I'm off to Costa Rica to slam the door on 2020 and greet 2021 with a smile.
  • Day20

    Bye Bye, Costa Rica

    January 17 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

    I spent yesterday holed up in my hotel room with Netflix and room service. It was a nice ending to a great trip. Now, I'm on the plane, and we're pushed back with engines running. However, the flight deck just threatened to return us to the gate if people didn't properly wear their masks. Yet as I type this, we've started taxiing, so I guess all is fine.

    I had a great time and highly recommend CR.

    Pura vida!!!!
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  • Day17

    Morning at the Zoo

    January 14 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    After the gold museum yesterday, I went back to the hotel with some beer and empañadas and hung out at the pool and jacuzzi. There I met a couple from Pennsylvania who come down here for their dental work. This is another indication to me that CR is the Americas' Thailand, just much more expensive.

    I watched CNN, the only English TV channel, and toasted the House of Representatives, particularly the 10 Republicans, for impeaching the president...again. History...again.

    This morning I went to the Simón Bolívar Park National Zoo and Botanical Garden. It is small, but well laid out. And although a few animals weren't on display, most notably the kinkajou, I was able to see a jaguar and an ocelot, two of the five cats in CR. I also saw a sleeping tapir, which wasn't on display but could be seen just barely around the back of the bathrooms. I though it was interesting, though, that they had a sign for the American Crocodile but not one for the alligator. I guess they don't think anyone will notice.

    [If you don't know at least one difference, then watch (hopefully again) Robin Williams's movie Jumanji:
    Sarah Whittle : "Alan, you wrestled an alligator for me."
    Alan Parrish : "It was a crocodile. Alligators don't have that little fringe on their hind leg."

    Now I'm eating lunch at...yes...McDonald's. This country has great french fries, but these are just the regular McDonald's ones, so ugh. The burger was good though, a McNífica, with lettuce, tomato, and onions. Basically, it's the Royal if you're in Europe. (Good on you if that made you remember Pulp Fiction. I guess it's movie quote day 🤣.)

    Pura vida!

    P.S.: I just learned that the US will make all arriving international travelers pass a COVID test before boarding their inbound flight. But it doesn't start until 26 Jan, so I won't have to take one to get back. 😁
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  • Day16

    Back in San José

    January 13 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    Yesterday after the park, I finished reading a novel, "America America," which was quite good despite being mostly about politics (mainly set in the age of pre-Watergate Nixon).

    Anyway, I had to get up at 043o this morning, so I didn't do anything else last night.

    I was on the bus at 0530 rolling back to San José. I'm a little sad to end this terrific trip, but it's quite a bit more expensive than I thought it would be, so I need a little time at home to save up before hitting the road again. Two weeks should do it 😉.

    I arrived and was able to check into my hotel by 0945, so I walked up the hill to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, which also had Costa Rican money and artists exhibits. It was English-subtitled, nicely organized, well lit, and easy to social distance...of course most people are at work right now. Too bad for them!

    Pura vida!!
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  • Day15

    Curi-Cancha Nature Preserve

    January 12 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    (to be written later)

    Rufus colored sparrow
    Clay colored thrush national bird no pic
    Dracula orchid
    Double strangler fig (ficus) over 300 yo
    Yellow throated red start
    Mushroom like sponge
    Highland tinamou no pic tried video. Like guinea fowl
    White throated thrush no pic tried video
    Turkey tail mushroom
    Spotted wood creeper
    White-fronted parrots
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  • Day14

    Monteverde Cloud Forest Biolog. Preserve

    January 11 in Costa Rica ⋅ 🌧 72 °F

    (to be written later)

    5000 feet sea level
    Emerald toucan
    Female quetzal main food avocado
    Tiny orchid
    Hepaphite tree growing in tree not vines roots
    CR warbler
    Army ants
    Black face solitaire
    Silver fronted tapacolo no pic
    Calateya yellow flower earlier
    Lucky seeds come from mucuna urens ojos de buey (brown seed pods earlier)
    Violet saber wing largest hummingbird in central america
    Banana quit little yellow bird with hummingbirds
    Coppery headed hummingbird only one endemic to CR
    Dung beetle
    Common chlorosphingus nest by video
    White fronted parrot
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  • Day13

    Selvatura Park in the Cloud Forest

    January 10 in Costa Rica ⋅ 🌧 68 °F

    I arrived in Santa Elena around 1030 and was able to check into the hostel, Pensión Santa Elena. It had a kitchen, so after I dumped my stuff in my room, I bought a few groceries. I had a couple of sandwiches with a wedge of gorgeously delicious manchego cheese, then rested for a couple of hours.

    At 1500, I went horseback riding for sunset. It was great! We were on trail for about two hours with plenty of trotting and galloping. And to top it off, we saw a magnificent sunset at the top of the mountain. At the end, they showed us how they press the sugar cane to extract the juice, then gave us some to drink. Surprisingly not as sweet as I thought it would be. I remember chewing on sticks of sugar cane as a kid, but they were much sweeter than this. Or perhaps my tongue has just become accustomed to sugar since Americans put it in practically everything. Then we made some caramel and had a piece of banana bread and a small empañada, a flatbread-looking thing made from corn and cheese. Yummy!

    After I got back to the hostel, I grabbed a quick quesadilla meal from across the street, ate a little, then went for a night walk tour. Wow!

    Although I didn't get to see my kinkajou, we did see a bushy-tailed olingo, which are endangered and very rare to spot. We saw so much, but the big ones for me were a short-tailed fruit bat eating a guava, a two-toed sloth on the move, a massive walking stick, and a bark scorpion, which is pictured under a black light. Really nice walk!

