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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Hey Lady!

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Yesterday, I learned that Howler Monkeys are very loud… and eerie.

Their howls are very impressive jungle sound effects, but incredibly demonic.

Frightening, actually.


If I was lost & alone, and I heard this noise echoing through the jungle, I would definitely think that the bastard demons were coming for me.

Another tidbit of information I might have picked up from our tour guide, (who predominantly spoke Spanish the entire time) is… if a Howler Monkey either falls out of the tree or pushes another monkey out of the tree… (couldn’t figure out which one he really meant)… they have to leave the tribe immediately. This seemed fascinating to me, but when I did my own extensive Google research, I couldn’t find anything to back this myth up. So either I didn’t understand correctly… or he was telling porky pies.

Or maybe it’s a new thing with the monkeys, and it hasn’t caught up to Wikipedia yet.

Probably a smidgen of all of the above.

~ I learned that iguanas only eat bugs when they’re young. Once they become adults, they adopt a strictly vegetarian lifestyle.

~ I learned that if you are, in fact, lost and hurt in the jungle, you need to find the Blood Tree. If you slice the bark, the sap that runs out looks just blood… and acts as an antiseptic, speeds coagulation, and kills the pain almost instantly. Good to know.

~ I learned that Boas can swim on the top of water.

~ I learned that there is a lizard called the Jesus Christ lizard, because it can walk on water.

AND I also learned that you have a 0% chance of survival if a crocodile gets a hold of you.

NOT fake news.

I booked four nights at the All Rankins Eco-Lodge in Tortuguero.

Every single guide book, Facebook post and traveller recommendation I had read, prior to coming here, recommended a maximum of three days.

Did I listen?



Because I knew better.

Should I have listened?



I thought it might be a tranquil location to relax, and just take a load off for a few days. I didn’t need to be chockablock full of activity the entire time, right?


Plus… considering it was my first real stop in Costa Rica, I thought it might be a good opportunity to really sort myself out and get my bearings.

I was wrong.

See, I still have much to learn, taking into account that I’m not a stay-in-one-place person. At all. As much as I am often enamoured by the idea of lazing by the pool for days on end, it just doesn’t work for me.

I get bored.

**Don’t ever invite me on an all-inclusive trip. It’s my worst nightmare.

So what happened after spending three days in Tortuguero???

I got bored.

The place is nice enough… I guess… actually it’s kinda meh… definitely not enticing enough to warrant an extra day. So… with much trepidation, I approached Willis to inquire as to whether or not I might be able to peace out a day early.

He was obviously grumpy about it, but such is life. Pura Vida! Generously, I even agreed to pay a base rate for a day loss and begrudgingly, he agreed to that. He was going to charge me $30US less than the total I would’ve originally paid. I was fully fine with that. Taking into consideration the cancelled accommodation fee, and the pre-paid parking fee, it seemed a minimal price to pay to be free to embark on another journey.

Goodbye, Tortuguero! I could literally taste my next adventure!

Then… his credit card machine decided it was the ideal time to cop out. Right then.

… As I was paying.

I’m beginning to think it’s me? Am I a magnet for destruction?

This trip is proving it to be so…

First my computer… now this.

Credit card machine down. Willis was pissed off. I offered to etransfer him, which only served to confuse and annoy him more. He had no idea what I was talking about and no idea what etransfer was.


**Note to self.., there is no etransfer here.

I offered the possibility of perhaps paying the online site~ which is where I originally booked this lodge.

Perhaps they could reimburse him?

He wasn’t impressed by that suggestion either.


Considering I didn‘t have enough cash to cover my accommodation costs… as we all know I shot through that $30 like grease lightning … and there is no ATM in the village… I was out of ideas.

… I had peaked. I had nothing else for this guy.

Not that he wanted my help.

I felt like he might have kept me captive until his credit card machine was functional again. The power of money and technology can cause people to do crazy things.

Stuck here… broke… with mean Willis… in no etransfer land.


The community of Torturugua is just so relaxed… it makes it difficult to really pin down secure plans. I checked seven different sites for a ferry back to La Pavona.

Four of them confirmed a ferry leaving at 10AM.

Come hell or high water, I was going to be on that ferry and out of Tortuguero.

