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Eco Scenes, The Good and The Bad

ON BOARD THE CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM, sailing from Puntarenas, Costa Rica — In these days of political correctness, especially of the eco kind, sometimes the skeptics among us wonder if people professing to being good custodians of the planet are just saying that because it’s the thing to say. Are they practising what they preach? Do the plastic containers in that blue box really wind up being recycled, or are they taken to some landfill?
This country is known for its environmental good citizenship. Lately. The forests of Costa Rica were ravaged over the decades, and preservation has become a priority in recent years. Good and bad.
On our stop here, we saw both.
The Tarcoles River, and the two hours we spent floating on it looking at crocodiles and birds co-habitating, is the bad. It empties into the Pacific, and carries a generous amount of debris that tour guides dismiss as the fault of Costa Rica’s Central Valley residents, who care more about money than trees.
The Rain Forest Aerial Tram, about an hour north of the ocean, is the good. Now we’ve all seen trams carved out of a mountainside — you can spot the clear-cut a mile away. This tram is not visible. When it was built, every post, cable and car was flown in by helicopter, obviously at great expense because the nearest ‘copter capable was in Colombia.
This is a commercial operation, so it is here to make money, but clearly not at environmental expense. It is part of the 6% of Costa Rica that is protected by professionals, as opposed to the government’s 25%, and the guides are passionate — “I want to show you so much about the forest but they only gave me 40 minutes.”
The only blatant moneymakers are the zip-line cables that cater to the thrill seekers (the answer is NO). The more genteel thrill seekers are obsessed with seeing the elusive scarlet toucan, a magnificent and famous colorful bird known to zip by.
We saw at least five of them, perched high and deep in rain-forest trees. At least we were told that’s what we saw. They could have been old cans of paint hanging among the branches, but while that might have mollified the genteel thrill seekers, it would disgust keepers of the planet, and not just in Costa Rica.
That’s it…we’re done.

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When Cruise Ships Change Plans

PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica — You know how they’re always telling you on cruise ships that you better sign up for a shore excursion with the cruise line because the ship will never leave without you.
Let us share a little story with you. The last time we were in this beautiful country of 4.5 million friendly people and maybe even a few unfriendly ones (actually it was the only time but “last time” makes us sound like we do this more than we do), our cruise-line shore excursion was about a half-hour late leaving the port because there was some kind of labor dispute.
It was a three-stage tour that we call trains, planes and automobiles after the John Candy movie, even though it was actually train, boat and bus.

Somewhere on the fascinating Tarcoles River, among the birds, crocodiles and mangrove trees, we lost a little more time.

When the bus pulled up to the dock, it was 45 minutes after the ship’s scheduled departure. The ship was still there. Had we taken a non-cruise line shore excursion and been that late, we’d have had to find a flight from there to Manta, Ecuador, the next stop.

Right, nothing to it!

That’s it…we’re done.

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