so we took a bus ride around probably every street in the little hamlet of puntarena and headed out to a 50 year old train which we took through the backyards of some very happy but very poor costa ricans. lots of houses made from random pieces of corrugated steel and foundations of tires packed with dirt.
the area has lots of agriculture, and there were lots of fields whose cantaloupe had recently been harvested. the ones that were too big or too small for the packing boxes were left in the fields where some people got them or more likely the brahman cows enjoyed them. the train was very cool - wood paneling throughout and open windows you could alternately lean out of or get whipped by a passing branch!
the bus met us about 40 minutes later and took us to the boating portion. we got in small flat bottom boats, probably 30 or so people, 4 across. we cruised around in the lower part of a river and saw egrets and a bunch of other cool birds (to be listed later) and also crocodiles!
the boat driver would approach a shoal where there was a croc and get out onto the shoal with some raw chicken(!) he slapped the chicken on the surface of the water until the croc was interested and then held it up so the croc would snap at it just as we were snapping our pictures! very fun yet scary. the drivers and the croc obviously know each other well.
afterwards they had fresh pineapple, watermelon, and i think papaya with out of this world mango juice.
we were a bit late getting back to the boat but they waited for us. yesterday was a sea day. relaxing. i went to the art auction and won a bottle of champagne for being enthusiastic and also won a raffle. very productive considering i was mostly there just to look and enjoy free champagne. afterwards we all played trivia as we do each sea day. team is yin yang.
we had a fabulous day at sea after the panama canal day, recovering from a long and fascinating day in the sun.
the next day was costa rica. steve and i did a ziplining adventure first thing in the morning - very fun! there were 9 lines including one very long and very fast one that required squealing (at least i thought so).
afterwards we stopped at a souvenier shop and i may have picked up a shotglass for someone... they had fresh pineapple, papaya and watermelon, and some great juice and coffee. lovely. we got back to the boat about noon and waited under a canopy enjoying cold orange juice and water supplied by the cruise line and heat and humidity supplied by mother nature - both about 80.
mom and gert emerged about 12:45 and we were off to the bus, train, bus, boat, bus to cruise ship adventure.
we are now in the pedro miguel lock. we have been tooling through gatun lake all day, and the culebra cut.
we all got tons of sun and boy is it hot!
but very cool to see the construction activities that continue to go on... dredging mostly.
mom got a spot on deck 13 at the front of the boat and we went up to the 14th where the glass only goes up half way.
but now we are in the room as that is the best spot to watch the lock goings on. we are lucky that all the action is on our side of the boat!
on the other side of the lake it took us 3 locks in a single set to lift the boat from sea level to the level of the lake. on the pacific side we go through this single lock first to bring us down to the level of a small lake, then across to the mira flores set of 2 locks. and then we will be in the pacific!
the engineering is flabbergasting here. so simple yet solving such hard problems. brilliant.
suffice to say there will be an overabundance of pictures.
tonight and tomorrow we are out at sea. next check in should be in puntarenas costa rica where steve and i will zipline in the morning and all 4 of us do a train, bus and boat tour that should be wonderful. hope all is well in the world!
so we have gone about 6 miles from the breakwater to the first lock. we will be traveling in the west set of locks (currently have two and are working on a third, expected to be completed in 2015). it is the norwegian sun ahead of us. they will be using the east set of locks.
now the deck is positively swarming with people. unfortunately i'm not with steve or mom or gert - hopefully they are watching!
we go through the first set of locks, gatun, and then enter a lake to other locks. a few panama canal folks have boarded the boat - they take control of the boat while we are in the canal.
boats go from pacific to atlantic early in the morning and so we are all going atlantic to pacific - so we can take turns in the one way section of the canal, the culebra cut.
the gates of the first lock have opened for the sun. there are cargo ships in the upper locks on both sides.
wow. people are three deep behind me and i'm at the top of stairs!
i think i'll go to the cabin and see if i can hook up with steve. we are so close to the gates i can't really see much...
it's about 5:30am and are approaching the canal. amazingly i got a spot on the corner of a 13th deck where i can see forward. there are tons of people up here, looks like many have been camped out for a while. and there is 3g for my kindle!
i count 34 ships on this side of the boat that are waiting to go through the canal. apparently we have an assigned spot because we are proceeding according the schedule according to the 'poop' sheet, as mom calls it. there is a cruise ship ahead of us entering it first - probably the norwegian sun which is doing our same route at the same time! so we will see her in every port.
the sun is coming up now (celestial, not norwegian). so i can see that we are approaching a canal, as opposed to a bay which we entered a while ago. we have a small boat ahead, possibly a tug.
Anette and I went to Costa Rica in the fall of 2005
We stayed at the between our different destinations.
Wonderful boat rides, adorable sloths, and turtles laying eggs in the sand :).
Sublime! We whitewater rafted in and out, did a zipline canopy tour and luscious hikes into the jungle.
It was a harrowing small plane-> flatbed truck -> horse -> van -> boat ride to the Brake Bay Resort, but we did have a few days in the remote beachfront jungle before heading back before the rain trapped us there.
Well, I didn't have access to the blackberry (and now have forgotten the password!) or internet while in Costa Rica, but I'm back in the States now, with lots to report. Right now I'm in Delaware, staying with my sister Julie until my Mom gets out of 'rehab' from her hip replacement surgery.
Highlights of Costa Rica were seeing sloths, toucans, cool lizards and iguanas, monkeys, a river otter and watching a huge green turtle dig a nest, lay its eggs and cover the nest back up when we were in Tortuguero! When we were in Pacuare, we saw amazing rainforest trails and swam in waterfalls, saw the gorgeous blue morphus butterfly patrolling its streams, and had a blast river rafting (class 4 rapids - I fell out - the only one!).
When we headed south, the trip was definitely winding down and the weather was a bit worse so we came back to San Jose (our hub) a day early. But it was quite an adventure even getting to where we stayed - small plane to gravel runway to openback truck to horse to cross the river, to 4x4 to boat to dock... but more on that when I write about it in more detail :)
And our 'hub' location, where we stayed between each location, Rosa del Paseo hotel, was incredible - such helpful staff, beautiful, convenient and great cell service! So it was a wonderful time, and both Anette and I are just left to wonder how this trip can possibly be topped!!
I'll fill in some of the details in a bit :)
Another message is stuck on my blackberry, to be posted later... but for now we found an internet cafe after eating at a vegetarian restaurant(!) in San Jose. The city reminds me of Campo Grande in Brazil - kinda dirty, kinda run down, very poor, kinda polluted, but beautiful parks and public monuments.
Tomorrow we head for Tortuguero - a 2-1/2 hour drive through the jungle (pickup at 6am), then a 3-1/2 hour boat ride up to where we will be staying, and another 2 hour boat tour plus a night walk where hopefully we will be able to see green turtle babies going swimming for the first time!!!