Friday, January 15, 2016

1/15/16 5/cinco (you guessed it, 1/8/16)

Breakfast was normal, rice and beans, eggs, toast, fruit. The works. My beloved beetle had stuck around so I spent a bit of time with him before we headed out for our next stop. Our day was to be all traveling with two main stops. The first was at Limon (again, sorry for the lack of accents, there should be one on the o) at the new shipping port being built on an artificial island just off the coast (I mean just off, I could sprint from one end to the other. If I felt inclined. Very inclined. It's not more than a quarter of a mile.). Anyhow, the company building the island has a contract with the government because of the more than 100 companies originally interested in building a shipping port, they were the only ones willing to risk the investment. Think what you will of that. There wasn't much to see, we were shown a slide show about the project, and I will say that they really are working hard to make the biggest positive social impact they can and that it shows, and were given a short bus tour around the construction site. It was a very typical construction site just on a bigger scale and with boats (see below). We said goodbye and headed to our next destination, which was lunch. We were pressed for time so we got in and out of the restaurant in less than thirty minutes, a huge feat if you consider the fact that our best before then had been an hour and fifteen minutes. And that's being generous.

We were arrived at the banana plantation half an hour before our deadline of 'if you aren't hear by now we will all go home for the night (It was three in the afternoon). Our guide was a large man, tall and barrel chested with a machete on his hip. AKA he was intimidating. But he spoke perfect English due to his education at the University of Texas, Austin which was a surprise. But thinking about it, what better person to guide tours of mainly Americans than a US educated Costa Rican. He reviewed the life cycle of banana plants (not trees, they have no wood and are actually herbs), slashing strategically placed sample banana plants as we watched intently. As we listened, a small plane spraying pesticides came closer and closer until it passed over the plants just to our left, spraying pesticides and fungicides in its wake. We were not pleased. At all. But it didn't pass over us so we weren't doused, though we had been able to smell and taste the chemicals in the air since we had arrived. Just so you all know, bananas with brown spots are bananas too. Don't discriminate. It forces banana plantations to wrap baby bananas in plastic bags and pad them so they don't get dinged, allowing plastic traces to enter the growing banana. Start a trend, be cool and eat brown bananas (plus when they are ripe they are healthier, think about it). I got to bag a banana bunch and enthusiastically climbed the offered ladder up to the hanging fruit. It was fun. (And you can see me do it, in the photo posted below.) Then we watched two of our group work together using the machete to quickly cut the banana tree in half and then remove the fruit in one swift motion once it fell onto the shoulders of the second person. I'm kidding, we got to see two very experienced workers do that. From there we moved on to the processing and packing plant. It was exactly like what you would imagine, only with more machetes and a lot of water (apparently as well as cleaning the fruit, it moves it in a way that keeps it from being bruised. We were then loaded back on to the bus as workers, who had only stuck around to give us a show, flooded out of the processing plant. The trip from then on was a bit bumpy, we hit a dirt road thirty minutes later that which had us moving at about five miles per hour and bouncing up and down like Pogo-sticks. We pulled into the Tirimbina research station at six, just a dusk had fallen and night was pounding at the door. Dinner was delicious, a beautiful owl moth flew into the building we were sitting on the porch of. I was thrilled.

After dinner, we went on an insect/amphibian walk. We saw a poison dart frog (photo included)

, glass frogs, stick insects, red-eyed tree frogs, frog eggs, camens, katydids, and more. It was wonderful. We went inside and crashed the moment our heads hit our pillows.

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