Exploring Costa Rica
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Central America''s Costa Rica, nurtures some of the last remaining true natural treasures of the World. Emerald rainforests, marvels of rainbowed colored creatures, milky cloud forests, jeweled birds and bugs, Caribbean and Pacific golden beaches. Together they create the colors that have lured visitors to Costa Rica''s shores again and again. The other part is its people, with their unusual friendliness and heartfelt hospitality. But, with over 25% of its total land mass set aside as protected ecosystems, the emphasis is on the natural. We join Sandy Mortimer to explore both coasts, and in between, to capture the essence and uniqueness of Nature''s nursery, Costa Rica.
In the capital city San Jose, we stop by the Police Station to meet some of the men and women who manage to keep order and good humor in this busy cosmopolitan town before touring the City.
In Zarcero, there is a whimsical sculptured garden of amazing creatures. Bulbous elephants with lightbulbs for eyes, a bull ring and a cat riding a motorcycle.
In the town of Sarchi, the townspeople make delightful handpainted oxcarts. We meet the family who has kept the tradition alive for three generations.
In Braulio Carrillo National Park, we join two naturalists to encounter giant bullet ants and other tiny creatures. On board the aerial Tram - first of its kind in the world - we get a bird''s eye view of the forest canopy where new plant species are being discovered on the tops of the trees.
Guayabo National Monument protects the remnants of a lost civilization dating from the 9th century, when another culture inhabited this region from 1000 BC to 1400 AD. Stone roads and ancient house foundations remain. Nearby, a summer festival carries on with its own unique traditions.
At Iguana Park in Orintina are friendly but hungry lizards. Arenal Volcano has become the most active of the country''s nine volcanoes. We see its lava flows and Lake Arenal, with its tale of its resident monster...an enormous black, hairy serpent with horns!
West of Arenal, the clouds in one of the most popular areas - Monteverde Cloud Forest - hides the Continental Divide in this region. They also hide other treasures, the Resplendent Quetzel, hummingbirds of all colors and the blue morpho butterfly. Among the human residents of this magic place is Stella, a 75 year old artist and dynamo who captures the faces and feelings of Monteverde and its people on canvas.
The Guanacaste region, with its wild savanna grasses and cattle ranches, is Costa Rica''s version of Texas. We pass through its capital city of Liberia on our way to Santa Rosa National Park, then enjoy the sunset at the Pacific beach resort town of Tamarindo.
Nearby, volcano Rincon de la Vieja, was named after the legend of an old woman who once lived on its slopes. Now a national park, it has four complete ecosystems contained within its 35,000 acres. We hike this site to see hot springs, boiling mud pots and vapor geysers to see why it is called the " Yellowstone of Costa Rica". Over a canyon on one side, we try our nerve on the Canopy Tour. Swinging across a vast empty space fastened only to a cable can bring thrills...even to the adventurous!
We also visit a remote farm where a Costa Rican owner is living his dream...creating a self sufficient ranch that is eco-friendly. We meet Edgar and see how that is happening. We also visit the traditional nearby village of Dos Rios to see how its residents are slowly moving into the 21st century.
By the Orosi Valley with its Alpine scenery is the Central Valley and the oldest church in the country where a miracle took place. Another miracle is the reason for the Fiesta of the Virgin of Los Angeles, Costa Rica''s patron saint. We join the 2 million people on their walk to Cartago to pay her tribute. On the Pacific Coast, we visit the vacation port city of Puntarenas, see its fishing fleet, fish market and watch how cevichi - one of the most popular dishes - is made. Puntarenas is also where we join vacationers for a catamaran boat cruise to Tortuga Island.
At Las Pumas, 76 year old Swiss born Lily has been saving injured and captured animals - especially large native cats - for 40 years. We meet her margays, ocelots and pumas and see her newest babies as well as enjoy a hands-on experience with a newborn howler monkey and a two-toed sloth. Down the Pacific coast, the road takes us past magnificent beaches and palms.