Tortuguero National Park
3. May: We start a few minutes late, since we need to have some coffee before we begin the day. The Belgians are even later, it seems their daughter isn't ready on time. We start off on a small speedboat and need to buy tickets for the National Park, which cost the usual 6$. We enter a small canal with very thick jungle on both sides, the engine is turned off and we slowly glide through, imbibing the wonderful atmosphere. The boat has a tiny battery-operated "thrust" electric motor, by which it is possible to travel very slowly, but silently.
Nobody speaks except our talkative guide and I really wished that he wouldn't. We glide silently, effortlessly through small waterways, the water is dark, coloured by rotting vegetation (tannins). We see some wildlife, a wonderful lizard discovered by Annewien, some "Jesus Christ" lizards, which can actually walk on water, and some monkeys. It is a very nice experience.
We return to the lodge for breakfast, after which all the other tourists leave, since they have booked the one day trip. We're on the 2-day trip, so our experience continues. We agree to meet at 10:30 with our guide to a short trip to nearby Tortuguero Hill. We start off by boat and it's a hike up to the hill, which was quite strenuous in the heat (we didn't quite do the top, the nicest views of the surrounds and a short distance below). We see monkeys and a toucan to start. I spot a red "poison arrow" frog, which Herbie catches with his hands and shakes furiously in his hands. He is hoping that the frog with be dazed enough that it would stand put. The frog isn't, and it hops off soon after. I'm a bit pissed, since I really liked the little frog and I'd just liked to have watched it without all the shaking.
The views from the hill are nice, you can see the Caribbean coast in the distance. It is hot, we're thirsty, we sweat a lot. We walk down another route to the other side of the island. We see a moving slot (this is really rare for us!), there is a "jaguar" cave but instead of the a Jaguar, we see some bats near the entrance. Annewien accidentally falls into a mud spot almost to her knee and her shoe and a large part of her pant is covered with mud.
After having lunch back at the Lodge, we wander about the gardens of the Lodge, which has a small "butterfly garden" (they use some fruit to attract butterflies) and a palm tree on a small island in the middle of the pool, where green frogs sleep during the day. I find one and "dislocate" it from the underside of the leaf. It is really green and very groggy, hardly willing to open it's eyes for any period of time.
We set off by boat with a canoe strapped to it's front. This part of the trip is going to be the highlight of Tortuguero for me and I'm sorry for all the one-day-trip tourists who missed it. Once we reach some very small canals, the canoe is let onto the water and the three of us (Annewien, the guide and me) climb onto it, the guide and I take an oar each and slowly start rowing. We are low, very close to the water, very silent, and it is a great experience to be on a canoe in jet-black water surrounded by thick jungle. The canoeing is not too easy, I do tax my muscles and get a blister, but I'm too absorbed by the sights and sounds to really notice. A wonderful experience!
We are back for dinner. Beforehand, we swim in the pool and we dance a little Salsa right there, the waiter comes and watches. Our room does have a ceiling fan, it is a hot and humid but sleepable night. I need a lot of toilet visits after all the food we're fed.