Big Buttresses and The River of Lizards: A Field Trip.

Phineas had no school Monday.  It was a day to honor the Patron Saint of Atenas, San Rafael.  This was a bit of a mystery as no other schools seemed to have a day off.

No matter – I decided we’d do something educational and take a field trip!  We went to the Parque Nacional Carara in Tarcoles and the neighboring Playa Jaco.

It takes about 40 minutes to get to Tarcoles from Atenas.  You have to cross over the Rio Tarcoles bridge to get there.  This is what you find under the bridge:

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I counted at least 40 the last time I was there.  Some crocs were 15 feet long.

Sometimes they eat people.  But not their heads.

When I asked Phineas if he wanted to stop and see the crocodiles he said, “No thanks.”  They really are the stuff of nightmares.

We continued on to Carara which is “River of Lizards” in Huetar, a local indigenous language.

Carara is a very special place with incredible biodiversity.  Here are the numbers according to SINAC (Systema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion):

According to scientific data, it presents the following records of flora and fauna:
• 480 species of plants, including trees and shrubs, with 14 endemic species and 29 species considered rare and endemic.
• 124 species of reptiles, 53% of the species of reptiles in Costa Rica (234).
• 112 species of mammals, 47.8% of these species in the country (237)
• 62 species of amphibians, 32.8% of the 189 species of toad in Costa Rica.
• 420 species of birds, 47% of the 893 species reported in the country, considered one     of the most important sites in CR for observing birds in their natural state.

We heard several macaws, saw a toucan and observed many busy agoutis cruising around the understory.

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I thought the same agouti was following us for 2 hours.  Phineas saw that one had a notch in its ear and the others did not – so that disproved my theory.

There were huge trees in the park and Phineas enjoyed learning about BUTTresses.

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The larger the trunk, the larger the buttress.  The height of the buttress, its shape and how it splits helps identify the species.

Another special feature of Carara is the 1.2 k universal access trail designed for visitors of all abilities.   Unfortunately the poured concrete sections are really slippery and Phineas slow-mo fell on his butt.

We liked the helpful leaf-cutter ant path warning signs along the universal trail:

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Don’t stand here or you will be very sorry.

If you visit the park – take a picture of the map before heading into the trails.  Phineas and I got just a teensy bit lost and ended up going around one of the loops twice.  P was convinced we’d never get out.

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We put our heads together with another couple who were also confused and we all managed to find our way back the universal trail.  A multi-colored grasshopper bid us farewell.

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I promised Phineas I’d take him to Jaco to let him spend $20 of his personal stash.  He ended up buying 3 new HotWheels for his collection.

Jaco is not my favorite beach, but it’s convenient and has a lot of souvenir shops. It’s not super kid-friendly because there are many day-drinking tourists acting badly and it’s a favorite spot to pick up prostitutes.  By the way, prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, but pimping is not.

On the way back from Jaco we treated ourselves to a little snack at the very fancy Auto Mercado grocery store in Herradura.    My tico cousins tipped me off to the great Britt coffee for less than $2 at the Subway in the same strip mall.

This morning  I finally got around to unpacking my bag from our Carara trip.  Phineas labeled our fruit bag:

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I brought all of my comprobantes (proof) of my residency application to get the local discount for the park to save $20.   I’m still waiting for my permanent residency papers to be processed.  Phineas already has his dual citizenship.
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