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Panama Canal Cruise 2013:
Day 8 - Costa Rica


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Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

Friday, January 25, 2013: It's another beautiful day. Let's see a little more of Costa Rica!

We had spent nine days in Costa Rica in 2009, so we had been to Puntarenas, but not the town itself, ...
... much of which is located on a narrow strip of land seen here.
By now, we knew the best approach to the shore excursion mob -- send Tom up to check in while Debbie waits in the completely empty right balcony. No crowds and easy getaway.
As we walked off the ship, we spotted some dolphins in the distance. At this point, we hadn't seen either, so it was very exciting. Dolphins started showing up in force by Day 11.
There's the beach we'd be visiting later.
The inner waterway is surrounded by mangroves and our guide told us there was good fishing there.
We passed a Maersk shipping facility, and although we couldn't capture the sign, we could tell exactly what it was.
Pretty pink blooms.
We had forgotten about Costa Rica's awesome living fences.
As we drove, we saw a spiny tail iguana trying to cross the highway. He took several leaps but didn't make it over the barrier. Fortunately, the barrier ended about ten feet away, so we hope he eventually figured it out.
Our destination, Hacienda Nosavar, was less than an hour away.
There were only four of us on the 7:30 AM Original Canopy Tour. One couple didn't show up in time and would be added to the 8:30 AM tour if they did, along with a bunch of other people. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for booking the first tour, since we benefited from a tiny group and from the earlier morning temperatures.
We passed this cool tree on the way to the start of the course.
Our guide, Gary, showed us the ropes. Literally.
Tom's ready to go!
The first zip line was pretty short, but the second one was longer, ...
... and the third one was even longer. These photos were of Mary and Don, our fellow tourists.
The group photographer, Tito, took several of the photos on this page, including this one ...
... and this one.
Here's Tom coming in on a zip line.
Next, we hiked up a hill to get some altitude for the next set of lines.
At the top, we had a water break and posed for photographs with the pretty countryside and the Tarcoles River in the background. We'll see more of that river later on.
Up the ramp we went.
At the next stop, our guides pointed out these unusually shaped seed pods on these guanacaste trees -- they look like fans. The guanacaste tree is the national tree of Costa Rica.
There goes Tom!
At the next stop, we got some photos of the air plants that live on the trees. Here's one ...
... and here's another.
There goes Tom again ...
... and there he goes again, way off in the distance on this very long line.
A pair of vultures joined us in this tree, waiting.
Another short walk up hill took us to another water break, served in tiny paper cups, then we were off again.
Tom had camera duties for the next few lines.
There goes Debbie!
It was very hot out but this was a lot of fun.
Tom agrees.
Here goes Debbie again ...
... using her arms and hands against the air free-fall style to control the spinning on the way down.
Tom inadvertently got artsy with his photograph when the camera refused to focus on Debbie anymore.
Here's the last zip line.
At the base of the last station, we got a lovely view of the nearby river. So pretty. But look closer at that lump on the left river bank ...
... it's a giant croc!
And look a little more closely at the lumps on the right side of the river: more crocodiles! Probably just a few, though, because it's hard to tell from this far away.
Back at the main building, we purchased our photo CDs, tipped our guides, and were served a pineapple and watermelon slice and a glass of water.
With our tour moving so quickly, we had time before it was time to get picked up, so we headed down the road to the bridge over the river to see that handful of crocodiles close up.
Did someone say a handful? False. There were 40 of them. And several very, very brave cows thirsty enough to get near them for a drink.
Seriously, we're talking about a lot of crocodiles.
Check out the teeth on this guy.
The scenery on the other side of the bridge was completely croc-free.
We were pleasantly surprised when our tour guide came to get us to say that our ride was ready for us much earlier than expected.
Our bus guide, Manny, brought us to a fruit stand to see all of the different fruits.
He cut open a star apple to show us the star design inside, then cut it into pieces for us to try. It was very tasty, similar to a plum.
Since we couldn't bring any fruit back to the ship with us, we picked up a couple of bags of chips (yucca and plantain), ...
... and a bag of whatever these are. The label's text, Bizcocho Casero, translates into homemade cake, but they were corn-based rings.
There's our good friend, the Statendam, moored at a completely different location at the very south end of the Puntarenas area.
Locals were playing in the water and we vowed to dip our feet in the water later on.
Our bus guide, Manny, knew which hotel we had stayed at during our 2009 visit, and he had the bus driver slow down as we drove past it so we could grab a photo.
Speaking of buses, it turns out that Costa Rica also has colorful buses, just like Panama did.
Back on the ship, we cooled off, cleaned up, changed clothes, packed cash, and headed into town, which was conveniently located just at the end of the pier.
Debbie made a beeline for this seahorse statue, because (as Tom always says) "Chicks dig seahorses." After the ship was well on its way to Guatemala, Tom asked Debbie if she had seen the other seahorse statue on the beach. Married men, see if you can spot the huge errors in that statement. There are two. If you are stumped, ask your wife for help.
Here's the view from the seahorse statue back toward the kiosks that line the sidewalk along the beach. We'd get to them later, but first, it's time to get up our courage to pick a restaurant for lunch.
We selected a place called Costa Azul, with its friendly waiter who spoke limited English and its all-Spanish, all-Costa Rican-currency menu. Our waiter managed to convey to us what "casado" meant (a traditional Costa Rica meal with rice and beans), and to explain the different types of meat that go with it ("moo", "pig").
This was Tom's beef casado and he was so happy to be back in the land of rice and beans.
Debbie had ordered the fish sandwich and was equally pleased.
Next, we walked down to the beach and got this shot looking back toward the kiosks with our blue restaurant in the background.
We dipped our feet in the water. It was warm enough to go snorkeling, but the water was pretty murky and the currents were strong, so we weren't tempted to get in.
Here's another shot of our majestic ship, the Celebrity Century.
Finally, we shopped. We bought numerous hair bands and bandanas for our girl back home, and couldn't resist looking for her name in this amazing display of every single English and Spanish name on the planet. For a mere $3, we got a hand-carved Claire keychain.
Here are our spoils. After years of traveling, we tend not to buy souvenirs, so anytime we can find souvenirs that we'll actually use, it's a nice treat.
The distance back to the ship looks a little longer after walking in the afternoon heat.
Back in the sweet, sweet air conditioning, Tom spotted this map of our voyage. From the Panama Canal to San Diego, we'd be effectively crossing the entire width of the United States. No wonder it would take us nine days to do it!
After a quick shower, we were ready to have a beer in the outdoor bar at the back of the ship but to our horror, it was closed. Fortunately, cruise ships have multiple outdoor bars, so we settled for the pool bar.
Well before our departure time, the Statendam was already out to sea set for destinations unknown. She arrived in San Diego a day before we did, since her itinerary was for 14 nights.
The landscape here reminded us a little of the Lahaina area of Maui.
We were around for afternoon tea. It may seem strange having hot tea in the tropics, but it was kind of a nice break in the day.
Sail out was at 6:00 PM and it was getting dark.

But we had a full moon to help guide the way.

Day 9 >


Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

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