Have Twins, Will Travel

Caño Negro

Caño Negro, Costa Rica – Daddio and I made our way to Costa Rica’s remote northern reaches to unleash our inner bird nerds, and the twins came along for the ride. (Bird nerds in training.) Caño Negro is a 10,000-hectare expanse of marsh and lagoon that attracts more than 300 species of resident and migratory birds. It’s a sort of mecca for bird-watchers, who can spot all sorts of waders and water birds that do not frequent other parts of Costa Rica.

Aside from birders and anglers, Caño Negro is really off the beaten tourist track. That may have something to do with the 19 kilometers of rough and rowdy, barely maintained dirt road that you have to traverse to reach the tiny village and wildlife preserve. But all the best places are hard to get to, I like to say, and Caño Negro is no exception.

Aside from the last 19km stretch, it’s not a bad drive from La Fortuna, especially with a stop at the “iguana bridge”, an iguana hot spot in Muelle de San Carlos. Twin V counted 33 iguanas before he made a misstep and nearly fell through the bridge. (Never a dull moment!)

DSC_0126The other reason the twins tolerated the long drive is that once we reached Caño Negro, they jumped in the hotel swimming pool, and that’s where they spent the rest of the afternoon.

Our two-hour tour of the lagoon took place the next morning. Daddio and I were pretty pleased with the many species of herons, king fishers, rails, jacanas and storks that patiently posed for photos. Initially, the boys were keen on spotting the birds and matching them up with the pictures on our bird-identification card. But that got old pretty quickly.

Fortunately, there were caimans. Twenty-four of them, to be exact. Including one that we thought was dead, until our boat got so close that we forced him to jump into the water right under us. It startled all of us — but none more than Twin S who was sitting about one meter away and got hit by the splash! Fortunately (we learned) caimans are pretty shy: unlike crocs, they always run away instead of reacting aggressively.


The twins also liked the green basilisk lizard, also known as the Jesus Christ lizard for his ability to scurry across the water. An appropriate sighting for Christmas Eve. We also saw a few howler monkeys and a sloth from afar.


But even with all those wildlife sightings, the twins ran out of patience with the slow-moving boat. We were all relieved when the driver announced that we were on our way back to the hotel.

And then the boat wouldn’t start. Engine trouble. The driver called for help and we grabbed onto some branches so we wouldn’t float down the river to Nicaragua. I was well-prepared with insect repellent and sunblock, but we were out of water and I had not brought any snacks. I braced for some serious whining.

It took the twins some time to understand what was going on. Why are we stopping? Why are we hanging onto the tree branches? Why doesn’t the boat start? How long are we going to wait here? How are we going to get back? It was almost like they were trying to figure out if they were supposed to be scared or stoic or exasperated. And before they could decide, our valiant captain got the boat started and we were on our way.

After that, everybody perked right up. The twins were full of energy and excitement as we motored back to the hotel. Nothing like a near-disaster to make for a memorable and enjoyable outing!


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