After we left Oxygen, we headed back to San Jose for another night at the Brilla Sol before the volunteering part of our honeymoon began. The trip from San Jose to the Sloth Sanctuary on the Caribbean coast (near Cahuita) is about 4 hours. We used a service called Interbus to get out there. Interbus picks up from various hotels, and shuttle you where you want to go. They have a rough schedule, and you’re in a nice air-conditioned van that seats about 10. We also used Easy Ride to get back to San Jose from the Sloth Sanctuary later. Given the choice, I’d pick Easy Ride, as they were more flexible about where they’d pick you up and drop you off, and you don’t need to pre-pay. You can just pay your driver when he shows up!
We went to the Sloth Sanctuary to volunteer. Yes, it was our honeymoon, but this sounded like such a unique experience that we knew we both wanted to do it. Here is a basic run-down of a day as a sloth sanctuary volunteer.
5:30am – Wake up to the sounds of howler monkeys outside your window.
6:00am – Head to the sloth cages. Grab a dustpan, brush, cloth, and bottle of vinegar/water and get to cleaning your section’s cages! They tried to have everyone have a set section, so you could bond better with the sloths. Obviously with people coming and going and days off you weren’t always on the same ones, but it was pretty close.
7:00am – First feeding (for the sloths. You still haven’t had breakfast yet!) Count out leaves for everyone, then deliver to the cages.
8:00am – Human breakfast! We took turns cooking breakfast for the group, and ate on a beautiful dock outside.
8:30am – Enrichment time. This was an alternating schedule of volunteers. Each day one group would take some babies out to the jungle gym to learn how to climb, and another group would take some of the sloths out on the jungle trail to have a good sniff of everything.
10:00am – Project Time. There were a couple segments of project time each day. This was where you got to use your own skills to help the sanctuary. Good at SEO? Help with the website! You’re a writer? Write some blog posts! Want to work with your hands? Chop some paths! Once Cinnamon Buns told them that my job is all about organizing and scheduling…. we were made the volunteer Volunteer Coordinators. That part was almost a little too much like working, when I’d gone there to be on vacation, but once we had a scheduling system down, all was good. We did it together to make sure that neither of us missed out on any sloth time.
11:00am – Choppy choppy time. This was when we prepared the sloths’ food. We peeled and cut lots and lots of veggies at this time, and sorted pounds and pounds and pounds of leaves.
12:00-1pm – Human lunch. Lunch (and dinner) were cooked for us by Sloth Sanctuary staff. We ate a lot of rice and beans, traditional Costa Rican cuisine.
1pm-2pm – More project time
2pm – Second sloth feeding. This time we just got to feed them, we didn’t clean the cages like we did in the mornings. At this feeding, the sloths got all the carrots, tubers, and beans we prepped earlier in the day. I always carried my camera with me when feeding, and we came home with about 1000+ photos from the trip, most of them of sloths.
3pm – Free time! Some days we’d all go out to Cahuita, the nearby town, most days we’d stay at the Sanctuary in our rooms or on the deck and read/write diary entries/Skype home/explore the grounds/whatever you wanted.
We made friends with some creatures that we will never forget. I want to introduce you to:
Billy, and his stuffed bunny.
Cinnamon Buns and Jojo doing ‘Thriller’. (Jojo wouldn’t go to the bathroom in his cage, and has learned to climb into your arms/up your legs/jump on your head to be taken outside to go on the grass).
Laylo coming over to say hi to me and be picked up.
Laylo’s cage-mate Wall-e trying to decide if my shorts have enough claw-holds to climb. Laylo and Wall-e were two of the friendliest little guys – they’re the ones that would climb all over you while you’re trying to sweep their cage!
The adorable Zoe.
A wild bradypus sloth who came to visit after some females had been making their ‘I’m in heat!!’ calls.
Oh, and we met some awesome people, too. 😉
It was definitely a non-traditional thing to do on a honeymoon, but it was amazing. We got to spend much more time in Costa Rica than if we’d been staying at hotels and doing touristy things. We got to spend the so much time together, which was wonderful after our crazy work schedules. We learned all about these amazing creatures – neither of us really expected them to be so full of personality, but they’re all little furry individuals! It’s sad that so many have been injured or abandoned, and need this sort of care, but it was great to meet them. The Sanctuary did also release some sloths back in to the wild while we were there too. (Not counting sneaky Jasper who escaped after picking his lock with his claws!).
This was more than just a honeymoon, it was the trip of a lifetime, mainly because of all the little furry friends we made.
If you need more sloths (and who doesn’t?) have a look at this video CB cut together once we got home:
Would you ever consider volunteering on your honeymoon / a big vacation with your partner?