River Rafting Adventures – Costa Rica Day 6
Today was another great day! We have really been doing everything across the board here. Today we got up early for breakfast (some pancakes, the amazing Volcano Brewery bacon, some local bread, and eggs with passion-fruit juice) then we went river rafting and it was quite the experience. We took a short drive to a nearby river which extended right through the heart of a rain-forest, we were going to raft right through the jungle. This venture required a lot of suntan lotion as the sun was blaring today and a lot of us ended up getting noticeably darker. Our group split into 3 rafts with 5 or 6 people per raft and we went down the river escorted by some natives who had very keen eyes for wildlife. Our raft’s guide spoke very good English and knew exactly what he was doing; I can’t imagine using two oars to go through that river was an easy task as there were many rocks and small rapids which could easily redirect and discourage any novice rafter.
He spotted so many varieties of Iguanas and different species of birds which we would not have seen if it weren’t for him. The birds we saw were generally very big and had varieties of interesting, vibrant colors. We also saw howler monkeys and a few small crocodiles. We even saw a few “Jesus Christ Lizards”. These lizards are called this because they can run across water (they look very funny and awkward when they run, it looks as if they’re trying to stand up like a person sort of). After our river rafting adventure, we headed to an animal reserve and saw many beautiful animals such as pumas, leopards, a variety of parrots, otters, monkeys and a jaguar. The animal reserve also had a variety of interesting plants. I especially recall a giant cactus plant which stood at least 15 feet high and took up a lot of area. After checking out the shop in the reserve (it had many cool wood-carved trinkets and items made from local resources) we headed to a restaurant and enjoyed a great lunch which consisted of a rice-dish with chicken cooked into it, beans, these special fried potato-like things, and a salad. As I may have said before, when going to Costa Rica, expect Rice and beans. I’ve learned to ask for rice and beans in Spanish because if
I know that I can get a meal anywhere in the area. “Me puedo dar Arroz y frijoles por pavor” will always get me rice and beans at a restaurant. I’ve picked up various basic Spanish from this trip, where I’ve had almost no prior experience with the language. Coming to Costa Rica has made me want to learn Spanish. Anyway, after lunch we went to a sugar cane plant which also used sugar cane to produce bio-fuel. Upon entering the plant, we all noticed a distinct smell which I cannot compare to much of anything because I had never smelled it before. I personally did not appreciate the smell at all and gagged a few times because of it, but besides this the plant was very interesting. This was definitely the biggest plant we have visited so far and workers were everywhere. We had the opportunity in this visit to see machinery producing sugar and bio-fuel right before our eyes, an opportunity which would probably be seldom if not impossible in the states. There were many trucks lined up outside the plant picking up sugar and bringing in supplies of sugar cane to be processed. It was really cool seeing how sugar cane started off in the plant, was processed and became a finished product; we literally saw every single step of the process and it was a more complicated one than I expected (If I am to ever encounter bio-fuel processing again, I will have to do a lot of studying because it had a lot to it). After this plant visit we got ice cream next door and went home to get dinner (cesa). Dinner was surprisingly spaghetti tonight and dessert was a sort of empanada like pastry with an apple filling. Today had a lot to it and was very tiring. I fell asleep on almost every bus ride today; I really do recommend sleeping as much as possible on study abroad trips, especially this one, as they are usually jam-packed with activities (there is always a way to balance work, play, and sleep, so try to find it or you’ll burn out). I am going to get to bed early tonight. What a great day.
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