Costa Rica, Day Four: August 18, 2014

Palo Verde National Park.

Awake at 1:00 am to use newly restored iPad hotspot to do church work.

Up with the sun and hiked up the 4 flights of stairs to wait for the bus to pick up up at 7:00 am. We saw lots more damage from rocks falling in the night.

filadeflfiaWe rode for a couple hours until we reached the small town of Filadelfia. We waited outside the park for quite a while for 2 women and a young baby. They would accompany us for the rest of the trip.

On the way to our main event, we passed several soccer games and a LOT of sugar fields. We passed El Viejo Mill (Azucarera El Viejo, S.A), a Costa Rican company dedicated to growing sugar cane and sugar production. The company annually produces 50 thousand tons of sugar in the forms of raw, white, and special; by the industrial processing of half a million tonnes of cane grown by over 500 farmers in the Tempisque Basin. The sugar here in Costa Rica goes mainly to the Coca-Cola Company and for producing energy. I was very surprised that there was no rum production like in Barbados and other sugar-growing countries.

After many dirt roads, we stopped at the Palo Verde Restaurant and had juices and coffee while we waited for others to arrive. Since we were going to Palo Verde, I assumed (you know what they say about assuming!) we were close to beginning our trip. Well, no. Back on the busses. More narrow dirt roads.

Finally, we got to the Temique River and into our small boat. One of the women getting in commented to Michael that she had sat behind him in the plane from New York. Small world.

bats2Right off the bat (no pun intended!) we saw these weird little bats. They line up on a tree and pretend to be a snake, even moving slightly to simulate a snake writhing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

monkeyWe saw lots of white-faced capuchin monkeys – several came right inside the boat. The Capuchin monkey is named after the order of Capuchin friars – the cowls of these friars closely resemble the monkey’s head coloration. I’ll bet those friars are happy to hear this!

 

 

 

jclizardAlso, we saw Jesus Christ lizards, so nicknamed for their ability to run on water at an average speed of 8.4 km/h (or 5.2 mph), for about 10 to 20 meters.

We saw lots and lots of iguanas of various colors, in the trees, on the ground.

 

 

 

 

crocodileWe also saw something that looked like a hawk but were told it was a black vulture. We also saw blue heron, egrets, and of course, crocodiles. The crocks saw we were there and slowly circled our boat.

In the photos below, the guide is showing us a huge grasshopper with red underwings.

After our boat tour, we went back to the Palo Verde Restaurant for what is called a “tipical meal”. We had Casados (black beans and rice) with chicken, beef, salad, fried plantains, white cheese and corn tortilla. Casado, the name referring to the eternal “marriage” of the beans and rice.

A l-o-n-g bus ride and we were home again, ready to rest up for the next day!

My pictures:

 

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Tuesday, March 4 ~ Panama Canal Cruise

ft-lauderdale

 

What a day!  I spent most of the first part being nervous that we would miss the ship.  There were phone calls from employees that weren’t sure what to do while we were gone, emails…

At 11:00 we were supposed to check out and housekeeping came by to check on us and I told her  “soon”.

My sandal broke, the part next to the heel separated from the sole.  <sigh>

Finally, we checked out at noon and set off to find the place to return the rental car that we never really used.  A wrong turn or 2 and we finally got there about 1:00.  Tom called for a taxi.  We waited and waited.  Tom called again.  Finally, the driver got there and we reloaded our luggage.

Fortunately, the port was only about a mile a way but there was a lot of traffic to the port and all cars had to stop and everyone had to show IDs.  That slowed everything up.

Dropped off our luggage and finally got in the terminal building.  It was nearly 2:00.  Tom had been thinking we had until 4:00 to get onboard – I reminded him that this ship sailed at 4:00.  We had to be on by 3:00.

Fort Port Lauderdale Embarkation 

Weather Forecast:  Sunny High 77 / Low 69

Sunrise 6:41 am / Sunset 6:23 pm

From the Navigator: As soon as all the passengers and crew are onboard and all pre-departure checks have been completed, the Captain will give the order to let go our mooring lines.  Once clear from the berth, Coral Princess will make her way out of the harbor before disembarking our pilot and altering our course to starboard.  We will then set southwesterly courses through the Straits of Florida toward the Old Bahama Channel, as we make our way towards Aruba.

A hustling, bustling port – not just cruise ships.  As far as I could tell, we were the only cruise ship there.

A lot of people got there about when we did but the lines moved fairly quickly…until it was time to actually board the ship.  That’s when you swipe your new card and they add your picture to the record for to be sure you’re who you say you are when you come back from port.

