December 17, 1999

As we prepare to leave Costa Rica tommorow, we wanted to let you know that we are doing wonderfully and have had fantastic experiences, which we will be posting shortly.

A note of explanation as to the reason that Dec 2 was the last website entry from Patty and/or Dick (although a photo gallery should go up shortly). Dick’s reason (excuse) for the delay in new postings is that I am dictating my tomes and Fedexing the tapes back to the United States (clearly marked Do Not Scan), where they are transcribed and e-mailed back to me for editing, and finally forwarding to the Webmaster for posting. This may sound cumbersome, but it actually should work well and allow me to capture experiences, information and thoughts as they occur. (The kids tease me that the micro cassette recorder is my “girlfriend” because I “love” it so much and spend so much time talking to it.) In addition, this saves me a lot of time and which I will actually be able to spend traveling and enjoying the trip, rather than typing, and still post detailed “contemporaneous” notes to the site, if not in perfectly “real time”. As to Patty’s reason, I think that it has something to do with working on an article about our experiences on the Osa Peninsula, home schooling, traveling, picture editing and annotating, providing graphic support on the new map, etc., and she will get an update posted shortly.

The following are e-mails that Alex, Katie and Ben sent to their classmates, friends and family about their experiences in and thoughts about Costa Rica.

From Alex:

Dear Everybody,

I am having a great trip other than the theft.

Right now I am in Tortuguero which is on the Caribbean side of Costa Rice. The lodge is called Mawamba Lodge. I got there first on a bus through a Banana Plantation. It was very interesting. They put blue plastic bags around the bananas for many different reasons. Reason #1 Blue does not attract bugs Reason #2 It doubles the heat and humidity which makes the plant grow bigger and faster. This plantation was owned by Del Monte, which has a lot of different canned goods in the grocery store. It was an hour and half drive. On the road we saw a three-toed sloth. Here are a few facts that I don’t think you know. Our guide said a sloth could starve to death on a full stomach. He has no teeth just bones in his mouth to break up leaves. He barely even breaks up the leaves so when they get to his stomach, they are basically whole. The way his digestion system works is it requires solar energy to warm his stomach to make acid to digest the leaves. If it is overcast His body temperature will not produce acid and he won’t be able to digest his food and he could starve. He moves very slowly and comes out in the day. His cousin, the two-toed sloth comes out at night. When we reached the boat dock, we got a snack before we went on the two and one-half hour boat ride. The snack was fresh watermelon, coconut, pineapple and banana. There was a Parrot that was tame and sat on my sister’s shoulder. I got on the boat and saw crocodiles, immature little blue herons, caimans, turtles, and one river otter. We got to Tortuguero and had a late lunch. We went on a boat ride to the local town and went to a pastry shop and a gift shop. After that, I went back on the beach and at 6:30pm I saw a slide show about Tortuguero. The next day I went on 2 boat rides and saw spider monkeys, black howler monkeys, huge iguanas laying in the branches of trees. And great green Macaws that are said to have only twenty pairs of them in this area. I met kids that were visiting from Dallas originally living in Israel.

We are leaving Costa Rica in a few days and have really enjoyed it.

My favorite place was: Look out Inn on the Osa Peninsula because the people who owned it were very nice and great cooks and spoke English. I celebrated by birthday there. On my birthday I went panning for gold and had a giant bonfire on the beach where we roasted really cheap marshmallows. My birthday cake was homemade and was a checkerboard with spice cake and vanilla cake. And they let me pick my dinner which was really good pasta. I got some real gold.

The meal I could live on here is called Gallo Pinto, which is rice and beans. I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I will send you an animal list in a few days. We are also putting in new web site pictures showing an overview of our trip.

Thank you for all the emails. Have a nice nine months.

Alex Simon

From Katie

Hi Everybody in my Class,

It rains too much in TORTEGUERO!

Torteguero means “the land of the turtles”. This is where the green sea turtles come and nest but not this time of year.

I got here by boat. There are no roads but there is a really good swimming pool. I found tadpoles by the side of the pool and I tried to put them into a glass of water (without chlorine in it). The hotel has a tank where bigger tadpoles are. We put the tadpoles in the tank. Only half the tadpoles survive because half of them fall into the dirt, which is right next to the side of the pool.

Yesterday we went out on a boat with a guide at 3 pm to look for animals. You know what? We found a lot of them. Their names were· Howler Monkeys, a sloth that looked green, and a lot of very big orange iguanas laying the trees. We saw a caiman, which is a little crocodile. And our guide picked up a black river turtle. I saw a grasshopper peel its skin.

The lizards are my favorite things. There are a lot of them except for when it is raining all the time. We try to pick up the lizards (and sometimes frogs because some of them are poisonous). The red-eyed tree frog jumped on Ben and scared him. I found a red-eyed tree frog that was mating.

I made clothes for my stuffed animal, “Monkey”.

I am doing my schoolwork.

There are walkways that have thatched roofs made out of palm trees. And I think you know why already· RAIN! We have been swimming in the pool in the rain. The rain is warmer than the pool.

We are leaving Costa Rica soon.

My favorite place in Costa Rica was the Look-out Inn on the Osa Peninsula. If anybody went to Costa Rica, forget about staying in the Corcovado Tent Camp. I liked it because of the fresh made food and the Scarlet Macaws flying ten feet away from me. They had the best dogs. There names are Barney Squeeze Me, Smoky and Cocoa (Cocoa smells really bad). We made a fort out of sticks and palm tree leaves on the beach. On Alex’s birthday (Dec. 5) we made a big bonfire on the beach. We went panning for gold and I found the second biggest piece.

The things I will remember about Costa Rica are the Scarlet Macaws, the monkeys, the vegetation, the coatis (a raccoon-like animal), and the Heart of Palm, the coconuts, the fresh fruit, rice and beans and “Barney Squeeze Me”.

When we were waiting for the boat two days ago, there was a parrot that sat on my shoulder. I am going to send you pix of it along with my list of animals we saw in Costa Rica.

Thank you for all the emails.

From your friend, Katie Simon

From Ben:

Dear Everybody in the Class and Mrs.Cain,

Scarlet macaw
I miss everybody in my class.
Are you having fun in school?
I typed this by myself.

I am swimming, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at Mwamba Lodge and the only way to get to it is by boat. It is on the Caribbean side where the green sea turtles come to nest but not this time of year.

I saw a volcano. In 1 in the morning, it exploded with shooting out red hot rock bouncing down the side. It looked like a volca to me. You could hear it popping and sizzling. It does not flow out like lava in Hawaii but shoots out boulders that takes two months to cool.

We saw hummingbirds that when they move there wings so fast you cannot even see them and they are stopped in mid-air to feed with long beaks on flowers. Some were purple, orange or blue.

I am sending you a long list of animals that Alex, Katie, and Mom and I have put together so we can remember everything we saw before we go to Guatemala.

My favorite thing about Costa Rica is seeing all the animals, birds and insects. Oh, and also amphibians and reptiles.

My favorite food is beans with rice, watermelon juice and plantains.

My favorite places in order were:

  1. The Lookout Inn on the Osa Peninsula – you could see toucans and scarlet macaws from the dining room. I liked the whole house and the little swimming pool.
  2. Mwamba Lodge in Tortugeuro on the Carribean – they have really bad bugs that sting you.

I like everything about Costa Rica!!!
Love, Your Friend, Ben

PS I hope Jesse Bear has a good school year. I have drawn him a few pictures and will be sending them to you. And I hope everybody in my class has a good school year.

Please email me back.
And please tell everybody in my class to have a good Christmas or holidays. Tell me what you did on your break from school.