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    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Luxury and adventure rarely mix with me, but the wonderful company my wife works for, SmugMug, is providing us an amazing place to stay for a week to thank her for 10 years of service. This was the view of the harbor tonight from the infinity pool!

    • Chris

      We have never...been so lucky as to be in a place with a living room like this. There are monkeys on the grounds and iguanas running across the grass. Tomorrow we get to zipline with the animals in the canopy, go to a wildlife rescue center, and snorkel from a black sand beach. We don't feel worthy.

      I'll post photos of our adventures, including a day in Nicaragua, as the week unfolds.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      We were so excited when we saw our first iguana. We didn't realize that they're everywhere. Heh, tourists. After a few hours you just shrug as another one runs a few feet in front of you.

      They come in an amazing array of sizes and colors, as if they were designed by George Lucas. Green iguanas, which seem to be multi-colored, can get up to 6' long and I have to find a really exotic one who will pose for me, but today we saw about 1,061 of these:

    • Chris

      It's very sweet, and the four of us love it. Some people describe the taste as a cross between strawberry and apple. The texture is soft, more like banana. I sometimes buy guanábana juice at the Mexican markets we have in our area of California.

    • Chris

      We went ziplining this morning in the canopy, hoping to see monkeys. We saw a few, including some moms with new babies. They actually hang out near the end of the last zipline, hoping you'll throw them a banana or some sunflower seeds.

    • Chris

      My wife was thrilled with this little white-faced monkey who would take sunflower seeds from her hand. He hung out at the end of the zip lines.

      There is an animal sanctuary next to the zip lines, and the guide there said sport hunting was banned in Costa Rica two years ago. Also, it's now illegal to raise wild animals like iguanas and monkeys as pets, for the sake of both the animals and their owners. For example, white-faced monkeys are adorable for two years but then they can get aggressive, pull your hair, etc. When you decide you don't want them, it's a hard transition to the wild.

    • Chris

      Oh, looking through my pics jogged my memory of seeing green iguanas in the wild. Who designed these? Very creative with the hoods and spikes and stuff.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      We embarked into the countryside this morning, on the way to a national park with a wonderful guide. We spotted these men working with oxen by the river and stopped to admire them.

      They dredge gravel from the river bottom for making cement. There is a man under the boat near the top of this photo, diving to the bottom with a plastic bucket. He fills the boat as full of gravel as he can and pulls it over to the oxen. There were about six men with boats, pangueros.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Then they shovel the gravel into the oxcarts. It's hot and they shovel hard. I couldn't do that in this heat for more than 30 minutes, but they do it all day. Our guide said they are typically from Nicaragua and earn about $3/hour.

      The oxen seemed to be working hard to pull the gravel up the hill. They work 4 hour shifts.

    • Chris

      Our guide commented that it's dangerous because they have to watch for crocodiles in the river.

    • Chris

      The fields were full of workers like these. Our guide said they were turning over cantaloupes so they would ripen on both sides. But I don't know... What are the bags on their sides?

    • Chris

      Young plants need to be protected with plastic in Costa Rica and they reuse the plastic once the plants are established. This is the way they roll it back up.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      We drove for miles through sugar cane fields, and most of them seemed to be harvested by hand with machetes.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Overloaded trucks transport the sugar cane to a Dole plant a few miles away.

    • Chris

      Our guide said every town in Costa Rica has a soccer field, a church, and a school near the center. And a bar a ways down the street. All schoolchildren in Costa Rica wear uniforms.

      Here they are together, as usual. The bar was just down the street. The hills that lead to famous coffee plantations serve as backdrop. We plan to visit them after the national park.

    • Chris

      The bigger towns have central parks with mango trees and our guide said there you will find the big fat iguanas you seek. Indeed.

    • Chris

      At Parque Nacional Palo Verde we boarded a river boat and felt like tourists for about two minutes...

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      We decided best to keep body parts inside the boat and not go overboard.

    • Chris

      I have loved egrets all my life. To me they're one of the most beautiful creatures on God's earth, and they were everywhere. Allow me to indulge my passion for egrets:

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