Sunday, December 9, 2012

Frogs, Snakes and Tarantulas - Our Last Day in Costa Rica

Our last day in Arenal and once again we woke up to rainy and cloudy skies. It was clear that no more hiking will be done so we quickly jumped on our laptops to figure out a plan for the day. Our friends found out about a nearby self-sustainable farm and decided to go there. I have no interest in pigs and cows so we hung around the house and played ping-pong for a bit.

Not wanting to drive far in the rain, we decided to visit the Arenal Eco Zoo – a serpentinarium that was just a few miles up the road from our house. The Arenal Eco Zoo is a fairly small place owned by a local man named Victor. He greeted us at the entrance and sent one of his guides, Frank, to take us on a tour. The place was almost empty at the time so we got a personal 2 hour tour to the delight of everyone as we were able to see and hold so many animals.

The first part of the zoo were the snakes – they had a vast collection of snakes in their natural habitats and it was amazing to see how well these creatures hide. Even though we knew there was supposed to be a snake in each enclosure sometimes we stared at it for 5 minutes before being able to spot it. The vine snakes were the best at it – they just look like leaves and branches – but seeing all the snakes up close and personal we were sure glad that we saw none of them outside the zoo.

Costa Rica is a home to a large variety of snakes and it is very important for the local people to know how to spot them and what to do if they are bitten (do not try to suck the poison out and do not put a tourniquet around it as this will only result in having to amputate the arm or leg where you were bitten). Basically, you have about an hour to get the antidote and all you can do is try to remain calm so that you heard pumps slower and the poison moves slower through your body. Yeah, right…I could see myself keeping calm alright J

The second part of the exhibit were the lizards and small snakes – we were able to take them out of the enclosures and hold them since they were not poisonous. I am not a big fan but Victor squealed with joy when an anole jumped from the cage and right on his head. I just about had a heart attack when I saw it but Victor thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Last part was the frogs – Costa Rica is most often depicted with a picture of a cute colorful tiny frog (most of which are actually poisonous). But the red-eye frog is not and we were able to hold one of them in our hands and he was so incredibly cute. His tiny paws were soft like jello and he was super-friendly and not scared of us at all. What an unbelievable experience on our last day!

That afternoon we made another visit to Ecotermales hot springs to soak a bit more in the volcanic waters and after dinner it was time to pack and get ready. We said our goodbyes to Emilce and her husband Luis who took care of us so well on this trip. They did not speak a work of English but between our few words of Spanish and their smiles and food we got along perfectly.

The next morning we woke up at 5am and drove across the mountain again back to San Jose to catch our 12 pm flight back to the US. This time we decided to avoid Rt 702 and, at the advise of our chef, took Rt 35 and Rt 1, which are a bit longer in distance but are not as windy or steep. I have to say we were very glad we did that because the road was really nice for the most part except about 45 miles through the actual mountain. Everything was cloudy and congested for a long time and then all of a sudden we got above the clouds and everything around us turned green. What a great way to remember Costa Rica plus we managed to get back to San Jose in about 3 hours.

A little village above the clouds. Nice road but lots of traffic
This truck was so big he could not make the turn so they had to stop all traffic until he turned
Back down through the clouds
While waiting at the airport we asked the kids what was their favorite thing about Costa Rica and they said the hot springs and the monkeys. For me, it was being able to spend time with friends in a gorgeous environment and to have the kids experience a new place and a new culture. Yes, there were some meltdowns, and yes, there were kids screaming and crying, and yes, it was sometimes too loud and crazy, but this is the best school we can give them and if we can drink a few tequilas and hold a cute red-eye frog on the way, then it was a great trip after all.


  1. Really sweet; I enjoyed your posts!

  2. Any chance you are still monitoring this blog? I have questions about your Costa Rica trip and would love to get more info (esp about the house you rented in Manuel Antonio). Thanks!