Thursday, April 26, 2007

Panama Cruise, Day 8: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

“Pura Vida”, the expression Costa Ricans use to express their happiness, or satisfaction. It is also how I felt after spending time here today. The Sun Princess arrived in Puntarenas around 3:15 AM. I awoke early and sat out on the balcony enjoying what I could see of the coastline through the darkness.

Costa Rica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, a name he chose meaning “rich coast”. Puntarenas means “sandy point”, which it is, quite literally. Nestled between Nicaragua to its north and Panama to it south, it has the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea on either side. Costa Rica’s main export is computer chips, but also exports bananas, coffee, and other fruits. Perhaps its greatest richness is the Rainforest, which it proudly protects and preserves.

Although Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia, it is abundant with natural wonders. Consider these: 1,700 species of orchids, 1,200 species of trees, 880 species of birds, 51 different Hummingbirds and 137 different snakes. It has 110 volcanoes, five of which are active. These volcanoes are part of the “ring of fire” on our plant. Photos below: Toucans and other birds I saw:

Below: Crocodiles & Lizards

I explored a small part of Costa Rica today, starting with an Aerial Tram ride and a hiking tour through their Rainforest. The colors of the plants were quite awesome. Below are photos of the white faced monkey, and also a “Monkey Comb Tree”, which produces black pods with spines. Monkeys pull the pods off the tree and use them to comb their hair. Quite clever, I thought. Below is the white faced monkey, and also the Monkey Comb Tree. (Monkey Photos courtessy of Ray & Ann):

We had a locally prepared lunch in the middle of the Rainforest, including some delicious cooked bananas. I dared not ask what any of the food was, but so far I’m not sick so it must be OK.

Here are photos of my visit through the Rainforest, I don’t have the best camera, but you’ll get a good idea of the natural beauty.

Photos of note above: middle: banana tree, right, Cacao tree (chocolate)

Photos of note above: Middle: Tarzan vines, right: Termite trails (in black)

Photos above: Pineapple plant, middle, yellow fruit, right: The "Ouch Tree"

Photos above of note: far right: the coffee bean

Photos above of note: right: a plant with fuzzy pods used to make life vests
Puntarenas
Later in the day I explored the coastal community of Puntarenas, where they have a college, rustic bars, restaurants, and shops with locally made crafts. I bought a few nick-knacks that I felt I could carry home, including a few Cuban cigars which I plan to smoke while in Central America! I strolled along the beach for awhile and enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant climate. Someday I hope to return to Costa Rica to explore its capital, San Jose. Tomorrow we set sail for Huatulco, Mexico, which will take a full day at sea.


Photos below: left, John relaxing by the beach, right, me posing by a cool sculpture at the beach.

-Rick Rockhill


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1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

rick, my visit to costa rica was not the same as yours. i was on the atlantic side and it was quite different. there are bars on all the windows and that wire with the spikes on it (whatever that is called) on the tops of fences around the houses. it was scary as hell! i only found out after that i was in such a bad part of town! i am an idiot!

smiles, bee

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