Costa Rica

Costa Rica is celebrated as one of the world’s most picturesque countries, so it is no surprise that it is another country that I look forward to visiting. Our cruise brochure makes it sound even more inviting. It states that we are docking at ” Puerto Limon (San Jose)”  Then it continues:

“Rich in graceful architecture, enriching museums and town plazas dotted with green, San Jose is nestled in the countries central valley amid lush and towering peaks”

Doesn’t that sound beautiful. Definitely worth a visit. And I am sure it is. But what Viking forgets to mention is that we are not stopping in San Jose (I guess the words “nestled in the central valley” should have been a clue that a ship was hardly likely to dock there). But presumably “Puerto Limon (San Jose)” means we are close by and it is only logical to assume that they offer a tour to San Jose. Why else would they wax so lyrical about it? Sadly neither is true. We are not close to San Jose and there are no tours there.

We are in fact docking at Puerto Limon, which is far removed both literally and figuratively from San Jose. Run down and seedy it is a working port with a lot of non working inhabitants

The streets are grimy and dangerous

Those locals who are not homeless have to go to great lengths to guard their homes from those who are

The people are poor and the butcher’s shop reflects that with its offerings

The tour book, desperately trying to find something positive to say about the town, comments “If you are looking for a real glimpse into the daily life and local culture of Puerto Limon, then Vargas Park is a must place to visit.”  So I do just that. It looks as if it was a pretty little park once, but not today.

It is barren and sad, littered with broken glass, drunks and homeless. It does indeed  represent the local culture

We spend very little time exploring the delights of Puerto Limon. In fact Gordon spends no time at all, as he takes one look at the place and says “no thank you”

Fortunately Costa Rica has so much more to offer and we take a trip to the nearby Tortuguero Canals, a national park stretching 14 miles along the shore. It is a maze of  waterways and lagoons, some natural some man made, that is home to a diverse array of exotic animals birds and reptiles. We take a boat tour that slowly meanders along one of the waterways searching for wildlife

Our guide warns us that wildlife sightings are sometimes few and far between. He is careful not to mention that until he has taken our money and the boat has left the shore. However today is a good day and we see two types of sloths, the two toed sloth and the three toed sloth. It is not easy to tell them apart, although their names give a useful hint as how to do it. However as they are usually seen in this position, it is not as simple as it seems.  This is the two toed version:

He doesn’t seem unduly concerned at his loss of a toe. But then he very rarely seems concerned about much.

We also see a prehistoric looking lizard whose name escapes me, although its image will stay with me.

It must be one of the least attractive creatures I have seen. It is a male and apparently it is looking for a mate. A female is nearby but is carefully hidden from view, and who can blame her. She must feel as I do about the male.

Our other sightings are mainly birds.

It is a fascinating trip but over all to soon, especially as it means returning to Puerto Limon. Something I plan never to do again.

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