Costa Rica 2015: Caño Negro
Our second day in the Arenal area was actually spent on a river cruise a couple of hours away from the area, but first we had breakfast at Altamira at the resort. There were newsletters with news from different countries on the tables, and we noticed that Chicago had had a super deadly weekend the previous weekend, but there wasn’t anything in the Costa Rican news about shootings and crimes. There are a lot of people who worry that Costa Rica isn’t safe, but that pretty much convinced us that we were perfectly safe where we were. We had previously booked this tour with a company that would pick us up at the hotel and take us to the river. The tour also included lunch. The day began a little frazzled because the tour guide, Carlos, thought we were supposed to have some kind of voucher but we did not. Everything must have gotten worked out, though, because he made a few phone calls and he never said anything else about it. We drove an hour and a half or so to a little place that had coffee and bathrooms. It was in Los Chiles, which is a teeny tiny border town. For being a small town, there were a lot of military, but we were told it was because of the Nicaraguan border being so close.
When we got to the river (River Frio) to be exact, we got on a big boat and began searching for animals. We saw a ton of animals, including a lot of monkeys. We hadn’t seen monkeys at this point and were super disappointed about that, but we were able to see both the howler monkeys and the white-faced monkeys. Carlos was really excited about seeing so many white-faced monkeys because he said they tend to be on-the-move more than the howlers so they don’t always see them.
They call this lizard the “Jesus Christ lizard” (its actual name is the basilisk) because it can run across the water, as if it were walking on water. We saw a few of these but unfortunately, we didn’t see any of them run across the water.
There were a ton of water birds. I’m normally not that interested in birds, but they had some beautiful ones in Costa Rica.
This kind of freaked me out at first, but there were 10 bats on a tree. I didn’t know a lot about bats before (I still don’t know a lot) but very few species in Costa Rica are actually the vampire bats that people don’t like to have around. The ones we saw were all insect bats and were pretty much harmless.
Caimans are also seen in the area and right after Carlos finished saying that the water was low so we probably wouldn’t see any, the driver of the boat spotted one! We considered ourselves lucky to have seen one! Carlos explained that caimans actually don’t hurt humans, unless, of course, you provoke it. Naturally, they are a shy animal and he was right, because once we moved in closer with the boat, the caiman swam away.
After the boat ride, we went back to the same place we were at before and had lunch. More beans and rice, of course, but this time with chicken, though not too much. Carlos said this dish is pretty much a staple in Costa Rican cooking. When there is a birthday party, you can bet there is arroz con pollo!
On the drive back, Carlos spotted a three-toed sloth in a tree and had the driver stop so everyone could get out and take pictures. We were standing on the side of the road in tall grass and all I could think of was that there were probably snakes in there. Carlos looked around the area and told us all to stay just in that one spot, and I wondered if that was why he had said that.
We arrived back at the resort just in time for Happy Hour at the pool bar. The bar was somewhat pricey but not any worse than you would find here, but during Happy Hour you could get two of the same drink for the price of one. We hung out there for awhile and enjoyed the pool and hot tubs.
That evening we had reservations at Sushi Amor, which was a super nice restaurant on the resort. This was our “splurge” meal so it was pretty pricey but worth it just to do one time. We had a few sushi rolls, beer, and a piña colada cheesecake with strawberry sauce on it. It was pretty amazing. We also got a complimentary order of ceviche that we were not expecting. Ceviche is raw fish marinated in lime juice. I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to try it when we were there but I figured this would be the best day to try it if I was going to, so I went ahead and did it. It was actually really good and I’m glad I took the plunge!
We spent the rest of the evening just hanging out in the room having coffee, wine, chocolate, and cookies. Cookies were left in our room every night, which was definitely a nice touch. Actually, we had received cookies in the early evening and Eric wanted to see if we would get more when they came to do the turn-down service, so he hid them in a drawer. It worked and we found another plate of cookies after dinner!
We had planned to go for a walk that evening, but it started pouring and just never stopped. I also got notifications from the State Department about warnings for travelers on the Caribbean coast. We definitely picked the right side of the country to stay on for this trip!