Sunday, January 10, 2010

Costa Rica

Sloths are adorable. Really. See?  (Can you tell which one is the sloth?)  Sorry, Melissa)

We stopped in Puerto Limon in Costa Rica, and I went on a trip to a local sloth sanctuary. It currently has over one hundred sloths, most of which are brought to them by people who find them or rescue them from awful situations. Babies are hand fed and usually need to spend their lives at the sanctuary, as they don’t learn how to live in the wild, but adults, once they’ve recovered from their injuries, are set free to live in the protected forest of the sanctuary.

Sloths are slow, and apparently this is because they don’t get a lot of energy from their diet. It can take them a week to digest a meal of leaves. They are not stupid, though, and are very well adapted to their forest homes. Being slow, they’re easy targets for kids who throw stones at them to knock them out of their trees. People often capture them to be pets, and then decide they don’t want them after all. With deforestation, the sloths have to find new territories, and crossing a road to reach new trees doesn’t work well if you’re slow and awkward on the ground.

We walked through the sanctuary forest and saw many sloths up in trees. They come down only to urinate and defecate, although, surprisingly, they are good swimmers. We then saw some of the sloths who live in the sanctuary buildings. The babies are soooooo cute. They each live with a stuffed animal, since they have a need to cling to something, ideally their mothers, but something else soft will do. One baby was sucking on his front claws (which are about three inches long,) and this, of course, reduced everyone to puddles of goo.

We then went on a canoe ride along a jungle river. I realize I’m using the words ‘forest’ and ‘jungle’, but both mean rainforest. I’d hoped we’d get to paddle our canoes, but there were six tourists in each boat, and one young man in the back with one paddle to propel us. The jungle is a confusing place, filled with green growing things of assorted shapes and sizes. The paddlers have amazing eyes, and they would point out birds, lizards, and snakes to us, manoevering the canoe to the river bank so we could get a closer look. Even with him pointing out the animal, we often had a hard time spotting it. I guess living in that environment helps a person become observant, especially since Costa Rica has five of the most poisonous snakes in the world.

My first writing class is the day after tomorrow. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous post, but my classes with alternate with the drama class, so I’ll teach only every other sea day. This is good because I want to take the drama classes, but I want to teach more than that, and some of the people who came to my sneak peek are very keen. I tried convincing the cruise director to let me use another space on the drama days, but he claims there is nowhere that will work. I’ve realized that as Enrichment staff, I’m pretty well at the bottom of the totem pole of all the entertainers and activity people he has to deal with, and as a new program, Bob Morrisey, the drama teacher, and I are at the bottom of the Enrichment staff pole. At the urging of some of my soon to be students, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. I’ve found a couple of places that might work for us to meet, and so on drama days, I’ll hold an impromptu class in the library or in one of the quieter lounges. The cruise director won’t list my impromptu classes in the daily program, but hopefully the students will know and will come. I suspect this will need flexibility and some tweaking, but that’s the plan for now.

Today we crossed through the Panama Canal and are anchored just off Puerto Fuente, which is across a body of water from Panama City. Tomorrow I go on a trip to a place called Monkey Island, and then I want to shop for molas.

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