Thursday, February 7, 2008

Costa Rica - Day 6 at a Glance

On our last full day, we booked a tour to a private island by recommendation of another tourist. We went to Tortuga Island by way of Catamaran, which was an hour and a half boat ride.

This was an interesting old boat in the bay as we were boarding.

This beachfront was site for Costa Rica's version of "Carnivale", on the peninsula of Puntaneras.

We arrive on the beautiful beach of Tortuga, and rent chairs from a vendor. The tour included a lunch of ceviche, salad, barbeque chicken, and poundcake with pineapple sauce.

We snorkeled here, but saw nothing exciting. It was pretty much a relaxing excursion, so we were alittle disappointed with the recommendation we got.
We then booked the "nightwalk" with our previous guide "Elliot" at the resort, and set out at 6:30 p.m. We were to dress with long pants, bugspray and a flashlight. There were 11 in the group, and we piled into a van and were hauled to our start. We stopped at where our path began for ziplining. I am now dreading this. That path was all uphill, narrow, and I remember those dirt steps. Elliot gives us our safety rules, which are: Stay on the path (duh!), don't touch the leaves because there could be vine snakes (which are highly venemous), keep flashlights on the ground so you can know where you are walking, and don't make alot of noise.
The jungle air was still, the temperature was steamy, and it was as dark as dark gets. Our first attraction was a Taranchula:

Our next stop was a crab that was in the rocks:

A Scorpion:

Then we stop again and observe Leaf-Cutter Ants. Elliot gives a demonstration on how strong they are by capturing one and having it grab a long stick. It kept dropping it. He kept trying. We were sweating to death! We wanted to get on with it...He kept trying...Cuttidad noticed the ants on the path. We were standing in their highway of transport. They were starting to crawl on our pants. We didn't approve of this at all! I started marching in place, as did Cutti. Elliot tells us not to stomp, that the vibrations will cause snakes and other ants in the ground to see what the fuss is about. We just want to move on... we finally do. Cutti is swiping ants off of her left and right. I check her clothes and swipe some more as we are walking. We make sure to not step in the ant highway as we go. We spot a Tinamou (Elliot said it was like a chicken in the trees, but I don't see that similarity at all) roosting:

We also hear some rustling in the underbrush, and find a Armadillo:

As we watch him try to hide, we also are trying to spot some kinkachous in the canopy above. I didn't know what these things were, but I kept looking. We still have the "creepy crawlies" from the ants, but at least we were not standing in them now. But...something is buzzing our flashlights. No one can see it, but we can hear it. It sounds like a large housefly. Elliot confirms it. A lady protests that she just got bit by it. Elliot objects. I, all of a sudden get a sharp stinging pain in my finger, and slam my flashlight to the ground. I also yell a few selective words. Then I tell him I just got bit. Elliot searches with his flashlight, must see it , then says we need to move on, because it is an "Africanized Bee". I know exactly what that means. A Killer Bee. We all scramble out of the area. Then... a giant wasp is following us. Great! This thing was HUGE! Elliot tells us all not to move, points his snake wrangler stick in my direction, and approaches. He flicks it off my shirt, and it flies off. He then said that if that one stung us, we would definately feel that pain. It ends up on Cutti's collar, she flips it off, and wants to scream out of the jungle right then and there. We know we can't run in the dark, so we needed to stay calm. This walk could not have ended soon enough for us. We were tortured enough. We see a moth but couldn't really appreciate its beauty:

We then hear cars in the distance and are relieved it was almost over. We got out, got shuttled back to the office, got in our golfcart and vowed to never ever do a nightwalk again. We thought it would owls and bats, not bugs and enemy insects! Our last night at the resort ended kind of badly, but if that experience was all we could complain about, I was good with it. And...I have stories to tell from all the drama that occurred.

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