Shawn and I fell asleep last night before 9pm while the baseball game was on (yes, we were watching baseball on our Honeymoon. After all, the Giants were gearing up for the World Series!). I’m not sure why we were so tired, but we must have needed the sleep. I woke up around 3:30, then 4, and every half hour after that until 6. Shawn finally woke up, and I stayed in bed with my eyes closed while he made coffee for the two of us. I could tell the day was going to feel better today, especially when I saw the blue sky beyond our curtains. Shawn was still enthusiastic about trying to go zip lining, and as much as I’ve been feeling unenthusiastic about it, I decided today was as good a day as any. Besides, it would finally get it out of the way.
The concierge wasn’t at her desk until after breakfast, and we talked with her about zip lining today and snorkeling tomorrow. She immediately advised against snorkeling since the water was too murky to see anything. But she suggested we add horseback riding to our zip lining adventure instead. I immediately perked up. Damn straight that sounded like a great idea! I laughed at Shawn’s expression over this, as he’s never ridden a horse and was nervous about it. But he didn’t even hesitate in agreeing this would be a great plan, knowing this was another something I wanted to do this week. I told him we were now even, plus it helped me to look forward to zip lining. However, a call to the company proved the grounds to be too soggy from yesterday’s rain for the horses. So we booked it for tomorrow. As a concession, the concierge suggested we visit Tamarindo. There’s souvenir shopping there, a great restaurant, and a local who gives tours on the river where we could see crocodiles, monkeys, birds, and more.
We packed up quickly and headed to Tamarindo. The roads were clear this time, and we arrived at the tour place in 20 minutes. A man named Victor Hugo (just like the infamous writer) met us and led us to his boat. It was a tour boat that held up to 8 or so passengers, but we were the only ones on it. As we floated, he shared stories about the different facts of nature around the river – The way the water line varies throughout the day, and at different times each day. How parakeets make their nests inside termite nests, never getting bitten while the babies earn their first weeks’ nourishment from the bugs, and despite the fact we’d be bitten mercilessly if we stuck our hands in the nest.
An osprey dove into the water in front of us and caught a fish, and Victor told us it must be luck. We passed a crocodile swimming in the water, and Victor told us how in the past few months a small dog had been eaten by one. Seeing him was also lucky, he pointed out, as the day before they’d seen none. A large tree Victor showed us held a large boa constrictor and a porcupine who had taken up as roommates.
“It’s nature,” Victor’s repeated response was, throwing his shoulders up to indicate that was all he had as an explanation.
Victor took us down a secluded river bend and shut off the engine. He pulled two shells out of his pocket and asked us to listen. “Do you hear that?” he asked. All around us we could hear clacking, like plates clanking together. Victor brought the shells together in his hand, and it gave the same sound. The sounds all around us were clams deep in he mud, opening their “mouths” and then shutting them quickly together. They were eating the mud. At night they stayed closed, but during the day they opened up. They were so strong they could take off a finger! Victor told us he won’t hunt them for that reason, only eat them in restaurants. Later when we passed by clam fisherman searching the banks for shelled treasures, I felt a huge amount of awe towards them. I also thought they were crazy.
On the banks were tons of spider crabs. Victor quickly grabbed two of them. Before I could think to be afraid, he handed one to me and one to Shawn. They scurried over us like spiders, but held a gentle presence. “See, they don’t bite,” Victor told me. I made friends with mine, and as we pulled away I asked Victor what I could do with him. He suggested I could take him home, have him for lunch… Instead, I held onto him for a little bit until I finally held my hand over the water to drop him in. The crab stayed put, moving slightly while watching me with its beady eyes, moving his claws slightly. I turned my hand over and he climbed on the other side to keep from going in. But finally I moved my hand so that he dropped into the water.
After seeing a few more crocodiles, blue herons, and a couple iguanas, Victor took us to the area of the monkeys. My pretty sandals were soon covered in mud as we walked from the boat through the trees and rain soaked forest floor. All along the path were large holes. Larger crabs scurried away as we came close, hiding in the holes. From far away you could see moving orange and brown crabs all over. As we came close, gone.
The first monkeys sat above us, and I pointed then out to Victor. He beckoned us to keep going until we came to an area deeper in the forest. He then started to bang a bottle of rocks on a tree, hooting into the air. All around us, monkeys began howling back at us. Shawn joined in, much to my amusement. I took pictures of them all around us. A baby curled up with his mother, moving around to act like he wasn’t watching us at all even though I know he was aware of our every movement. A larger monkey opened his mouth and enthusiastically chatted with Victor in a series of hoots. The echoes of the monkeys made it seem we were surrounded. “You are very lucky,” Victor told us again, reminding us that even the monkeys were not around the day before. Part of me was skeptically amused, even though I was impressed with all he had shown us. I wondered if all this nature were planned, if he called in the monkeys before we got there, or if this were more like an open space zoo than wild nature. But regardless, we were totally enthralled with finally seeing the animals of the rain forest we hadn’t seen yet on this trip.
Following the tour, Shawn and I took a drive into town to eat lunch and find souvenirs. We ate at Nibbanas, which means “Nirvana”, at the suggestion of the concierge. It was owned by a guy from Ohio who walked around the tables to greet everyone. Next to us sat a family from San Mateo, the dad wearing a Giants hat to match the t-shirt Shawn was wearing. They had a 12 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. When the parents disappeared, the boy sneaked a drink of his dad’s rum and coke to see what it tasted like. He immediately spit it out, and Shawn and I giggled secretly. The boy looked so much like Taz, I once again missed the kids.
It was happy hour at the restaurant. This meant that my one Hawaii cocktail became two, and they were not made lightly like the ones at the hotel. I felt warm and tipsy after only half. This is probably why I didn’t shoo away the jewelry vendor who sold me a bracelet and pair of earrings for DQ.
Following lunch, we found a few more gifts and then headed to the Super Mercado for coffee and Lizano. The Super Mercado is a magical place. They have everything you need to eat like a local, allowing us glimpses into the kitchens of Costa Rica. Plus, they have areas of small gifts, though overpriced. We chose bags of coffee for us and our parents, Lizano for me, snacks, and a few more items. The lady at the register asked if we wanted to donate to breast cancer, and I thought she was referencing my inappropriate amount of cleavage. But Shawn understood and translated for me. I am so amazed at his ability to understand the language and converse with the locals. If he’s faking it, I would have no idea. It’s actually pretty sexy, I might have to marry that man. Oh wait.
Maybe it was the Hawaiis, or perhaps it’s just the freedom of the days, but the afternoon was spent gloriously lazy with a midday nap. We woke just in time to miss the sunshine. We still lounged by the pool, however, before dressing for another meal. This time it was a traditional Costa Rican buffet with delicious Yuccan root, various meats, seafood stew, rice and beans. A table held a variety of desserts. And the center of the room was a salad bar. 10 pounds might be an understatement about how much weight I’ll have gained after this week. But tonight’s dinner was worth it, and my very full belly feels incredibly happy. Wonder how deprived I’ll feel when I go back to healthy eating next week?
Tomorrow, horseback riding and zip lining. And our last full day of Costa Rica.