Day 5: Tortuguero to Rara Avis
Trip Start Mar 05, 2005
17Trip End Mar 20, 2005
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The day started extremely early, as we boarded another boat to take us along the river from Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Unlike the day before, our boat ride was mainly for transportation as opposed to for sightseeing, though we did get to spot some wildlife along the river.
We arrived in the small town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui at around noon, and stopped at a small restaurant for a lunch of - what else? - rice and beans. The restaurant had a TV and the news was on. Though it was in Spanish, we could follow somewhat. The top story was truly horrific: a bank holdup in Santa Elena de Monteverde had devolved into an ongoing hostage situation. At the time the story was ongoing. By the time it was over, nine people would be killed in the holdup and ensuing police shootout, sending shockwaves through the country.
After lunch, we traveled by taxicab to the base lodge for Rara Avis. There, we left our bags behind and we were supplied with rubber boots. Designed for neither style nor comfort, the ill-fitting boots would be our footwear for the next two days as we headed into the deep jungle.
About three quarters of the way up, we had the option of hiking the rest of the way, but it was close to dark and I was exhausted so I opted to stay on the tractor as we drove through a trail that was bordered by mud on both sides. I don't know who was more amazed when we made it to the lodge: me or the tractor driver.
There were a few groups up in Rara Avis at the same time as us, including a group from France who we chatted with a bit, and a group of high schoolers who we tried to avoid. We also met a couple of serious bird-watchers who seemed to be in paradise, and some other students running various scientific experiments and observations.
Dinner was cafeteria-style, and of course consisted of the house specialty: rice and beans. And beans and rice. And rice and beans. And beans and rice. (Did I mention we ate a lot of rice and beans?)
Amazingly, it wasn't raining when we arrived. Supposedly the area gets over 300 days of rain a year, but we were lucky and that day wasn't one of them. It was actually somewhat dry. The temperature was also much cooler than it had been on the coast, so we dressed in sweatshirts and long pants.
Once it got dark in Rara Avis, there wasn't much to do besides go to sleep, or else read by flashlight. We had an additional source of light that night: a glow bug that made itself at home on the wall near Kirsten's bed. With no other lights in the area, the bug's green glow was quite bright and it had a nightlight effect. We went to sleep listening to the sounds of the birds and other species of wildlife that created an almost symphonic effect.
Next: Exploring Rara Avis.