As the sun rose above the horizon, the Norwegian Gem sailed into the port city of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The high, heavily forested coastal mountains were a bit of a surprise as a more lush environment was expected, like that seen on travel brochures highlighting the Caribbean side of the country, versus the relatively dry side of the country where we were.
A quiet morning by the pool preceded the day’s afternoon shore excursion to Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls.
The long drive was broken up by a stop at a crocodile viewing area. These sometimes large reptiles, numbering about 4,000, are protected in Costa Rica and can be found in three rivers.
From there, the tour bus followed numerous switchbacks upward for almost 3,000 feet. We arrived at the gardens to find the temperature to be in the low 90s, humidity at about 85%, and a breeze providing almost no relief. The abundant flowering plant life was offset by the lack of birds and butterflies, though Crimson Macaws and a few species of butterflies were observed.
About halfway down the mountain, the tour bus stopped at a shopping area selling indigenous products. The return to the ship barely preceded its departure. Dinner, a stage show, and music closed out the evening.
Costa Rica is an educated country with a literacy rate of 98 percent; interestingly, English and “tourism” are mandatory courses of study from the beginning grades thru college. Also, energy in the country is surprisingly 100 percent green!