The Cranky Tourist: Adventures in the Rain Forest of Limon, Costa Rica

Our pontoon lingering on the murky water of the Costa Rica rain forest in Limon.

In the spirit of David Foster Wallace’s essay, “Shipping Out” (though not the talent), here is an essay about my cruise experience aboard the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal.

Disclaimer: Uh, I’m not your typical tourist. In fact, I confess to preferring sitting in front of my computer to even leaving the house. This is partly due to chronic health issues as well as being in recovery from too many things to list (see future essays about the trip for details), which make all travel a challenge, to say the least. So please don’t make any decisions about whether or not to cruise based on my experience.

We just got back from our trip on Tuesday. Yep, Tuesday. Tuesday … November 8, 2016. But I’ll save that for a later essay because cruising during this election countdown was quite an adventure in itself.

Instead, I think that it’s time for just a bit of diversionary fluff. I wrote this particular essay in real time on my trip.

I am, to put it mildly, a cranky tourist. So here is my commentary on our rain forest adventure. Hope you enjoy it. Oh, I’m an awful photographer, so there aren’t too many pictures.


My husband and I are on a bus on the way to a pontoon to see a rain forest in Limon, Costa Rica … hopefully being on the pontoon will keep us far from creepy, crawly things. Then, on to a banana plantation where I will surely be dodging gigantic banana spiders.

The weather is gorgeous, but I’m wearing a long-sleeved bug-sprayed hoodie shirt to evade the Zika. I love the shirt. But it’s really, really hot.

Oh, for goodness sakes. No one else is wearing long sleeves. Had to take off the long-sleeved shirt. I dare the Zika to get me.

We’re on the pontoon. Ooooo, saw a lizard. Seriously, we’re a million miles away from our home in South Florida, where we pretty much can’t turn around without bumping into a lizard, and we’re oohing and ahhhing over a one.

Ah, there’s another pontoon right next to us.

Blurring deliberate this time to ensure no one gets annoyed that I used their picture!

An iguana. Really? Another florida transplant.

So far, we could conduct this tour in our backyard.

Now a hyacinth. Ohhhkayyyy

Oh no. Our guide just told us that people eat iguana here!

OMG. We’re literally going an inch at a time … and then backing up to see a bird.

This tour is like a really, really long National Geographic documentary with no commercial breaks.

The most fun part is writing this while we’re experiencing it. Otherwise, I’d want to jump overboard.

Our tour guide is cute. Eric, named for Eric Estrada.

Now, I know why they were selling binoculars on the ship. Turns out even the guide needs binoculars and a laser beam to point out the critters that are hidden in the trees. So those of us who are actually tourists can barely see them. Might be an idea to rent binoculars to passengers who had no idea why they were selling them on the ship.

The boat is going backwards again. Ugh, dizzying.

Apparently, there is a sloth. I took a picture so you can see what we see. You are seeing pretty much nothing from this distance … which is exactly what I saw. Hmmm. Kind of like, Where’s Waldo.

Now, I’m not even sure if this is the right picture. But it really doesn’t matter because this is all I saw. I just pointed the phone in the direction they told me to. But don’t worry, there will be an actual sloth photo coming soon. I promise.

Oh good, now we’re going in a circle so the other side can see the speck of sleeping sloth.

So much excitement. Apparently, the sloth is moving. Barely.

My husband said we haven’t gone 800 yards from the dock. The pontoon continues turning in nauseating circles.

Seriously, how is this the rain forest? We can see the road.

We do keep hearing howling monkeys. Fun fact: The howling monkeys are male with small testicles. Here is a study proving (sort of) that our guide is correct.

Oh look! A young guy smoking pot on the shore. Our guide did not point this out. I saw it on my own.

He was shouting something at us. Hope he doesn’t have the same problem as the howling monkey. Thought I got a picture, but somehow missed it in all the excitement. Sorry.


Are you freakin’ kidding me? We are parallel with the road looking at a stupid racoon … and a lot of cars.

My husband just ran up to the front of the pontoon to watch a sleeping three-toed sloth because he said he “didn’t pay to watch cars on a road.”

OMG! The tour guide is blowing a loud whistle to wake the poor thing.

The Sloth is now scratching himself. It’s a celebration on the pontoon.

Oh this is funny. The guide announced a termite nest, which did seem interesting but then he came over to me and pointed at something. “Oh, the termite nest!” I exclaimed with joy, because I finally saw something. But it turned out to be the sloth.

Yes! The pontoon is finally moving at a more rapid pace.

Oh, here is (and I’m not kidding) a “Jesus Christ Lizard.” They can stand on their hind legs and walk on the water. But he was just sitting. Sorry I am not quick enough with the camera. But trust me, he just looks like a non-savior lizard. I Googled “Jesus Christ Lizard” so you can get a look.

Took a pic of some people in their house next to a sleeping sloth that I can’t actually see. Figured that was the next best thing. He is giving his wife the lowdown on the sloth situation. Sorry that it’s so blurry. But I knew you wouldn’t want to miss it.

Oh jubilation! Another three toed sloth. He is eating. Got a picture!

My husband switched seats with me, so now I get to inhale the sweet smell of diesel.

Interesting flora … or is it fauna?

Oh good. Our driver just parked to go look for something. Or perhaps to pee?

And here we sit.

He appears to be on some sort of treasure hunt. Whatever he finds, I hope he leaves it where it is. Again, apologies for my fluttering fingers but I knew you wouldn’t want to miss this either.

Ah, he did pee (Eric was kind enough to let us know), and is bringing a pretty something on board to show us. The “gem of the tropical rainforest,” a Strawberry poison dart frog. Oh joy.

He is walking down the pontoon isle to show it up close.

Oh, that was worth it. The driver made a hole in the leaf and is holding his tail underneath so he can’t leap on us. Because he truly looked like he was about to jump. [While editing this, I realized that I seriously have trouble with pronouns. Just to be clear, it was the frog’s tail that was held and who looked about ready to jump … not the driver.]

Awwww … nice. He put the little guy back.

We got really lucky. It’s a rare sunny day in Limon.

Well, now the driver is up on the roof of the pontoon so he can pick some ylang ylang flowers, which the guide said make up the base of Chanel #5 perfume.

Smells really nice actually! They are lovely to look at.

On our way back. The sloth has left the building.

OH! Saw leaping spider monkeys. They have long arms so that’s why they call them spider monkey. And they have no thumbs.

And here are people taking pictures of the monkeys since, by the time I got the camera back on, I could no longer see anything. So I Googled a picture of one for you. Ours weren’t taking a leisurely stroll, though, like the guy in the Google image.

Love this blur thing in Photoshop!

And here is the remains of a chocolate cookie that my husband forgot was in his pocket. He found it when he pulled out his wallet to get out a tip for the guide and driver.

We’re back in the bus seeing downtown Limon. It is lovely. Other than the electric wires. But then, if I cut them out of the picture, you wouldn’t see the beautiful sky through them.

YIPPEEEEE!! The banana plantation (and it’s spidery inhabitants) has apparently been canceled. We’re going back to the ship now.

And THAT concludes my rain forest adventure. Thanks for coming along with me.

Coming soon … my video commentary on the Panama Canal. Warning: Best to watch after taking a nap if you want to stay awake. It was like watching paint dry.

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