Costa Rica Travel: Leaving Tortuguero and Lunch in Guapiles

After two interesting and very educational days, our time in Tortuguero had come to an end and we had to move on to continue our Costa Rica travel adventure. On February 12, 2013 our Caravan tour group left Pachira Lodge and got transferred to two boats for the hour and half long boat trip to the village of Pavona. That is where our bus was waiting for us for the next leg of our Costa Rica tour.  A boat or a small plane is the only way to get in and out of Tortuguero; there are no roads. So the trip in and out of this village is always an adventure.

Our boat ride along the Tortuguero River seemed very smooth at the beginning, and even the sun was shining. As we approached the narrower Rio Suerte to Pavona, the weather deteriorated and light rain started coming down. Then our boat started having a stalling problem and another vessel behind us pulled up and several of the guys from the other boat came and had a look at our engine. We couldn’t quite make out exactly what the problem was, but one of our nature guides, Henry, decided to stay at the back of the boat by the engine, and whatever he did actually helped us continue our journey. The theory was that the fuel pump was not working properly, so Henry was at the back, helping the fuel pump manually.

Our adventurous boat tour to Pavona
Our adventurous boat tour to Pavona

This intervention worked its magic and we were back in businesses, cruising along the winding river, looking at some of the cattle that were grazing beside the river. Finally, in the late morning, we had reached La Pavona, where our adventure on the boat came to an end and we were about to transfer back onto our tour bus.

I had a few minutes to talk to Henry, our nature guide and successful boat mechanic. We talked in Spanish and I asked him a few things about life in Tortuguero. He explained that today, virtually everybody in Tortuguero is employed in tourism. Years ago, the local residents were fishing and hunting. Costa Rica’s focus on eco-tourism has done wonders for Tortuguero and has helped to preserve some endangered species in the area, particularly four different species of sea turtles. I thanked Henry for all his interesting insights and reflected fondly on my two days in the rainforest of Costa Rica.

Then it was time to move on. Our friendly bus driver Mario was already waiting. The bus was in spic and span condition, all polished and cleaned and ready to take us to our next destination. Back on the bus, we drove through the flat landscapes of Limon Province, and our tour director Karol made the rounds in the bus, offering everyone some Gallito Morenito candies from local Costa Rican production.

Lunch in Guapiles
Lunch in Guapiles

Around mid-day we stopped at a restaurant called El Ceibo in the town of Guapiles where a big Costa Rican buffet was waiting for us. Costa Rican meals always feature “gallo pinto” (a rice and bean dish), several different types of meat, some pasta, various vegetables and artistically decorated salads.  Towards the end of our lunch we got a big surprise: a group of five beautiful young ladies performed a traditional Costa Rican dance routine for us. Our tour director explained that the young dancers are university students who are hired by Caravan Tours which provides a lot of local employment to nature guides, drivers, boat captains and other tourism-related workers.

Outside the restaurant was a beautiful garden with many tropical plants and the main attraction was a 300 year old kapok tree. Two cute little puppies were running around as well, delighting the tourists with their friendly antics.  After this quick stop it was on to our next destination: a pineapple plantation.

Image Gallery of our Boat Tour from Tortuguero and Lunch in Guapiles:

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