“ Country: Costa Rica / World Region: Central America „
Braulio Carrillo National Park
We spent the morning driving through the Braulio Carrillo National Park on our way from San Jose to Tortuguero National Park. This National Park is named after Costa Rica's third president, Braulio Carrillo Colina. Braulio Carrillo is located only 20 km northeast of the capital city of San Jose. It is open to the public from 8 am to 4 pm and the entrance fee is $15 or $7 if it's been purchased in advance. The park was founded in 1978 in order to save some of the area that was being opened up by the Guapiles Highway which is the road we drove along.
The park is home to more than 6,000 species of plants and 333 species of birds although as we passed through we did not see too many of the birds but we did see a lot of different plants though I would struggle to name too many. Some were huge leaved like umbrellas while others were vines climbing up some of the many varieties of tree. This is a real flora and fauna sanctuary, an emerald-green mass of vegetation, a saturation of tropical plants, waterfalls and trees that are heavily laden with orchids and other plants that cling to their branches. This is a virgin rainforest and you would be a strange person not to feel a sense of awe because of its beauty and magnitude.
As we drove along the Highway we were able to see the Turiellba Volcano which is active and was smoking away in the distance. I was quite happy to see it from that distance as it is still active and spurts out ash and smoke at different times fairly constantly so I was not sorry that we were not going any closer. At this time I was blissfully unaware that the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland was about to start causing aviation havoc and give us a very interesting journey back from Canada.
This area is another area with a very high rainfall in Costa Rica and all along the road we passed waterfalls running down the hill sides. At times we also saw evidence of recent landslides; these were dramatic to see great mud slides just beside the road which had only been cleared a week or so before. Worse than this was the sight of demolished houses and great gaping areas of missing land and this was a really bad land slide only about a year before, Landslides and floods are disasters that Costa Rica suffers from fairly frequently but it was quite shocking to see the evidence of this disaster in which quite a number of people died and a lot more lost their homes.
We stopped and visited a butterfly farm called Selvas where we also enjoyed our lunch. The butterflies were really beautiful especially the large bright blues. There were also stunning tropical flowers such as the ginger lily, the torch lily and passion flowers. While we were eating our lunch an enormous bug flew down and landed on our table, it was apparently a relative of the praying mantis but he had really big pincers and was brown. After we had enjoyed his company for a while and taken photos I tried to return him to the bushes. He would not get off my napkin when I took it over to some vegetation so I left it and the napkin near the bush and instantly a very curious group surrounded the insect and took photos too. I think he was enjoying his moment of fame.
Our next stop was a visit to the Del Monte banana processing factory. We learned a lot about how bananas are grown, picked and processed ready for us to enjoy back home.
The plants only produce one bunch of bananas and then the main plant is cut down leaving the daughter shoot to replace it, the second daughter shoot will then grown up to take her turn and so on. The plants are hybrids and so do not require pollinating in order to produce fruit. Once the plant has flowered and the flower drops over then a blue plastic cover is put over it with a date to say when it was put on. The date will tell them when the bananas will be ready to pick and the blue cover keeps birds off the fruit as birds cannot see the colour blue.
When the banana bunches are cut they are still green, they are hung on a rail in the field; once about 25 bunches are on the rail a man pulls them along the rail to the processing plant. The hands are cut off the big bunch and put in water. All through the factory they were transferred in water as it protected the bananas from getting damaged. They were sorted into those that were the right size and shape and then stickers put on each banana before they were packed into boxes of a certain weight ready for transportation.
It was a very busy factory and a huge number of bananas passed though on a daily basis. The huge banana lorries were constantly going up and down the road with their loads. Costa Rica exports to a number of countries including the USA, Canada and several countries in Europe including the UK.
While we were at the factory there were a couple of men selling coconuts for juice and each of them had a huge rhinoceros beetle on a piece of sugar cane. They seemed quite happy for you to have your photo taken with this beastie which was quite the largest beetle that I have ever seen but was quite harmless, it just looked fierce. Both men did a roaring trade on the coconuts so I guess the beetles did a good job of attracting business.
After we left the banana processing factory we drove for another two hours down a dirt road to the dock to get our boat to Tortuguero where we were staying for the next two nights.
This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name