Selva Verde, Manzanillo, Punta Mona, Costa Rica
We are up early for breakfast and with our slimmed down baggage back on the bus toManzanillo. We go by several banana plantations and Zack tells us about workers who have gotten ill/died from the pesticides. There are many for sale signs for houses all around Costa Rica. I wonder about retiring to a tiny shack. Lunch at Manzillo is at "Soda Lidia". Soda is a small restaurant or cafe` where locals might eat, see more here. I have a fish fillet, the usual and desirable rice and beans cooked with coconut milk, and a little cabbage salad. For dessert we have a very dense and chocolaty chocolate cake, not very sweet, but very, very real. We drive to the beach and our packs are loaded onto a fishing boat, we won't have to carry them on our hike. We set off into the jungle with our respective machete bearing guides. Ricco is a paunchy lively older black man with dreads. He shows us the Noni fruit tree and tells of it's various medicinal properties. It tastes like rotten Camembert cheese and the texture is jelly like. The jungle trek is narrow paths, up and down. There are, it seems, an innumerable variety of ants, most quite, quite large. Stopping to appreciate the leaf cutters even the kids are awed by these hard working agricultural creatures. Annette is bitten by a Bullet Ant. Bullet Ants can be used for stitching wounds together, you get them to attach to either side of the wound, then pinch off the body. This was not demonstrated. The Bullet Ants sting/bite is very painful and Annette's cries mingle with other sounds of the forest, cicadas, frogs, howler monkeys, macaws, the drip of condensation, for the next two hours. Later she tells me it didn't hurt all that time, but she needed a good cry. There are vines everywhere. We take a couple of quick stops at beaches, but can't dally, we have to put on speed if we are going to get to Punta Mona before dark. Night falls early and quickly at the equator. Ricco decides we have to take a short cut. This involves going through some deep mud and a few of the boys loose their shoes. We did warned them to tie them on, but tying shoes is not cool. My boots are just the thing, the mud is just up to the top, I am sure they look stunning with shorts. We walk past a cultivated plantation where all the laundry in set out on barbed wire negating the need for clothes pins. It is just dusk as we arrive at Punta Mona. We are fed some dinner, a vegetarian fare from the farm and jungle.
These boots were made for walking.
Annette, Patrick (dad/chaperon), and I share a bunk house with a large non-poisonous spider. We had met a similar one in the jungle and Ricco had made it crawl on everyone who would allow it. Everything is mosquito netted and for good reason. The bath rooms are quite a walk through the jungle, so peeing at night is done "al fresco". I spend quite a chunk of time in the middle of the night listening to the jungle.
Punta Mona, Costa Rica
It is an early morning with Qi Gong (!) at 7 and breakfast at 8. I go to the Qi Gong to see if it is anything new, not really, but the fellow leading the session is charmingly enthusiastic. Our group is off to tour the farm. It is hot and buggy, but interesting. I hope the guide's love of plants rubs off on the kids. It was supposed to be a 3 hour tour, but was shortened to 1 1/2 due to heat and bugs.We get some free time and everyone is off to the beach. The water is warm with lots of leaf bits, but welcome all the same. After lunch the kids are off to farm projects from which chaperons are exempt. I am really tired so I take a very nice nap. There is an Ultimate Frisbee game in which Dexter distinguishes himself. Like his kindergarten teacher said "he will play any game with anybody. "
Punta Mona, Costa Rica
Our group has free time in the morning today, most them choose to hang out. Annette and I wash dishes and do beach duty. A rainstorm hits in the afternoon, farm chores are cancelled. Everything and everyone is wet, and somehow fairly happy. Some make chocolate, some just hang out on the big deck in hammocks, or play foozball down stairs. To make chocolate you roast the beans, peel them, grind them, then mix with coconut, banana and cane sugar. A tree in the courtyard falls and Punta Mona inhabitants are at it in a minute with their machetes, cutting off branches and calling for strong boys to help. Dexter is one the first called, apparently he did a great job with his chores. I consider seeing if I can leave him here as he seems to be blooming. The boy cannot pick up a sock at home, but is straining at the leash to throw around chunks of a tree. Maybe heavier socks are called for.