Sunday, February 12, 2006

Our Trip To Costa Rica - Day Two

We awoke this morning refreshed after a good night's sleep. We walked down to the restaurant to a wonderful breakfast - everything you could possibly want. From omelettes made on request to French Toast to local fare like tamales and platanos maduro - a delicious way to prepare bananas. And the coffee was, as expected outstanding, whether served "negro" or "con leche," I also discovered a delicious fruit - sweet granadilla, which is a cousin to the passion fruit. To eat this fruit, you cut into the skin with a butter knife all the way around to cut the fruit in two halves and reveal the pulp inside. The pulp is green and made up of seeds. Michelle swore that I was eating them just to gross her out, but basically you take a spoon and eat the entire insides in one scoop. It is so tasty!

After breakfast we we went back to the room and planned our excursions for the week. We booked two trips with TAM Travel with an office at the hotel. Tomorrow we'll take what's called a canopy tour, where we'll ride zip lines high in the trees, ride a water slide, take a horseback ride through the countryside, and finally relax in some natural hot springs. Thursday we'll visit a rainforest and try to see the Arenal volcano. And Tuesday we'll take a sunset cruise right from the beach of our hotel.

But today is a day to relax on the beach! We took a short walk up and down the shoreline, and checked out the wildlife - we saw a large reptile called a ctenosaur, or black iguana, and various birds like pelicans and little blue herons. We saw hermit crabs, which I'd previously only seen in gift shops and pet stores. We also saw tajalines - these funny crabs that would dig themselves little holes in the sand. As we approached them they'd scurry back into the holes. We couldn't believe how quick they were! After laughing at the crabs for awhile, we found ourselves some recliners and got some sun.

After relaxing awhile, I decided to go exploring again. Up the beach a bit, I saw some young guys hacking at a big pod attached to a tree with machetes! This pod had to be some kind of insect nest, and I couldn't imagine what was going on! I saw the teenager hack at the pod, and then reach his arm into the hole he made. What could he have been trying to get at? Honey, perhaps? Well, I was feeling brave, so I walked up and asked "Que Pasa," (one of the 15 phrases I remembered from high school Spanish). And then he showed me - he reached into the pod and pulled out - birds! Tropical baby birds! He called them paraquitos, and my new amigo Javier even let me hold one of the little guys! I was stunned.

I found out later that these birds - actually conures - lay their eggs in termite nests where they will be safe and where food (the termites) is readily available. Unfortunately, kids like Javier know the bird's habits and will seek out these babies which can go for hundreds of dollars on the open market. This is illegal of course, but far be it for me, an American, to tell a Costa Rican how to preserve his environment.

The rest of the day we enjoyed the pool, the free drinks, the jacuzzi, and mostly the beautiful weather! The sunset was gorgeous, and we climbed the tower at the resort to get a better vantage point. What an amazingly beautiful country. More adventures await!

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