Title: Heredia's Flora and Fauna Location: Heredia, Costa Rica
Hola. Finally, I had the chance to see the beautiful side of Costa Rica. The school where I am taking Spanish classes, Centro Panamericano de Idiomas ( CPI), offers many excursions to places in Costa Rica. This week I took a 'jungle cruise' to Sarapiqui. After an 1 hour and 1/2 ride on what is one of the main roads from Puerto Limon, a road that would be deemed impassable in my neck of the woods, we arrived at a swift flowing green and brown colored river. Boat safety? I think not. No life preservers were offered nor none in evidence. I felt better when the guide told us the river at present was only a meter deep. I felt worse when she told us that it is also full of crocodiles. I'm sure my nice tender and meaty legs would be a delectable dinner for Mr. Croc.
Lucky me! Turns out it is iguana mating season. The big, handsome boys were literally hanging out of the trees trying to attract females. They turn a bright orange and have a swingy flap of skin hanging under their chin. They wave this 'flap' back and forth hoping to attract a mate. And, we were told, size does matter. THe bigger the hanging, orange flap the more attractive to the female. Are you guys taking notes? Truly iguanas have to be some of the ugliest creatures alive on the earth today with the exception of Mick Jagger. But I guess to another iguana.....
Further along the river we saw howler monkeys, lots of howlers. They were not interested in us, only other howlers. Now, here is another interesting fact...when they have sex it lasts only 30 seconds. Hmmmm. Are you guys taking notes? And, the alpha male can have sex up to 10 times a day. Now I've got your interest. That may sound exhausting but if you do the math it is all of 5 minutes. No comments
Well, more cruising and some sitings of caimans, which are small sort of midget crocs but never did get to see the dreaded crocs. There were plenty of birds but no sloths. The guide decided they were' too lazy that day'...must be a guide joke.
The river is bordered by banana plantations. Some are owned by a corporations and others are small plots farmed by families. The families live in small unpainted huts that look like a good wind would blow them down. Usually, there were a few barefoot and even bare bottomed kids running around. The only source of transportation these families have is by long canoes. The kids go to school by canoe. The mama does her shopping by canoe. In one short ride I was transported back to what Costa Rica and all of Central America must have looked like before the Spaniards and /or the United Fruit Companyarrived. One interesting observation: some of the bunches of bananas were covered with large, blue trash bag size plastic bags. We were told that these are like little hothouses to ripen the bananas more quickly. Insecticides are added to prevent damage. That's because we all like our fruit to be perfect. Lord help us if we ever come to a day when they wax bananas as apples are done now.
Overall it's great here. Learning lots of Spanish at school is helpful on my weekly excursions, which are also organized by the school. I would definitely recommend it to everyone.