Reptiles and rivers

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Cartago,
Monday, May 10, 2010

Yesterday was brilliant! In the morning we caught the bus up the road to Proyecto Viborana, a serpentarium run by a friendly local man who used to teach at the University of Costa Rica but now dedicates his time to educating agricultural workers about preventing snake bites. His research has shown that the numbers of venomous snakes are increasing in Costa Rica and all over the tropics in areas where natural habitat has been converted to agricultural land.

After giving us a short talk about his work, he showed us the many snakes he has in his collection and proceeded to pass us lots of different snakes to hold. Tom was holding four at once and they got tangled up with his sunglasses and camera straps! He then brought out a young fer-de-lance, the most venomous snake in Costa Rica and placed it on the ground next to us to take photos. Next up was a hog-nosed viper followed by a jumping pit viper, the latter of which he allowed us to get very close to using a metal snake handling stick! To top it all off, he brought out a red-eyed tree frog which he placed on my shoulder! It is a beautiful creature with exquisite markings and eyes, one of Costa Rica's iconic animals.

In the afternoon, we caught a taxi to a nearby village to try to find the Aquieres waterfall. The taxi driver had no idea where it was so he dropped us on the edge of a huge coffee plantation where we walked for some time trying to find the source of the sound of rushing water that we could hear. We were about to give up when we spotted a very narrow, steep, overgrown, muddy path going downhill. We slipped and scrambled down and soon found ourselves next to a fast flowing river with large boulders and overhanging trees. Not the waterfall we were looking for but surely just as lovely. We immediately stripped off and wallowed in the cold water. Very refreshing!

Noticing that the sky was turning dark with heavy clouds, we got dressed quickly, thinking that the path we had scrambled down would be unclimable in a downpour. We reached the top and walked back through the coffee plantation to reach the dirt road heading back down towards the village of Santa Rose and then Turrialba. Then the skies opened and we were completely soaked in seconds. The rain eased off as we reached Santa Rosa where there was some kind of horse fair going on. A group of cabaneros (cowboys) on horseback, complete with lassoos, passed us on the road. The horses looked pretty frisky and one started galloping towards me! Fortunately the rider was skilled and brought it to a halt! We then followed the road for another few miles back down the hill into Turrialba where we found a nice little Pizzaria for dinner.
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