‘Daddy, it’s a sloth.’ Lily says and points. We ignore her. The dust from the ATV’s covers our bodies and fills our noses and ears. The group of six ATV is parked on the side of a dusty mountain road in Uvita, Costa Rica. We’re on one of our several breaks.
‘Sloth, Daddy, Look.’ She says again. The other family we are with is looking out over the ridge at the mixed coffee and banana plantations. The whale tail beach formation of Ballena marine national park can be seen in the hazy distance.
And whaddya know? It’s a sloth, lying on the side of the road.
Three toed (or more accurately, three fingered) sloths exist from the amazon up to Nicaragua and are the world’s slowest mammal.
They spend nearly their entire lives hidden in trees, coming down only to take a dump once a week. Algae grows on their fur undisturbed in the slow motion world of a sloth. And it gives them a little extra camoflauge.
The girls squeal with delight. He is pretty darn cute, and of course we can get up fairly close to him. Lily did a great job spotting the sloth. We would have missed him otherwise.
Earlier today we searched for the ATV expedition storefront but couldn’t find it. There are no street names or major landmarks in Uvita. Locals give directions based on other stores.
Tou’ll be told “we’re right after Gringo’s Campground” or “take the first left after the second little bridge” or in our case “The first street after BCR bank”. Yes, but where is BCR bank?
We arrived a little late but quickly got on our ATV’s and headed up the dusty road to the mountains above Uvita. The views were amazing and the ATVs were fast and fun (although not particularly green, we know.) It has been a dry summer here, and the roads are really dusty.
On the road again.
‘Break, mommy, break!!!’ Lily yells. She had started off the ATV tour a little bit scared of my aggressive driving, and she switched to Trish. She now regrets that decision as Trish, at a very low speed, hit a boulder on the side of the road head on.
I’m laughing so hard, I can’t take a good picture. ‘Why didn’t you break mommy?” Lily asks exasperatedly. Our guide stops the group and gets Trish and Lily sorted out. We move on.
Costa Rica is filled with hidden waterfalls. Almost every resort and activity features a ‘private falls’. Most are fine, but the one we visit on our ATV tour is spectacular.
The pools formed in this ravine and the small river are breathtaking. The layered sedentary rock forms a series of steps, and there are three pools and two waterfalls. There is a lot of slippery moss.
The other family has been here before – they are building a house here in Costa Rica. The boy and Dad scamper down below to a 20 foot wall of rock and jump off into the small 10 foot deep pool of fresh cool water below.
Lily’s eyes light up with excitement. She looks to me to jump first, and I do, but not without some hesitation. Jumping into a rock pool from 20 feet up is scary! But I jump, knowing that it’s easier to just do it than to think about it. It’s exhilarating and scary.
. Everyone is watching the girls. It’s one thing for dumb grown men to jump of a cliff, but another thing entirely to see small young girls do it. Emma wants to go next, but backs out and wants Lily to try it first.
How high must that cliff look to a 4 foot munchkin? Lily looks for a minute and everyone holds their breath…. She jumps! “That was awesome!” She yells doggie-paddling over to the rocks on the side. “I’m going again”
And thus began Lily’s epic jumping adventure. She jumped at least 10 more times, more than anyone else there. She diddn’t just walk off the edge like the rest of us. She actually jumped into the air to get more height. Amazing.
Not surprisingly we’re exhausted already, but it’s only 1pm. We were told to meet our surf guides at 2:30 at La flore de Bahia, a restaurant “past the fork in the road”. Luckily we see a road sign offering general directions. It’s a local ‘soda’ or informal restaurant that Ticos love. No English menu here – this is just typical local food and it’s delicious and cheap.
Our third day of surfing camp is a little rough. We’re all tired to begin with and two days of cumulative nicks and sores and bruises are catching up with our bodies. Plus the waves have died down a little, which makes it more important to use skills to get a good ride.
And we’ve forgotten some of our technique. Lily, at the end of a ride, haphazardly jumps off into the surf and forgets to protect her face. In the tumble of the surf, the plastic fins from the surfboard slash her face under her left eye. She stands up stunned, and once she sees blood begins to scream.
The combination of blood and insects would have once ended our entire day as Lily recovered from the panic attack. But she has gotten a lot stronger, gradually, and is able to calm herself down enough to go back into the water for more surfing.
Emma almost falls asleep in her food at dinner. This is the kind of day we love, full of aventure. And Lily was amazing.