Monday, February 13, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day Three (PART ONE)

Today we woke up early to have another delicious and finish in time to meet the tour bus at 8AM. We booked what was called the "Combo Tour" of the Buena Vista Hot Springs and Canopy Tour. The small bus that picked us up brought us to the TAM headquarters near the airport in Liberia where we met our tour guide and people from other hotels who were also taking the tour.

Our guide for the day was Arturo, who turned out to be a funny, and excellent, tour guide. The group was small, only about 8 people or so. We boarded the bus and headed to our destination. Along the way, Arturo pointed out sites of note. At one point he asked the driver to stop and he ran onto the campus of a nearby university without explanation. We thought perhaps he had to use the bathroom or something, until we watched him jump up, grabbing things off the school's trees. After he got a few of whatever he was getting, he bounded back onto the bus. He was holding some fruits. I recognized them immediately from watching the food network: Cashew fruits!

The cashew nuts we take for granted are actually the seeds of the cashew tree that hang off the end of the tree's fruit. Arturo explained that locals don't usually eat the nuts of the tree, because it's a very involved process to shell the nut. It is much more common for locals to eat the ripened fruit, which we found out isn't bad! Sort of like a bitter apple.

As we continued along, we passed by many pastures where cattle grazed. I remarked to Michelle how scrawny looking the cows looked compared to ones I was used to seeing. The reason for this was that these were Brahman cattle, recognizable by their loose skin, which is thought to contribute to its ability to withstand warm weather (by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling).

The funniest thing about these cows was that it seemed like each one had a little bird as a companion. Arturo explained that these cattle egrets came over to Costa Rica along with the cows when they were originally brought over from Africa. The birds will eat the grasshoppers, beetles, ticks and other insects that are commonly found around cattle.

We finally arrived at Buena Vista, near Rincon de la Vieja National Park. We got suited up with our gear for the zip line and right away noticed how windy it was. Extremely windy. Arturo told us this was not normal, but that it wouldn't affect our good time. As we walked up the hill to the zip lines we felt the strong breezes and talked about how after the zip lines we were supposed to ride a water slide. The cold air had us wondering how much fun that would be, considering... TO BE CONTINUED

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