All posts by doug

Christmas Day

OK… we’re in a cooler, drier location now and the netbook is behaving itself.  I’ll be writing a few entries this morning to catch you up on what we’ve been seeing.

On Christmas Day, we went out for a snorkeling tour in the morning.  In the afternoon, Lis went for a massage while I went for a hike with one of the other tour members. 

On the hike we encountered some storm damage from Tomas in October — trail washout, trees down across the trail, etc.  The entire country has this sort of damage from this storm.  They got just an enormous amount of rain and wind, even though the storm did not hit Costa Rica directly.  The landscape here is very steep volcanic soils, which are prone to landslide.  Many dirt roads we’re traveling are heavily potholed; many paved roads have washed out sections or bridges.  The US
Army Corps of Engineers donated a bunch of temporary bridges; without these, even some major roads would be impassable. The trail damage is probably the least of the region’s concerns, but fortunately for us eco-tourism is big business so at least some of the trails have been repaired.

On the hike we saw some cool things, including some enormous trees that are reported to be 500 years old, and an agouti.  I didn’t have an appropriate lens with me to capture either of these, and
neither Lis nor I thought to bring an underwater camera for fish, so the picture for today’s photo is some terns on a floating banana tree we encountered on the boat ride back from snorkeling.



My little netbook is unhappy with the heat and humidity and won’t boot. We will retry when we reach a lodge with AC but until then, I can post text from the phone but no more pictures.

La Cusinga Lodge

Today we said goodbye to Las Islas and transferred to our new location for the next few days, La Cusinga Lodge, on the Pacific coast.

Along the way we saw some scenic views and landscape that we had missed driving in the other night due to dark, and stopped to see some mysterious large stone spheres carved by an ancient civilization in the area.

After we arrived, we had time to hike down to the sea through the rainforest.  It was incredibly hot & humid, and even with a shore breeze I worked up quite a sweat.  But we were rewarded with some different types of rainforest vegetation and animals than we’d seen up to this point, including this orchid.


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.

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:


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.