A lucky caribbean journey to Tortuguero

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Green Kingfisher

Yesterday at about seven o’clock in the morning I woke up due to the bright sunlight entering the hostel dorm. Luckily I woke up on time because there was a new Caribbean journey awaiting me.

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My backpack is getting used to his own seat nowadays

I bought breakfast at a local restaurant in Puerto Viejo and also some bread for along the road. The bus was leaving at 9am. Before buying the bus ticket I tried to get some money out of the cash machines, but none of them worked. Meaning I would pay the bus ticket with my remaining Colones and hopefully encounter a cash machine in Limon, where I was going to. Limon was not my final destination though, I was heading for Tortuguero.

By land and water

From Puerto Viejo I got on the 9am bus to Limon (CR$Β 4,535 for a two hour bus ride), followed by a short walk to switch bus terminals, then a bus to the harbor of Moin (CR$ 600 for a 30 minutes bus ride) and the last part of my journey by boat (CR$ 19,700 for a three hour boat ride) to the Island of Tortuguero.

The drugsproblem

I was quite lucky to still get a boat ride to the island of Tortuguero. The last boat officially leaves at 10am and I got there at 12am encountering a local guy who was more than happy to take me along. We were discussing the drugs problem in Tortuguero while passing the marine police and both agreed that drugs are no good but that a beer now and then is quite a pleasure. After that conversation he wanted to make a quick stop because he needed to buy something, which appeared to be two beers. One for him and the other one for me. Cheers!

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La cerveza de Costa Rica πŸ™‚

Animal spotting on public transport

He stopped every time we’d spot a crocodile or a nice bird. He even showed me some sloths. I’m a 100% positive that the regular boat transfers don’t show you the animals and stop for some photos. Lucky me again.

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A crocodile really close by…

After three hours of sitting in the boat we arrived at Tortuguero, where I had booked a night in a private room at Cabinas Icaco. Yes, some privacy for 5 dollars more than for a regular dorm room is good sometimes πŸ™‚

The tours at Tortuguero

A local Tortuguero touroperator invited me to his office as soon as I set foot on Tortuguero. I thought I should listen to his offer and arrange it all so that I wouldn’t loose to many days over here at Tortuguero. He explained me about a canoeing tour through the National Park and about the night tour which hopefully allows you spot the night frogs and the biggest turtle on earth which is appearing at the moment (I was visiting Tortuguero in the beginning of May).
I told him it was too expensive, and we discussed some more about the price until I arranged all the three tours together for US$ 40.

I still had to get some cash so I asked for a nearby cash machine on which the guy replied with a laugh and told me there are none in Tortuguero…
However, there is a Chinese guy with a supermarket where you can pay with your credit card the amount you want to receive + 10% and get the cash. So, I had to do that. I told the touroperator they should have been able to receive payments by card too and we then agreed on splitting the extra charge the Chinese guy was giving me.

Happy as I was about the price of the tours I soon realized that I was not going to catch a lot of sleep… On the same day at 21:30 till 00:30 we’d go for the frogs and the turtle watching and at 06:00 in the morning on the following day we’d go with the canoe. Meaning I was going to sleep for about 4 hours or so and I really love sleeping… but hey, it’s worth it!

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The American green tree frog

In search of frogs and turtles

Alfonso was the guide for the night tour. We met him at the office and walked with him and a group of ten tourists to the jungle, close to the center of the village.

We walked for about an hour to try and spot some frogs and other creatures that appear at night. It seemed as if we were not going to see the typicalΒ American green tree frog but we saw it later on after all! It was sitting there on a green leaf quietly, sleeping, until the guide spotted it. The frog was unrecognizable to me, because it was just a little green spot on a green leaf, until the guide took the frog with his hands (he could because he didn’t wear any bug spray) and the frog woke up and showed us his pretty amazing orange feet and red eyes. We also saw the biggest frog Costa Rica has, which they call “The Smokey Jungle Frog”. I still wonder why they call them like that. Is it the eyes?

The Smokey Jungle Frog, the biggest frog there is in Costa Rica

The Smokey Jungle Frog

Leatherback Sea Turtle

After having seen the frogs it was time for a stroll on the beach.

You probably know that it is quite the exercise to walk for hours on the beach. Well, that was what we we’re doing, but we did it for the possibility of spotting a giant Leatherback sea turtle coming out of the ocean.

Guess what?!

We did see one!!!

It was truly fan-tas-tic! I was watching something huge moving out of the water on to the beach while the guide told us to stop walking and made sure it was okay to go and see the turtle. Once we got very close he had already turned around and was no making his way back into the ocean. A quick beach exploration for mister sea turtle.

Unfortunately it is not allowed to bring cameras to the beach at night, because they are afraid people will use their flash or the light of the screen will turn on, which is no good for the turtles.

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Just to show you how a HUGE Leatherback Sea Turtle looks like

Canoes

But that’s not all Tortuguero has to offer.

The next morning we left for a three hour canoeing trip into the National Park of Tortuguero. Our guide, named Augusto, was a very nice guy who told us stories and jokes and showed us so many wild animals that would have just passed my eyes if he wouldn’t have been there telling me where they were.

Basiliscus lizard, also known as the Jesus Christ lizard for his ability to run on the surface of water

Basiliscus lizard, also known as the Jesus Christ lizard for his ability to run on the surface of water

Another Basiliscus lizard

Another Basiliscus lizard

A Morpho butterfly

A Morpho butterfly

Augusto explained us that he used to work at a hotel before being a guide and that on a particular day the manager asked all the employees to meet for a reunion. Many eggs were stolen out of the kitchen stock and so the manager wanted to ask everybody to be honest and say who did it. Nobody knew who did it. The manager then fired the cook, because he wasn’t responsible enough with the eggs, followed by the problem of now having to find a new cook. A couple of days later Augusto was sitting in the garden of the hotel where all the chickens are and he noticed some monkeys up in the trees. They were Capuchin monkeys. The monkeys climb down to the chickens and took the eggs! They made a tiny hole in the eggs and drank their content. Augusto was amazed and called the manager to come and see what had just happened. The manager was stunned. From now on they call the Capuchin monkeys the bad monkeys in Tortuguero.

Spotting monkeys up in the trees

Spotting some monkeys up in the trees

Clearly a Spider monkey

Clearly a Spider monkey

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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.

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