January 13, 2017
We had an unexpected dinner in Toscana again last night. This would not be anything to write about except for this…. One of the men we had dinner with had forgotten his reading glasses in his suite. He mentioned it to the waiter who promptly brought over a hinged wooden box with reading glasses of all strengths for Bob to try on! Now that’s service!
Our tour in Puntarenas began at 8:30 AM. We headed, with our guide Joe, to the Macaws Sanctuary, El Manantial, which was about half an hour from the cruise dock. On the way, we learned a great deal about Costa Rica.
Here are some of the interesting facts:
- The main source of income is tourism
- But, the main export is microchips!
- Costa Rica has not had an army since 1949 so they are able to use the money that would have been spent supporting a military for education and health care
- Their literacy rate is 97.5%, one of the highest in the world. They have more teachers than police
- 60% of students go on to college
- No bananas are grown on the Pacific side as they need about 7 liters of water per day, which only happens on the Caribbean side
- The country is the size of West Virginia and has a population of 4.8 million
- They have more Americans per capita living here than any country in the world. Most remain”tourists” which means that every 6 months they must leave for 24 hours, then they can return
- Gas and cars are expensive here. They have no source of fuel so it is all imported and costs about $7/gallon US. Cars cost twice as much as in the US
- The beaches have black sand, all volcanic
- They produce coffee and Joe said the three best coffees in the world are from Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil, not Colombia!
- Bull running is popular here. They do it in a stadium and just run around to stay away from the bull. Mostly while drinking heavily. Yes, he knows it is crazy!
Once we arrived at the sanctuary, we walked through the lush area and learned about the birds that are here. The sanctuary is dedicated to the conservation of Costa Rica’s Scarlet and Great Green Macaws. They are diminished in number due to habitat destruction from logging and the unauthorized sale of the birds to the pet trade. It is estimated that there are only 40 breeding pairs of Great Green Macaws in the entire country. Many of the birds have been rescued. Others are bred here and then released into the wild. Many are flying freely and stay because they are fed well. Others are in large enclosures to allow them to heal. They also have some animals that are being rehabilitated. We saw several species of monkeys, tapirs and a beautiful jaguar.
After this visit we drove through Puntarenas. The town is quite poor now because the fishing industry has died due to the commercial fishing. Many people still like to come for the beaches and there are clubs with large pools that local people love to come to for relaxation. We saw many families there as it is a time of school holiday now.
This is a largely Catholic country. Having a place in the cemetery is very expensive. They bury people in vaults above ground, sometimes 6 stacked up. The bones can be removed after 6 years so someone else can have the space!