Friday, June 26, 2009
Sloth – the cutest of the seven deadly sins.
Cahuita was cheap (for Costa Rica) so we were in no hurry to do or see everything. So we took a day off. Well it was a day off from enjoying the beach and doing fun things like laundry and getting Adrian a haircut. The barber was a teenager named Blin Blin, not to be confused with Bling Bing, he told us. At $8 it wasn’t much of deal but it was needed. Blin Blin tried to improve his profit margin by trying to sell us some dope. He didn’t make any money off us but that appeared to be his main source of income. More people stopped by for dope than they did for a haircut. Back at the hostel, I worked on the blog and looked into some stuff about Panama while Adrian spent the day hanging in the café next door watching the soccer. It was a beautiful day so there was some guilt associated with doing nothing but it was worth it. And the perfect day ended with good food at an Argentinian restaurant (run by a couple from Quebec) and a phone call home with even better news.
Of course, the next morning the sun was replaced by grey clouds and pouring rain. Oops perhaps we should have done something yesterday. But a quick look at the weather satellite showed the clouds clearing in the next couple of hours. So we had a lazy breakfast and let the guy at the desk know that we were staying a few more days. In keeping with our sloth theme we decided to head to the sloth sanctuary. Plus my sister is obsessed with sloths and I figured some pictures of them would make her happy. There were tours advertised around town at $40 per person . But we decided to go on our own and save ourselves some cash – you know me, always looking for a better price.
The rain stopped at noon and we headed to the bus station to catch a bus back out on the highway. We had seen the sanctuary on our way into Cahuita from Limon however not knowing the word for sloth made it nearly impossible to buy our tickets. Refugio? Sanctuario? Animales? I went through my list of words. Finally the ticket guy got the gist of what I was asking, said something I didn’t quite catch and sold us two tickets for less than a dollar – a much better price. Soon the bus arrived and I repeated my list of words to the ayudante trying to indicate where we wanted to get off. He immediately knew what I meant and told the driver where we were going.
The bus ride would have taken about 20 minutes but the police stopped the bus at a checkpoint. An officer boarded the bus and began checking the id, and baggage of everyone on board. It was the most thorough checkpoint we’d been through until the guy apparently got bored and stopped after checking Adrian’s passport. Once we got going again, it wasn’t too long until the bus driver called out Aviaros del Caribe a few times. It wasn’t until he motioned to us that I realized that’s what the sanctuary was called.
Now it was time to arrange a tour. The woman at the desk seemed a bit confused where we had come from. I guess most people come on a tour or by car and not by the public bus. She offered us a guided tour for $25 each. Ouch, but it did include a canoe trip through the canals, video as well as a visit with the sloths. The canoe tour was a mini version of our time in Tortuguero so Adrian and I had to feign interest as the boatman pointed out birds, lizards, crabs and monkeys. He stopped for a moment and asked if could have a minute. Adrian and I thought he was taking a bathroom break but he came back with a big bunch of tropical flowers for me. How sweet.
Back to shore we were met by a young American guy who took us on the sloth part of our guided tour. I wasn’t sure if he was annoyed or trying to be funny and sarcastic - probably a combination of both. But all that was forgotten when he first took us to see the baby sloths. There were 10+ and it was feeding time. A couple of volunteers were feeding the little ones by hand – formula for the youngest and fruits, veg and dog food for the slightly older ones. Some could barely lift there heads up off the table as they shoveled the food into their mouths. It was sickenly adorable.
The sanctuary had both two and three fingered sloths which are completely different animals but they’re both super cute. Most of the sloths were orphaned when their mothers were run over by a car trying to cross the highway. Or abandoned when the mother gave birth to more than one at a time. At the sanctuary, they did their best to try to teach the sloths how to live in the wild but it was almost impossible to reintroduce them into the wild. So their future was a spoiled sloth filled one (sorry more puns) here at the Aviaros del Caribe.
Then we were introduced to Buttercup (photo above). At 17 years old she was the oldest sloth in the facility and it’s with her that the sanctuary started. When she was just a baby, local kids brought her to the family who were known for taking in and rehabilitating other local animals. As the family researched how to take care of sloths, they became taken up with their plight. And of course they began adopting more and more. But Buttercup was their baby and equally attached to the owners. Our guide was the grandson of the owners and had grown up with Buttercup who kept reaching out to him to be picked up. More super cuteness.
Next we watched the video on the sloth and the centre. It was super cheesy involving a guy with a British accent singing a song about the sloth ballet. No it was worse than I’ve made it sound. But it also had lots of information on sloths and the mission of the sanctuary which was a good primer for our visit to the adult enclosure. There were another 6 adult sloths here which meant 6 times more cuteness. Adrian distracted our guide by talking about the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He was convinced that it was sloths not dolphins that were the real intellects of the planet. And considering they’d convinced this family to house and feed them for the last two decades, maybe he was right.
We said goodbye to the staff and the sloths and got to the highway just in time to catch the bus back. Good thing since it only comes every hour. And back in Cahuita, we applied all our newfound sloth techniques to do nothing for the rest of the day before heading to a nearby restaurant for their 2-4-1 cocktails. Margaritas were followed by piña coladas, by monkey madness by another unnecessary round of pinã coladas. Tomorrow, we promised, we’d get out and explore a bit more.