½/14 – 1/3/14

Tortuguero was a completely spur of the moment thing. Most of the stuff I have done so far I had at least slightly researched. But this time I didn’t even know tortuga meant turtle until mid-way through the trip. Which made it easier to learn it wasn’t breeding season and I wouldn’t be seeing any. Ah, well, there were still plenty of other things to see.

For $199 each we got 5 meals, transport from our middle of nowhere hostel in Puerto Viejo, transport to our hostel in San Jose, and the actual tour – awesome guide, beautiful hotel, access to the national park by boat, etc. More money that I had wanted to spend, but not the worst deal.

Access to Tortuguero was first an hour and a half drive down a dirt road – past the Chiquita banana farms, and then the Del Monte banana farms, past houses and wilderness to a ferry port. A boat then met us there for the 20 minute ride to the hotel. Despite being so remote, a fairly large population lives here, mostly supported by the tourist industry.

Our little group included Danny, me, a (newlywed?) couple from Dublin, Highway, and his daughter, Keela. We were quite a random group. The couple from Dublin seemed fairly quiet until the group started playing Kings (a drinking game) and the husband corrected his wife that yes, she had swam with sharks “that one time when we were drunk in Thailand.” Brilliant. The whole table couldn’t stop laughing. Highway was a character all his own. He left the States sometime in October and has been traveling through South and Central America ever since. With a graying beard, long hair, and brightly colored bandana, you would never have guessed he had been a Marine for 20 years. Over one meal, he showed us some pictures from his travels that looked absolutely gorgeous. I was suddenly wishing for an infinite amount of time to keep going. His daughter, Keela, is a freshman at Boston University and had flown down to visit him over her winter break. She was pretty close to my age but had already seen so much of the world. All of us got along really well, swapping pictures and stories.

Day 1:

5am: Accidentally wake up because I’m an idiot with a phone an hour and 20 minutes off

6am: Pick-up from Hotel

8am: Breakfast

10am: Start on dirt road: see banana processing, visit wildlife preserve

1:30pm: Arrive at hotel

2pm: Nap by the pool

4pm: Visit the turtle rescue center and town of Tortuguero

6pm: Card games

6:30pm: Dinner

8pm: Rummy

Day 2:

5:30am: Wake up

5:50am: In line for tickets to park

6:10am: Animal sightseeing by boat in Tortuguero National Park!

8am: Breakfast

9:30am: Hike

11am: Check out of hotel

noon: Back on bus

1pm: Lunch

5pm: Dropped off at hostel in San Jose

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