Monday, May 09, 2005

the entry below is copied from an email I received today from Dave regarding our recent Costa Rica trip. Enjoy. - bev/kay

Dear All --
Pete, Bev, guys and I all had a great trip to Costa Rica. Since it's Been chilly here since return, I'm now missing the hot, humid weather of CR, if you can (I know Bev can't) believe that. But one bonus -- the Dogwoods and azaleas are still in full bloom.

It was a great trip, with every day special. I'll never forget our first stop near La Fortuna and the endless stream of colorful birds of all kinds that came to peck at the fruit laid out for them some 15 feet From our open-sided dining table at breakfast time. No wonder they came, when you tasted the meaty, sweet and juicy pineapple, not to mention guava, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelons laid out on our own bountiful buffet. And on the walkways, seeing all kinds of exotic, beautiful, flowering shrubs and bushes, and all sizes of brown and green iguanas on the grassy lawns, head up, watching you motionless as you walked by. Our time here was soon enhanced by the arrival of Phil and Julia, beautiful daughters in tow, also helping to more equally balance the group gender mix.. We all enjoyed the large, sunny swimming pool and the overall ambience of Tilajura Resort. The trip to and seeing the clear views incl smoke plume of the nearby Arenal Volcano was special. The last active volcano with plume that I had seen was on drive down the Kenea Peninsula to Homer, AL with C and P (1985?). The after-dark soak in one of the nearby attractive hot springs pools and later glimpses, through the now hanging cloud cover, of the red fires of molten lava was a special sight. We were close enough to faintly but unmistakably hear the noise and rumble. That was awesome.

After climbing over, shall I say, rough roads to reach the top of Monteverde, our 2nd stop was El Sapo Dorado lodge, where we were positioned to enjoy next morning a guided walk through a mile or so of the rain forest. Aidan, Quincy and Ellie had a ball the whole time poking sticks into the countless holes in the dirt ground and side wall all along the way. Oscar shined his flashlight into one hole so that we could see the big, hairy, black tarantula inside. He was facing us, so we couldn't see his rear end, but this way we didn't have to reach in and pull him out in order to see him. Oscar, who gave us a very good tour, explained the plants and also alerted us to monkeys, birds and a Quetzel nearby but not easy to see because of vines and trees.(More later). The next day, Pete and Phil were both obviously jazzed after their 11-cable ride above the jungle canopy on the Sky Wire. So after our picnic lunch at the site, it was Julia's, Bev's and my ( propelled by Pete's and Phil's enthusiasm) turn. Bev and Julia did as supposed to (look out over canopy), but my only and lasting impression (I was never able to summon the courage to look down or away, to "enjoy the view", but rather stayed focused (frozen) the whole way on the distant hole in the canopy which was the landing site on the far side) was of how Navy carrier pilots feel when they pray the tailhook grabs them as they land on an aircraft carrier. After the first leg, I always seemed to come in extra fast. Afterwards we took a walk on a suspension bridge through the canopy. Slower paced and without the adrenalin rush, but better to see. We were rewarded by a wonderfully close view of a pair or nesting Quetzels! After watching the hole (man made?) in the tree for a few minutes and seeing only the hole, out came a Quetzel, in unobstructed view no more than 50 feet away!! She then flew to a nearby branch. Very soon afterwards, out came her mate! He flew to same tree, and female then left, probably to get more food -- chicks inside? We admired this beautiful bird, who seemed totally unafraid or perturbed by our watching him, for several minutes until he returned to the nest inside the tree. His two long irredescent blue tail feathers continued to stick out through the opening for a long time. Thanks for alerting me to this beautiful bird, Jules. I just wish that you and Heybert could have been there for that sight and experience. We had a good visit to the frog museum. From the porch of our cabin lodge at El Sapo, sharp-eyed Bev and Aidan identified many more new birds. We also enjoyed some really good meals all together and the company of Phil and family while there until our paths separated.

Our next stay was El Mango Moon B & B, just outside Manual Antonio National Park. Here we enjoyed the beach for two days -- one day inside the park, and next down the trail leading right from our lodge. Both were good. On first day, I saw a Coati Mundi walking fearlessly by and took a fond liking to him. He/she was walking purposefully, totally minding his own business with his nose to the ground, oblivious to people until he came to a tree which he may have known about, climbed up, and found a convenient limb where he would probably stay for a few hours or so. They apparently can be easily made into pets, about like a cat. On the next day, Bev and Aidan collected over 200 hermit crabs on the white sand beach which they brought back to the sand enclosure that Pete and Quincy had made. What a sight to see all those crabs in Aidan's bucket, and then scrambling to get out of the enclosure. Fun beach activities in a great location for that. B & B was great, with beauty inside and out, views, ambiance, breakfasts (great avocado each time) and host (may have been gay). Phil and Julia will enjoy staying there after us.

Our last stop was Hotel Villa Lapas, where we met up with Phil and Family again for one day before they headed for El Mango Moon.. J & H stayed here on their visit, I believe. Nice low-key family-type resort feel. Highlight was the Crocodile Safari. On the boat we saw many, many more new birds, all identified and checked off on the card by Bev with assistance from sharp-eyed Aidan. I think that they have spotted and identified probably 50 or 60 birds on this trip. Also watched fearless boat driver stop and beach boat and then lure two large crocs (different occasions) out of water and grab large piece of chicken which he held up high by one end so we could have full view of the action. As crocs are lightning fast, you have to be very careful and very fearless to do this however many times he does it in a week. He did have a scar on back of one of his legs, which he pointed to. Also saw a gratis monkey show put on by 20 - 25 energetic white-faced monkeys on the adjoining lower roof of our supper restaurant. They engaged in mock combat with each other, pretended to bite, wrestled, jumped over each other, cavorted, sprang, dashed around, leapt into tree branches, landed hard back on the roof, jumped up running, and on and on for 10 or 15 minutes. One monkey even bent over and tried to pull another on his back through his spread legs! They couldn't have been trained to do such a show, and it has to be called another trip highlight. They were definitely not paying any attention to the people watching them.

I have heard good things about CR for many years, and have wanted to go there. It was great to have had this opportunity. Everyone should put CR on their list to go to, or to return.

Love, Pop

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