Saturday, 23-08-2014. Day 4.
Venomous Snakes, Typical Food
Essence Arenal is just up the road from a butterfly conservancy, a big draw to the area. We were planning on going on the tour, but Nico, the owner of Essence Arenal, recommended the Arenal Eco Zoo instead. In addition to butterflies, the zoo has frogs, snakes, crocodiles, and insects. I was initially reluctant to commit to a two-hour guided tour, but we didn't have anything else to do, the place was only a short walk down from the butterfly conservancy, and we were offered discount tickets. We decided to go for it.
Again, as we started walking down the hill, it started raining. Naturally, I didn't have a jacket (being from Los Angeles, I typically leave the house without a jacket of any kind). So we scurried back to the room to get our raincoats. The rain wasn't that intense, but I did need something to protect the camera in case it really started to rain.
After the short walk down the hill, we checked in at the zoo and met our guide, J.P., who took us on a comprehensive and educational tour of the zoo. He knew a lot about Costa Rican flora and fauna, especially the poisonous snakes. We got to see the fer-de-lance (the snake that Jairo warned us about during the previous night's nature walk) and many other snakes, lizards (including a lot of common basilisks—the Jesus Christ lizard), and reptiles.
We also saw glimpses of frogs, including many members of the poison dart frog family. My favorite was the blue jeans frog (pantalones de azul), but they all stayed very well hidden. The red-eyed tree frog, though, gave us a good show.
As we toured the zoo, we saw a lot of green orchid bees, brightly iridescent, zooming about a plant with a long, aromatic stamen. They moved like hummingbirds; very quickly, stopping and hovering for mere moments at a time before zipping off again.
The Zoo had only a few mammals: one sloth that it rescued as a baby and is nursing back to health, and a pair of common marmosets (cotton-eared monkey) that someone had been keeping as pets. The zoo was holding them until they could be relocated. These troublemakers kept trying to grab Frankie's camera through their cage.
We learned a lot on this tour, and despite my initial reluctance, were very glad we went.
After the zoo, we were all pretty hungry, especially Jackie. There's a restaurant at the zoo, but we wanted to try a local soda, La Mesa de Mama, which was just a little further down the road and boasts typical food.
The food was good, if a little salty, and the portions were generous. We spent about $40, but if we'd shared plates we could have gotten away with less. A lesson for the future.
We walked back through El Castillo up to the hostel and spent the next few hours relaxing, catching up on writing, playing with Banano and Cairo, sitting in the jacuzzi, and just chilling out. Or trying to, anyway.
At one point, between afternoon rainstorms, we walked back to the super mini market to get Jackie a snack. She has become very fond of the cheese puffs (meneitos) made by Jack's.
At dinner, where we helped make pita bread, we met two ladies who'd been WWOOFing in Costa Rica. Since this is something we are hope to do in Australia, we spent a lot of time talking to them about their experiences.
- Hours driving: 0
- Toothpaste caps lost: 1
- Snakes held: 2
- Pitas made: 8