Wildlife Rescue Center/Waterfall Swim/Chocolate!!!

Trip Start Apr 15, 2011
Trip End Apr 23, 2011

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Limón,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jen continued to improve throughout the night so we decided to stick with our tour for today which included a wildlife rehab center only about a mile away from our hotel, a jungle hike to a waterfall, and finally to a place where native Costa Ricans make chocolate in the same old fashioned way their ancestors did. The whole experience was going to be about 6 hours or so.

We started at the wildlife rehab center, known as the Jaguar Rehabilitation Center (yet it had no jaguars). Our tour guide was a friendly man named Dexter, though he bore no resemblance to the homicidal vigilante on television. Our tour began perfectly….with us petting sloths.

The center takes care of animals who have been injured or are otherwise no able to take care of themselves in the wild. They had many sloths including two toe and three toe types. They were very friendly, though we were warned to avoid their mouths since their only defense mechanism was to bite. Their fur felt like very coarse string, and they were exceptionally clean animals. While we listened to Dexter explain how they came to be at the rehab center, we watched them slowly eat leaves off of bushes and hang lazily upside down in the branches.

Jen said her life was complete now that she had pet a sloth.

After that we went to the monkey house where Dexter introduced us to three playful howler monkeys. They climbed all over us, and you wouldn't believe how soft their hands are. With perfect nimble dexterity they held on to us before jumping or swinging to the next person. Their intelligence and grace was truly something to behold.

We also got to see a wildcat, which was essentially the cutest wild kitty cat you’ll ever meet. We also saw various poisonous snakes, spiders, and other creatures before returning to the van which was going to be taking us up the waterfall next.

Now we didn’t know that this was going to be a real hike when we signed up…but thankfully we dressed appropriately. The drive was about 30 minutes over some of the bumpiest roads I’ve ever been on. The van finally ascended a very narrow dirt path that brought us into the jungle. When we reached a river, we figured that was the end of the line….but not in Costa Rica! The cab driver drove the van right into the water and worked his way about 50 meters upstream to where the road continued. Mind you, this was no SUV or all terrain vehicle. It was a 15 year old minivan. Kudos to that driver.

When we reached our destination it was another 20 minute hike on foot to the waterfall, crossing several streams and passing over some very dangerous trail segments. But finally we reached the waterfall and it was beautiful. Jen and many of our van mates went for a swim under it, but being painfully afraid of water I took a pass and instead snapped photos instead.

Once back at the van we were treated to a lunch of…fresh pineapple and pipas (young coconuts). Afterwards we continued on the chocolate house where a member of the Bribri tribe showed us how chocolate is traditionally made. While not overly complicated, it takes a skillful hand to do it right. It was also impressive to see just how many uses the cocoa fruit has.

We headed back to our hotel where we went to the beach for about an hour and then got ready to go into town for our last night in Puerto Viejo.
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