Tortuguero and the rainforest!

Trip Start Dec 22, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2007

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

First of all, Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone had a good one. 

So, we woke up at 5:30am on Sunday, had breakfast at the hotel at 6:00am, and were met by our tour guide, Edgar, in the lobby at 6:30am.  There were 10 of us total on the trip, although 1 person got delayed and would be joining us later.  The adventurers include:
Lance - my roommate for the trip, 27 yrs old, originally from China (Lance is his "English" name), now living and working at a bank in Toronto
Andrea - in her 50's, originally from New York, now lives in Hollywood, FL, typical New Yorker - very loud, strong accent
Bill & Lillian - couple from Las Vegas, late 30's
Bob & Liz - couple from Atlanta, in their 50's
Susan & Dorothy - sisters from Clearwater, FL, in their 50's
Simone - originally from Australia, now living in New York, late 20's or early 30's.

The first day we hopped in the bus and drove for about 4 hours to the Carribean coast.  Along the way, we stopped at the Del Monte banana farms for a quick tour of their facilities, and also had lunch at a local restaurant.  We arrived at the coast, and then transferred to a boat, as the lodge we were staying at is tucked way back in the rainforest and only reachable by a 2 1/2 hour boat ride!  It's called the Turtle Beach Lodge (check out for more info) and is part of a national park that preserves the natural rain forest, and is famous for helping preserve the green sea turtle that comes to lay its eggs on the beach every year. 

Along the way, we stopped at the tiny town of Tortuguero, which is located on a land-bar between the intercoastal canal and the Carribean.  As you'll see in the pictures, this is the closest I've come to the 3rd World...actually walking on the same dirt streets and right past their tin shacks that they live in.  Very awakening experience!

After the exciting boat ride (see pics and video) through the rainforest, we arrived at the lodge for a late lunch, then spent the afternoon walking on the beach, playing a little pool, having a few beers, and just relaxing overall

To this point, the rainforest has definitely earned it's's been raining ever since I got here on Saturday and hasn't stopped yet (it's still raining as I'm writing this).  That's been the only downside of the trip so far...I haven't seen the sun yet!  Because it's tropical, Costa Rica has two seasons....Wet and Dry.  Supposedly, we're at the transition from the Wet season to the Dry (January - April), but the Wet seems to be hanging on for dear life.  Apparently, the Caribbean coast is almost always wet, and the Pacific coast is much drier, so we're hoping for better weather as we head west.  Every day so far, my clothes have gotten completely drenched, despite a water proof jacket and pants, and I'm going through about 3 changes of clothes per day.

The second day at the lodge, we woke up at 5:00am and headed out on a boat tour of the rainforest at 5:30am.  The rainforest borders the Caribbean and has tons of intercoastal canals running through it.  To get a good look at the wildlife, we had to get out early.  The trip was great...we saw many varieties of birds, we saw monkeys (2 very different kinds), unique plants and flowers, etc.  Our guide is a botanist and teaches at the local university when he's not doing these tours, so he's very knowledgeable and speaks decent English.  The tour took about 3 hours and we came to the lodge for breakfast around 8:30am.

At 10:00am, Lance and I headed out do some kayaking.  We kayaked up and down the same canals for another 3 hours, soaking it all in (pun intended).  It was pouring with rain the whole time, and despite 2 waterproof layers, I got drenched to the bone again.  But it was an abolute blast and something I'll never forget.  It's such a remote feeling to be in this tiny kayak going through an immense rainforest with nobody else around you for miles (and probably only a handful of people if you could actually find them).

After lunch at the lodge, the group headed out for a hike in the rainforest, and naturally, it was pouring with rain.  There's a good size hill that we hiked up and provided us a great view of the rainforest and intercoastal canals (see pic), and it was made extra difficult by the muddy terrain.  Luckily, we had a local guide from the lodge, otherwise we would have never found our way since the rainforest is as dense as a jungle. We had dinner together at the lodge again before turning in for the night.

Today was essentially a travel day.  We left the lodge at 8:45am, had to take the same 2 1/2 hour boatride back to the mainland, and then got back on the bus for our next destination.  We spent 6 hours on the bus driving to Fortuna, where we'll be staying for the next two nights as we explore the Arenal volcano (one of the world's most active volcanoes) and the surrounding sights. 

I'll try to write again in a few days after we explore Arenal!  Hope everyone is doing well.  Until next time....
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