    When I got back to the hostel, I ate my quesadilla and crashed around 2200. I was up again at 0630 for today's excursion at Selvatura Park, zipline park that also has hanging bridges and exhibits of two-toed sloths, butterflies, and reptiles, where I got the pic of the bluejean poison dart frog. I did all three of those exhibits first because it is raining quite heavily, and they were awesome! I could've spent all day in the sloth exhibit, which also houses a scarlet macaw, because the adorable things were quite active considering they're nocturnal.

    As you can see by my pic, I'm on one of the hanging bridges now trying to take pictures with my real camera without getting it too wet. Today has been great so far, and I'll see the hummingbird exhibit next. I hope the weather lets up before I do the zipline!

    Pura vida!!

    Night Walk:
    Orange-kneed tarantula
    Brilliant forest frog
    Bushy-tailed olingo
    Rufous-eyed stream frog
    Pygmy rain frog
    Keel-billed or rainbow-billed toucan
    Sidestriped palm pit viper
    Waking stick huge
    Leaf mimiking catydid (green)
    Two toe sloth
    Bark Scorpion
    Emerald toucan endemic x2
    Short tail fruit bat eating guava
    Blue crown motmot
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  • Day12

    On to Monteverde

    January 9 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    After lunch, the guys and I made our way to my hotel near San José city center, where we hugged our goodbyes. What great guys.

    I grabbed some dinner at the bar to take up to my room, then crashed hard. I was up at 0430 to grab a cab to the bus station. Another early morning 🥱. I caught the bus just in time...one guy told to wait for the office to open, then another told me it was always open, then I stood in line for 20 minutes, then the office told me to pay the driver. So, even though I was there about 45 minutes early, I just made it.

    Now I'm curving up the mountain to Monteverde. The climate and countryside are already completely different than the steamy jungle terrain I've been in so far. I can see pine trees and people wearing long pants and jackets. Very different.

    Pura vida!
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  • Day11

    Driving back to San José

    January 8 in Costa Rica ⋅ 🌧 72 °F

    Yesterday's park excursion ended with a good meal just off the Drake Bay beach...and the chicken was better than the fish. Lunch was late again, though, and I was hot from the trek and wet from the boat, so headed back to the hotel, where I spent the remainder of the night.

    During the trek, I met and hit it off with two Americans from Berkeley who had room for me in their rental car, so we're driving back to San José today.

    The drive is spectacular! We started with dirt roads, several brief river crossings, and the oldest, rustiest ferry I've ever seen much less been on. That was crossing the Sierpe River back into Sierpe, from where I took the boat to get to Drake Bay. We stopped in to see James the Irishman, but he was out on a tour, unfortunately.

    We stayed for a brief drink and rest, then hit the paved roads. We lucked upon a beer brewery and restaurant on the side of the mountain. (What would I ever do without Google Maps!?) So, we've stopped for lunch and a brew. Yay!!

    Pura vida!
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  • Day10

    Corcovado National Park

    January 7 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

    After snorkeling, we finished the day with lunch back at Drake Bay. The old dog got most of my very dry fish so it wouldn't go to waste. Great outing!

    After a shower and rest at the hotel, I met the owner for a guided night tour at 1830. Javier was fantastic! We saw so many animals, most notably: red and green poison dart frogs (not as poisonous as in the Amazon but still), two kinds of glass frogs (named so because you can pretty much see through them), and an eyelash viper (named so for the protuberances over their eyes). Just incredible.

    We arrived back at the hotel around 2045, so I just took a cold shower and went to bed. I was probably asleep by 2200. BUT. At 0200 I woke up with ants all over me. Ugh. I hate when that happens. I took a shower and went downstairs to a hammock. I didn't get back to sleep, but I had to meet for breakfast at 0520 anyway, so not as big of a problem as it could've been.

    Anyway, we left on the boat this morning at about 0700 and arrived at the park around 0800. It was a rainy ride out, but we saw many animals despite the bad weather. We saw all four kinds of monkeys: howlers, spiders, squirrels, and capuchins 😱. We saw a giant American Crocodile on the beach and another in the water 😱. We saw a very young Fer de Lance Viper 😱 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothrops_asper). We saw many Brown Mandible Toucans 😱. We saw White-Nosed Coati, a relative of the raccoon 😱. And we sqw.so very much more. But unfortunately, we did not see any tapir or anteaters 😟. Regardless, it was an awesome day trip and we walked about 6 miles/10 kilometers 😱.

    Now we're waiting for the boat back to Drake Bay and another lunch at Robertos. I hope today's chicken is not as dry as yesterday's fish.

    Pura vida!!!


    The Night Walk:
    ___ sordida (deaf) frog
    Marine toad
    Red eye tree frog
    Millipedes mating
    Spider scorpion (that is neither)
    Jumping spider (many)
    Wolf spider
    Guanacosta (area of CR) walking stick
    Common rain frog
    Leaf mimicking catydid (usually green)
    Red and green poison dart frog huaca
    Reticulated glass frog
    Spotted glass frog
    Baby tink dink frog
    Eyelash viper
    Water spiders in gutter under road

    The Day in the Park:
    Spider monkey
    Ground chicken
    Roadside hawk
    Squirrel monkey
    Howler monkey
    Colored Pecare (pigs, like javalina)
    Common black hawk
    White neck puff bird kingfisher family
    Crested guan
    Great curacau
    Rio Sirena (where bull sharks and crocs come)
    Snowy egrets on trees
    Herons and vultures on beach
    Black hawk again
    White ibis
    Squirrel monkey
    Spider monkey with no tail
    Brown mandible toucan
    Capuchin white face monkey
    Another brown mandible toucan
    Capuchin monkey again
    Spider monkey again
    Brown mandible toucan again
    American crocodile (as in The Americas, not just US)
    White nose Coati
    Fer de Lance!!!!!!
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