Frogs, Sloths, Baby Bats and Tad Poles... This be the Jungle and the Beach!!!

Written from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica on Saturday, May 5th, 2012
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Hey we are in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica and loving it.

Usually I wait until leaving a place before I write about it, but since we're heading home in a few days I figured I'd write it early and I can always add extra photos and an extra babble at the end if I have to.

One of our many MANY plans of late was to head here for a day to see the Jaguar Centre then head to Panama for a few days. Panama is supposed to be more relaxed and cheaper. We were all set to do this and then we both realized we just didn't want to move. Yes there are cool things in Panama, and tons of beautiful things I would love to explore in Costa Rica, but why??

We are headed home really soon and both Chris and I are tired. Our last week in Peru we spent about 30 hours on buses and probably an extra 5 hours doing transit related things. My back and neck are screaming STOP!!!! So Chris had this great plan. Stop. Perfect. So we found a new place to stay for our last 10 days and now have a self contained room at Casa Caribe :). It's just down a gravel road from the beach, 5 minute walk to town and a shaded porch with a hammock. DONE!!!!

For a lazy stop we have had a few adventures and seen a lot of animals here including getting to see a baby bird come out of the nest, clean herself off, and take her first flight. I've never seen a bird on it's first flight before, and we silently cheered her on and crossed my fingers that nothing bad would happen to her at such a vulnerable time.

We did make it to the Jaguar Rescue Centre ($15 entry including a mandatory guided tour). It's an hours walk from here on the main road and it is SO GOOD!!! I had heard from other travelers that there were tons of reptiles and lots of animals there, but I hadn't realized there were no jaguars :). All good though. They have tours at 9:30AM and 11:30AM and we took the later one. The centre is where people bring any wild injured or orphaned animals, so they had quite a selection. They have a monkey room with crazy baby howler monkeys that are completely mental and jump all over visitors.... I have had a lot of adventures with monkeys (Malaysia is one example but I can think of more violent ones but can't seem to find them in my posts??)  so I stayed back and watched them at a distance.... I used to love monkeys and now I think they are fun to watch at a distance and I don't trust the cheeky buggers for a second :). They take the monkeys out twice a day and apparently a wild group of monkeys close by often come and play with them. When a monkey decides it's ready to leave they go, but we were told often the little ones play in the trees for awhile, get tired and fall asleep at the bottom of the tree with the volunteers where they get scooped up and brought back to their temporary home :).

When we were in the monkey house just outside the glass we saw a really active baby three fingered sloth climbing up and down the bushes.... I escaped the monkey house and got to see this little guy and another two fingered sloth clinging to the volunteer there. The little climbing one was so incredibly cute but looked like he was getting cold since the rain was starting to get him wet. His hand was extended and he grabbed Chris' hand :). The volunteer was telling Chris to let go, but he couldn't get his finger free. I was too slow and only got a very blurry photo of this transaction. Chris wasn't trying to cause trouble, but I think he couldn't resist having a finger available :).

They have a massive display of snakes here (no clue why I didn't take photos of any) to show people which ones are poisonous. My absolute favourite part or the guided tour was the FROG PONDrog :). We got to see the red eyed tree frog that Costa Rica is known for, and also lucky to see the egg sack hanging from leaves over the pond. Yahooooo!!! We also got to see a few fun coloured poisonous dart frog. YAY!!!!! I love frogs and was thinking about trying to find a frog tour if we didn't find more by ourselves.

When the tour ended we were told we were welcome to wander around as much as we would like. We headed back to the frog pond to take photos and watch all the tadpoles :), and were accosted by the lickiest deer I have ever seen. Her mother was shot by hunters and she was brought there when she was very young. Now she is so friendly and social with humans they can't ever let her back in the wild. She would probably seek hunters just to lick them :). Chris was petting her and then had a face, and neck full of deer tongue :).

Oh there is actually a big cat here but he's a margay not a jaguar. He is so beautiful and I think we were lucky to see him since they think he will be ready to head out in the world soon. They let him out every night, but he is usually back in his cage sleeping in the morning. They figure he'll leave for good when he finds a girlfriend or possibly bring her home???

The Botanical Gardens in town and were so happy to see strawberry poison dart frogs everywhere on the ground. The first one we saw we took 1000 photos thinking it was a rarity, but after that we realized the place was hopping with them :). They are small but so brightly coloured you can see them hop from the corner of your eyes. We had so much fun wandering around the gardens, seeing some funky plants including cocoa trees.... Ya gotta love a country where chocolate grows on trees :). I also finally saw pepper vines growing (Chris and Sayaka saw then in Vietnam).... it's crazy that the green berries are so spicy and yummy even before they dry out and turn black :). It's a good sized place and I get most people wander around for 45 minutes or so but with all the exciting frog action and cool things growing we were there for 3 hours and were almost too late for our free fruit juice and sample of the dark chocolate they make there.

