San Jose^2

Kieran and Denise's Blog of their adventure in Costa Rica. Start reading from the bottom if you want it to make sense.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Canoeing the rainforest, Eh?

The two Canadians, Ross and I, and Denise got up 4:45AM to get ready for our Canoe trip. Viktor's father was very sick and since he was looking after the hotel we helped him settle the bill as he rushed to catch the earliest flight out. prepped the giant 8 person canoe and headed off without breakfast. The canals were full of motor boats and their tourists by 6AM.

Shortly after entering the canals, Ross realized that he had left his special expensive binonculars back on the shore. With encouragement from Denise and I we urged him to return to pick them up before the locals woke up. Ross had an earing in one ear and a long pony tail. He explained that he was the descendant of Irish pirates. He also explained that the native Tortuguerans were decendants of pirates as well, and even speculated that thievary should be the national sport. While that wasn't our experience we believed that his 5 years in Tortuguera exposed him to the truer nature of community.

Ross was grateful that we interupted our tour and credited us an additional hour in our tour for returning. He was a fountain of knowledge and we were overwhelmed with his mix of behavioural ecology stories of flora and fauna scientific names. He would point out flowers that were only pollinated by a single type of humminbird. He informed us that half of Costa Ricas mamals were bats and most of them lived in the rain forest. He explained that the forest germinated primarily with large seeds that fell into the water and were washed into shores. He gave us a couple of seeds that were considered good luck. I was sure to hold onto them until we were safely home in San Jose.

He told us that he had discovered a new type of Orchid, but that there were over 35, 000 types of Orchids and that a serious botanist would not rush to publish finding a new Orchid. He even stopped at a fallen branch and pointed out 10 different types of Orchid's on the fallen tree branch. The orchids were not what I had come to expect. Instead they were small plants, not parasitic, almost like grasses with or without tiny flowers.

Later that morning we pulled to the shore and got out of the canoe for a walk around the rainforest floor. Denise was of course thrilled to getting touched by random things ;-) He pointed out monkey droppings and the tracks of a 600 pound Tapir. Denise and I got eaten by mosquitos and so we let Ross wander in his element while we returned to the canoe to get some insect repellent.

We kept paddelling up increasing narrow canals and through tight turns with rapid currents. The canoe was just too large and Denise and I were too inconsistent in our paddeling to be predicatable. As a result, we kept crashing into trees and hanging foilage which on one occasion deposited a spider on Denise. Shortly after that we stopped for a break and then decided to turn around. Denise's elbow was hurting and so she was paddeling sporadically and I was paddeling too hard. As a result, the canoe was girating wildly in the streams. I took Denise's paddle and moved it up front in an effort to achieve some consistency. She protested briefly, but was happy to chaffeured by paddle.

On the way back I spotted another caiman, and we got really close. It was Denise's 5 caiman sighting and she was happy to get as close as she did. Ross and I got talking and he started telling some great river stories.

The first story was about an Israeli tourist who kept swimming in the lagoon. The locals warned him there was a big crocodile but he didn't listen. Each day as he went for a swim the locals started to gather in increasing larger crowds to watch this tourist swim in the lagoon. Finally, one day in front of a large audience an 18 foot crocodile came up and grabbed him. It dragged him down in front of a large crowd. A quick recovery effort was attempted to get his body, but the crocodile protested and came after the body. Unfortunately, they had to kill the crocodile to recover the body for burial. A Darwin award candidate for sure.

The second story was about some tourists in Corcovado national park where we had been before we came to Tortuguera. A couple of hikers were coming to a big river crossing. In front of them was a large group of percaries(sp) a small wild pig like animal. They began crossind as a group and when they got to the middle of the river a group of sharks attacked and ate all the pigs. The tourists waited for a day before attempting to cross the river.

We started getting hungry and so Denise and I picked up our paddles and power stroked back to shore. We been out for a good 5 hours at that point and had really gotten a lot out of $30 guiding fee. We joined Ross for breakfast and ate heartily.

We decided not to hike through the local park and instead visited the Carribean Conservation Corporation Museum which was an excellent display of the local fauna and had some great displays of the Turtle nesting process.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through stores visiting restaurants trying to decided where the best and most authentic carribean meal was to be had. We settled on splitting a dish at a chilean restaurant and I had the world's largest carribean shrimp, which Ross confirmed for me. These shrimp were about 12 inches head to tail, like a small lobster. Hmmm, yum.

We learned that our Turtle guide Viktor's father had passed away at 11 that morning. We headed back to the hotel for an early night and our final day in Costa Rica.