Unless there was no 10AM ferry… Which of course… there was not.

There was a 9AM ferry… to which I had watched him graciously transfer guests to… leaving me on the deck, alone with my delusional 10AM transportation dream…

.., which ls me back to a firm confirmation on my original “captivity” theory…

When I asked Willis about the times, he just shrugged. This man could not care less if he tried.

This is been Willis‘s demeanour from the very beginning. He can be nice enough, but there’s always an edge. Regardless of what he originally said to me, he does nothing to go out of his way for his guests. At least not me, anyways! Not once, while I was here, did he recommend any hikes, tours, places to go…



I did ask him if there were any hikes or walks in the area, that I could do on my own… and all he told me was; it’s too dangerous because of snakes and jaguars.

Now, I am in no position, nor am I in any frame of mind, to argue with logic.

Enough said.

I asked him how I could purchase my Tortuguero National park pass…

His response?


That was it… That was all I got.


I was left to my own defences.

I lovely tour operator lady took pity on my ignorance and gave me much appreciated assistance in regards to navigating the site, creating a profile, paying the necessary and outlandish fee, and downloading the 100% required (mandatory) code in order to do absolutely anything in the park.

Which brings me back to my tour…

I opted for the canoe trip through the rain forest canals. The kayak excursion looked fascinating, but as tempted as I was… and as brave as I sometimes mistakenly think I am, kayaks are much too tippy toppy for me.

I know I’m a clutz.

I know my luck.

I desperately try to know my limit.

If a crocodile didn’t snap me on impact, the heart attack I would surely suffer before hitting the water, would be the death of me.

Either way… survival rate 0%.

and canoe, it shall be!

The tour was set to begin at 6AM, because apparently the earlier, the better, should I wish to view the wildlife. Which I do.

Seemed slightly bizarre to set my alarm for such an ungodly hour, being on vacation and all, but who am I to make the crocodiles wait?

I contemplated walking into town, but sauntering along the beach and/or the jungle path, in the dark… alone… albeit with jaguars and snakes… was enough to warrant booking a water taxi to come and pick me up.

And believe me, the prices they charge might make anyone challenge the elements and wildlife…

I arrived at 5:45AM and there was not a soul in sight.

Just me.

Eventually others started to arrive, but still no sign of a guide. It wasn’t until 6:50AM that our guide finally showed up and started the process rolling.

No explanation… no apologies…

I’m all for Pura Vida… unless it cuts into my sleepy time.

His outfit was atrocious and I spent a great deal of time staring at him, trying to figure out if his shorts were a hodgepodge of horrendously mismatched dyes… or if he was just really, really dirty.

My conclusion?


So dirty, in fact, no amount of detergent or bleach could possibly bring these shorts back from the dead.

Our 6AM tour finally departed at 7:30AM.

There were five of us headed for the canoe trip… and two set for the kayak trip. This particular two had originally wanted to go on the canoe trip, but had been denied due to it being full. And it was. FULL.

Beyond full.


As soon as we got to the… canoe… and I use this term loosely, and for lack of a better word… more like a rickety old dory… the guide offered for them to come with us.

Excuse me???

This boat was obviously already crowded! Were we saving lives off the Titanic now? I was screaming on the inside…

I was not comfortable with the situation. Not one single bit. This little boat… OLD boat… I might add… sinking, ever so slightly as each person stepped in.

I was the last to join the brigade… As we pushed off from shore, I bid farewell to life as I’d once known it… and drifted off into crocodile infested waters, with a bunch of strangers and a dirty guide.

8 people and a paddle.

Stupid humans.

Crocodiles circled below, ravenous, just waiting for one simple blunder. I clutched onto the edges of my pontoon, panic-stricken and petrified of making one teeny tiny move, for fear of sending us toppling over.

Had this not been the case, I would’ve taken more photos to demonstrate the absurdity.

Remember the 0% survival rate?

Yes. I walk a fine line, my friends.

For the duration of the trip, I was awe-struck by how attentive and overly studious this group was, eating up everything presented to them. They all seemed to have the uncanny ability to spot something minuscule, that I was completely oblivious to.

You name it.

They saw it.

