Our Adventures in the Mini-Amazon

Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, November 5, 2007

My mom and I have a jam-packed week ahead of us, but our first stop was Costa Rica's mini-Amazon: Tortuguero. We decided to play tourists for a week and take a tour. Gerardo was our friendly guide for the two days we were there. We learned from him that there are 112 volcanoes in Costa Rica, 12 of which have craters and 5 of which are active. You'd think after being here for 6 weeks I'd know this stuff already!

We boarded a very comfortable bus for the 3-hour ride to Caņo Blanco, which also included a stop in the town of Guapilis for a delicious breakfast. The rest of the bus ride was very agriculturally scenic, including passing by miles upon miles of banana plantations (both Chiquita Banana and Del Monte). Gerardo explained that the blue bags covering the bananas were used to shield them from the pesticide fumigations and also quickened their growth.

Once at the Caņo Blanco dock, we boarded a tiny boat, that Gerardo filled with luggage and which miraculously did not tip over into the Tortuguero Lagoon!! Tortuguero can only be reached by plane or boat. I must admit I was worried about the boat tipping, because my neighbor, David, had mentioned his sister's boat tipped over when she came to Tortuguero last year. Every time somebody stood in the boat, I shot them a dirty  look - I can't swim and didn't want to be eaten alive by the neighboring crocodiles/caymans!!

Once I realized the boat was perfectly stable, I enjoyed the wonderful 60-minute ride. We started on the Parismina River, touched the Caribbean Sea and weaved in and out of the various canals, spotting colorful tropical birds, howler monkeys, and other amazonian-type creatures. Once we arrived at our hotel in Tortuguero, we were greeted with wonderful, fruity cocktails and a delicious buffet lunch.

After a shower and a quick nap, we joined Gerardo and the rest of the group for a tour of the Tortuguero Beach and small town. Now being from the Caribbean myself I am very biased and happen to believe that the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean are in my very own Dominican Republic, especially Punta Cana. So, I tried to keep an open mind as we walked on the Tortuguero Beach, but it just didn't seem Caribbean to me. Where were the crystal blue waters and soft white sand? In its place, we found black sand and muddy waters. We later learned from Gerardo that most of Costa Rica's beaches had black sand due to the Volcanic nature of the soil (must have something to do with the 112 volcanoes!)

The greatest attraction at Tortuguero are the Turtles! Hundreds of them nest every season provide for a unique experience. We had been forewarned that nesting season ended in September and the chances of seeing turtles were extremely minimal. So imagine our delight, when one of the guides discovered a huge nest, with 25-30 recently hatched sea turtles crawling out and making their way to the water! These babies were fast (and you thought turtles were slow!)

We stood in awe as these turtles made their way to the water and then we made our way to the small town of Tortuguero, where we spent a great afternoon enjoying the local shops and sitting by the water. The next morning, we joined the group for a boat ride along the Tortuguero canals, where we continued to spot wonderful wildlife, before heading back home.
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