What a busy day! This is what vacation is all about - wandering around exploring a new town, going off and doing fun things, not worrying about normal work and household things - and just being footloose and fancy-free (or something like that).
We started the day walking around Las Cañas, where I took photos of this crazy church that is half covered in mosaics. There's a sign at the church - something about an anniversary of the church, some man donated money, then he died, his tomb is next to the church, the money was used for a local artist to do the mosaics. They are crazy and wild and seem totally incongruous, but are also gorgeous and fluid and flow along the façade of the church and transform a boring building into something fabulous, out of a fantasy. I loved it!
Across the street, in a park, were the most interesting trash cans I've seen - no info about who painted them, but they were wonderful!
Then we drove out to Las Pumas, arriving before anyone else was around. Las Pumas is a refuge center started by a Swiss woman some 50 yrs ago - she and her family would take in injured and abandoned wild animals, and eventually started taking in and rehabilitating animals that Ticans had as pets - I'm not sure who thought a pet jaguar or ocelot was a good idea, but these things happen. As many animals as possible are rehabbed and returned to the wild - but some animals are either too injured, or adopted too young, and they end up staying in the cages for most of their lives.
As much as I really hate to see these gorgeous animals in cages, it also is exciting to meet them, since there is little chance of seeing them in the wild. There was a puma whose mother was scared away by a dog; two jaguars, a group of oncillas (like little ocelots), and a jaguarandi, who looks like a cross between a cat and a mongoose; a margay who spent his time watching the monkeys; and my favorite, Rayito and his sister Marguerita, ocelots, who purred and growled - Rayito followed us from one end of his cage to another, purring his little heart out, rubbing his head, hoping someone would rub his head - and when I talked to him, he climbed into his covered area and licked his tail and purred some more, doing his best to look cute and trying to convince us to take him home. He absolutely made my heart melt, and I could almost understand wanting to take him home. (I have no idea how young he was, nor how big they really get - but oh, what a sweetheart of a cat he was!)
There were wonderful murals all over the buildings, and a beautiful butterfly garden - but my favorite was definitely Rayito, little Raymundo.
I have to add that Richard and I probably won the klutzy American awards today. The two of us, plus the company owner and our boat captain, Marvin, drove over to a bridge where we walked down to the river, with the raft and equipment. The river level has been up and down, plus this is rainy season - so the walk down was fairly muddy. When I went to climb into the raft, my muddy shoe hit the inflated rubber raft, and slid - so that I fell into the front of the raft, and of course started laughing so hard I could barely sit up and climb onto the cross piece. As I was doing that, Richard went to climb in - and between his laughing at me, and his wet flipflops - well, he caught his foot on the rope along the side, and he fell in on top of me - and of course, that just made the two of us laugh even harder. I have no idea what poor Marvin was thinking at this point, with these two middle-aged people flopping around in the bottom of the raft - probably thinking Mio Madre, what have I gotten myself into, or something like that. And then, whenever Richard or I thought about our entry, we'd fall into fits of giggles again. It was hysterically funny - something out of the Three Stooges, or America's Funniest Home Videos. Good thing there wasn't a camera running!
So we bounced over rapids and twirled in whirlpools and sped along or lazed down the river, depending on the current and such. We saw a tiny baby crocodile, a variety of larger crocs, tons of birds (roseate spoonbills, some kind of crane or stork or ibis, great white herons, boat beaked herons, kingfishers, etc.) - plus iguanas, various lizards, beautiful trees and vines. The only monkeys were howler monkeys by the beginning bridge - but more monkeys were probably around, except we didn't see them because the rain started after a while, with thunder off to one side, and the monkeys were hiding from the rain (which was smarter than we were being, off floating down the river in the rain and thunder). Again, it was fun, we had a great time, and we practiced our Spanish with Marvin, who didn't speak much English other than the names of the animals.
Not much else - walked around Las Cañas in the evening, found somewhere to have dinner (the town closes up early on Sundays), and we're snuggled in our slightly dumpy hotel room while the rain pitterpats on the roof.
Tomorrow we'll head up to Liberia, and then off to the coast. No plans, just a general direction. We'll keep everyone posted.