Tiny green bugs and birds and lizards… hanging from the very tip of a large green trees. The amount of times the couple behind me had to help me locate some weird and wonderful jungle creature, is seriously beyond comprehension.

“See that branch?… the far one with the yellow leaf… now go directly up from the third branch in and follow it until you see the cluster of brown leaves. Yes… glance down to the branch below it by the other skinny trunk… and can you see a white bird?”


A couple times, I just pretended to be an eagle-eye, oohing and awing along with them all, in order to put a halt to the ever-increasing neck strain pain and the disorientated directives.

~ I learned today that I am not a bird watcher.

Nor do I have any desire to become one.

As if the guy knew I couldn’t see shit, every time he spotted something way up high, he made a point of yelling out, “Hey Lady in the front! Look up and see the bird!”

Although there were other ladies on the boat, I was Hey Lady.

I guess I’m a different breed of person.

Give me crocodiles and jaguars and boas any day… Those are what fascinate me. Like the hippos in Africa. I want every detail. I wanna hear every story and every myth and… whatever… gIve it all to me.

There were so many questions I wanted to ask the guide about crocodiles, but as my boat was predominantly made up of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, I figured I would save my questions for another time.

Definitely not for Willis.

I must admit… I was happy when the tour was over and I was back on solid ground.

*We did see a caiman though, so that made the perilous voyage more tolerable.

From there, I wandered around Tortuguero National Park for quite a while, enjoying the peace of the ocean and the jungle… all the while, searching for turtles, venomous snakes and ferocious cats.

Thought there were the warning signs of jaguars… and sign tutorials on what to do should you encounter one… I was lucky enough not see any.

Back to the eco-lodge…

I don’t really mean to complain about my accommodation for the past couple days. It’s been OK…


If you take into consideration how far away the toilet dispenser is from the actual toilet… and the bugs that dive bomb me throughout the night… and the lumpy pillows… and Willis… it suddenly becomes less of an ideal oasis.

Definitely not 5 star!

For an additional fee, you could get Willis’s wife to make you dinner each night. There were two choices - fish and chicken, served with rice and beans. A real staple in Central American cuisine. I was slightly tempted… somewhat feeling a requirement to support them… and I thought I might dine with them after my tour, but had not yet committed.

Good thing I did not.

One of the other guests spent the entire evening sick after dining at the lodge. I asked him if he knew what might have caused it, as you can always pinpoint it… “I think it might’ve been the chicken…”

Enough said.

Thank you very much.

Good save.

My new-found knowledge of nachos nearby proved to be more and more seductive, which each thought of lunch and/or passing of this particular restaurant.

Well… my addition has temporarily subsided and I will not be ordering these again. It was more like a pork salad with mayonnaise topping. Not exactly my jalapeño fix…

A local told me a story of a snake recently killing a little dog. I think that’s my cue to probably leave…

I was done here.

It was my time to go.

I caught the 11:20AM ferry… AFTER hitting up the hardware store with Willis, ensuring he got paid.

The guy who sat beside me was carting a large machete… and nothing else. At one point, I leaned over and asked if he used it for killing crocodiles.

He just laughed at me and was silent for the rest of the trip…

guess I figured him out real quick…



In regards to my computer…


I really have no idea what’s going on. The Wi-Fi just suddenly stopped working… and not only would it not connect to anything, it stopped even detecting any nearby networks. Everyone asked me what I did to it, and the only answer I have is “I slept.”

In the evening, it worked.

In the morning, it did not.

I have watched every video tutorial, read every forum, listened to all advice and tried every possible fix-it tip… but nothing is bringing my blue sky back! The wifi network has now completely disappeared from my hard drive… and I have to take it into an Apple accredited shop.

San Jose.

My original plan was to shoot right back into the city, after Tortuguero… but no. I decided my mental health is more important and my computer can wait a week. So next Monday, I will be back in San Jose to drop it off for 48 hours for assessment and to see if they can fix it.

Fingers crossed.

Working and writing from my phone sucks.

In regards to my phone…

I did the responsible thing and I got a SIM card for here...

I can still be reached via my own number at WhatsApp... call or text 🙂

My temporary number is +506.8975.2762.

Anyone that has texted me after the morning of October 22, I have not and will not receive it!

… and that’s it for now 💚

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