Reluctantly, we left Tortuguero, and, once more, cruised down the river to meet the coach that was to take us up into the hills to La Fortuna. On the way, at one place, we came across a level crossing sign. I thought Costa Rica had no railways? But here was a narrow gauge track, which didn't seem to have been used for some considerable time. Indeed, at one point, a bridge had disappeared completely, but the track remained. I found later that the railway had been used in former times to transport coffee to the port.
We stopped to stretch our legs at a fruit farm and market, where we could sample all kinds of fruit, both familiar and unfamiliar. It made me wonder if fruit, an important export from Costa Rica, is available in our shops and supermarkets … and, if not, why not?
Our accommodation is a cabin in an extensive complex, from which it is alleged there is a good view of Mount Arenal, but we never found it. We did have a view of the volcano on the way here, but not a very good one. Eric, the guide, said that, at this time of year, the mountain was usually obscured by cloud … and Mauricio, the driver, was hard put to find somewhere he could park the coach safely, but keep the number of intervening overhead cables to a minimum.
So, the attached picture isn’t very good … but it’s the only one I got this trip.
At our hotel, they had an open-sided dining room with bird feeders outside, on which the staff would put fruit. The brightly coloured tropical birds are a refreshing change for the little brown birds we see in our garden at home. If you’re not into birding before you go to Costa Rica, the chances are you will be by the time you return.
I apologise if some of the pictures of the birds are slightly fuzzy. I was trying to eat my breakfast at the same time!
Then it was on to the bus, for a longish ride to Los Chiles, where a boat awaited to take us on a cruise on another river, the Rio Frio. The wildlife we spotted was pretty well the same sort of stuff we saw at Tortuguero, with the addition of Colobus and Howler monkeys.
The latter were difficult to spot, and I fear photography wasn't very successful. But, we'd heard them all right; that morning … at 5am!! I did, however, get a better picture of an iguana, also a nice one of a cormorant.
Eric reached up from the boat, and plucked what looked like a seed pod from an overhanging branch. He stripped away the outer layer, much as you’d peel a banana, to reveal a beautiful red and white flower. It reminded me of one of those fibre-optic lamps you had back in the 70s … or maybe one of those floaty things in the film Avatar.
I’m sure I wrote the name down somewhere, but when I got home, I couldn’t find it. But, not to worry; our tour group formed a WhatsApp group, and on it is someone who knows Eric, who quickly supplied the botanical name Pachira Aquatica.
Further research revealed it’s known by many other names; the Malabar Chestnut, the French Peanut, the Guiana Chestnut, the Provision Tree and one or two others. But, there seems to be a much more common name. It’s supposed to have been coined when it became highly prized as a house plant, and much money was made … indeed, the first page of Google was devoted to people trying to sell me one … and fortunes were made.
So I was delighted to find that, contrary to the claims of our politicians … there IS a ‘Money Tree’!
It chucked it down as we drove back to the hotel. Fortunately, the bus was waterproof! And, as we walked to the bar, we saw a huge iguana, just sitting beside the path. All that way to spend the morning peering into trees to find iguanas, and here was one in plain sight!