This Tropical Paradise Comes with Heat, Humidity and Color

Day 5, 2023 Grand South America and Antarctica

Wednesday, Oct.11, 2023, Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

When most people think of Costa Rica, they think of the beautiful Pacific Ocean coast and mountainous area bordering it. Puerto Limón is on the eastern coast – the Caribbean side. This is the only part of Costa Rica I have visited, and while it’s not the most popular, it shows a different side of the Central American country. And it is convenient when heading for the Panama Canal.

On a January port call in Puerto Limón, I visited a sloth sanctuary and a banana plantation. This time I stayed closer to the pier – two blocks from it, to be exact. The day started out hot and humid and just got worse. I layered on the sun block, donned my hat and headed out. The terminal building was full of vendors selling everything from coffee beans to straw fans.

Dancers performed on the pier despite the heat. I guess they are used to it.

As soon as I crossed the street and entered the city park, a helpful local rushed up to point out a male sloth tucked into one of the tall trees. I already knew these animals were difficult to spot. But when the sloth stretched and turned a bit, I saw his face. It only took a few minutes of sitting on a convenient park bench to sketch the sloth’s outline. I certainly didn’t worry about him rushing away before I finished. Sloths are known for their incredibly slow movements.

Having achieved today’s goal of sketching (low bar, I know), I took another 30 minutes to walk around the park with its colorful painted benches, statues and stately trees.

I’ve started a new practice on this voyage – posting a small flag outside my cabin for each country we visit. I ordered a set of 200 6×8-inch flags from Amazon, not realizing they would arrive unidentified. So I spent several hours before the cruise identifying each one and sorted out those for the countries I’ll visit between now and May 2024.

The walls of the Zaandam are magnetic (unlike the Zuiderdam’s walls), so I can hang the flags by my cabin door. I’m sure people walking by wonder, as many do not know the Costa Rican flag. After a few ports they probably will get the idea. And I can identify my cabin from far down the hall.

As much as I love my Vista Suite stateroom, I am disappointed to find that the ship’s WIFI signal there is weak. It was better on the last cruise in an inside cabin down the hall. It all depends on where the routers are located in relation to your location on the ship, and all those metal walls don’t help things. It takes about 10 minutes to reconnect when I return to the cabin, and then I seldom get the photos on Facebook or Threads.

I can, and do, go to one of the public areas on the ship for internet-intensive work, but it’s a shame I can’t do that on the spacious desk in my room.

Early this evening I escaped to a back corner of the Crow’s Nest to join a book club – via Zoom. Needless to say, the initial trial in my stateroom was a bust. But with a strong signal and by wearing AirPods I could quietly participate, at least until a extremely loud trivia session started near the end of our zoom call.

By the way, we read Wendell Berry’s novel “Hannah Coulter,” about a woman who lived her whole life in very rural Kentucky during the last two-thirds of the 20th century. It’s hard to imagine a life more different than my nomadic life, yet I found her observations intriguing.

“You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can’t remember it the way it was… When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is.”

So even from the coast of Costa Rica, I had a special evening with friends I have known for more than 50 years, who are a dear part of my past. They bless me by being part of my present, too.