Parque Nacional Cahuita and the Jaguar Rescue CenterI'm super tired today and this is probably a really boring post, but I have to get it in words before I forget details...
Parque Nacional Cahuita- Wednesday
Oh how I wish America had a national park as amazing as Parque Nacional Cahuita. Postcard-perfect beaches, coral reefs, jungle, monkeys, iguanas, sloths, frogs, snakes, ant civilizations- and it's all perfectly preserved. The park itself is relatively tiny and young- only 10 square kilometers and has only been a national park since 1978.
We (the local guide and a newlywed couple from the Basque region in Spain) took a small rickety boat to Punta Cahuita, the "point" that juts out into the water and snorkeled for nearly two hours. I've not seen such perfect coral ever... but I guess I've only been snorkeling a handful of times. I'm always amazed at how the tropical fish mostly ignore snorkelers. This time though, I felt like I was a part of the school of fish many times. The water was very shallow too, so it was easier to see the camouflaged fishes lurking in the lettuce coral, brain coral and fan coral.
After a fresh pineapple snack on the beach, we hiked the less than 2 miles along the beach to the ranger station at the edge of the quaint town of Cahuita, population 600 (where some still speak the native language, Mekatelyu). Our guide stopped regularly along the way to point out a particular species of mammal, reptile, insect or plant. We even had to ford the river at one point.
(Can you spot the iguana?)
At one point, there was a concrete natural spring "hot tub". It is there because Pemex, the Mexican oil company, drilled for oil there before it was a national park. Luckily they didn't find oil, but they did find a hot spring.
Jaguar Rescue Center- Thursday
The name is a misnomer. There are no jaguars at the Jaguar Centro de Recate (Jaguar Rescue Center). It was named for a sick baby jaguar that died there after they were unable to nurse her back to health after her mother was killed.
The best part about this place is the howler monkeys that you can play with. They have about 10 of them who are orphaned and/or were injured. They are such loving, playful and active animals- you can't help but want to take one home with you... if only customs would allow it!
And, for the first time in my life, I've seen a live red-eyed tree frog! There were a few years in high school that I was fairly obsessed with them (and frogs in general)... they are much smaller than photos would suggest, but so amazing.
¡Adios Puerto Viejo!
I leave for San Jose in the morning, but it's been a great week here is Rasta Rica! ¡Te amo, Costa Rica!