Thursday, 25 February 2016

Feeling bogged down, time to move on....

Christopher Columbus gave Costa Rica it's name during his final voyage in 1502, when he reported vast quantities of gold jewellery amongst the natives and declared it to be a "Rich Coast." When I think of Costa Rica's name, I think it applies equally to the richness of the wildlife here - this place has treasures of the animal kingdom that are astounding to us Brits, being more accustomed to scruffy one-legged city pigeons than resplendent primary-coloured toucans. 

After fresh fruit, eggs and toast prepared by Ever, we don our wellies and head into the jungle for another wildlife fix. We are like a bunch of addicts (we're pale enough) who crave the constant shots of adrenaline that come with being eyeball-to-eyeball with a wild exotic creature.

This time, Mum selects a different pair of wellies from the laundry room: ones that aren't four sizes too big this time, and these ones even have drawstring ties around the top. 
It makes no difference whatsoever - within minutes she's wedged fast in the sinking bog, her lack of height meaning she just can't get the traction to haul herself out. She grabs onto a small tree for support, which is lethal in the jungle as there's bound to be an entire creepy-crawly ecosystem on each leaf, and sure enough as the branches shake some leaves fall off, sprinkling a variety of tiny bugs onto her head like confetti. This causes her to shriek and panic, toppling forward into the murky abyss. In her desperate attempts to escape the biting critters, she lunges....and the wellies are left standing upright in the mud, whilst a red-faced Mama is floundering in her now filthy stockinged feet. Give me strength! 

Once Andy and I have stopped laughing, we brush the bugs off her head and shoulders and grab an arm each to yank her out; I notice one of her clammy hands still clutching a fistful of leaves from the tree and am roaring again. 

Amazingly, there are still a few birds and animals that haven't fled in terror after all this commotion, and we spot toucans, parrots, tiger herons, monkeys and even a flock of giant macaws.

We lug De Mama back to base looking like some newly-discovered swamp-dwelling mammal and she endures the agonising ritual that is taking a shower at the ecolodge. The website claims the solar-powered shower to be room temperature, which it may well be, if the room happens to be in Russia. Icy is not the word. A series of expletives accompany every attempt to have a wash at this place and as there are no walls to the cabins, you can hear if someone on the other side of the clearing is attempting to have a shower.

We relax in the hammocks by the river for a bit to recover from the morning's excitement. Once De Mama has accidentally toasted her eyelids in the "scorchio" sun, we take a river taxi over to the village for another spot of sloth-seeking. 

We drink delicious fresh fruit shakes before moving on to the local beer Imperial (not De Mama of course, we can't risk her throwing another whitey) to refresh ourselves ahead of the trek.

As dusk falls we mooch about the village, soaking up the atmosphere as it's our last night here. The locals are playing volleyball, football or just passing slowly by on bicycles laden with fresh fruit and vegetables (there are no cars on Tortuguero). The elder men are playing an animated game of dominoes for money in the square, whilst their wives tip silently back and forth on rocking chairs on their verandas. 

We take a walk along the black sandy beach as eagles glide above our heads. We are searching for our elusive sloth, but eventually give in and head to a reggae restaurant for some tasty Caribbean fayre instead. 
As Andy's nickname is Spider Monkey and mine Sloth, Mum is now the Bearded further explanation needed. Well, this has been an action-packed holiday, not a chilled spa-break after all. Something's gotta give, and it just so happens to be hair removal routines and beauty treatments. My long acrylic nails are now in dire need of a manicure, so my full sloth transformation is almost complete.

After a lip-smacking meal of plantain hash browns with salsa, rice and chicken with avocado salad and various other items off the menu that take an age to arrive due to the usual communication errors (whereby I think I've ordered a feast and then a single tiny canapé arrives an hour later), we take a speedboat back to our cabinas. 

Our time in Tortuguero is almost up, tomorrow sees the start of a new adventure : the mission that will be finding our rented villa perched atop a mountain alongside the semi-active Arenal Volcano and surrounding lakes. In a taxi. On gravel roads and dirt tracks. Without GPS. 
The words "needle" and "haystack" spring to mind, but I push them away as I drift off to sleep....



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