Las Cruces Biological Station, Costa Rica
Two tires exploded. As a result of the first, we watched large crocodiles watching the cattle. As a result of the second, I bought a second-hand turquoise shirt from American Eagle with "Costa Rica" written on it. We mourned a bat that hit the windshield. We paused for an hour in Puntarenas to walk along the beach - admittedly, not the most beautiful beach, but sand and ocean and pre-lunch ice cream nonetheless. I learned about strained relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica - an overabundance of contrived nationalism, a history of US interference and an employment situation reminiscent of illegal Mexican immigrants in the US. I watched the horror of palm plantations fly by the window. I enjoyed the salsa party at the back of the bus. I reflected on a beautiful (Chagas-free, I trust) stay in Palo Verde and laughed at the final game of soccer - aka, mudball - in which we played after a rainstorm beneath a double rainbow and in about six inches of mud, resulting in not only a layer of mud on my skin, but also war paint on my face and an hour of entertainment for everyone involved - spectators included.
The 9-hour trip took 15 hours, and while I normally find long bus drives particularly painful, this one flew by.
Las Cruces is one of the most beautiful sites in Costa Rica. It is right by the Panamanian border, and houses the Wilson Botanical Garden - one of the largest collections of tropical plants in the world. Just as I remembered from 2001, the gardens are permanently hung with mist, and the bromeliaceae are filled with water and frogs. Flowers abound, and palms stand regal. The snake population is of minimal concern, and the food is excellent.
Though, somehow, we all got confused over dinner and my entire table picked up cookies with the entree, dipping them in barbeque sauce and bean juice. And there was only enough for one cookie per person.
Oddly enough, that's the second time I've mixed up the salty and sweet. The first was in the blur of morning in Palo Verde, in which I vainly chose not to wear my glasses, I mistook pancakes for corn tortillas and poured rice, beans and salsa lizano over them. Surprisingly tasty.