Our day started early. We were to eat breakfast between 6:00 and 7:30 so that we would be ready for our briefing at 7:30. We ate at Antigua again and they had another amazing buffet set out for us. All meals from now on, except one, were included in our vacation and it was a great way to start the day. After our big breakfast, we grabbed our carry-on bags and headed to the briefing. We had a short meeting to go over the safety guidelines and to basically let us know some more details of the trip. It also gave us a chance to introduce ourselves to our other adventurers. Once the briefing was over, we loaded our bus and headed to the airport. We were told to pack a separate bag for tonight because the rest of our luggage would not be able to be loaded onto the planes we were flying. They divided us up onto two otter aircraft. Each plane has a weight limit and so our other baggage was loaded on the bus that would meet up with us tomorrow in Arenal. We boarded the planes and took a short 30 minute flight to Tortuguero. The flight took us over some of the most amazing terrain. We saw mountains, farm lands, plantations, rivers and the Caribbean sea. It was a beautiful flight.
The country of Costa Rica is very environmentally conscious. Ron explained to us that they were in a race with New Zealand and another country to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world. “Carbon neutral” means that they know how much forest it takes to erase the carbon footprint left behind. They are working to keep it in balance. This naturalist mindset plays a huge role in the lives of the Costa Rican people. The country as a whole is HUGE into recycling and taking care of their natural resources. Even in the schools, the kids are taught environmental education. Today, we were able to see some of these efforts at work.
After a short boat ride to the Laguna Lodge for a bathroom break, we loaded back onto the boats and began our tour of the rainforest. The beauty cannot be described in words: we saw so many beautiful trees, plants, and wildlife. Probably the highlight for me was seeing a spider monkey. We also saw several HUGE iguanas, cayman, birds of all kinds, basilisk lizards, butterflies…it was BEAUTIFUL!!
By the time we finished the rainforest tour, we were ready to return to Laguna Lodge for lunch. Again, we had a fabulous buffet featuring local foods. After lunch, we had a few minutes to go to our rooms and rest before the afternoon activities began.
We spent the afternoon in Tortuguero, visiting the sea turtle conservancy center and the village. We were honored to have Carla as our local guide. She was raised In Tortuguero…but what makes her unique is that her family sailed there from Columbia and settled in Tortuguero as the first family. Over time, others have moved into the village as well, but her family was responsible for settling the area. Tortuguero is known for the beach being a nesting area for sea turtles. The Costa Rican people used to harvest sea turtles for food until Archie Carr came to the area and explained to them the damage they were doing to the species and taught them how protecting them could actually help the village thrive. Tortuguero makes a huge effort to protect these amazing creatures from extinction. They took us to the beach where Carla showed us a leatherback sea turtle nest that was just made last night. Sea turtles crawl ashore, make their nest and deposit their eggs deep in the sand. Then the mother goes back to sea and leaves the eggs to fend for themselves. They take approximately 60 days to hatch and the little babies will begin making their trek back to the sea. The nests are watched closely by the researchers and they will move obstacles out of the way allowing the turtles a chance to crawl safely to the ocean. Nesting season for sea turtles usually is peak from July to September (during those months Adventures by Disney will offer sea turtle walks at night to look for nesting sea turtles). Our group adopted a sea turtle and the junior adventurers helped us name him Rocko. We now have a sea turtle in the ocean with a tracking band so that we can locate Rocko.
next stop was to the village. We were able to see the school, the
shops, homes and daily life in the village. Tortuguero is a busy
village with tourists who come to see the turtles. After our time in
the village we loaded back onto the boats and returned to our resort for
a little time to swim before our welcome dinner.
We had a spread of Costa Rican food, calypso band playing music for us and time to visit with the other adventurers. Dinner was followed by a little stargazing on the beach. Tomorrow we head to Arenal…
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detailed description of each day.