Sorry for the delay in posting; I just got back from Cahuita, which is a little town on the Caribbean right next to Panama, in the Costa Rican province of Limón. Since October is supposed to be the rainiest month in the Central Valley, we figured we would spend our long weekend at the beach, because October is usually not rainy in the Caribbean. That part of the plan was correct, but Cahuita was deathly hot and super muggy. In our hostel, our group took up 3 rooms. One room had only hot water for their shower, one room had no hot water. Our room had both hot and cold water, which was absolutely perfect because we could take long luke-cool showers – very refreshing.
Limón is one of the few places in Costa Rica where tourists have to be careful what they eat and drink. We had to buy bottled water, and I avoided all meat and seafood. One girl in the group got the stomach flu from a salad at a restaurant, because the lettuce must have been bad. What happens is the farmers are supposed to use safe water for their crops, but if they are poorer and can’t afford to do so sometimes they will use the regular water and just say the crops are safe. So you kind of have to assume anything not packaged is risky.
For me the highlight of the trip was snorkeling! We saw a lot of the coral reefs, and tons of plants and animals such as a lobster, a barracuda, and lots of sea urchins – I stayed far away from those. The biggest thrill was being 10 feet above a 5-foot-long nurse shark! My personal favorites were all the vibrant colors of the fish, and seeing schools of hundreds of fish all swimming together. The whole experience was straight out of Finding Nemo!
Also, we watched the sunrise over the Caribbean. Or rather, we attempted to do so. Sunrise is around 5:00am, so we got up at 4:15 just to make sure we wouldn’t miss it. We found our spots on the beach, had our cameras ready, everything, but there were clouds on the horizon that obstructed almost the whole view. We saw the day go from dark to light, and a couple of pink streaks, so I say it still counted.
Cahuita is also known for its sloths. The word for sloth in Spanish is “oso perezoso,” which translates to “lazy bear,” which is a pretty accurate description of them. They live in trees eating only plants and fruit (no meat or veggies; those require work), and they only come down to the ground once a week to go to the bathroom. Fun little history lesson: millions of years ago, North and South America were separated by water and therefore not connected. Tectonic plate shifts caused a series of chain-volcanic eruptions that eventually led to the formation of the isthmus that is now Central America. So, many of the plants and animals in Central America are hybrid combinations from North and South America. The sloth, for example, is a combination of the South American armadillo and the North American anteater!
Oh, and Costa Rica must be really determined to get me using Tico Time. My watch battery has now died, which is making difficult my habit of checking the time every 2 minutes. First my computer, now my watch…any bets on which electronic will break next? I have a camera, iPod, and cell phone left…