Touristy hats as promised from last post. : )
After much back and forth and hearing about a million different things about where was best to see turtles nesting in April, we decided to head straight from Panama City to Tortuguero in Costa Rica. We spent a night in San Jose, which wasn't very flash but had some great street food, then hopped two chicken buses and a boat to get to Tortuguero.
The boat ride was brilliant, we jumped off the bus at what is a private farm on the river with a restaurant for all those passing through, then (being dry season and the river being low) you walk about 500m down to a certain section of bank and wait. It was all made very easy by the fact that the Tortuguero tourist office sends a guy to meet the second bus and make sure the tourists don't have too much trouble getting there. We crammed 14 people into a boat designed to fit about 9, but you couldn't very well leave anyone on the bank in the middle of nowhere and this was the only boat of the day. Then with a combination of a small outboard motor and the guys getting out and pushing the boat every now and then, made our way down the river for about 2 hours to get to the village. We saw Esmerelda lizards, caiman, birds and even Spider Monkeys (on the return trip). It was great fun and felt like a tour in itself, except that I spent the entire on Matt's lap or sitting on my pack on the ground.
Tortuguero itself was a great little town, one long road with a few side streets, nestled between the river and the beach. We had some great food from locals firing up a grill in front of the local supermarket, and generally felt very relaxed.
The next day we decided to hike in the national park, not realising until we got to the office that they only have 1 trail to hike and most of the park is only accessible by canoe. We decide to go in anyway and enjoy the walk and the beach if nothing else. We got incredibly lucky though and after sheltering from the rain under a palm tree at the end of the path made our way slowly back to see Capachino Monkeys, a Spider Monkey and a (apparently) very rare deer. The Capachino Monkey's were very curious and got very close, very cute. The Spider Monkey just went about his business, swinging through the trees without a care in the world and lazily hanging from one arm, or his tail, to eat. The deer wasn't really sure what to make of us, we startled it on the path and it froze, then made it's way carefully back into the jungle just next to the beach, which meant it really couldn't go very deep. It kept an eye on us, but we managed to walk next to it and watch it for about 15 minutes. It was really beautiful.
We jumped a boat out the next morning and made our way back to San Jose to spend another night before heading to Monteverde Cloud Forest.