Panama Canal (Day 8)

December 22

Costa Rica

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[After a week of “out and about,” we’re finally back on a continent again.  Yes, we’re approaching the Isthmus of Panama in Central America.  “Isthmus,” incidentally, is a word that’s impossible to pronounce if you’ve had more than one beer.  I suggest it be changed to the equally descriptive “skinnyland.”]

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[Arrival at the port of Puerto Limon . . . ]

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[This would be a two excursion day, beginning with the Monster Bus & Rainforest Trek.  And speaking of beer, our guide, Eric, and driver, Jose, who are partners in this business, would both be the kind of guys you’d love to – well, join for a couple of beers.]

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[Uh-oh, single lane bridge . . . ]

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[There is a saying in Costa Rica, it’s actually the unofficial motto of the country: Pura Vida. It literally translates to “pure life.” But really it’s more along the lines of “life is good.” And it’s used in everyday conversation. It’s a greeting…if someone asks how you’re doing, you can say “pura vida”… If that attitude appeals to you, you might want to consider retiring in Costa Rica. This country of 4.8 million is tucked between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.  ~  internationlliving.com]

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[Eric said he hated history as a student growing up.  Now he loves it, has made it his life’s work, because he loves telling people about his country . . . ]

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[Rest stop in the Monster Bus . . . ]

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[Eric and Jose always wanted something like this to take people into the rainforest.  But they don’t exist.  So, the made this, scavenging from other vehicles – I believe the chassis is from a Russian troop carrier . . . ]

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[Eric takes advantage of a photo op.]

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[What’s up there?]

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[The Super joins others for the photo op.   According to the U.S. Department of State, more than 20,000 U.S. expatriates live in Costa Rica, many of them as retirees. That’s because Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America. With an economy catering to a growing middle class as well as tourists from around the world, you’ll have no trouble finding theaters, galleries, and fine dining in virtually any cuisine. Plus, there is excellent healthcare, high-speed internet (even in seemingly remote areas), reliable electrical service, clean water you can drink from the tap, and good cellphone coverage (including 3G and even 4G in some areas). In addition to its natural beauty, culture, welcoming attitude of the locals, and convenience, Costa Rica attracts many expats with its lower cost of living and slower pace of life.  ~ internationalliving.com]

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[BATS!!!]

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[SLOTH!!!]

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[A gal or fellow enjoying a nap in the heat of the day . . . ]

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[They are hard to spot . . . ]

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[Costa Rica has been known for its stable democracy in a region that has had some instability and for its highly educated workforce, most of whom speak English. The country spends roughly 6.9% of its budget (2016) on education, compared to a global average of 4.4% . . . Costa Rica also has progressive environmental policies. It is the only country to meet all five UNDP criteria established to measure environmental sustainability . . . Costa Rica plans to become a carbon-neutral country by 2021 . . . ~  Wikipedia]

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[Really not a lot of traffic here . . . ]

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[I believe some sort of hive . . . ]

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[Really feeling far from civilization . . . ]

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[Uh-oh, a notorious and ubiquitos band of Americanos homo sapiens . . . ]

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[You’re about to see a poison arrow frog.  Do not try to eat one!]

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[Ready!  Aim!  Fire!]

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[So, we’ll adopt the buddy system here . . . ]

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[Seriously, there 3 of them in here . . . ]

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[They look like this (store bought off the internet) . . . ]

poison arrow frog

[I saw them when I took the photo – can’t find them now?  I should have brought my telephoto lens because they are little guys . . . ]

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[This tree is not native to Costa Rica.  And though it grows staight and tall, it apparently does not produce usable wood.  I don’t recall it’s name?]

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[A different kind of, more normal rainforest, tree . . . ]

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[Hi!  I’m in a rainforest.  But it’s not raining.]

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[Back to the place where we took a break, you know, the place with the . . . BATS!]

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[Eric and Jose are going to introduce us to the Costa Rican national beverage . . . ]

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[With fruit and snacks . . . ]

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[Cacique Guaro is a brand of guaro produced by Fábrica Nacional de Licores or “FANAL”. The Cacique Guaro is a sugar cane liquor of high purity and is the best selling distilled spirit in Costa Rica.  It is known as “Costa Rica liqueur”.  As it has a neutral taste, guaro can be consumed pure or combined with any natural or artificial mixing.  ~  Wikipedia]

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[Come and get it!]

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[It was pronounced good by all!]

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[Meanwhile . . . SLOTH!]

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[A sloth neighborhood?]

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[Bananas!]

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[The bio-degradable blue bags enclosing the bananas are for protection . . . from rain!  Yup, rain can “bruise” the banana peels making them less attractive for marketing.  I learn something new everyday (though usually don’t remember it).]

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[No creatures in view . . . ]

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[These are so unique looking . . . ]

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[I’m stunned I can’t find out anything about them?]

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[Another SLOTH!]

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[Our guides and drivers were really good at spotting them.  I would never have noticed any of them if they hadn’t been pointed out . . . ]

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[It was election time.  The country has been a democracy since 1948, at which time the country also eliminated its military, certainly easing budgetary stresses . . . ]

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[Back across the single lane bridge . . . ]

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[Through the markets . . . ]

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[Back to the ship, where I believe we had lunch . . . ]

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[Then on to excurson number 2 – the Tortuguero Canals . . . ]

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[And even more SLOTHS.  All involved noted that we had a super-duper day for sloth sightings . . . ]

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[And here’s a kin to our boat . . . ]

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[And appears to be our boat . . . ]

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[Percy was our enthusiastic guide . . . ]

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[Aaaah, another one . . . ]

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[I remember when they were called 2- or 3-“toed” sloths.  DYK, they are now called 2- or 3-“fingered” sloths?  Why the change?  I believe it came at the request of the creatures themselves who did not want to be known as foot fetishists . . . ]

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[We’re really getting up close and personal here . . . ]

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[I think boats have pulled in to visit this guy before.  He seemed relatively indifferent to our presence . . . ]

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[Although commonly referred to as two-toed sloths, this description is somewhat misleading as all sloths have three toes on the hind-limb. The true difference in digits lies in the forelimb, with sloths in the Choloepus genus having two fingers. For this reason, the correct terminology should be two-fingered sloth, a term which has now been recognised in several scientific publications.  Two-fingered sloths are much larger than their three-fingered counterparts, reaching 80cm in length and weighing up to 11 Kg (although the average is 4-8 Kg). They have a long, pig-like snout and can sweat from the very tip of their nose when hot or stressed. Their hands and feet have fleshy, hairless palms and soles. They have long, brown hair which is lighter in colouration around the face and can stand on end when threatened, helping to make the sloth appear larger. Two-fingered sloths are more active and generally faster-moving that the three-fingered sloths. Their activity is primarily nocturnal, although occasional diurnal movements have been observed.  ~ slothconservation.com]

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[Busy canal . . . ]

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[Percy announces we have witnessed a sloth bonanza on this day . . . ]

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[And a bonanza of these tourist canal boats . . . ]

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[Earthquake reinforced bridge construction . . . ]

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[An avian species on the roof – appears to be of the buzzard variety . . . ]

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[Guess who?]

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[And we wrap up our first day in Costa Rica.  We will visit again on the Pacific side.]

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Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.  ~  Maya Angelou

Up Next:  It will always be between Panama or Cardinal sports . . .

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “alexandriacardinals.wordpress.com,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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