Feb 23rd
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Home Adventure Travel Ideas Activities Cultural Costa Rica Adventure - Part IV

Costa Rica Adventure - Part IV

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Postcards... from you

Join Anne, Tarek and Kurt Kutay of Wildland Adventures (800-345-4453) and five other families, on a 10-day overland journey through Costa Rica.  Follow seven 1st and 2nd graders, one kindergartner, and a 6th grader through rainforests, past volcanoes, over highlands on their way to the Pacific Coast.  Watch as their adventure continues to unfold in upcoming issues...

      Arenal to Tamarindo, Pacific Coast... Today, Day 6, the volcano was totally enshrouded in clouds as we prepared to depart on our 5 hour journey to the coast. The bags were packed on the roof of the Coaster bus. Our Wildland Adventures "Magic Adventure Bus" is designed for 24 persons, so there is just enough space for our group of 9 kids and 9 adults to move about and stretch out. Rolando, our driver,  played Latin music tapes as we rolled through the Costa Rican countryside. We passed around the maracas and took turns playing Steve's coronet. Our route climbed over the Central Highlands through cloud forest and descended along the shores of Lake Arenal toward the Pacific Ocean. As the skies got bluer and the landscape drier, we didn't realize how much hotter it was outside our air conditioned bus until we stopped for breaks.
      Come to think of it, I don't remember hearing a single, "When are we gonna get there?" At first, the kids wanted to know how long the drive was going to be, but once we were under way the windows of our bus were like an action movie screen, and we made enough stops that there were never any kid meltdowns. Driving distances aren't far in Costa Rica (the entire country is the size of West Virginia), but it’s slow going over pot-holed dirt roads. Rolando maintained a comfortable driving pace great for easy wildlife viewing from the large, picture windows. We drove one hour through mountain cloud forests before our first stop at a local restaurant for pop, coffee, and homemade brownies. The pace picked up on our next leg when we hit paved road. We reached the straight path of the Pan American Highway just it time for queasy tummies to take relief from the winding mountain roads.
    We had arrived in the tropical dry forests of the Guanacaste lowlands where the temperature hovers in the 90's day or night. Everyone relished the breezy restaurant terrace overlooking the whitewater rapids of the Corobici River. We all ordered ala carte; kids ate burgers or grilled cheese with french fries (all home made), while parents enjoyed fresh heart of palm and avocado salads, jumbo shrimp cocktails, or local steak. Just a few hundred yards from the restaurant we walked up a dirt road to the Las Pumas Wild Feline Rescue and Rehabilitation Center operated by an aging Swiss couple who have devoted their lives to animal welfare. For 35 years, Lily and Warner Haugnaur have been caring for wild cats that have been injured, unwanted, or rescued from the hands of poachers who killed the adult parents. "Stand back!", warned Jeff as the ocelots leaped up and took a swipe through the bars as we approached. The kids got a close-up view of all six species of wild cats found in the neotropics: jaguar, ocelot, mountain lion, little spotted cat, margay, and jagarundi. Lily took us on a personal tour of their facility to share the unique story of every cat and her personal relationship with each.  The kids were stunned to see her enter a cage of two full grown mountain lions; raised as kittens they loved a good cuddle and scratch on the chin as much as our own house cats at home! Probably the most impressive moment for the kids was when one of them couldn't resist asking Lily what happened to her fingertip: an ocelot bit it off many years ago.
    The day was passing and the heat and dust were taking their toll, but we were enjoying ourselves too much to care about the fact that we were not going to get to the beach until dark. Rolando had taken off to gas up and returned with pieces of fresh watermelon as we boarded the bus for the last leg of our overland journey. By sunset we were on secondary dirt roads again. As we approached a roadside village we stopped in front of a shanty, roadside "pulpuria," the rural Latin version of 7-11. The kids saw the candy case and clamored to get out. It was a family business. Grandpa and grandma were sitting on rocking chairs while mom, dad, and the grandkids worked the counter. By this point, our kids felt comfortable to make their own selections and pay by Colones with assistance from a few of the Spanish speaking parents. In the meantime, the rest of us took up seating in empty rockers on the porch next door, sharing a piece of the good life with the rest of the family. We finally arrived at the Capitan Suizo, our beachside hotel, in time for dinner. It was just after sunset and no one realized the paradise that would unfold before our eyes at dawn.

Until next time...  Kurt Kutay



Where are Tricia and Marla?

Tricia and Marla climbed these steps to this magnificent temple. Where are Tricia and Marla?
Click here to find out. 

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