A Farewell to Dad

Trip Start Jul 18, 2011
Trip End Aug 08, 2011

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Where I stayed
Bio Thermales
What I did
Hot Springs
Proyecto Asis

Flag of Costa Rica  , Alajuela,
Monday, August 1, 2011

Mark arranged for an early breakfast for us at 7:10 so we could eat with Dad before he headed to the airport. This morning was mixed fruit served in a pineapple boat and coconut French toast.  It was excellent.  We said sad farewells down by the gate.  Our hope was to visit the local wild animal rescue this morning, but they appear to be mostly on vacation at the moment.  At least no one is answering the phone.  So we chilled around the Treehouse a bit and packed up our stuff for another transfer.  This one is shorter, about 45 minutes.

Wait, strike that.  We got through to the animal rescue and  the roads were terrible and the trip  took closer to two hours. 

Mark unexpectedly showed up at our room with the news that he had gotten in touch with the animal rescue folks at Proyecto Asis (http://www.institutoasis.com) and they were available to show us around.  They charge $15 for kids and $25 for adults, but it is the one place we have been here where you really see the benefit that your money provides.  The founder of the proyecto is a vet who started rehabilitating wild animals in a place where it is not very common.  It is illegal to keep wild animals in Costa Rica and, of course, it's illegal to ship black market animals out of Costa Rica.  When animals are seized by the police, folks like those at the proyecto attempt to get them into shape for release back out into the wild.  Failing that, they try to give them a safe home for the rest of their lives.  They also receive and treat animals who were injured or abandoned in the wild.  The proyecto also does what it can to educate the public about the seamy side of animal trafficking and the importance of habitat conservation.  They accomplish this through tours like the one we took and by sponsoring volunteer visits of a week or more.  During our visit we saw about 10 U.S. teens who were working around the facility feeding and tending animals, building or cleaning enclosures and immersing themselves in Spanish.  Some of them were elsewhere teaching English in a local school.  We were there for all of 15 minutes before Kate and Josh began lobbying for a return trip to Costa Rica next year to volunteer with the proyecto.  Our guide, the son of the founder, took us around and introduced us to most of the animals he has in residence and let us interact with them in a safe manner.  Frequently this included getting to hold or pet them which was a real treat.  Kate's favorite animal was the kinkajou.  He was very soft and personable.  We were also very amused when it climbed Alex and gave him a good sniffing.  Alex enjoyed the kinkajou also, even though it did not respect his personal space.  Josh liked "Little Onion," the white-faced monkey that climbed on his shoulder and attempted to groom him.  As far as we know, the monkey found no fleas on Josh.  Mom liked Little Onion also, but because she enjoyed watching him trying to figure out how the water hose worked.  He clearly possessed significant intelligence.  Poor Onion cannot be released because he has no troop to return to.  There was an older monkey named Yessica who clearly enjoyed human contact and came to the side of the cage to hold hands.  In fact, she worked very hard to entice people over to touch her even when they were trying to do work.  Often, this worked.  We also stood below a cocoa tree and learned a use for the maraca plant which is to hold and perfume rain water so you can use if for a fragrant, refreshing splash at the end of a long day working in the fields.

Juan, our guide from the day before, picked up our luggage from the Tree Houses and swung by the proyecto to grab us and transport us to our next-to-last location.  It must take an enormous amount of patience to be a taxi driver in Costa Rica.  It can easily take 15 minutes to go 2km because of poor roads.  Juan will sometimes stop to release or add air to his tires so they can better grip the road  We stopped and picked up a few things at the store on the way to Bio Thermales Hots Springs near Aguas Zarcas.  We were not sure what kind of kitchen facilities we would have in our casita, so we did not get too much.  We understand that very simple catered meals can be had from a neighbor at a reasonable price, mostly rice, beans and chicken, the staples of the Costa Rican diet.

When we arrived the English speaking caretaker was not around so his wife took us on a short tour and got us settled.  During the day the locals can pay for a day pass and come use the springs and they do.  When we arrived there was quite a party going on.  Kate joined in and met several young people.  She was amused by some of their questions for her including whether or not she knew Justin Bieber and whether it was more common to see lesbians or gays in America.  They told her that lesbians are much more common in Costa Rica.  Maybe it's a macho thing.

The casita is very charming.  We have a bedroom, bath and sitting room/kitchenette.  On our bed were towels folded in the shape of elephants.  The pools are dotted in various places out in the open and in the forest.  In each spot there seems to be the primary thermal pool which is the hottest and then each subsequent pool has cold water added to it to make each of them cooler.  I’m not sure yet how far town is or if we can walk to it.  At some point I need to get some money and we will probably want more food also.  I will figure those things out tomorrow.  Wi Fi is a trickle, so I won’t be uploading very many photos for a while.
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