Class 5 roads

Today we spent more time at the seashore, at a conservation area accessible by one road — a dirt road that was heavily affected by hurricane Tomas.  Our trip leaders were advised that our tourbus would not be a good idea on this road, so we piled into SUV cabs for a bumpy, splashy, slow ride.  The local government doesn’t dare re-grade these roads until they’re sure the rainy season is completely over, or the fresh, vulnerable roads will just wash out again.  In the meantime, the local 4-wheel-drive cabs are doing a lot of business taking people up and down this road.  It’s still quite hot and humid here for a Bostonian, though there’s enough of a breeze to make it manageable.

Once we got to our destination, we went on a 2-mile nature walk down to the beach for lunch, seeing more cool tropical birds, trees, lizards, and more monkeys.  These guys are white-faced capuchin monkeys.  Lis and I have now seen 3 of the 4 monkey types in Costa Rica (red-backed squirrel, howler, and capuchin) and people in our group have seen the 4th (spider monkey).

Tomorrow we travel again, but just a short way up the coast.

more fun than a barrel of…

Here’s what Doug didn’t say about the monkeys and the toucans. They are awesome!!! There are easily a couple dozen of the monkeys running around in the trees, leaping from tree to tree, and grabbing handfuls of whatever up there is good to eat. Then…the toucans came. And it was the epic battle of Monkeys vs Toucan–who would reign supreme??  Well, it turns out 5 toucans can make enough noise to irritate the hell out a bunch of monkeys, and to cause one young monkey to find his mom and cling to her. The toucans celebrated their defeat of the monkeys by feasting at the tray of bananas that is left out, and continuing to shriek while the monkeys hung back. The toucans finally left, allowing the monkeys to reclaim their space among the trees.

We’ll see if the battle repeats itself tomorrow….

Welcome to the tropics

It’s hot! 

Today we woke to the sound of howler monkeys, though they were long gone by the time we got up & going.  We took a nice trip to the local beach, where we saw some cool birds & plants, walked around a bit, but mostly relaxed by or in the pool.

Back at the lodge, there were monkeys!  Red-backed squirrel monkeys are the most threatened monkey in this region, and we spent a large part of the afternoon observing them. We watched fascinated as a flock of toucans (which are bigger than these monkeys) came in and took control of the feeder platform full
of bananas. Here, one of the monkeys is peering out from his hiding place to see if the coast is clear.

Travel day

Today (the winter solstace) was a travel day.  We transferred to our new lodge, which was scheduled to take most of the day.  In fact, it took longer than even that fairly disappointing estimate. 

The trouble started when a tractor trailer was blocking a winding turn on the mountain road, requiring a tow truck to get traffic flowing again.  It continued as we witnessed some severe road & bridge damage as a result of hurricane Tomas this past fall.  Still, we eventually reached our destination unscathed and largely in good spirits.  And we did manage to see a few cool things along the way, including this toucan:


this is why it’s called a rainforest

After this morning’s quetzal (pronounced ketz-AHL) hike, we went back out after breakfast to hike to some nearby falls. The group wound up split into two: the slow-walking Birders, and the faster moving Walkers. Doug and I were among the Walkers, who actually made it to the falls, unlike the Birders. The thing I noticed as we hiked along is that every single surface is covered in green–low growing groundcovers, tall trees, but very few shrubs.
This afternoon, after lunch, we were driven up to the top of a hill in ATVs to take a 3 hour hike down. On the way, it started to pour. Buckets. Another woman and I decided this didn’t look like fun and came back down, and were soaked through anyway. I spread my stuff around to dry and took a hot shower; Doug appeared only 1 1/2 hours later, saying they hadn’t stopped at all, just trudged on down. I’m glad I missed it. Hopefully there are not too many more rains like that.

Quetzal & waterfall hike

We arose this morning at the stupid hour of 5:40 to get out before breakfast and try to find a Resplendant Quetzal, the primary “destination” bird for this part of the world. After a short search, we were successful!


We came back to the lodge for breakfast, then went on a short hike along the river to a waterfall. After lunch we’re going for another hike.  I will sleep well tonight!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

We spent a great introduction to Costa Rica today at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where we had a broad overview of the kind of wildlife & scenery we’ll be seeing over our time here.  We also spent far too much time in the bus, including a harrowing 5-mile, 2500 foot descent to our current location, Savegre Lodge. But we get to stay here for a couple of days, so that’s good.

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Today’s photo highlight is a hummingbird at a feeder at La Paz, one of approximately 8 different species (and approximately 8 billion individuals) that we saw today.

we made it

We arrived in San Jose late last night (early this morning?) and my Spanish lessons were sufficient to get us a cab and make it to the Hotel Buena Vista, where we promptly fell asleep. We have no grand plans for today; we need to rearrange our things in our backpacks and I need to clean up the conditioner that exploded inside my toiletries kit. We’ve already seen our first hummingbirds. We’ll meet our traveling companions at dinner tonight, then off to our first adventure tomorrow!