Two other activities that I did while at Lapa Rios was horseback riding at Bijagual Farm and a visit to the Cana Blanca Animal Sanctuary. I’ve been to both in the past – Bijagual last year when I milked a cow (read more about that here) and Cana Blanca in 2009.
We started our horseback riding at the farm and traversed several meadows and forested areas. We even passed by a “lemon” tree – which once again was a lime tree that they tried to tell me was a lemon tree. Eventually we ended up at a tranquil, deserted black sand beach. The only sounds we heard there were the waves crashing and the squawk of the scarlet macaws. My horse was much more well-behaved than the last time in Santa Teresa. The only thing he did wrong was decide to gallop when Kevin’s horse would gallop. And the problem with that was I was never prepared. Going at a relatively slow pace, I didn’t need to hold on too tight – until of course the horse starts to run and I’m in the middle of taking a photo so I’m not really holding onto anything. We eventually gave the horses, and our bodies, a break near a few tide pools, taking a moment to stretch our legs and check out the sealife, breathing in the warm salty air.
Tranquilo is how you’d describe this pristine area. Untouched land with palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze while the fierce waves crash onto shore. Not a house or other building in sight.
The one thing I recommend though is wearing long pants. Just like socks, I don’t have any of those here but I do have a few capris which suffice for horseback riding. Unfortunately, while packing and trying to stay under the 15 pound weight restriction for the puddle jumper, both pairs were somehow left out of my luggage. Horseback riding in shorts…not so much fun, especially when you’re in such a wild, unmaintained area. But it’s all just a part of the experience and lesson learned.
My visit to Cana Blanca was once again a mix of emotions. I love that the Sanctuary is there to help these animals who have been orphaned, injured or held in captivity (and then the owners decide they no longer want them). But it’s also so sad that so many of them can never be released into their wild habitats again. It’s a horrible dilemma to consider – do you release them, knowing they can’t survive in the wild? Do you put them to sleep because keeping them in a cage (albeit large cages) is not natural for them? Or do you create the sanctuary where they can be cared for and loved but in a cage for their entire life?
But there was some good news – the macaws (that are considered endangered) are breeding and their babies are being released into the wild. When I was there last time, there was a white-faced monkey who had been kept in a box by her owners. She was mentally distraught when she arrived at the Sanctuary and had to be kept separate from the other monkeys. Now, she is out in the open (in the large monkey cage) although she still would rock back and forth and suck on her hands, similar to actions of an abused child. And the baby sloths from three years ago are growing up and so so SO cute.
Carol, the founder of the Sanctuary, loves these animals. You can tell she would do anything for them. The Sanctuary is a special place. Both travel partners that I’ve taken there were really touched by it – it’s a place where you can get up close to these beautiful animals and understand how and why not only they need to be protected but their natural environments as well.
Note: While I am now paid and/or receive comped services at many of the places I visit, I will always offer my unbiased opinion to you, my readers. Fortunately, I almost always have experiences that exceed my expectations.