Day 4: Boat Trip to Tortuguero
Trip Start Mar 05, 2005
17Trip End Mar 20, 2005
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We arrived in Tortuguero mid-afternoon. The tiny coastal town in the National Park is very interesting. With a river on one side and the Caribbean on the other, it is almost completely surrounded by water. Local children were returning from school when we arrived, carrying backpacks and wearing uniforms. Most of them seem to have been arriving by boat, which I suppose is the main way to get out and about in Tortuguero.
Tortuguero itself is a reserve for giant sea turtles to nest. That's the main attraction of the area.
After exiting the museum, we saw a tour group being shown how to get a "pipa" to drink. That's what they call the juice that you can drink from a straw from an un-ripened coconut. The guide climbed up to a coconut tree, knocked down a growing fruit, cut a hole in the top and added a straw. Voila: refreshment!
We ventured into town to browse souvenirs. Not surprisingly, most items for sale had something or other to do with turtles. We found an excellent bakery, however, serving cakes and coffee, and opted to partake. Afterwards, I went through some adventures in obtaining and figuring out how to use an international phone card. It was so frustrating I nearly broke the pay phone, but I finally managed to get through after about 45 minutes, explaining hurriedly to my parents that they shouldn't expect many more calls.
Another excellent dinner, this time cooked by the owner of our hotel, Miss Junnie, who is supposed to be known as "the best cook in Tortuguero". I have no basis for comparison, but the coconut-marinated fish, fried bananas, salad and rice were all wonderful.
After dinner, we scrambled to rearrange our packing in preparation for Rara Avis. We were to leave our large packs at the base lodge and bring only necessities for two days with us, which we packed in small garbage bags provided by Julie.
Our hotel room had its share of wildlife as well. There were some funky-looking bugs and cockroaches crawling around, which at home would have made me very wary but there was this feeling we had of somehow being on their turf.
At one point, a small lizard ran into our room and proceeded to hide behind the toilet. Knowing that lizards eat bugs and don't harm humans, we decided to make friends with the little guy. We nicknamed him Bob Ziggy (after the Marleys, which seemed rather appropriate) and tried to coax him out into the open so we could take a picture. No such luck. But from that day on, all small lizards became known as "Bob Ziggys".
We settled in to get some sleep in preparation to leave the Caribbean coast behind.
Next: Tortuguero to Rara Avis.