Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Missed Port and a Costa Rica Birthday--Jan. 12 & 13

We woke up to slightly rough seas, which quickly got rougher resulting in another announcement from the Captain. Unfortunately, no sailing into Nicaragua. Jim was quite disappointed as we had a nice afternoon tour of Granada planned. But that’s the way it goes! We compensated by going to bingo where Jim won $150. That somewhat made up for it!

We had met a couple at dinner the previous night and had left a message for them inviting them to dinner with us. We hadn’t heard back from them, so we just decided to do our own thing. We went to have some appetizers at Mike's before dinner and in walked Joni and Max, the couple we had invited to dinner. I thought “Eek, this is somewhat awkward. Do we mention the dinner invite?” So in my typical avoidance fashion we just chatted away. Close to the 7:30 dinner time, Max alluded to the fact that we were going to dinner in 20 minutes. Now it was really awkward as we weren’t dressed for dinner. We asked them to wait for us and we scurried to the room to get changed. Of course, on the way to the cabin, we were wondering why they hadn't called us back, but we had a wonderful dinner with them and shortly before the evening was over, we said something about the location of our room. Max said “Wait a minute, you’re on Aloha deck? I left a message for the people in the cabin below you!” All of a sudden, everything made sense! We got a lot of mileage out of that! Joni said she was thinking "I hope Jim doesn't think he can get into the dining room dressed like that!" It was pretty funny!

We had an early morning tour the next day on my birthday in Costa Rica. It was up at 5:30 to meet our tour group at 7:00 a.m. This was also a tour with the group we met on Cruise Critic and we had a whole day planned.

I was drying my hair when suddenly a huge cruise ship blocked our view. It was the sister ship to our ship, the Coral Princess which docked alongside us.

Pretty soon both gangplanks were down and the buses were lining up to take people on tours.

Both of the ships from the pier…

Here is the Costa Rica flag...pretty!

Our first stop was the Carara Biological Reserve. This is situated in a transition zone between the dry forest and the rain forest. The wild life is supposed to be abundant with monkeys, two-toed sloths and the endangered scarlet macaw.

Al, our tour guide, brought us through the trail looking everywhere for birds. We saw lots of amazing trees! This is a termite nest on a tree…

A little info about the forest…

The trail walk was supposed to be about a kilometre but I have never taken 90 minutes to walk a kilometre! It was very nice though, and not hot and steamy as I thought it would be.

Here we are inside the trunk of a large tree…

Have a close look here. These are ants…we came across many of these ant highways. You could see a clear path that they had made in the trail carrying leaves, etc. back and forth. It was icky and, at the same time, pretty fascinating!

These trees were pretty fascinating as the roots grow above ground.

This explains the trunk of the tree we were standing in and how it gives stability to large trees in the rain forest.



Nature is amazing! The roots of a buttress tree. You can tell by all the tree talk, that poor Al wasn’t finding us any wildlife!

Crazy trees!

These vines were like “Tarzan” vines and you would see them hanging across the trail. They can wrap themselves around the trees and strangle them.

And sadly…that was it! We were out of the Carara forest without seeing anything of significance. One of the guys in the group spotted two macaws high up in a tree, but by the time Al got there with his scope, they had flown away. Poor Al…he was sweating a bit by now.

But not to worry! We stopped at a place on our way to lunch right beside a noisy construction site and there Al finally was able to show us the endangered macaws. He took this picture by holding my camera to the eye of the scope. It was quite ironic that we traipsed all through a beautiful forest looking for them, and they were hanging out in a noisy construction area. They are beautiful birds…



Al brought us to a resort called Las Cabos de Caletas to show us the beautiful view. It is a stunning resort…we would go back there anytime! Here is Costa Rica’s national flower, the orchid…

And here was the view from the resort bar area…

We were enjoying our surroundings, which all of a sudden we had more time to do, because the van had a flat tire! Poor Al…this day was going badly for him, but we were having a great time.

Jim is playing hide ‘n’ seek amongst the greenery!

The beautiful bougainvilleas...

A Costa Rican licence plate…

Finally with the tire fixed, we were on our way. Goodbye Las Cabos de Caletas! We’ll be checking them out on Trip Advisor! It was much better to have a flat tire there than on the side of the road!

From there we went to a restaurant run by a woman that Al described as the best cook in Costa Rica. I seriously thought he was going to say it was his mother. The food was amazing. Look at our serious faces!! Don’t get between us and our food! We had yummy warm rice pudding for dessert.

The aftermath…they had a lot of food in this small area.

Jim talking to Al, who is still carting around his scope. Our van is on the left.

After lunch, it was off to see some crocodiles. I am sure Al was glad to hand us over to the Crocodile Man. If we didn’t see any crocodiles, it wasn’t going to be his fault!

This is a huge tourist attraction. These people were all having lunch before going out in one of the boats. Lots of souvenirs to look at…

Costa Rican national symbols…the cart represents the workers, the flower is the orchid, the flag, the tree is the guanacaste, and the animal is the white tailed deer.

Onto the boat on the Tarcoles River…here is our driver. Hmmm….should we be worried that he has a map in his hand?

There are tons of different species of birds…a blue heron…

And here is our tour guide, jumping off the boat with a hunk of chicken to lure the crocodiles.

Getting closer…

Crikey! It was like getting a dog to sit up!



They both look pretty pleased with themselves!

Black necked stilts…sexy legs as our guide called them! The crocs don’t bother any of the animals around as that would expend too much energy and they don’t like to do that. Besides…they have fresh chicken!!

Amazing crocs…there are supposedly over 3000 in the river…



All of our guides spoke excellent English. They learn it in school and have plenty of opportunity to practice in the tourist industry.

The Tarcoles River is Costa Rica's largest river and home to an amazing ecosystem. There are more than 120 species of birds and one of the planet's biggest populations of crocodiles.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country…much wealthier than Guatemala.

After the crocodile river tour, it was back on the van with Al and we headed off to see a colonial village. This village has been recreated (much like our Kings Landing or Upper Canada Village) and houses many unique (and expensive) artisans.

Al spotted a Jesus Christ lizard (because they can walk on water!) on a rock amongst some leaves. They are so well camouflaged, it took us a while to spot it. From far away, it just looked like a leaf. Here it is through the scope…


Some of the beautiful carts in the village…

The church…



A lizard between the pews…he was probably praying that we wouldn’t see him!

Al spotted this iguana on a rooftop and zoomed in for us.

It was a wonderful, long day. By the time we got back to the ship, the sun was starting to set.

A sight for sore legs!

We stopped to see Mike in the lounge for some nibblies and refreshment and headed back to the room. They had put up a sign and some balloons for my birthday.

Jim was outside taking a picture when a crew member walked by and asked where Mrs. Schnarr was. Jim came and got me and the lady took our picture and sang Happy Birthday. It was really cute! A great birthday in Costa Rica!

We were pooped! I was in bed at 8:30! We are officially celebrating my birthday tomorrow on our sea day…

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