"" Writer's Wanderings: Our Last Port For Now, Puerto Limon

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Our Last Port For Now, Puerto Limon

 The last time we were in Puerto Limon we stayed an extra day and a half because of the uncertainty of where Crystal Serenity was going to disembark passengers since the Grand Voyage was canceled. It was a sweet-sour memory as we awoke to find ourselves in a familiar place on Thursday.

The excursion we had booked was to gather at 7:20 AM and the Pinnacle would not open for breakfast until 7:30 so we opted to have room service early and eat on our veranda. It was a nice start to my birthday. We gathered in the theater to receive our bus assignments and just about the time we sat down and I rummaged in my purse for some gum, we were dismissed to go to our bus. I must have had my key card and ID in my lap and as I tossed everything back in my purse and stood it fell to the floor. Halfway to the gangway I realized I was missing it. Heart racing I hurried back and found it on the floor where I'd sat. Whew!

My mishap got us to the bus in time to get the seats way in the back but it wouldn't be a long trip this time. I knew that because we were headed back to the Tortuguero Canals that we had visited before. This time I had my good camera ready. 

As we exited the bus at the canal we could hear the howler monkeys. They were not happy with all these people invading their quiet morning. Unfortunately they were so busy hopping around in the treetops that I couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurry. The guide told us that you don't want to stand under their tree when they are upset. They like to throw excrement at you. Thankfully the boat had a canvas rooftop.

Every trip we have taken on the canals has been different. You always see something new and this was no exception. We saw a caiman which looks like a crocodile or an alligator but is smaller. I never saw one that looked so blue though. 

We saw several sloths this time and some bats that had made a home under a bridge. A really blue heron was fishing but we didn't see him catch anything. 

Our guide pulled a banana from a tree and sliced it open to show us the kind of bananas the animals like. They are full of hard black seeds. The plantains and bananas we consume don't have seeds in them and are propagated differently.

After our canal trip, we were given the good bananas, a bottle of water and a bag of cassava chips. The chips were really good. We never had them before even though we've seen cassava used in other food dishes and there are some who make flour from the root vegetable. 

On the bus again, we headed for our next stop, a banana train ride. No it is not a train made from bananas but it is a train that used to carry the bananas from the fields in Limon to the cargo ships for transport to other countries. Now, as we rode past large trucks marked Chiquita, DelMonte and Dole, you could see why the train was replaced.

As we passed the banana fields our guide told us that they are not actually trees but classified as rather large herbs. Hmmm. I filed that one away and checked later. Yup, they're related to the ginger plant. When the plant flowers, a large pod looking flower that is purplish red, the blossom is covered with a blue bag to keep the insects out and the sun from burning the fruit before it has a chance to develop into those nice bananas we all like to eat. Inside the blue bag, the bananas form a cluster and in 3-4 weeks are ready to harvest. They are still green to allow time for transport in 56 degree storage units to keep them from ripening to fast on their way to market.

The train was quaint and was made for passengers, not bananas. They were antique cars as was the engine that pulled us. As we waited for everyone to board there was a group of four kids from about twelve to maybe two years old asking for "one dolla". It took me a while to figure out they were willing to pose for a picture for a dollar. I'm not sure where they came from but the area the train went through was one where there were lots of squatters in shacks made of scavenged lumber and corrugated steel. They looked a little well dressed to be squatters though and I'm not posting a the picture. Who knows if Mom knew what they were doing?

One of the high points of the train ride was crossing the bridge over the canal. Let's just say it was a very rustic bridge. I checked out the pictures online that showed the aftermath of the 1991 earthquake we have heard about on each of our visits to this area. There was one picture of the bridge where it was leaning quite heavily to one side. Glad I didn't see that before we went.

As we rode the bus back to the dock, our guide explained that the resorts of Costa Rica were mainly on the Pacific side. While the Caribbean side is beautiful the shoreline has no protection to form beaches and is too rough to be a safe place for tourists to swim. There were some beautiful waves cresting along the shore as we passed. 

While Juan, our guide was quite humorous he was also quite profound. I love this quote from him, "We always say to leave the world better for our children. I say raise our children to be better people and the whole world will be better." So much truth in that.

We came back to our stateroom to find a chocolate cupcake and a card from the captain and crew for my birthday. But wait! That's not all. After a nice dinner in the Tamarind specialty Asian restaurant we found the concierges from the Neptune Lounge had strung a birthday banner and given me a huge bouquet of flowers. 

Two days at sea and then home. We will enjoy every minute we can.

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