Today we have another adventure planned, but it is alot more relaxing than yesterday. This is another tour that we booked at the tour desk in the Diria. I would recommend using them if you are looking for any kind of tour that you can imagine. The service is fantastic, the tours well organized and because we booked three tours at the same time, we were given a discount on the price. And our drivers were skilled and fun and Mariella our tour guide…well she is just the best. Contact them at the tour desk in the lobby of the Diria or at http://www.horizontesdelaperla.com ( Horizontes Del Perla Leisure and Adventure Tours).
Today we hop into the shuttle and there is just Melanie and me on this tour. We are heading to Puerto Humo in the Palo Verde National Park for the Palo Verde Safari Boat Tour on the Tempisque Riverr. The drive is only about 50 minutes from Tamarindo and it is a different kind of scenery, from the massive Del Monte pineapple plantations to rugged indigenous villages, it is a wonderful drive and not at all precarious like yesterdays’ road trip to Rincon De La Vieja.
The Tempisque river begins at the foothills of the Orosi Volcano, North West of Guanacaste and travels 90 miles to the South East Estuary on the Northern Nicoya Gulf. It is a very diverse ecosphere of plants, animals, reptiles and birds. It is very heavily silted and muddy and only shallow boats are able to traverse its waters. Interestingly, the river changes its depths in tandem with the tides from the ocean. On our trip, on our route down the river, we clearly saw the markings of where the water could rise to, since the tide was currently out. Within an hour, on our way back, the tide had risen and the water was well over those marks. Something I had never seen before.
There was a lot to see on the way to our river tour. The Del Monte Plantation was one…and it is massive. The fields of pineapples, bananas and cantaloupes seem to be endless and I really wanted to hop out and grab a handful of each. Del Monte contracts the pineapple farming out to the local Tico farmers, and pays them for their produce…they do not own these lands. It is really impressive to see what appears to be a farming co-operative amongst the Ticos operate on such a large scale.
Another thing we saw that was memorable was a lagoon of the Tempisque River. This entire area…and it was massive…was covered and packed with water lilies. In fact, Melanie and I thought it looked as though you could walk on them down the river. Spectacular. Costa Rica never ceases to amaze with these gems of nature. I will never forget the beauty of this scenery.
We finally arrive at our adventure destination…the Palo Verde Safari Boat tour on the river. We take a few minutes to look around at the surrounding jungle, and spot a crocodile across the river, laying on the bank in the sun. This just made this experience very real…do not swim in this river. We board our trusty craft along with several others tourists on similar excursions and we head off. Its a nice leisurely pace and you can readily spot monkeys, crocodiles, numerous species of birds, reptiles and occasionally a coati (Costa Rican raccoon…super cute). Our tour leader shares his knowledge of the area and animals with us and gets us good and close to the crocs in the water. I readily can now recognize that those tiny bubbles in the water represent a crocodile under water, and I am happy to see them from the comfort of my boat seat. We spend a lovely hour on the water, eventually heading back to the dock. If you are looking for a really great way to spend a few hours on the Tempisque river…do it. It is well worth the memories you will create.
Once we have our land legs back, Mel and I climb back into the van and we head back home…but there is a stop…and oh my…am I ever glad there was.
We stop in front of a soda in the village of Guaitil. This is the home of the Chorotega Indians and they are world famous for their pottery. The centuries old traditions of their craft are maintained and all of the materials used in the production of the pieces all come from the earth…from the dyes of the Guaitil tree, the naturals mud and clay to form the shapes, the dung and mud firing ovens and even the pottery wheels and etching stones and sculpting tools are crafted from the earth and sometimes recycled products, like gears as a pottery wheel turning base. This historical knowledge, which was originally inscribed on deer hides for history books, has been passed down for generations and it remains intact…amazing…imagine no google searching for a DIY pottery bowl. A fun little fact…the Tamarindo Diria is named after the Chief Diria of the Chorotega tribe. Love this.
