The thunderstorm raged through the night. Rain pounded the roof and more than once, I awoke to the entire room illuminated from a lightning bolt. It was wonderful.
The itinerary for our second day in Tortuguero included a nature walk through a frog pound and butterfly garden, all on the grounds of the Mawamba Lodge, followed by an afternoon cruise on the river where we would look for Costa Rica’s wildlife. What we didn’t plan for was the rain. Granted, we were the ones who decided to travel during the wet season so we knew what we were getting into. Well, at least some of us.
On the way to breakfast, Karen and I grabbed Miss Bliss and as we were walking, the Biddies asked us, “It’s raining. What are we supposed to do?” Bliss’s response was perfect: “Go to breakfast.” I knew that Karen and I were going to like her (and we did!). Rain or shine, she was up for adventure just like we were and the threat of damp clothing and soggy hair was not enough to stop any of us from experiencing every aspect of our vacation that we set out to experience.
After breakfast, the five of us joined Carlos on a stroll through the grounds. He pointed out native plants and met a grasshopper friend as he led us on a path to the highlight of our nature walk: the frog pound and butterfly garden.
The frog pound was delightful. It took us no time at all to spot the vibrant green and black poison dart frogs. Once you found one, it became that much easier to spot the others even though these amphibians were no bigger than half dollar. The red ones were a little harder to spot, but Carlos managed to catch one for us so we could take a better look.
The trick to catching a frog and keeping it still long enough to take a picture: give it a little shake. That’s right, you’ve got to shake them. Picking it up like a hot pair of dice, you shake shake shake and the frog becomes temporarily disoriented, much like a child would after spinning around in circles. The frog is not harmed in the process and quickly—very quickly, I must add—regains its composure and hops away.
Once we had finished with the frogs, we headed over to the butterflies. I had never been in a place where so many butterflies soar all around you. They were beautiful and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by our appearance in their garden. They happily snacked on pineapple and flew above our heads. One of the great things about the Mawamba Lodge is that they actively try to prolong the butterflies’ lives. The larvae and cocoons are carefully collected and placed in a secure area awaiting the next cycle of life. When the butterflies emerge from their cocoons, they are released into the garden to live our the rest of their two-week lifespan.
We had some time to kill before the boat ride and since the rain had finally let up, we hung out in hammocks and lounged by the pool. Realizing that my fair skin needed another coat of sunblock, I headed back to the room and came across a very unexpected and rather large animal.
Our afternoon boat ride through Tortuguero National Park was rather spectacular. Though the humidity was starting to get to me at this point, I stopped caring once we started spying animals including our very first sloth sighting of the trip.
Back at the hotel, our whole group was invited to a cocktail hour where we all indulged in local drinks made from fresh ingredients and native liqueurs. Guaro, a vodka-like liquor that is made from sugar cane, was the perfect addition to a caipirinha. I may have had one or two before we went looking for tree frogs in the rain that began to pour at nightfall.
We spent the rest of the evening at the bar getting to know the bartender, Jorge, the manager’s assistant, Oscar, and another worker named Francisco. Though none of the boys knew very much English, Karen conversed with them in their native Spanish while I, with my three years of high school Spanish, followed along as best I could. And for the most part, I understood what was going on. A big thank you to Señora Madrigal! I especially knew when it was time to dance and Oscar was more than willing to show both Karen and I some salsa moves.
Though the mosquitoes loved me and the humidity got very uncomfortable, Tortuguero was a welcoming and wonderful place. I wish we could have been there during turtle season to see the hatchlings make their way to the sea, but it was still an amazing visit.
Next time, I’ll be the one to shake the frog.