During a lovely afternoon spent in the gardens and hiking through muddy trails in the preserved lands adjacent to the grounds of Tortuga Lodge, I enjoyed seeing many butterflies, birds and several poison dart frogs. The next morning I set off with a river pilot and guide to the port, where I was picked up by a shuttle driver. We drove through tiny villages and fields of banana trees, where the fruit was wrapped in blue mesh bags to protect from weather and animals (something I was able to ask about with my very limited Spanish combined with gestures). People were gathered at polling places for local elections. After several hours on the road, we pulled into the small complex of cottages that would be my home for the next three nights in Cahuita, a Caribbean beach town with a national park that includes miles of coastline.
I had half of the pink cottage with a shared kitchen in the middle. After getting settled, I walked to the town's center, about five minutes away. While enjoying all the local foods, I have to admit I relished the idea of a big slice of pizza after reading the Lonely Planet description of Pizzeria CahuITA. At the edge of town with children playing on the swings behind the restaurant and a glimpse of the sea from outdoor seating, it was a good choice. A thin crusted pizza baked in a wood-fired oven didn't disappoint. Lightly topped with tomato sauce, prosciutto, parmesan and mozzarella, this pizza fed me over several days, because leftover pizza is always a good thing.
The next day, after breakfast at the lodge, I went to the Cahuita National Park, a small park but wonderful for its beachside trails. I didn't catch sight of monkeys or sloths, but did see blue morpho butterflies fluttering among the plants. The day was hot, so enjoying the surf from the shade of the trees was perfect for me. I spent several hours just relaxing, reading, sketching and dreaming.