We got up early today for breakfast and then set off on our 7.5 hour excursion. The excursion included a bus ride where we got to see some of the local sites and then on to the Veragua Rainforest Research Center. We met up with our naturalist guide, Daria, who began the talk with how safe it was going to be, except for the Bullet Ants, these 1-inch long black ants whose bite is very painful and can last up to 24 hours. These ants love to walk along the hand rails, and sure enough, along the first handrails we encountered, we saw these large insects.
The weather was a little cool (the rainforest is at a high altitude) and lightly raining. We saw some beautiful tropical flowers and as we went through the exhibits and laboratory, we saw several snakes, frogs, butterflies, and birds.
We boarded an aerial tram that took us from the visitors center/research lab to the forest floor. The ride was gentle and allowed us a great view of the rainforest. Unfortunately, with the rain, no animals were visible.
Our trek involved several hundred stairs and we were all very wary of placing our hands on the handrails. Besides watching for snakes and biting insects, our guide stopped to show us one of the most toxic plants that grows along our path. We made our way down to see a nice waterfall.
When we returned to the visitor’s center, we had a nice lunch (chicken, beans, veggies and plantains). We were then off to the Tortuguero Canals where we boarded a boat and traveled on the canal looking for wildlife. We saw several sloths, some blue herons, snowy egrets, and an emerald lizard. One of the highlights, however, was a glimpse of a group of white-faced capuchin monkeys who were feeding on the wild bananas that grow near the canal.
Food seems to be a big part of our adventures. The first square shows the meal we received at the rainforest visitor center. The others are the meal back on the ship: sliced fruit for dessert, island seafood fritters and a plantain for appetizer, and the chef’s version of Loco Moco for dinner. Fried egg over ham over hamburger over rice and covered with brown gravy. Yum. The evening meal had a tropical theme. You can see the two penguins having dinner below.
Our watercolor instructor seems as interested in sketching as he is in painting. Our homework after the first lesson was to do some sketching in the sketchbook he gave us. I tried to copy Ron’s photo of a green iguana we saw on the Cayman Islands. Apparently they are very common and somewhat of a nuisance. All of the telephone poles and many of the trees have a collar of smooth metal several feet off the ground to prevent the iguanas from climbing.