My friend and I met Señor Jorge Ramirez Morales just outside the Puerto Limon gates. We easily arranged our excursion via email a couple weeks earlier with him directly. Communication was Excellent!

The first thing we learned about in Costa Rica upon arrival was "Pura Vida." You will enjoy the explanation and cultural experience ahead! Senor Morales' personalized tour was phenonmenally better than taking a large bus tour full of people which has only a few designated sites. In this excursion, one enjoys the exquisite Costa Rican rain forest (or as I call it "the garden of Costa Rica"), the kind people of this country, the country's wildlife, plus the sites our guide identified. Senor Morales shares his wealth of cultural, historical, and functional knowledge of Costa Rica during the 5+ hours you are with him. He shares while he drives or stops allowing me to take the 1001st photo. In each instance, Senor Morales was gracious and pointed out areas of interest! Our guide enjoyed sharing his homeland, educating us, and appreciating OUR interest in his country. We learned about the products in and out of the Costa Rican port and land/property owners impacting their country then and now. I loved learning about the natural vegetation and wildlife native to Costa Rica as we viewed many of them! There were so many beautiful sites. They included viewing so many of the following in Costa Rica: from cashew, mango, & cacoa trees, to the banana plantation, to coffee plants, to this paradise of over 840 species of birds, to the two & three toed sloths, to the four species of monkeys, to 109 species of palm trees, to the 1400 species of orchids, to the beautiful views from the beach and the highest point overlooking Puerto Limon!!!!

The Costa Rican people, with their range of economic background, were very generous! On several occasions, the property owners invited us onto their land to show us their gardens or into their homes to view their orchids, aerial plants, and to talk. In fact, there was a modest countryside home on the road to the banana and cacao tree plantations that was adorned with a plethora of amazing flowers and shrubs of so many types and varieties bursting with an array of colors! I really enjoyed viewing the trees that ultimately give us chocolate, my favorite food! We stopped at a fruit stand owned by a family along the side of one of the roads. We tasted delicious coconut, melons, sugar cane, & mangos. SO very sweet and juicy and fresh! Mr. Morales educated us by pairing these delicacies with the plants/trees that grow naturally around the stand. In addition, I saw cashew and coffee trees. The nuts/beans were not ripe, so he showed us how each item appeared in its ripened state.

Our native Costa Rican guide (Jorge) was magnificent in spotting so many varieties of horticulture, various monkey tribes in the trees (including baby monkeys), mating sloths, birds that included a group of the beautiful Montezuma's chestnut-headed oropendola. The latter birds build specialized nests to attract a mate. This was seen as Senor Morales provided a history lesson and cultural changes in Costa Rica over time. Senor Morales described and we saw the effects of the Nicaraguan War had upon refugee families who had settled in the Costa Rican country side. Within an hour we had viewed the most gorgeous view of the city and the port from above while in a well established, more socioadvantaged neighborhood with modest sized beautiful, elegant, & colorfully tiled homes next to each other along a small street up a small mountain. All apart of the beauty of this country includes that one moment in Costa Rica it is raining with only a light, refreshing mist and the next moment it stops.

As promised at the end of the tour, Senor Morales took us to the best place to purchase coffee in town! He was genuinely kind to make a brief pit stop at the only open pharmacy on Sunday for my friend since he had not been feeling well since lugging our luggage to the airport. Our guide kindly conveyed to the pharmacist as to his symptoms. Senor Morales brought us safely back to our cruise ship port. After parting hugs and many thanks, we left Senor Morales.

In fact, my friend and I were very grateful to return to Senor Morales and his amazing personalized tour where we saw much wildlife in "Pura Vida" & learned a great deal!

The kindness and personalized tour of Senor Morlales made this the best experiences this cruise along with visiting the Panama Canal for the first time! Paul & I thank Señor Ramirez Morales and highly recommend letting him give you a memorable tour of the city in and around Puerto Limon!

Erika Silver.