Saturday, May 14, 2005

On the morning of our first full day (Sat) we took a float trip down the nearby Rio Penas Blancas (translates to White Cliffs River). I had been thinking we would take the longer trip to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge but it involved a 90-minute bus ride each way and a sightseeing boat. The 5-minute ride for a raft trip won out. We thought the boys might like being low in the water in the raft. Our guide was Umberto – a local who had lived for a while on the Caribbean and had been a 4H exchange student for a year in South Dakota. He was a very knowledgeable and engaging guide who came highly recommended by a couple other hotel guests. In fact when I saw them checking out and saying their goodbyes to Umberto I got the sense that tears were imminent.

As we scrambled into the raft, Quincy and Aidan had to don life vests. This seemed a reasonable precaution, as the current was very swift although the water was placid. However the vest seemed to unnerve Quincy a bit and so he wanted to sit on Mama’s lap rather then upfront next to Aidan. About 30 minutes into the trip we passed through a very small rapid after which the boys were free to take off their vests. Doing so alleviated all of Quincy’s fears and so even though the river was the same as before he now happily scrambled around the raft. Later in the trip the kids put the vests back on so they could take a swim in the river.

We saw quite a bit of wildlife including 2 sloths that looked furry nests in the trees and an owl that looked somewhat like the sloth until we saw her face. Early in the trip Umberto paddled us to shore and disappeared into the forest to return a few moments later with a tiny frog. Fortunately just as I was about to partake in a generous lick, Umberto warned that it was a blue jean poison dart frog and that it did secret a lethal poison. I had to settle for a less enthusiastic greeting, but we all took a very up close look.

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