Brilliant tropical colors

I live on the back nine of the ass end of nowhere.  Seriously.  I’m an hour’s drive from the ferry, and the ferry is an hour from the mainland. Needless to say, going on a trip is a hassle.  For this reason, I don’t get off the peninsula to do new things a whole lot.  Honestly, why should I?  I’ve got all the beaches, parks, and sunshine I could ever want, right here.  But I still want a change of scenery from time to time. You can only hike the same trails so long before the view gets old and you stop appreciating things quite as much.  So, this last week, Carlos and I hauled ourselves across the Gulf and around the coast down toward Jaco, for a day of hiking through the transition forests of Carara National Park.  (A transition forest here is one that eases from tropical dry forest to tropical rain forest, just FYI.)  I was super excited about the trip.  I love hiking, I love traveling, I love new adventures, but as before stated, I don’t go do new things nearly as often as I’d like. Carlos can’t often take a whole day off from work to go play with me, so that made the trip an extra treat.  Also adding to my excitement was the fact that Carara is home to quite a few Scarlet Macaws, a bird I’ve been dying to see in the wild, and I was crossing my fingers just hoping we’d see them.

The biggest dang gator I have ever seen. Holy crap! 12' long, at least.

I was not disappointed.

We caught the 6am ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya just like we’d planed, but we didn’t get to the park nearly as early as I wanted.  I’d packed food for both breakfast and lunch, and had planned to eat on the road, but Carlos isn’t a big fan of food-on-the-fly.  He wanted to stop and eat.  The restaurant we stopped at had just three employees working, and a tour bus pulled in right behind us.  Breakfast took forever.  But, it was a gorgeous day and we had the whole of it to spend, so I shut up and enjoyed my fresh pineapple juice and scrambled eggs.

A river through the forest

Boa, napping on a stump right in the middle of the trail!

This tree... nearly as big as my house, with a cave beneath it's roots.

We still made it to the park just before 9 and hit the trails pretty quickly.  It was cool with a light breeze under the shade of the forest canopy, and there were few other people noticeably on the trails.  As we hiked we saw birds of every size and description, bats dozing in a tree trunk, orchids in bloom, trees as big around as my house, and even a boa constrictor napping on a stump.  We chatted and laughed as we hiked, enjoyed one another’s company, and I took pictures of everything.  Well…almost everything.  We saw a trio of poison dart frogs in the leaf mold and I tried desperately to get a good shot.  Unfortunately they hop when they’re startled, and Carlos can’t stand still to save his life.  I was happy just to have seen them, but beginning to get disappointed about seeing no Scarlet Macaws.  That’s what I really wanted to see.

And then, in the early afternoon, we heard an ungodly loud noise.  “Monos,” Carlos said, after we paused a moment.

“No, no esta monos,” I replied.  Monkeys sound different.  When they make that kind of ruckus it’s the whole troop screeching, not just two.  “Esta aves,” I declared.

And sure enough, it was birds.  A pair of massive, brilliantly plumed Macaws were playing a strange game of tag in a tree just around the bend from us.  It was a distance off, so none of my photos turned out as amazing as I’d like, but it was the birds I wanted to see.

A pair of scarlet Macaws, high up in the canopy.

From that point until the end of our hike the Macaws were everywhere.  At one point the whole flock (we counted 9, we think) flew by overhead, squawking and screeching vociferously. For me, bliss!

Taking a break for some lunch

We called it a day around 2:30 and miraculously made it back to Puntarenas just in time to snag the last open spot on the afternoon ferry back home.   It was a perfect day!  I was reminded yet again why I love Costa Rica.  There’s such incredible beauty here, and such an intense amount of biodiversity.  The flora and fauna here is dense, lush, colorful, and is found in great abundance.  Even during the dry season the mountains are green and cool, and in spite of the humidity the heat is not overwhelming.  I can’t imagine a more perfect climate than this place during the summer.  It’s divine.