Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Costa Rica: Day 3

On our third day in Costa Rica, we checked out of our cabin and made our way to Proyecto Asis, which is an animal rescue center near La Fortuna. L and I stumbled across a video of this place on National Geographic Kids before our trip, and we decided to work it into the itinerary. We are so glad we did! It was awesome! First, we took a tour and our guide Adriana told us about all the different animals. Then they gave us a snack and helped us prepare a snack for the animals. Then we made our way around the facility again, feeding the animals bananas, watermelon, carrots, broccoli, etc. This was definitely the highlight! You feel much more of a connection with an animal when you feed it than when you just walk by and listen to someone talk about it! L was in heaven. I have some awesomely cute videos that I haven't edited yet because I know I won't do a great job. Do I have any awesome video editing sisters-in-law who might like to help me out on this one? :)

First up was Perla the Peccary. We got to feel her bristles and watch her run around. We learned that peccary herds range in number from 100 to 500 animals in the wild, and if you ever see one in the wild, climb a tree and wait! They have several peccaries at Asis, but we only got to see Perla because the others are too mean. Adriana showed us Perla's special "creature power" - a little bump on her back which, when pressed, squirts out a stinky smelling fluid. Eww! The other kids smelled, but L wisely declined. J was literally shaking with fear the whole time we stood near Perla.

Next came a beautiful toucan. The animals at Asis are there because they can't survive in the wild, usually because they became pets and then were abandoned or confiscated. Many of the birds had wing injuries that hadn't healed correctly and couldn't fly. We loved seeing these beautiful birds up close! We got to hear the macaw below say, "Hola!"

Next, we saw spider monkeys. It was so fun to see them swinging all around their enclosure. We got to hold their hands. Who knew that spider monkeys only have four fingers (and no thumb) on their hands?! At Proyecto Asis, they say, "High four!" so you can be just like a spider monkey. :)

Holding hands with the monkeys was so fun! Their fingers are so soft. L says, "Their fingers felt like the softest rubber ever! Sort of tough, but sort of bendy."

More macaws.

White-faced (capuchin) monkeys. These guys were so cute! L and J both enjoyed holding their tiny hands.

More spider monkeys. This guy gave me a nice view of his teeth. :)

Besides the wildlife living in captivity, there were plenty of wild animals hanging around, like this blue heron sitting on her nest, below. The daddy was perched nearby keeping watch for her. We also saw some caimans (small crocodiles), cranes, and a huge colony of leaf-cutter ants, busily making their way back and forth between their favorite tree's leaves and their home.

After we washed up, we munched on watermelon and pineapple, and then prepped the food for the animals. We got to feed most (all?) of the animals we'd seen so far. It was really fun. J kept helping himself to the chunks of fruit, which everyone thought was so funny. Every time we'd turn around, he'd have a mouthful! We tried to help him feed a monkey, but he was devastated when the monkey stole his banana chunk, or so it seemed! Poor guy!

After we made the rounds, feeding the animals, it was time to get on the road. We had a long drive to Quepos ahead of us. Quepos is a town on the Pacific Ocean, so we drove through the mountains, through the rainforest, through more of a desert, and finally to the coast. Along the way, we made sure to stop at "Crocodile Bridge." Aptly named, if you ask me! Between the crocodiles on one side and the speeding cars on the other, it was quite a harrowing experience for the parents of two busy little boys! We counted 35 HUGE crocodiles in the water below. We just couldn't believe their size! This is also the place where J learned what a crocodile says (clap! clap! with his hands).

After we stretched our legs looking at the crocodiles, we went to the nearby fruit stand for smoothies and fresh coconut water (from the coconut!), and then went on our way. The boys were great little travelers. We arrived in Damas (close to Quepos) around 5:30 that night, shortly before dark, and checked into the Kayak Lodge.

It was in a sort of weird location - no other touristy stuff around, just drive through a Costa Rican neighborhood and some palm groves, and then you find yourself at a hotel and kayak tour place! The owners, Bernard and Marlene, were SO NICE! We found all the people of Costa Rica to be warm and helpful and hospitable, but Bernard and Marlene especially. When we arrived, Bernard exclaimed that we were staying for SO LONG (4 nights) and had such a nice family that he would give us the family suite, which had a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a fantastic view of the mangrove forest where every morning white-faced monkeys swung through the trees, parrots flew from tree to tree, and iguanas basked on the balcony! It was awesome!

That night, we got dinner at the Bohemia Cafe where we met a Costa Rican baby that J enjoyed playing with. They had this great wooden xylophone which I'm still a little sad we didn't buy. J and L loved it and it was so much nicer sounding than the plastic and metal variety! :)

What a great day! We are so blessed!


Kim said...

YAYAYAYAY! This is seriously amazing. The animals, and I'm glad you got some pictures with you and the boys! I can imagine the boys loving feeding this day, and J loving on the fruit! hahaha. So, so fun. Those crocodiles would have really freaked me out. I got major heebie-jeebies looking at the pictures and imagining myself driving right above them. Thank you, thank you for posting!

Donna "Nina" Dively said...

What a great experience! L will remember this forever. Great pictures!

Sarah Cannon said...

Wow, what a fantastic trip! This looks like it was so much fun! And you are an amazing photographer. So cool that you have gorgeous pictures to match the experience.
Also, those crocodiles are CRAZY! I would have been freaking out too, hanging out right above them.