mothers day

Monday, February 25, 2013

Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rice on Wednesday February 13 - Ed and I had signed up for a Bus, Boat and Train Tour.  We had a little time so we wandered around a little outdoor market set up at the port and were really excited about the items for sale.  They were by and large all made in country - not the same old same old stuff out of China.  We wandered around for about an hour - it was hot and humid - got us a soft drink and then took our purchases back to the ship and ate a quick lunch on board and then we got on  a bus and headed out of Limon into the countryside.  Our tour guide spoke really good English and gave us lots of info about Costa Rica itself.  It sounds like the average monthly wage is about $850 plus health insurance and housing!!  They have to pay for the electricity and it sounds like that limits how much they spend on tv, computer etc.

on the bus heading to the banana plantation

 It was a Del Monte plantation and very very interesting.  Did you know that the banana tree is not a tree but a plant.  It takes about 9 months to grow a bunch of bananas - from 175 to 200 bananas in each bunch.  The put a blue plastic bag over each bunch to protect the bags, with pesticides to keep out bugs when they are just a little teensy bunch. 
 Once the plant grows the bunch of bananas it dies!!  However prior to that it sends up several shoots around the base so one of them is ready to take over and grow more bananas!
 You can see the bunches of bananas growing inside the blue bags.  They go around and put different color ribbons on the bunches to tell them easily when they are getting close to being ready to process
 If you look closely at this picture you can see a man PULLING about 200 bunches of bananas into the plant for processing.   The workers chop the bunches of mature bananas off the plant and place the bunch on a guyline - this guy has straps either around his waist or over his shoulders and he literally PULLS all these bananas into the plant.
 Here they are cutting the blue bags off of each bag and then cutting bunches off bananas of the bundles and put on a conveyor belt to take it into the open air plant
 Here ladies are sorting the bunches into 4 grades - 1 and 2 are shipped over seas, 3 is sold in country and the 4th grade is used for feed for pigs and such.  It was fascinating to see it all.  Later on in the day they fed us fresh pineapple, coconut, watermelon and banana, all cash crops for Costa Rica.  They told us that the majority of the pineapple goes to HAWAII!    We found out that fresh bananas have so much more flavor than store bought!!  Kind of like tomatoes out of our garden.
 After the tour of the plantation we got back in the bus and headed to a river where we got on a boat like the one you see here.  Then we spent about an hour and a half going up and down a river looking for all sorts of wildlife.

First thing we got to see was a Cayman!!  For those of you who know as much as we did, a Cayman is a small crocodile.  You can see him through the branches here.

Some of the birds we saw was a baby heron (did you know they are white for the first year), a snow egret, plus several others.

 We saw this cute lizard plus some green iguanas.
 Just pretty scenery along the river.
 This green lizard is a Jesus lizard- it walks along the water (really - we got to see it move)
 If you look closely at this tree in the center of the picture you will see seven little bats sticking to the tree - sleepy time.  We also got to see a sloth, and a several monkeys from the river.  Then we came back to shore and ate that nummy fresh fruit  and got back on the bus to head to the train for the third part of our tour.  We figured that the train ride would be really interesting and was sure that was a normal mode of travel in country.  HAH!
 Okay - I don't think this picture shows how much rust there was on the train, nor does it show how it was welded back together.  Evidently, this train company went out of business in the 70's and it sat and rusted and fell totally apart for 30 years until finally a tour company figured they could make some money offering a bus, boat and train tour.  So they literally welded the roof back on and a floor back in.  The covered the insides of the train with wood paneling and added plexiglass in the windows.
 You can see how lovely the windows were - who knows if they actually closed or not!!!  The wood was the original wood though!  :-)    The tracks were covered with grass - and the engine sounded like it was going to break down any minute but it moved!!  So again - we were off across the country through the jungles of Costa Rica.  All of a sudden the train stopped although they didn't shut down the engines...and they said "Can you hear that?".  There was a horrible LOUD roar, through the jungles.  I thought - Costa Rica doesn't have lions but that is exactly what it sounded like.  We thought what in the world and finally they pulled forward enough so that we could see the monkey making the noise....It was a male howler monkey - we could see the three female monkeys in another tree that he was trying to impress.  Howlers in the wild - fantastic!  We then traveled another couple miles and they stopped and let us watch about seven spider monkeys traveling through the tops of the trees.  So fun.  Several moving through the canopy of the jungles and then there was a mama and a baby monkey with the baby monkey playing all up and down the tree around mama.

This is the center of a cacoa nut - they make chocolate out of this !!  

We had a wonderful day - we got to see the big city of Limon, the jungles of Costa Rica, homes out in the country, lots of animals and birds and we got to eat fresh delicious fruits freshly picked.  We noticed that EVERY home large and small had iron bars on every window and even concertina wire on all the fences.  Interesting country - great day


Kecia said...

Sounds like a fun day! The cacao nut insides look like throw up! That really gets turned into chocolate? amazing.

Mauri Gibson said...

Wow, fascinating day! I want to taste a fresh banana now, lol.