We had to get up extremely early again today, for our 5:30 pickup and transfer to Selva Bananito Lodge in the south-east part of Costa Rica. (The group transfers were a great way to go, but unfortunately we cannot control the pickup times!) The drive was amazing, beautiful sights and incredibly windy roads. (Thank goodness for Dramamine!) As we neared Limon and the Caribbean coast, the houses became smaller, poorer, and the roadways a bit rougher and dirtier. There were miles and miles of banana plantations, each tree with a blue plastic bag over the bananas to protect them from the sun and bugs. The houses, people and landscape all reminded me of Belize, and probably were similar to many of the Caribbean islands. This was my first visit to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, and I was amazed at the difference from the rest of the country. It was poorer, more litter along the roads, and the houses were quite a bit different from the other parts that I had visited. We arrived at Salon Delia in Bananito town around 11 AM and waited for a few minutes for Tomas, the manager of Selva Bananito, to show up. Our driver arrived a few minutes later, and all four of us set off up the seven-mile bumpy trail to the lodge. We drove along the Bananito River for a couple miles, when our driver stopped and Tomas explained that our car was overheating. A very nice farmer from a nearby house came out with some water and helped us out. After about thirty minutes or so, we set off again. Then the road got really rough. We crossed the river a couple times -- driving right through the river -- and made it to the lodge. After that ride, I could see why the vehicles can feel a bit overworked! Selva Bananito was absolutely beautiful. There are eleven cabins, each with open doors out to the porch. They are truly open to the elements, and I was kind of anxious to see what sort of visitors we might have in the evenings. We were the only guests there this first night, and after a delicious lunch with Tomas, he took us for a horseback ride through the farm. We stopped to visit the Heliconia garden, and learned a lot about the history of the lodge. We were completely surrounded on all sides by lush rainforest. That evening we were joined for dinner by Sofia, the owner of the lodge, and her father, Rudy, the owner of the entire farm and preserve. On our way back to our bungalow a giant toad crossed our path. That night, we fell asleep listening to the toads, crickets, bats, and all the other night creatures of the rainforest. (No visitors tonight that we were aware of!)
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