We got on the actual ship and were directed to the left.  We followed lots of other folks and ended up at an elevator.  Up to our cabin and our first 2 pieces of luggage were already there.  The third was only a few minutes later.  Very speedy!

I like this ship – Coral Princess!

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The cabin is (or seems) bigger than the one on Norwegian (NCL).  There is a desk instead of a couch (NCL).  The couch wasn’t very practical – the desk really is.

We have a walk-in closet which is really nice.  We haven’t even filled it halfway up (yet).  It’s at a right angle to the sleeping area which makes it seem like a separate room.

The bathroom is small.  I think the shower is smaller than NCL’s but I don’t spend that much time in there.

The end tables by the bed have actual drawers instead of open shelves.

The chairs on the balcony recline.  They’re fixed on NCL.

No coffeemaker, though.  NCL had one in the cabin.

We have a TV guide telling us what is on for the whole trip.  The new Hobbit movie will be on later.  Glad we didn’t see it in the movies.

Pool/Beach towels are in the closet.  We return them to the cabin and the steward brings us new ones.  We didn’t have to check them out and return them to the pool each day.  Hooray!

This ship has a self-service laundry on each deck.  I’ve never seen that on another ship.

We went off for muster  Here, we had to take our lifejackets and put them on at one point.  NCL, we didn’t take them.  They showed us how to jump off the side, if necessary.  Um, no.

I noted for future reference that many women on here wear white long pants.  Not likely!

Tom went off to a meeting, I did some church work – uploading Sunday’s sermons.

I took a little video of the sail away and some regular pictures.

http://youtu.be/snOVmXcPO-0

 

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The sheriff’s boat, acting as pilot

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Tom came back and wrote some emails.  I think I napped.  I didn’t feel like getting dressed for dinner so we went to the buffet.  It seemed smaller than NCL but then I realized that they didn’t have the pizza and burgers mixed in.  The buffet was all real food.  Among other things, I had prime rib.  Yummy!!!   We got to sit right ”up front” in the center of the stern.  Very impressive!

We walked around a bit, trying to get our bearings.  This ship has a lot of wood on it, more “real” than the mostly metal ones I usually see.  Teak tables, wooden doors.

I understand that this ship line used to be P&O from England before they became Princess.  There are British hints all over, from the afternoon Tea Time, to the huge selection of teas at dinner.  There are also pictures from the P&O line on the walls and 2 grenadiers guarding the casino.  Tom thinks that P&O might have stood for Pacific and Orient – I’ll look that up when we get home.  (Note – it is Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company)

I had wanted to go to the 7:45 Welcome Aboard show but there was some email to be sent.  I think I rested my eyes.

Then, we went out and walked around some more – by Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) which seems to mostly be showing a variety of things.  There are 2 movies later this week that I’d like to see.  They put cushions on the deck chairs and give out blankets, popcorn,  cookies and milk.  It’s also right by the ice cream, pizza and grill so not too much chance of hunger.

We walked all around a couple of decks.  It seems like we’re nearly alone on this cruise.  Except for embarking, we’ve seen very few other people.

At 9:30, we did see  the show.  I thought that they would do snippets from upcoming shows but the singers/dancers did a “welcome to Princess” type song and dance and the comedian told some jokes.  The cruise director, Susan Rawlings,  told us a bit about what was coming up.

Walking around some more.  We decided to get some pizza but they were just closing up.  Back to the buffet – Horizon Court – and I had some fruit (and another egg roll)

There was a note on our bed after dinner that they would be happy to deliver whatever fruit we wanted to our cabin.  Nice touch.  Also, a Princess tote bag.

We had chocolates on our pillow!

Just a bit of church work, should have taken about 2 minutes, tops, but it took 11, thanks to this s-l-o-w internet connection.

I think I fell asleep almost immediately.  If anything, I read one paragraph in my book.

Costa Rica, Day 5

Another early day. We got up for an 8 am pickup. Today we went out snorkeling on a sailboat and saw some dolphins.

We stopped by the marina and I got a tshirt then, I decided I wanted a hat with SPF 45 built in so I went back in for that. Then Tom decided he wanted a shirt. This time the credit card was declined. I guess they thought it was stolen by then. Luckily, I had a second card.

All this activity made us the last ones inboard. We had been first at the dock.

We sailed out a bit and ran into the dolphins. I got lucky on the pictures. I was just shooting and hoping some would jump up when the shutter went off.

The video below is not mine but similar to what we saw:

The crew came around with wonderful pineapple slices. Yummy!

We sailed by a small rock island covered with brown booby birds. The little islands came up with the shifting of the tectonic plates.

Then snorkeling/swimming. There was a small island with sargent major fish. We had seen those in Barbados.

