Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side (briefly)

On the road again

We celebrated Earth Day by saying our goodbyes to the Pacific Ocean and saying hello to the Caribbean.  We arrived in the town of Puerto Viejo on Sunday evening after a long day driving from one coast of Costa Rica to the other.  We stayed in a little cabana in the jungle just a few blocks from town.  The weather there was much wetter than we saw in Jaco but the wildlife right outside our door was great.  We watched toucans perched and squawking, iguanas resting and contemplating, and howler monkeys howling and crashing around in the canopy all above our cabin.
On Monday we woke to some seriously loud rainfall.  Our cabana had a tin roof and the rain was falling from the sky in bucketfuls! Since we had yet to stock up at the grocery store, we went out to breakfast at a great little local Caribbean/vegetarian place on the main drag.  A woman named Veronica and a bunch of her family members run the place and she gave us a really sweet welcome to the area.  She made the kids sticky sweet banana pancakes and Danny and I tried her traditional rice and beans breakfast with some corn empanadas and a fried egg.  Yum!  She also shared with us a custard apple and Cal was a big fan.
Custard apple on an ice tree leaf
On Monday we visited the animal rescue center where we spent time with howler monkeys, baby sloths, toucans, deer, hawks, frogs, snakes (there were about 10 yellow eyelash pit vipers in one big open area!), and a small wildcat called a Margay (we witnessed that eating a live mouse.)
Eyelash pit vipers
Baby two-toed sloth (a relative of the anteater and armadillo!)
Tadpoles swimming in their sticky eggs
Poison dart frog
The monkeys were all in a big enclosure and we got to walk among them. They jumped and climbed all over the place and one even climbed up on Danny’s head.  Cal was happy that he got some monkey attention too, when one ran up to him and pushed off his chest as he jumped up on a rope hanging from the top of the enclosure.  It was really neat place and we were happy to hear about all their efforts to reintroduce all the animals to the wild.  Our only complaint was that our guide was bent on giving us every single detail about the dangers of animals in Costa Rica.  It was a little much hearing about each venomous snake encounter she had experienced!
We couldn't take our camera into the enclosure or the monkeys would steal it!  So I took this one of the baby monkey, Jet, with one of the volunteers.  They were headed out to the forest to keep developing his comfort level outside of the rescue facility.
We ended up only staying for two nights in Puerto Viejo because the kids were eaten up by bugs and the weather wasn’t great.  Harper’s right arm made a tasty snack for some little insect creatures the first night and the itching was pretty intense.  They got a bit infected so we had to see a doctor.  Cal also had a weird allergic reaction to some bug bites and his hand swelled up all big.  As a result we decided to hightail it back to the Pacific side.  We didn’t want to end our trip on a down note and since we have friends in Jaco and we know the area it felt like the best spot.
We spent last night driving through the cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park.  It was intense driving in the dark through all the rain and clouds but Danny didn’t flinch.  The kids fell asleep before 8 o'clock so we could concentrate on the road without Cal’s big mouth yacking the whole way!
We arrived in Jaco with two sleeping children and a lot of laundry (just in case any bugs hitched along for the ride!)  We awoke to a clear sunny day here and news that the bloom of algae ended so the ocean is great to swim now!

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