Sunday, November 11, 2018 – Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
I got up at 5:30 to be dressed in case the room service steward was right on time at 6:00. Glad I was because he was 10 minutes early. We were scheduled to be in the main stage area for the only tour we took this trip – Wildlife Rescue Center & La Ceiba Private Reserve. It was to be a long tour – 7 hours but it did include lunch.
I went outside to gauge the weather. Partly cloudy and very humid. What a surprise (sarcasm). We were docked alongside a very large Celebrity ship. I was never sure of its name but it dwarfed our ship.
At 7:40 we joined the line of people getting into the main stage as there were several different tours leaving at 7:45. We got our stickers and waited for our number to be called. There were only about 12 people on our tour so we found our guide and were directed into a large van. There was a tour that was called right before us that involved a train ride and about 100 people got up to join that one.
Once we were on the pier, we located our guide and the van driver. The guide’s name was Roy. He was very informative as he talked about his country on our 50 minute ride to the Rescue Center. The van was air conditioned but we were packed in there. Narrow seats – big Americans – do not mix well. His native language is Spanish but he spoke English well. He said the children are taught both English and Spanish at home and in the schools.
What I learned – Costa Rica means “Rich Coast.” The first Spanish explorers thought that Costa Rica was full of gems and gold since they saw natives with jewelry so that is why they gave it that name. However, they found no gold or jewels after settling. But our guide still considered his country rich. Costa Rica is home to a variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.03% of the world’s landmass, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world.
He talked about coffee, bananas, and cacao as big exports. He showed us a banana plant and a cacao pod. However, as suspected, tourism, and more specifically eco-tourism, is the biggest money-maker for Costa Rica. Birders are especially interested in coming to Costa Rica because over 840 species of birds have been identified here.
The climate is considered tropical. Since we were on the Caribbean side of the country, we had higher humidity than the Pacific side. The temperature was in the 80’s so we could have been in Georgia in the summer. Again, I was glad for the cooling cloths and the bug spray. Costa Rica’s seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season (December to April) and the rainy season (May to November). He told us that this rainy season had been particularly rainy and we should be happy to see the sunshine today.
We passed by a couple of beaches and the waves were high. He talked about how popular surfing is and there are several international tournaments held in Costa Rica. Since it was Sunday, there were a lot of people on the beaches, enjoying the nice day.
As we left Puerto Limon and when we passed through a couple of small towns along the way, I noticed several piles of trash/garbage on the sides of the road. Someone commented on it and he said they would be picked up the next week. I guess they just don’t use garbage cans.
The roads were narrow and at times only cars going in one direction at a time could go over the small bridges. At one point on the road, we had to swerve to miss electrical lines that were down as well as a big tourist bus which was over too far in the road. I was glad to get to the preserve.
The Rescue Center guide was from Spain and she had lived in Costa Rica for several years and loves working with the animals. They try and rehabilitate injured, sick, or abandoned animals so that they can go back to the jungle. If they can’t go back to the wild, they can live out their life at the Center.
We got to see sloths (they get injured from power lines a lot), crocodiles, monkeys, an anteater, ocelots, and a margay. Since this facility was a rehab facility, they don’t let tourists handle the animals. It is a good thing they don’t as I wanted to put a baby sloth in my backpack and bring it home.
From the rescue center, we took a short ride over to the preserve. There is only a small portion of the preserve open to tourists to hike. The rest is left natural and that is where the workers start introducing the animals back to the jungle. We took a short hike so she could tell us about some of the plants. At the end of the hike, we were offered a ginger/mango drink and some pineapple on a skewer. I liked it. Chuck didn’t like the drink. We did see some howler monkeys way at the top of some of the trees, making noise as howler monkeys do. Also saw one of their largest butterflies – a Morpho. It is a bright blue. I could not get a picture but I got a video of it flitting around.
On the drive back, we stopped at an open-air restaurant for lunch. They prepared a traditional Costa Rican lunch of black beans and rice cooked in coconut water, chicken, and fried plantains. We had lemonade or water to drink. Everyone enjoyed the lunch and the nice breeze supplied by the fans.
All aboard was 3:30 and we got back right before 3:00. Gave some of the people time to shop in the gift shops at the port area. Of course, some people had spent money at the gift shop at the rehab facility. Since Chuck had brought me Christmas ornaments from his previous Costa Rica trip with Michael, I didn’t need anything so we headed on back to the ship. We were met at the ship by stewards who were handing out cool washcloths and cups of lemonade. HAL had done this nice touch at Aruba and Curacao also.
It was 3:30 and the Captain had not yet made the announcement about getting underway soon. I went out to the deck and saw 3 large busses pulling in and people piling out of them. They were met by some of the ship personnel, I think to make sure the people kept walking to the ship and didn’t veer off to the souvenir shop. If they wanted to shop, I know they were ticked getting back late. The Captain has to keep a good schedule. We were able to leave a little after 4:00.
After we got cleaned up for the evening, we stopped by the Gallery Bar. As we were sitting there, the cruise director, Sabina, stopped by to ask us how our trip was going and was there anything we needed? The cruise director is very busy from morning to late at night. She and her team do everything from daily announcements, hosting special events (I saw a couple doing a vow renewal), hosting daily Q/A sessions between ship personnel/performers and guests, emceeing the main stage productions, etc. I thought it was nice that she stopped by to chat. We told her we were having a great time. I know she must hold her breath every time she asks guests how they are doing because I know some will do non-stop complaining (I have heard them).
We had dinner with 2 other couples. One couple was from Canada and we see them out on the dance floor at the BB King quite a bit. They are good dancers. The other couple was from Florida. We enjoyed the conversations. The whole table ordered the oysters Rockefeller for the appetizer. I had the eggplant parmesan for the main course. I usually love eggplant parmesan but this one was kind of tough to chew. Chuck enjoyed his steak.
We went to see the late show of the mainstage performance. Tonight was a magician by the name of James Cielen. He was very good. Unfortunately, I was very sleepy and kept nodding off periodically. Thank goodness I didn’t snore.
We called it a night. The next two days are sea days before our arrival in Ft. Lauderdale. We set our clocks Forward one hour tonight. I am all messed up. Glad I don’t have to set an alarm. Tonight’s towel animal is a dinosaur I think.