind to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.  ALL travel is by boat.
This little girl looked about as happy as I did!!!
Down the canal we went ... herky jerky because the prop kept hitting the mud ... in spots where they knew it wasn't shallow, they gunned it!!  This is the "luggage boat" taking everyone's full size suitcases to the hotel.  
Believe me, we are in the jungle now.  You thought you saw jungle before????  Not like this!!
Finally the canal opened up into another wider river.  By the way, it was a slow 14 mile trip!!!
Along the way they tried to point out local wildlife.  This small caiman was basking in the clouds and rain ... oh yes, it's still raining.
Finally ... our dock!!!  Hmmmm wonder what the "hotel" looks like ... or should I say "eco lodge"!!
By now I'm thinking eco lodge stands for tent.  We're going to be in the rain in a tent ... and we are not prepared!!  With two small cheapo umbrellas, we're in trouble.  Turned out I was right!!
Yes ... rain, rain and more rain.  This pictures describes our trip EXACTLY.  The good news is that this was the dock for our hotel.
Finally the rain slowed to a drizzle and we walked around the compound.  Notice the rooms are all on stilts ... and that big line underneath the building??  That's the sewer line.  Nothing is on the ground except 12 inches of rain.  They get 250 inches here every year!!!
Looking better ... this is the walkway to our room.  I think it was 95 degrees with of course 100 percent humidity.  The windows were screen ... no glass ... and we had a ceiling fan.  
Minimal is the word I would use ...
At least we had a bathroom, but no washcloths, hand towels or soap.  Hot water runs only in the shower and you had to say a prayer before you flushed the toilet.  Mostly it didn't work.  Hey, we're in the jungle!!
The first order of business was to unpack our one change of clothes, gather our umbrellas and head back to the boat for a short trip along the river and around the corner to the town of Tortuguero ... you guessed it ... Turtle Town, a turtle research station.  
This map shows the nesting patterns of several varieties of turtles, including the Green Sea Turtle and the Leatherback.  They come from all over to lay their eggs on this one sandy shore of Costa Rica.
A very short walk through the forest landed us on the beach.  
Although we didn't see any turtles, we did see their nest holes, several depressions in the sand.  At night, the babies emerge and make a mad dash for the water, hoping to survive the gauntlet of predators.  
As we walked back to town, we found main street and were allowed an hour or so of shopping.  Main street is about 8 feet side, mostly sand and dirt, with some sections of concrete, as here.  Small houses with no doors were open to the elements and usually had someone selling something out the front door.
This beautiful Toucan was spying on us from above ... the only image of a Toucan I have ... but what a beautiful specimen!!  Now THIS is what I came to the jungle for!!!
Believe me when I tell you it was hot   h o t  HOT!!  These guys were selling coconuts for around $4.00 each and were cleaning up!!
Immediately we heard the beating of drums ... two of the local kids were drumming away on plastic water cans and a 50 gallon drum.  Not exactly the best timing, but they sure were cute!!
Their sister stood by and collected the money!!
As I mentioned before, all Costa Rican kids attend school ... this is the music building!!
and this is the grade school.  Every building was brightly painted!!
I'm sure this baby spends most of his day sleeping ... it was soooo hot I can't imagine him surviving in this climate ... but he looked pretty healthy!!
Critters everywhere ... the good, the bad and the ugly!!
And the beautiful!!!
And the noisy!!!  Howlers with their curly tails ...
When we got back we took a quick walk around the compound, checking out the pool.  THE POOL!!!  No one told us they had a pool!!!  As everyone else jumped in their swimsuits and cooled off, we sat in front of our rooms sweltering.  Small overnight bags don't have room for swimsuits.  Now I'm REALLY unhappy!!!  Trying to take my mind off being damp, sticky and HOT, we went on a short photo shoot before dinner.
Butterflies are here by the thousands ... some migrating and some not, they were all amazingly beautiful.
Down next to the boat dock we discovered this little blue crab.
And THEN Patty discovered the spiders ... OMG they are HUGE!!!  Their webs were 10 feet wide between the trees, and thankfully higher up than we were tall.  This guy ... 3 inches across at least.
First night in Tortugero as the sun sets, and it's dinner time.  Patty and I are shown to the second of two restaurants for dinner, where they have prepared a table just for the two of us.  All of the other guests are chatting away at THEIR tables about the days events, and the two stepchildren are sitting alone at our table.  For every meal.  The rest of the group from our boat is eating at the "first" restaurant.  I told Patty ... we are sneaking over to the other restaurant where we can sit and talk to other people.    
Tomorrow has GOT to get better ... little did I know!!!

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