Monday, February 09, 2009

Costa Rica pt. 4: rollin' on the river

[01/27/09; transcribed from my trip journal]

Ugh…I did not sleep well last night. Thanks to the codeine, I had unbelievably vivid dreams about everything from house hunting to a long conversation with Brett Anderson of Suede. I hadn't thought about that band in years! And at one point, I was awakened by the heaviest rain I’ve ever heard in my life. The lodge has a tin roof, too, so it was like trying to sleep next to Niagara Falls. And, of course, I was enshrouded in my sheet to guard against lizards and cockroaches, so I was sweltering. I am not the rustic type, apparently.

At around 5AM, I finally gave up on sleep and dragged myself out of bed. I stretched, took my toothbrush out of the safe, peed, and brushed my teeth. I took a towel off the rack and shook it out violently to dislodge any creepy crawlies. There weren’t any, but I was disgusted to see big makeup stains all over the towel. Remember those novelty shirts back in the 80’s with the garish outline of a woman’s face and the inscription “I ran into Tammy Faye”? It was like that. The other towel was slightly better, so I took a quick tepid shower, dried off, and searched for the hair dryer.


Oh yeah.

See, I hadn’t bothered to bring my hair dryer, because I checked every hotel’s website and they all had one in the room…except this one. I figured I’d be okay letting my hair air dry for a couple of days, but I forgot about the whole jungle factor. Like my hair would dry in 20000% humidity! Plus I’d be lucky if I didn’t get some sort of weird jungle fungus on my scalp that would eventually eat my face off.

So, in a rare flash of brilliance, I went to the bathroom by the pool and used the hand air dryer in there, blowing my hair under the watchful eyes of lizards clambering all over the walls. Considering that it takes about five tries to dry off my hands, it didn’t take that long, and---if you can believe this shit---my hair hadn’t looked that good in ages. Maybe it was the cockroach shit in the water?

After breakfast, we took a boat cruise through the Cano Negro wildlife refuge, and it was amazing. The weather was perfect, and our guide Alonzo was fantastic. He could spot animals from several hundred feet away, even when we were going 40 mph! Unfortunately, most of my pictures didn’t turn out because I could only really see some of the animals with my binoculars, but I did get a few shots.

This handsome fellow is a Jesus Christ lizard, so named because it can walk on water for brief periods of time. Alonzo joked that it actually got its name because the first time someone saw it walk on water, they said “Jesus Christ, look at that lizard!”

This is an anhinga; it’s related to the cormorant.

Here he is drying off his wings after diving into the water.

We also saw green parrots, egrets, spider AND capuchin monkeys, and a three-toed sloth! He was pretty far away, but I got a good look at him through my binoculars; he looked like a big dirty tote bag hanging upside down. Granted, I’ve seen all of these things at zoos before, but there’s something so amazing about seeing them in their natural habitat.

After a brief stop at the green turtle research station for a short film, we walked down the beach to Tortuguero village. It was raining really hard by then (and, in my sleep deprived state, I’d forgotten my umbrella), so I bought a Coke and sat on the porch of a local store staring at this sign.

I had several stray dogs sprawled out around my feet, which made me a little nervous, but they were too busy sleeping to pay me any mind. One of them kicked his foot in his dreams and made noises that sounded just like a cat hacking up a hairball.

When we got back to the lodge, I walked for the beach for a while and saw a beautiful full rainbow over the ocean. (And, of course, I’d left my goddamn camera back in my room. Word to the wise: when traveling in Costa Rica, never go anywhere without your camera or your umbrella.) After lunch, we took another boat ride, which was basically the same route as the morning trip but slightly shorter.

For dinner, I had yet another plate of chicken and rice (and some amazing coconut bread pudding), but I sat with Roxanne and a group of friends from New Jersey. We went to the bar afterwards, and we listened to a Caribbean band. I had a Nutti Colada, which is my only excuse for allowing myself to be pulled into a conga line. Then I bought a Coke, sat in a hammock overlooking the water, and wrote postcards. At one point, a raccoon-looking creature with two adorable babies came sauntering over, and I immediately reached for my camera. I got out of the hammock and knelt down, at which point the mother began growling and advancing towards me. Okay, never mind! Not wanting to end my trip with rabies shots, I beat cheeks back to my room.

When I got inside, I saw a big black blob on one of the beds. I sighed, thinking it was a cockroach, but when I got closer, I realized it was a turd, probably of lizard origin. As I was cleaning it up with a colossal wad of toilet paper, a cockroach scurried out from under the pillow. I took a shower, dosed up, and went to sleep at 9PM…in the OTHER bed.