CAPTAIN SLOG STARDATE 91.12
Trip Start Mar 24, 2012
14Trip End Apr 06, 2012
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Where I stayed
The Sloth Sanctuary
What I did
sloths, sloths and more sloths
My internal alarm clock woke me at 6.15, I’m still not sure how it works but it is no respecter of time zones. I threw open the curtains to see a very grey day, drizzle and a choppy sea. This surely is not what one expects in Costa Rica?
Breakfast in the cabin again this morning and then off to see Buttercup the sloth and friends.
The tours were well organised with everyone gathering in the Equinox Theatre, each one of us having to sport a pretty coloured sticker with a number on (Oh how exciting – an orange sticker this time!) and then when the whole of your tour was there, we were sent out to our respective buses.
It was only about a 45 minute journey to the sanctuary. Costa Rica (Spanish for Rich Coast) is indeed very richly foliaged. The houses and living standards do appear to be not so rich. A lot of the houses are just four metal walls and corrugated iron roof, some of them defying gravity due to disrepair. They seem to be quite a happy people, a bit like the St Lucians when I visited there. Our guide told us that the main industries there were the production of bananas and pineapples – to be expected, the other two were telephone call centres for global companies and surprisingly, the production of microchips.
As we entered the Sanctuary we were confronted by a huge 20 foot statue of a Sloth standing up on its back legs. Apparently, this was the dinosaur version from way back when – not quite as cuddly as today’s cute little chaps.
We were met by the owner’s daughter and watched a short but very entertaining film about the smiley sloth. Everyone was as smitten as me, they are so lovely and this family are doing a wonderful job.
We met the adult sloths first. There are two types of sloth here on Costa Rica, a two toed and a three toed. They are related somewhere back in time but are now regarded as two completely different species who do not cross pollinate! Some of the sloths at the sanctuary were there as a result of injuries sustained crossing the road – they are too slow to be good jaywalkers. Their back legs are twice the length of their front legs and the long nails make it very hard for them to gain much purchase on tarmac.
I am ashamed to say as a human, others were there due to cruelty. They have been used as target practice or footballs or just hacked at with machetes. The Sanctuary try to educate the children now by going into schools and hopefully this cruelty will end.
One of the males had had to have a front leg amputated and obviously could not be returned to the wild. When he hangs on a branch, he falls off when he scratches his bum!! The Sanctuary do manage to return some but if they have been orphaned and there since they were babies they will not have learned from their mothers which leaves are safe to eat and which will kill them. Due to this they remain within the Sanctuary. One of the adults was quietly chewing on
a leaf and just dropped off to sleep in mid chew!
After meeting the adults it was on to the babies. We were not allowed to hold them as they are quite capable of lashing out with amazing unslothlike speed if they feel uncomfortable. However we were able to get up close and personal with them. We were asked not to use flash photography as it hurts their eyes and as I am crap with technology and couldn’t work out
how to turn off the flash, I have managed to get a couple of videos.
We then went on a very serene canoe trip down river into the jungle, 6 people and the driver to each boat. I was lucky to get in the front and had a good view of everything.
Next was a walk through the jungle area with a very informative guide who clearly adored her job, her enthusiasm was quite infectious.
We were then given a plate of fresh fruit and I had a chance to sit quietly away from everyone to watch the birds. There was a white heron waiting like a statue to stab its lunch. Also a really pretty little black bird with bright orange wings. The ugliest one I saw was an enormous
black turkey vulture on the shore of the river. He really would never make it into Hello magazine with such a wrinkled neck. Wonder how it would look with a little Botox?
Then it was back on the bus and we returned to the ship. There was a break in the clouds at this point and lots of blue sky. Unfortunately this didn’t last and sitting here at 5.30pm I can only see an overcast sky with misty highlands.
So Costa Rica as a holiday destination?
It has been on my list of must-sees for a long time. There is no doubt that it richly deserves its status of being one of the best protected bio-diverse countries of the world. It is extremely humid, but then this is tropical rainforest, their rainfall can be measured in feet rather than inches which is why it is so green. I only saw a part of the island there are also cloud forests, volcanoes (about 12 are active out of over 100), beaches and the area is also prone to earthquakes. It is not subject to hurricanes themselves but can receive a lashing when one passes by. The people are happy and proud to be Costa Rican, a lot of them don’t have much but seem to be content.
I have been disappointed with the grey overcast skies but sunshine isn’t everything. I have met Buttercup and her fellow rescuees and feel privileged to have done so. If ever you get the chance to meet them, seize it with both hands, you will not regret it. I may return for a longer tour and
stay holiday. I think this would be the only way to see what is a fascinating country.
Costa Rica – Rich Coast - indeed.