Butterflies, Bananas and Rain Forest

Trip Start Mar 01, 2011
Trip End May 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Laguna Lodge Tortuguero
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Saturday, March 26, 2011

Leaving San Jose behind, we drove through Braulio Carrillo National Park, named for Costa Rica's third president, Braulio Carillo Colina.  Some of the drive was not unlike Cape Breton Island's Highlands National Park, except that Cape Breton's hills and valleys are larger.

A stop at a butterfly garden before lunch left me wanting another hour to capture the tranquility of the garden, both in images and mentally.  The array of butterflies covered all colours and levels of activities.  Mosaic butterflies adorned the gardens and the restaurant where we sampled more of Costa Rica's traditional main dishes and fruits.

Approaching the Del Monte banana plantation, we passed through a couple of miles of banana plants (not actually trees), in neat rows, surrounded every few rows by canals for water management.  Banana plants don't like to have their feet too wet.  The stalks of bananas were covered with blue bags, which aid in uniform ripening.  The stalks appeared to be 4-6 feet long when hanging in the processing plant.  Workers in the fields check the stalks regularly for size and ripeness, then cut and transport them to the plant by hand and foot power.  Once at the plant, they are cut into bunches and floated in vats of water to the next station, where they are inspected and further trimmed.  Then to packaging and packing for shipment to stores in the USA and Canada, to arrive within 8 days of cutting.  Only bananas 7-9 inches without blemishes or bruises are shipped.  The others are kept in Costa Rica for local sale.  All the workers involved work incredibly hard at these jobs.  I will not be able to eat a banana again and not see them working.

Next stop, Laguna Lodge, via an hour and a half boat ride to a remote area near the Tortuguero National Park. This is a rain forest ecotourism lodge and very rustic with phones, clocks, TV, and air conditioning all left behind.  It is important to place an order for your wake up knock so you will not miss your activities of the day which included cruises through rivers and canals in and around the 47,000 acre National Park and a visit to Tortuguero VIllage.  Oh, not to be forgotten, evening frog hunting and a must before bed--a dip in the pool under the stars with a bus load of happy people, cooling down after the heat of the day.

Creatures found on our cruises included many species of birds including a toucan, howler, spider and white faced monkeys, iguana of all sizes and colours, emerald lizard (aka Jesus Christ lizard because of its speed on water, keeping it on the surface-somewhere around 11 feet per second) and cayman.

The visit to Tortuguero Village gave us a closer glimpse of the Costa Rican people and their culture.  We visited the shops, looked at and into their houses, and watched and heard classes being held outside the local school.  We walked to the beach in the village, part of the area which is the most important nesting site in the western half of the Caribbean for the green sea turtle.  We learned more about the preservation work that has been underway for years, but were not able to see any nesting turtles, since that doesn't begin until July.

Next road trip is to La Fortuna, for a pineapple plantation visit, a cruise on the Rio Frio which runs through the Cano Negro wildlife refuge, viewing of Arenal Volcano and a dip in its hot springs.
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Albertine on

Oooh - I love this blog! Super pictures and commentary Elizabeth! I want to go there!

Toni on

I agree with Albertine. Beautiful description and photos. I"ve heard such wonderful things about Costa Rica. I must go!

Ellen Ryan on

Isn't being a retired traveller fun? Great blog!

Sonny Morris on

Great photos, thanks for sharing your trip. Have a save trip. Hope to see you all soon.

djpass on

The bananas are transported from the fields by hanging the bunches on overhead trolley cables, tying a number of bunches together and pulling them--by the workers!--sometimes several miles. Very labour intensive, and dome largely by Nicaraguans.

Melanie on

I'm a fellow Canadian escaping the Winter too. You have a great blog.

I'll be travelling to Costa Rica, and wanted to visit the same areas as you did: Cafe Britt and the Del Monte Banana Plantation. However, I have limited time. Is the distance between them quite far? Can I do it in 1 day? Do you recommend your tour company? If so what is the name of the tour company? Where exactly is the Del Monte Banana Plantation? Many thanks for your help.

Krystal Harrie on

Great blog, lots of information and pictures!
thank you for sharing :)

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