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December 11, 2018

Costa Rica is big on conservation. Like really big. They have made it their mission to keep carbon footprints low. We are instructed not to flush any paper, the straws are all bio degradable, and if you lose your plastic hotel room key, you will pay a stiff fine.

Tortuguara National Park on the Caribbean coast lives and breaths this philosophy.  Accessible only by boat (or small planes) it plays host to eleven different habitats and a host of biodiversity. In the summer months, turtles come to lay and hatch their eggs and the area is over run with tourists who want to watch that happen. Like me, but we’re here in the wrong month.

Our beautiful lodge welcomed us with fruit drinks and four poster beds. After lunch we headed into the tiny town of Tortuguara to see the ocean (the town is flanked by the sea on one side and the river on the other. We were staying across the river), and walk the distance. My pale friends convinced me that I should buy a hat for the open air boat trip the following day and I got a wonderful floppy thing emblazoned with a lizard. I never wore it, but I love it.

In the morning and afternoon the next day, we were treated to long boat journeys along the canals to spot the various wildlife. Our hotel had kayaks with which we could explore the canals as well, but there’s no way we could navigate the winding waterways and find our way back.

We saw so many birds. Just look at a guide to Costa Rican birds and I probably saw 80% of them. Also caiman, sloths, howler and spider monkeys, and a sassy turtle. I’m told that manatees live in the river, but sadly none showed themselves. Yes yes, I know they don’t breach like whales, but it would have been fun to see one. (I’ve wanted to ever since the time I thought I would be swimming with them in the Maldives and it turned out to be manta rays pronounced with a British accent instead. Also – I almost died in a storm at sea that day with the same travelers I’m with now, so there’s that.)

Jaguars and an erupting volcano are on my list of things to see while I’m here that my companions are uninterested in as well. One wild creature we did see was the handsome owner of our hotel, who turned up on Jane’s Tinder account, though, alas, we could not convince her to swipe right.

The next day, yesterday, we jumped the boat for the last time to head upriver and to our next location. Debarking the boat, we were greeted by a loud “Welcome champagne party” and we reunited with our guide  Jorge.

The drive to Arenal and the rainforest included a grocery store stop where we loaded up with wine and tortilla chips just in case our next meal doesn’t arrive (it always arrives). Jorge treated us to the sweet of his childhood, an extremely boozey and delicious chocolate, and with that we arrived at our hotel at the foot of what I’m told is a volcano, but can’t tell, because it is safely hidden behind a wall of fog.

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