November 20, 2013

From TCBY to Bullet Ants – Just Another Weekend in Costa Rica

Hi there everyone,

This past weekend was great in so many ways, and succeeded in taking my mind off that Psychology paper I have to write… always a plus! =P

On Friday, my friend Erica took me to the Multiplaza – a nearby mall and movie theater that she was shocked I hadn’t been to yet. Our principal reason for going was to get the ‘palomitas dulces’ (directly translated: sweet popcorn) from the movie theater, but we got there at around 10:30 and they didn’t start selling it until around 2, so we had some time to kill!

We wandered around for a bit, and I almost forgot that I was in Costa Rica! There were so many American stores and food chains, pink frozen TCBY yogurt with chocolate toppingand even an arcade filled with games with English names. We started to get hungry, so I fulfilled my yogurt craving at a TCBY – yum.

After some more leisurely wandering and window-shopping, and enjoying the assorted Christmas decorations, we went back to the food court to split some Pizza Hut, another craving we both had. We waited until the movie theater opened, and finally got popcorn. It’s like freshly made caramel corn and is DELICIOUS. We took it to go, since we’d already eaten a lot. With full bellies and content minds, we headed home.

The next day I embarked on an excursion with my Lafayette crew. We headed to Veragua rain forest for what was promised to be a very full weekend. Upon arriving, we saw some snakes and frogs in cages in preparation for what we might see later, and our guide showed us his research with spiders. He also took out a TARANTULA and let people hold it! A little too freaky for me, but it was… definitely an experience!

A red, tiny poisonous frog from the Veragua rain forest in Costa Rica (only poisonous if ingested - so no licking the frogs!)

A teeny poisonous frog! [only poisonous if ingested – so no licking the frogs!]

After lunch, we continued looking around the area. We took a tram down the mountain and then walked around looking for more animals. We spotted an owl, spiders, and a bunch of frogs, which he even picked up and let people hold! We also went to the beetle and butterfly exhibit. Our guide let us release newly hatched butterflies into the butterfly arena (right word? Lol) – so cool!! After taking the tram back up, everyone took advantage of our rainy free time to take a nap in our cabins.

After dinner, it was time for a night walk! We walked along similar paths that we had earlier in the day, and looked with our flashlights for more animals. Thankfully the rain let up, but it was still a bit creepy walking through the dark forest where just about anything from large snakes to even a puma could be around the corner. We didn’t see anything that scary, but we did see a bunch of different bugs, an insect from the Veragua rain forest in Costa Ricamore frogs, and that scorpion creature that they used in Harry Potter to show one of the curses – it’s really weird looking!

Safely back in our cabin, my two roommates and I were unhappy to discover a bullet ant in our room. We’d learned about these earlier; they’re about the length of your thumb, and if one bites you, it feels like you got shot with a bullet. After much shrieking, we managed to kill and dispose of it and settle in for a very dark night. The facility cuts off all electricity between 10 PM and 5 AM, so it gets very dark and quiet.

Rebecca Murray wearing a helmet in a Costa Rica rainforest

Up early the next morning we headed to ZIP-LINE! I had been looking forward to this the entire trip and could not wait. I tried my best to be patient through getting fitted with a harness and helmet and listening to all the safety rules. The guides do pretty much everything for you, so all you have to do is relax, enjoy, and brake occasionally when necessary. It consisted of 9 platforms of varying length and speed, up high among the trees of the rain forest. It was a beautiful day and I felt like I was in heaven.




After everyone finished the course, we boarded the bus to head to the sloth sanctuary! I’ve never been a huge sloth enthusiast, although one of my friends from home has tried to convince me otherwise, but after this visit the sloths hold a much larger place in my heart. They were just so funny and cute! As it was a sloth sanctuary, they all had some pretty amazing survivor stories as well.

A sloth from a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica

Toyota – who could not love her?

My favorite, named Toyota, had reached out to a high-voltage power line, got electrocuted, and fell from her tree. Her arm was essentially destroyed, began to get gangrene, and eventually was attracting bugs and other pests. When an electrician came to fix the line, he saw the poor state of Toyota and took her to the sanctuary before working on the line. Although she seemed near death, the workers at the sanctuary put her under anesthesia and amputated her arm as quick as possible. She woke up 48 hours later, completely ravenous, and has now fully healed and functions with only one arm!

We also visited the Sloth nursery, where one baby sloth kept making me giggle. She came in with an infection that required her to be completely shaved. The infection heals within 2 weeks, but it takes a year for the hair to grow back. Since their skin is very sensitive, they have to keep her dressed in human onesies! She was so funny looking, but is well on her way to a healthy recovery. Oh, and did I mention I got to pet the sloths?? How many people can say they’ve done that?

a howler monkey perched in a large bamboo tree in a Costa Rica rainforestWe took a leisurely boat tour on the river adjacent to the sanctuary on which we saw a giant bird, bats, a sloth in the wild, and lots and lots of howler monkeys! They were perched in this giant bamboo tree and were a lot of fun to watch. We were hoping to see a snake – the other group did, but it was gone by the time our boat got there. We did get to see the ‘Jesus Lizard’! I forget its real name, but it’s called that since it can walk on water!

We took another short ride to an iguana sanctuary which is kept by the indigenous Bri Bri tribe. They gave us a traditional Bri Bri meal – smoked chicken, bananas and yucca. None of us were a huge fan of it, but it was interesting none the less, and the iguanas were cool to look at!

some visitors to an iguana sanctuary run by the Bri Bri tribe in Costa Rica

We ended the trip with some much-enjoyed time relaxing on the beach. The tides were a bit strong, but it was so nice to be in the salty Caribbean waters once more. A full day well spent, we made our way home. That hot shower never felt so good, and my bed was so inviting. A great weekend for sure, and another I won’t forget anytime soon. Now to attack this paper… until next time!

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1 Comment

  1. I want to see the sloth in a onesie!! So jealous of all these adventures. xoxo

    says Nancy
    November 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

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