Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Costa Rica - We're Going to be on the Bus for How Many Hours?

We were heading from the center of the country to the Pacific coast. From the windows of the bus we got a closer look at the vegetation which crawls up the side of the volcano. We climbed winding mountain roads looking down at Arenal Lake. Formed by a dam built for hydroelectric power the cross atop the submerged town of Old Arenal can occasionally be seen rising above the water. The residents were given homes and jobs in a new town built by the government to replace the old one. Brooks and rivers tumbled through thick green growth over rocks worn smooth by their ancient dance with the water. Wind turbines rotated on the top of a hill while cows grazed on the slope below.

Lunch that day was at a restaurant known for it's population of White Tail Deer. The deer, the national mammal of Costa Rica, is endangered in that country. Most of the people on the bus agreed that they were free to take some of ours.

As we drew near to the coast the landscape changed from a uniform dark to more varied shades of green. The growth, still thick became noticeably less dense and more multi-layered. As we passed through small towns their relaxed, languid nature is manifested by the sight of a man in a car pulled off to the side of the road, napping, all the doors open to let in the breeze.Three young teens stood by the side of the road trying to hitch a ride. A group of chickens and a single goose clucked and squawked around a sagging weathered wood porch.

The main activity that day was an educational tour of a protected nesting site for the critically endangered Leatherback Turtle. It was our first sight of and our first walk along the Pacific. I must say that the turtles have picked a beautiful spot to lay their eggs. Green hills tumble into the sea on either side of a sandy stretch of oceanside beach. The sound of waves tumbling in and cooling breezes coming off the sea added to the tranquility of the site. In recent years the turtles have moved from this beach after decades of poaching. Remarkably intelligent and intuitive animals, they have moved to areas with smaller human populations and less risk to their offspring. Outside the visitors center enterprising young boys, for two dollars, hacked off the tops of coconuts giving me my first taste of the mildly sweet water inside.

As we neared the resort where we would be spending the next 2 nights the foliage became sparser. Now thick forests mix with green meadows dotted with large trees. We sat on the beach on plush chaise lounges that evening and watched the red sun set over the horizon of the Pacific. The clouds glowed pink above the blue water and white foam of the wave caps. After dinner we walked through the hotel grounds among spotlit palms while birds circled in the night sky over our heads.

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