Robin's Adventures

Costa Rica, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos Islands
A Triple Adventure

One Vacation: Three Diverse Locations

Although our trip took us to one region, we found ourselves in three very diverse environments. We enjoyed trekking through the rainforests of Costa Rica, wandering through the ruins of Cusco and Machu Picchu, and exploring the unique animal life on the Galapagos Islands. Please enjoy the photos and commentary that follow as you join us on our amazing journey.

Peace Lodge

Our first night in Costa Rica was spent in an awesome lodge about an hour from San Jose. The room had a hand carved canopy bed and love seat, a stone fireplace, a balcony with rocking chairs and a beautiful view of the rainforest, and an incredible bathroom. My head is not easily turned by a luxury bathroom, but this was noteworthy. There was a stone jacuzzi tub and the shower was a beautifully designed waterfall.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Our lodge was right on the edge of a beautiful natural area called the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. There were hiking trails, a butterfly observatory, and a frog exhibit. We also enjoyed our first glimpse of some unique rainforest plants, such as the rattlesnake plant and the poor man's umbrella plant.

Beautiful Birds

Some of the birds we saw were the keel-billed toucan, the chestnut-mandibled toucan, the crimson-rumped toucanet, the redlored parrot, the gray necked woodrail, and a variety of hummingbirds.

Butterflies

Butterflies abounded in vibrant colors. Among those that we saw were the blue morpho, the zebra butterfly, the Heliconius doris (orange), Heliconius sara (blue), Papilio thoas (green), the owl butterfly, Dryas iulia, and our familiar friend, the monarch butterfly.

Camouflaged Frogs

The frogs blended in so well with the leaves that they were difficult to spot. In addition, they are generally nocturnal, so they were very still during the daytime when we were looking for them.

Sloth

Sloths are interesting animals. They spend much of their time hanging upside down in trees eating leaves. Their tongue can stick out ten to twelve inches so they can reach leaves without having to expend much energy. Their metabolism is so slow that it may take more than a month to digest what they eat. In addition, they generally only come down to the ground about once a week to eliminate waste.

Their fur is a micro-ecosystem. There are two types of plant bacteria that live in sloth fur. The bacteria helps the sloth by providing camouflage. It also provides a home for several types of non-parasitic insects.

Next Stop: Tortuguero

We spent the next couple of days in Tortuguero at the Evergreen Lodge. This was a rustic (a euphemism for what a big step down from the Peace Lodge) little cabin on stilts in the middle of the rainforest. It was hot and very humid with no air conditioning, an occasionally working cold shower, and lots of mosquitoes.

The sights and sounds of the rainforest all around us, however, were spectacular. We could hear the pounding rain on the roof at night and smell the fresh jungle soil. Animals skittered along our porch and over the roof. The monkeys screeched and the birds sang. The jungle was alive all around us.

Tortuguero Scenery

Our morning walk revealed some interesting sights. There were beaches along the Caribbean Sea and coconut trees. The squirrel monkeys were watching us as we watched them.

We also saw an interesting lizard called a Basilisk or \"Jesus Christ Lizard.\" This lizard gets its nickname because of its amazing ability to walk on water for short distances. It is able to hold bubbles in the scaly web-like fringes between its toes as it propels itself across the water.

"Downtown" Tortuguero

The local market had fresh chicken (notice the hatchet on the stump) and a fresh produce section. The residential housing tract was definitely unique (insert your own adjective for this euphemism...)