A fact about Costa Rica; there are more than 121 volcanic formations in Costa Rica and seven of them are active. Poas Volcano has the second widest crater in the world and Arenal is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. This fact alone would make you not want to live here but 12 million Costa Ricans would give you plenty of reasons why they love where they live.
On arrival into Puntarenas I must say we were slightly saddened. It is not the nicest port we have docked at but, upwards and onwards, as we didn’t have a tour booked we left the wharf and made our way through the markets towards a boardwalk along the oceans edge.
|The markets near the pier|
|Local musicians who might I add were not very good!!!|
|The ship from the "boardwalk"|
The sand here is black volcanic sand that is rather uninviting compared to the golden sands that we have seen elsewhere so swimming here was off the list. We had only been off the ship for half an hour before we turned around and headed back. As we were about to board the ship we noticed one of the locals holding a sign that said he was offering guided taxi tours. We negotiated a price of $70 for a two hour tour.
Our tour driver, Tony, was very friendly and his English was excellent so we set off.
|Our animated tour guide|
The first place we visited was a private sanctuary for the white faced monkey. For three dollars we were given a plate of food to feed the monkeys. On the plate were banana, watermelon and biscuits! Our guide pointed out a mother carrying her baby on her back so we made a bee-line to feed her. You can’t touch the monkeys as they are very timid, a fact I found by accident when I raised my hand. It was pleasing to seem them still in the wild and not caged.
|Feeding the white-faced monkeys|
Tony then took us to a lookout high above Puntarenas We could see from here the many islands around Punta Arenas, the enormous volcanic mountains, the vast sugarcane plantations and a place where we could really capture the beauty of this area of Costa Rica. The biggest exports for Costa Rica are bananas, sugar cane and coffee. Much the same as the other areas we have visited. Tony explained to us how the economy of Costa Rica is very bad with inflation at an all time high. The average wage is about $1000 US a month but the cost of living is so high that there is very little left over for anything else. He told us that he has a 15 year old daughter who is “number 1” in her school and she wants to study medicine but he doesn’t think that he can afford to send her to university.
We drove through areas of obvious wealth and then we drove through areas that were not so wealthy. Tony very proudly pointed out the Double Tree Hilton Hotel and it just seemed to look so out of place.
We returned to the ship after our two hour tour and I headed straight to bed. I’m struggling to get on top of this damn flu.
|The very long walk along the dock to our ship|
Dinner tonight was in Moderno – a brazillian style restaurant. The food was excellent and we will go back when I can enjoy it a little more.
It is a day at sea tomorrow and the forecast is for rain but we are hoping that it will clear as we pass through the Panama Canal the following day.
|Sunset at Puntarenas, Costa Rica|