(mis)Adventure to Costa Rica's Sloth Sanctuary
I knew I was in for an interesting day when my taxi driver who from the get go I suspected couldn't be older than 16, confessed that he had no idea where I was trying to go but he could drop me at the bus stop. This came after I previously explained my destination, which he said he was familiar with and we settled on the fare.
Though his baby face gave him away, my driver had the mannerisms of an young man, with his long fingernails, a wide silver ring on the middle finger of his left hand and even the way he reclined in the seat as if trying to appear relaxed and a little edgy. We drove in silence for no more than 10 minutes when he stopped and began to speak in a mumbled voice words I couldn't decipher and when asked him to please repeat he did but with an even softer murmuring tone like a child that had done something wrong and felt he was caught red handed.
Maybe he was saying that we had arrived but I knew this could not be! I mapped the journey at home before leaving and according to Google maps it was at least a 30 minute trip. I asked where we were and this prompted him to resume driving and after passing a few houses we pulled over upon seeing a man exiting his car. The young boy asked where the sloth sanctuary was and our good samaritan informed him that we were on the wrong road and should instead drive to X then YZ.
At which time my babyfaced taxi driver confessed that it was too far for him but he could take me to the bus stop instead, for the same price that I expected to pay to get to my actual desired destination. I looked at him, and then at and through the spaces of the car steering wheel and saw that the gas tank was in fact BELOW E...what exactly was going on here?
As I was in no hurry I decided to relax and go with the flow so a few minutes later we drove up a steep road that became a T intersection to the right of which was a bus stop. that thankfully had an awning for shade as it was at least 96 degrees. As I exited the faux-taxi, amused at the turn of events, I asked the boy his name, and he stared at me wide eyed, swallowed and replied 'Axel' then as if frightened drove off probably too quickly given he hardly hadany gas in his tank.
Some time passed then a car drove up the road we had came on and it was the man who we stopped to ask directions earlier. He seemed surprised to see me there and with a tone almost as if speaking to an old friend asked 'What happened? Why are you here?' I explained that it was too far for the taxi driver and so he said I should take the bus instead. He laughed knowingly and revealed that the boy was a 'new taxi' and didn't have a license yet or know where ea lot of places are. I knew it and so he thinks he was a little scared!
My suspicions were confirmed - he was just a boy!
The good samaritan reassured me that there would in fact be a bus soon to take me to Aviarios del Caribe, the location of the Sloth sanctuary. I thanked then bid him farewell. Pura vida!
Three minutes later the bus arrived and after a short ride I made it to the sloth sanctuary.
The tour I selected lasted a little over an hour and the entire time I waited to be taken to the REAL sanctuary. You see, it was jut a group of us standing in a room with 6 gages containing sloths sleeping on bath mats fashioned into hammocks, and a guide explaining the ill fate that led to these animals being placed here to spend the rest of their days enclosed in a place that to me, didn't seem at all like much of a haven.
Once the guide finished his speech he thanked us for visiting and reminded us that our entrance fee would contribute to the care of thee poor creatures then opened the door to let us out - that was when I realized that what I had seen was the extent of the so called sanctuary. In other words it really didn't exist!
When traveling far from home, the expectation is that all your experiences will be amazing ones, and all the days happy and exciting but as I exited the gates of distressing compound I accepted that not every outing can be as wonderful as the last. I recalled the boy pretending to be a man who left me at the bus station and got a good chuckle as I walked to find a bus to take me back to Cahuita.