This is Part 2 [here's Part 1] of our early-summer trip to Costa Rica/Nicaragua. This segment's destination: Tortuguero, a little not-road-accessible town on the Caribbean coast.
We reluctantly departed La Selva and caught a series of buses to a fairly remote town called Cariari, seedy by Costa Rican standards but legitimately Latin American without any tourist influences at all. So it was cool that way. We had to wait for a couple hours for our bus but entertained ourselves by watching the drama as a pigeon got run over by a bus and lots of well-meaning people tried to help it out. That story ended with a big "crunch!"
From Cariari we caught another bus to Pavona which is where the boats to Tortuguero launch off from. The first boat we were in was overloaded and started to sink, so we got off that one. The next one was superior.
The boat ride took us through dozens of miles of jungle rivers. We were going too fast for much birding, but it's hard to miss guys like this:
Budsto really loved the boat ride and tried to see birds. He saw Mommy and Daddy birding so much that he just became infatuated with seeing birds. He even spotted some that we didn't see. His ID skills leave much to be desired [though he's got "duck" down pretty well], but the passion is there.
Tortuguero is a little Caribbean town that's also a popular tourist spot. It maintains quite a bit of charm due to the fact that it is only accessible by boat. The kids heard there was a beach, so before long that's where we ended up. This whole part of the trip, with the boats and beach, were aimed at pleasing the kids. It can't all be obscure birds and tiny frogs before the kids just get tired of it all.
Enough beach photos? There will be more later.
The kids felt free to just wander about at will in Tortuguero. The "streets" are dirt and have only foot and bicycle traffic, and the people are very warm. Once when we were eating lunch indoors we peeked outside and found Budsto dancing like crazy in the middle of the street to reggae wafting out of a nearby bar. Locals were gathered around egging him on. Another time the girls met and played with a local girl and set up a foot race in the street. We have no idea how they communicated the rules to their games but everybody seemed to know what was going on.
We took a 3-hour long private boat tour around Tortuguero National Park. It was quite an adventure for the kids and we had an expert birder/boatsman named Roberto.
Anhinga. This is the species of bird that pooped on Mommy during our honeymoon [this was not the part of our honeymoon that we spent looking for birds in a giant landfill--that trip was full of romance].
Northern jacana. We spent a lot of time watching these great little guys from a few feet away.
They were walking on floating water hyacinth gleaning tiny bugs from the leaves.
Giant toes help a ton.
Black river turtle. The kids especially loved the turtles...
...but not nearly as much as the two caimans we saw at close range, dubbed "Damon" and "Laman" by Little. We told stories of the three brother caimans Raymond, Damon and Laman for months afterwords.
Highlights include two snowy cotingas that Daddy spotted and a gray-headed kite. All the kids were intrigued by the spider monkeys. Overall it was a blast...
...so fun, in fact, that when we got back Daddy took the Fellins out in a canoe around the canals and lagoons of Tortuguero.
Switching gears for a moment... several months before the trip, Daddy showed Little a video of somebody zip-lining through the canopy in Costa Rica. She was instantly obsessed. Like, she was so possessed with the vision of zip-lining in CR that she basically didn't stop talking about it. So:
Littler, Budsto and Daddy got to wait for the big girls in a mosquito-infested swamp. Littler thought it was so much fun.
Little's favorite part--and she still talks about this weekly three months later--was a free-swinging tree rope, probably 40 feet long and 60 feet off the ground. To hear her tell it, that was pretty much the coolest thing ever.
And more canoeing.
This picture needs some explanation. Budsto doe this really cute thing every day. He'll turn around and see Mommy or Daddy and decide he wants to run to our arms. So he leans forward, sticks his arms back in an anime running posture and sprints towards us with a huge grin. This picture hardly does it justice, but we think the arms-back thing was an innovation on the arms-wide-for-a-hug idea. He did this a ton on our trip since he was always wandering off exploring then running back to us.
Little and Littler both like to wait for waves to crash into them. It's the thing to do. But Littler has a degree of fearlessness that is downright terrifying for anybody watching.
She just thinks it's a blast. When a giant undertow comes and pulls her in deep and shoves her under she just thinks it's hilarious.
This is one of Daddy's favorite pictures. Little and Littler love to try to jump over waves, here they are doing it with Mommy. Bud wants to be doing the same thing but is scared of the water, so he's standing a good 30 feet behind them and just jumping whenever he wants. He's not even close to the water. It's super-cute, and... well, look at those hops!
Little and Littler made "Mount Everest" on the beach and waited for much of the afternoon for the waves to demolish it.
After getting back from the beach, we all took turns getting showers and getting the grit off. Budsto was first, and we let him loose in the room while we got the girls bathed. When we found him again he was running around the room squishing ants with his penis. Boys...
Overall we saw 20 new species of birds on this part of the trip despite never setting foot inside a primary forest. And nothing was more fabulous than an espresso-colored black-collared hawk sitting on a low branch in the river as we boated back to Pavona. Really stunning bird!
After boating back to Pavona we caught ride with a great guy named Eric all the way back to San Jose, which trimmed about 3 hours of bus rides out of our day. The kids and Mommy piled in the back seat, with Budsto jamming out to the music on the radio. Little boy loves to dance.
Next stop: Nicaragua!