Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 20, 2010

5. Panama Canal Cruise–Costa Rica

Hi All,

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 – Scenic Cruising in the Golfo Dulce.

Today was spent entering the “Golfo Dulce” and cruising along the western shore of Costa Rica. The landscape is unique, covered with virgin rainforest.  Here’s just a glimpse of this beautiful country:

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Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 – Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica – “Sky Walk in the Forest”.

We finally arrived at Puerto Caldera on a bright shinny morning.  Before I take you on our tour, let’s talk a little bit about Costa Rica.  Christopher Columbus arrived here Sept. 8, 1502. He encountered some natives with gold, so he named it “Costa Rica” (rich coast).  The country has a lot of Spanish influence, but has some very unique characteristics.  First it is by far the most environmental friendly country in the world.  They have set aside between 25% and 30% of the countries land for national parks, biological reserve, wildlife refuge or some other category of protected area, both private and public.  No other country in the world can come close to such a statistic.  Next the country has no army or military force of any kind, and instead pours all that money into it’s universal health care which has been in place for five decades.  The country offers public education through high school, and generous government-assisted loans are available to students wishing to attend college.  Thanks to these factors, the average Costa Rican has an average life span of 75 years and a 93% literacy rate.

Ok, let’s go touring.  As we depart the boat we encounter our port sign:

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Going down the gangplank we get ready to board our bus for our ride to the rainforest:

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After about a half hour drive we arrive at the Hotel Villa Lapas were we start our Skywalk tour:

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From the hotel the bus took us up to the top of the rainforest, almost a mile and a half above, so we could walk back downhill.  Here you see Susy entering the walk:

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I was suited up with my tourist gear, ready for a walk in the forest (please don’t look at the stomach, I haven’t eaten that much, it’s just a bad photo):

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At the top of the trail you had a beautiful view of the country side all the way to the ocean.  You can see it behind me above and in this picture below:

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As we started down the trail, our tour guide, Julio, was pointing out the various plants and insects when we came to a line of ants crossing the path.  Well, Julio loves ants, and so he began to tell us all about them.  He picked up one small ant which had small claws.  He asked one of the fellows on the tour if he would mind him putting the ant on his shirt.  The man didn’t mind so when Julio put the ant on his shirt he immediately pulled him off, but the claws were left behind.  When Julio turned the man’s shirt inside out you could see the claws were clamped through and created a fold.  Julio explained that the natives use these ants to clamp shut wounds, as our doctors use stiches.  Here’s Julio with one of his ants:

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As we continued down the trail we came across our first sky bridge.  This bridge was 92 meters long (about 300 feet) and 20 meters high (about 66 feet). 

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If you can’t tell, that’s Susy in front of me.  On the tour we crossed three of these bridges, all about the same size and length.  The sites from the bridges were spectacular.  Looking down you saw this:

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and looking up you saw this:

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Susy had a ball crossing the bridges because she loves heights:

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I just want to show you two more photos of the woods, first an old tall tree:

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then some of the thick forest:

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and Julio showed us many insects and lizards as we went along:

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That’s just a few of the photos of our skywalk tour.  I took 196 photos today, so if you ever want to see more of this tour, just let me know when I get home.

We finished back at the Hotel Villa Lapas, but this time we stopped and crossed a bridge over a beautiful flowing river, finding on the other side an old rustic shopping plaza with a church at one end, fountains in the middle, and a small bar where we were able to get refreshment.  I thought you would like to see a picture of the inside of this beautiful open air church:

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We returned to the port and I bet some of you thought; “no photo of Susy shopping?”.  Well I can’t let you down so here it is:

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The port had a market place, and Susy went straight to it as we got off the bus.  After a long tiring day, we left the welcome sign of the port:

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and boarded the ship:

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That’s it for Costa Rica.  We have a day at sea tomorrow, then on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, we arrive at our first Mexican port, Huatulco.  Look for my Huatulco (if we go ashore) comments in a few days.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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