Did some practise with lighting today and took shots of dried Honesty. Used two main lamps shot through umbrellas and two smaller lights with coloured gels. One red and one green.
This Time Last Year
Up at 7am to meet Luis with the bus. Drive up to the San Gildar and pick up the guests and Manuel. We hit the road but also plenty of traffic and it takes a while to get out of the city. Finally we leave the highway and head over the hills. We stop off at Zarcera for breakfast. Somewhere beyond San Carlos we stop at a supermarket to get stuff for lunch. We also manage to buy a cooler and some ice.
We arrive at our put-in but find no-one there so we hop back into the bus and drive into Fortuna (under the shadow of the Arenal Volcano) and onto Oscar's place at Canoe Adventura. Here we pick up three canoes and all the paraphernalia. Then it's back to the put-in on the Rio Penas Blanco (White Rock River). I set up the lunch whilst Luis and Manuel unload the canoes and get everything ready.
After a pleasant lunch we finally get down to the river. I do the usual safety talk. It's important here as the rivers can often have a lot of debris. Especially strainers - which are fallen trees. We also have a quick re-cap on paddling strokes. It's 2.30pm when we get going.
Our first day on the water is an easy paddle and when our river spills out into the Rio San Carlos we soon see Carolyn on the bank at our take-out. She has arrived from Solentiname to lead the group with me and Manuel. We get everyone out of the water and the canoes loaded before the short drive to the hotel in Fortuna. On the way we stop off at Iguana bridge at Muelle.
In the evening we walk into the small town for dinner and begin to get to know each other.
This Time In 2007
We were up at 5am this morning as we were crossing Lake Nicargua to the Rio Papaturro; Jose Ramones turned up with his boat and we loaded our canoes and a kayak on-board. As we crossed the lake we watched the sunrise. It took about an hour to reach the river mouth and from there we slowly chugged upstream looking at the bird-life. We stopped for a breakfast of cereals and coffee - but stayed on the boat. We spent some time watching Howler Monkeys and noticed a troop of White-Faced Capuchins who came right down to the water's edge to drink.
Eventually we came to the tiny village of Papaturro and hopped off the boat to the Pulperia (small shop) and sat down to a second breakfast of coffee and love-eggs. Love-eggs are free-range eggs!
After that it's back in the boat for the short ride to the Research Station which is part of the Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge. There is an Army Post here too and we see three soldiers standing about. This river is an illegal route between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and we have in the past seen boatloads of immigrants coming out of Costa Rica. No-one seems that bothered.
At the Research Station we put on some wellies and go for a tramp around the place. We visit the Orchids and the Butterfly House (a bit run-down) and then the place where they have a turtle and cayman breeding program. Then it's into the forest itself where we take a canopy walk high above the forest floor. Unfortunately we didn't see much on our traipse and just enjoyed the gloopy mud and the insects that were biting us.
After that we unloaded the canoes and had a slow paddle down the Papaturro to the Lake. This is the best way to see the wild-life. At the mouth of the river we loaded the canoes onto the boat and re-crossed the Lake back to Solentiname. This time the crossing was a bit bouncier!
We arrived back in time for lunch and afterwards had a siesta in the hammocks. In the late afternoon we took the boat over to La Venada to visit the Arellano family who paint. In fcat I believe they have for generations of painters. The head of the family is Rodolfo who I have met before. He is looking a lot thinner this year and I hear he has not been well. He seems in a good mood today though and I take a few photographs. Lee and Jim buy a painting and then we motor back in the fading light.
After dinner we while away the evening drinking rum.