I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!!

The other day we had crazy animal day..... It started off leisurely with us headed to the black beach down a couple minutes walk from here. We played in the bath temperature Caribbean Sea playing in the waves and soaking up slightly too much sun (always forget to reapply sun screen). Along the beach there are a bunch of fresh water river outlets that that are quick flowing and a lot chillier then the sea. In the shallow parts of these rivers we saw a gazillion tadpoles :). No clue what kind they are, possibly many kinds but I love watching them swim and try to hide between my toes :). We saw a bunch that were in the half way stage with back legs and a tale, but couldn't see any adult frogs anywhere...... later that day we found a cashew tree that had a couple yellow cashew fruit with the nut growing below it in it's hard shell. We went back later to take a couple photos of the cashews and Chris picked the fruit so we could try it. We knew the fruit was safe and it had a really strong smell and taste. It's not a bad flavour, but possibly something to cook with instead of eat straight from the tree. The cashew shell was really hard so Chris decided to brake it open with his teeth. Bod idea... We had no clue that cashew shells are poisonous and have a similar component to poison ivy!!!! Luckily the burning happened immediately so he only had contact with the corner of his mouth and side of his tongue for a second otherwise we may have spent our time at the medical centre. Unfortunitly it did burn like the fires of hell!!! We were at the tree a good while, and just as we were about to leave I took one last look at one of the hanging fruit and realized behind it there was a hanging two fingered sloth???? He wasn't even that high up and I bet I could almost touch his fur if I tried..... We laughed so hard that here we are in front of a tree for ages and almost completely missed seeing the sloth (I kept visiting for the next couple days until he was gone and I still haven't fond him again in another tree).

So after our fun filled day we were relaxing on the balcony watching the crabs wandering around and hearing all the night critters when we kept hearing a crazy squeaking noise. We finally realized it was close to our feet and found a small baby bat trying desperately to climb up the wall. Poor little guy had no no fur and eyes were barely open and squeaking like crazy. Chris picked him up and realized he was shivering and cold too. We tried to figure out where we came from, but there was no sign of any other bats around. We know the roof here is only a piece of wood with coregated metal on top so lots of room for bats to live up there, but where?? He was so little and we didn't want to leave him to die, and had no clue where to put him so we called the Jaguar Rescue Centre and read everything we could about baby bats from the internet. The Jaguar Centre told us to keep him warm and try to feed him a couple drops of coconut water, and if he survived the night to bring him in first thing in the morning. I kept calling our little friend Squeaky since he made a racket for such a little fella, but Chris picked the perfect name for him... Bela (Lugosi)... perfect.

We couldn't get little Bela to drink and he wanted nothing to do with bananas so Chris made him a place to sleep for the night. Bela slept comfy in a cereal box with a hot water bottle and blanket in it. In the morning I woke up before 6AM and checked on our little friend. I couldn't tell if he was alive so woke him up and heard the beautiful sound of a sqeaky toy. YAY!!!! I think I may have got a bit of water into him and then we walked to the centre with Bela holding on tight to Spidey in his padded cereal box. At the centre they managed to get some goats milk into him and we found out he would hopefully grow up and eat bugs not fruit. Oops. I have no idea how he's doing now, and too scared to phone and ask how he is, so I will just dream that he is doing well, starting to grow fur and will be off in the wild soon............ Poor little Bela.

I plan on spending the next few days here wandering the beach, playing in the waves, looking for frogs and bugs and possibly heading back to Cahuita NP for an afternoon :).

Slothing around sounds good right now :).

Sheryl

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Beautiful margay at the Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Cute active little three fingered sloth caught in the rain. Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Baby howler monkey being extra babied by a volunteer :). Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Cute active little three fingered sloth caught in the rain. Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Cute active little three fingered sloth caught in the rain. Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Chris making friends with a cute active baby three fingered sloth :). Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Baby howler monkey being extra babied by a volunteer :). Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Baby three fingered sloth getting warmed up after the rain. Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Cute active little three fingered sloth caught in the rain. Jaguar Rescue Centre. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
May 5th, 2012

No Jaguars? I would have demanded my money back. Well no, I wouldn’t but I would have been (and am) sorely disappointed. /sigh

Chris S.
May 5th, 2012

I didn’t have the heart to tell you yesterday…. um but did you see the other cute kitty cat :). It is a rescue centre and they do gets tons of animals, but I do secretly wonder if they have ever had a jaguar, or if they have the name to get unsuspected tourits to pay the admition price…… Tricky.

I had low expectations, and so when I saw the frogs and the baby sloths nothing else mattered :).

Sheryl

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