I am writing this entry on the 17th of April. There was no opportunity to write at Pachira lodge in Tortuguero.
I will start my story on April 15th:
We got up at 5.15am, took a nice hot shower, packed and were picked up at 6.15am to start our bus ride from San Jose to Cano Blanco. We took route 32 from San Jose and had a clear view of the active volcano Turrialba - quite impressive.
We drove through the cloud forest over Cordillera Central (the central mountain range) and came down to the lowlands on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. We had breakfast in Guapiles. At every meal we are served rice and beans - so also at breakfast! The juice is very good: pineapple or passionfruit or papaya.
We also saw fields with pineapple plants. We thought they grew on trees, but they are plants of about half a meter high with the pineapple in the middle.
In Siquirres we turned off route 32 and followed gravel roads through banana plantations. We learned that the workers there are modern day slaves. They are exploited by the large companies like Dole and Chiquita. (A 41 pound box of bananas costs $2 to produce) The workers are very young, from about 16 to early forties. It is hard work and the wages are very low.
At 11am we arrived at Cano Blanca where we transferred to our boat. It was a very busy terminus with buses and boats exhanging people.
We took the boat downstream on Rio Parismina.
We followed the river channels that run pararel with the Caribbean coast for two hours - with a "peebreak" in between!
At 1pm we arrived at Pachira lodge which is on the Lagunas del Torteguero.
This is not a bad place to be! We have a private room plus bathroom - part of a bungalow divided in four. There are no windows, just screens. We hear the monkeys and the toucans and of course the rain!! We are in a rainforest!
The restaurant is quite fancy - the swimming pool has the form of a turtle and the paths are concrete. The bungalows and the paths are built off the ground. We have discovered that that is no luxury with the rains that thunder down!
Lunch was ready for us and after lunch I went for a nice swim in the pool! So far quite a luxury trip!
At 4pm we took the boat accross the channel to the village of Torteguero.
The village is built on a sliver of land between the Caribbean sea and the inland channel (lagunas). The beach is famous for being the nesting place of leatherback, green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles.
The adult turtles come every 2nd or 3rd year to lay their eggs in the sand. They bury them, sometimes more than one hundred at a time. The incubation time is approximately 60 days after which the baby turtles try to make their way to the water. They have a lot of natural enemies and only about 1% make it into adulthood which is 25 years. At 25 they come back to the sane place to lay their eggs for the first time.
Costa Rica has very strict laws and rules for tourists wanting to see the turtles lay their eggs or see the baby ones leave the nest. Nobody is allowed on the beach when the turtles come (that includes the people who live there). Rangers patrol the beach. There is one moment when the turtles are not scared during the process of laying their eggs. That is when the rangers call the guides (who are waiting just off the beach with their group of tourists) and then they can see the turtles.
We are not in the high season to see the turtles. >High season is August.
We are in the rainforest here and we have seen monkeys, toucans, a three-toed sloth, lots of hummingbirds and butterflies. The plants are beautiful: hybiscus, bromelia, dieffenbachia, orchids, other beatiful coloured flowers and ferns grow everywhere.
We are having dinner from 7-8pm and then rest! Tomorrow morning it is up at 5am again for a 2hour boat ride into the National Park to see wildlife before breakfast at 8am!