After this we had a nice lunch of fish, rice, potato, yucca and carrots.

A bit of sailing around then back home. First thing was to call the bank and assure them that the card hadn’t been stolen, it was us making multiple small purchases.

Since we were already wet, we decided to go swimming. A nice dog came over and sat by me while I was reading. He even posed for the camera. I also tried to get a picture of a butterfly on a bush but I don’t think it came out too well.

After showers, we headed in to Quepos to find the ATM again.

Then off to dinner. Our friends from Thrifty were there so we joined then and heard the whole saga of the flat tire.

Back home and writing this…

Costa Rica, Day 3

This was the day we went to Manuel Antonio National Park. I’m only going to post some of the pictures from here and the rest later, depending on the connection.

Our shuttle picked us up at 7 and included the couple we met at the Thrifty on Sunday and the couple we met here for the Quepos grocery run.

At the park we got our guide, Andre, met up with us. He had a super high-powered telescope on a tripod so we could see lots of things would never have seen, especially on our own. Without Andre we probably would have seen nothing!

All of the pictures in a circular frame were taken through the telescope. We saw 2-toed and 3-toed sloths. Their differences were not just in the numbers of toes but several other things such what they ate. We also saw baby bats sleeping, several types of tree frogs, insects, frog larvae.

The frog larvae was interesting. I have 2 pictures. It looked like a gelatinous mass with lots of eyes…which moved. Eventually, the sac will fall off the leaf and into the water below. Those eyes will become tadpoles for a bit, then frogs.

We heard before we saw the howler monkeys. They were very noisy! Eventually one threw a tree branch down toward us, then a bit of monkey poop.

The monkeys are, of course, free to go wherever they want and some were getting killed in the roads. Or they would use the power cables as highways. Not a good idea! The people installed blue cables for them at the routes they normally took. The monkeys can see the blue, use those highways and stay safe.

We also saw another type of monkey, lizards and more.

After this part was over, we forded a stream and had a great fruit snack along with soursop drink. Mmmmmmm. On this trip I’ve had more fruit than a long time.

We went and sat on the beach for a bit, then back “home”.

After naps, there was a barbecue near the pool, then early bed.

Costa Rica, Day 1

Yesterday seems so long ago. We were in Virginia at 4 in the morning waiting for a cab.

The plane trip to Atlanta was uneventful but I had started having panic attacks the night before so a bit of Xanax helped.

On the next flight to Costa Rica, the Xanax had fully kicked in and I was asleep before takeoff. When I woke up, I thought we were landing.

Tom and I were seated across the aisle from one another which was ok but the woman to my left kept trying to talk to the man to tom’s right so I switched places with the man.

The young woman in the window seat made several bathroom runs. On the last one my tomato juice managed to spill on my white pants. Fast thinking from Tom got me some club soda and all was well. When the young woman got back I had the window seat,Tom was in the middle and she was on the aisle.

We got into San Juan and got our rental car. 2 others who were on Kirkland had bad luck with their car they had something smaller and it cost way more than ours so they were pretty unhappy. They were actually coming to the same place we are but a day later.

Thank goodness we got the GPS. We never would have found the place without it. We passed lots hikers in the road headed to San Juan. Turns out they were pilgrims headed to the cathedral for a very special holy day.

We got here and I posted last night’s balcony pictures.

Unpacked and had some wonderful food sent in for dinner. It was so good, chicken and rice, I could have it every day!

Today we went out for the orientation to see what was here. We had coffee and a fantastic juice mix of pineapple, banana, mango, guava and watermelon.

The person telling us about the place said there was an iguana here named Pancho who liked to hang out by the pool and sometimes swim. He recognized cameras and would pose nicely…but would chase you if you didn’t give him a tip of food. He likes hibiscus, especially.

A raccoon came by during the talk also.

We stayed in that same area for a nice breakfast. I had more of that juice mix.

Off for a shuttle to Quepos for groceries. I’m glad we took that. We never would have found the store. Thank goodness there were pictures on most of the products. My Spanish isn’t that great.

On the way back I took pictures of the “Oh, My God” bridge. It lives up to it’s name. Fortunately that’s being replaced.

Back home and to the pool. Then a long call to the states to clear up a little mess I’ll post about tomorrow when I have more energy.

Dinner at the place we got the takeout from. This time a Latin American grilled pork and pineapple. That restaurant is run by the same people who did breakfast. Just a different location.

No rum punch here so I’m trying lime ice tea and lime vodka. Not bad but I don’t think it will be a hit anywhere.

Bedtime soon. Hopefully tomorrow is more relaxing!