We are taken through a pottery shop and into what appears to be the kitchen and outdoor dining room of a local family. They also host tours that pass through here judging by the numerous tables. It was so peaceful and quaint. Our lovely Ticas had prepared a feast for us…likely the most delicious meal we ate in Costa Rica…of all authentic local foods…galo pinto, corn breads and a large pitcher of the delicious Tamarind tree juice…oh my. We ate until we could not have another bite, while the local children ran about and played and the assorted pups came to hide in the shade or beg for a morsel of our food. Our Tica hostess’s did not speak any English so we thanked them as well as we could in our minimal Spanish…but words in any language could never express our gratitude for the hospitality they had offered us.
Next we went into the front and sat down to watch a pottery demonstration. This young man had me in tears as he spoke of his learning the skills and techniques from his grandfather. And it was obvious that he was studying his craft with focus and with much pride for his heritage and to make his grandfather proud. It was so touching. Many people may think this is a just story they tell to get you to buy something…it is a story… based in history and truth and you cannot deny the centuries of love that goes into each piece that is created. Follow your heart on this one. Melanie purchased a beautiful bowl and I bought a wall plaque, with a turtle on it. We also learned that there is much meaning and storytelling in the designs on the pieces…the animal, the number of waves or lines…it all tells a story. Mine is proudly displayed in my home, where I can look at it everyday, and reflect on the memories of this incredible and humbling experience.
Now we head back to our hotel…what a special day this has been. Melanie and I decide to look for something cool to eat and we come upon The Groovy Box, a cute shop almost beside the Diria…that sells food, cold drinks, SUP boards for rent and gelato…they had me hooked just on the name. We place our order and then witness a most endearing scene. This shop is owned by a lovely older Tico and his son is working there with him. The older fella is struggling with the cash register, and it seems to be very new to him. The son patiently walks him through how to enter our order, calmly explaining everything to him, and letting him try it out as they go through the process. The love and caring that he shows his Father in this interaction makes Melanie and I both tear up. Here there is no such thing as rushing or impatience…we smile and nod, and wait for our order. I have to tell you that I am not alone in saying that this will be the best gelato you will ever have…and many others have written reviews that say the same thing. I also hear they make a mean cappuccino…on my to do list for next visit.
We head to our rooms and quickly freshen up because we are heading to the beach…to ride horses. We chose to use one of the local Ticos and his lovely herd as we had seen them on the beach every day since our arrival. He met us at the Dira entrance on the beach, we saddled up and away we went. All the way down the beach towards the estuary…which you remember is where you might find a crocodile…are you sure about this I am asking myself. Our Tico guide does not speak English, but seems pretty confident about our route and so we follow. He leads us into the bushes a short way and then has us…walk our horse to the waters edge…for a photo. Oh my….all I am thinking is if a crocodile bites my horse…1: I am likely to try and save the horse…2: I am now on the ground with the crocodile…3: I will miss happy hour at Walters and be upset…ok…I am now motivated to get this picture and head back to happy hour in one piece…both me and my trusty steed.
After our photo shoot, we ride back down the beach, horses lightly running through the waves…and the sun is beginning to set. It just does not get any better than this moment. I look over at Melanie and I see that she is loving every minute too. Finally, our ride over, and after a quick gallop to the drop off spot, we dismount, thank our guide and our horses and head to Walters’. Our guide mounts his horse, gives a whistles and he heads back down the beach, followed by our mounts, untethered and free, heading home for some much deserved rest.
To Walters we go for a drink and there is our mariachi band. Over they come and play a song for us…we ask for another and the one guy asks if we mind if they play Despacito (a risque song to some).We say yes and they give us their all…a wonderful rendition. There are a lot of people here and they get up to take pictures and some sing along. When the band is done playing, we tip them…and then I tell the crowd that they owe these great musicians money too…after all they had enjoyed the performance we were given…so out came the colones (Costa Rican money) and the mariachi’s left Walters happy and with mucho dinero.
Of course we stop in at El Be for some of the fire show and some more drinks and dancing. I am really getting accustomed to this routine of ours, and loving all of the people we meet each night…we are become known as regulars…is that a bad thing really?
Soon it is time to get to bed. Tomorrow is our last full day here…I know…I am sad already too. But we have a big day planned…an adventure where we see soo many animals…including jacquars.
Costa Rica never ceases to amaze me….the days seem endless and easy. How will I ever leave this place I have now grown to love?
See you soon, and as always Pura Vida.
Live Your Life…Jan