S: Costa Rica - 2013
BC: Pura Vida! | Designed by Avril Saldanha
FC: February 2013 | CostaRica | Our Trip to | Pura Vida!!!
1: Christopher Columbus landed here in 1502 and gave the area the name Costa Rica. Costa Rica literally translates to "Rich Coast". Known as the greenest country in the world, Costa Rica ranks first on the Happy Planet Index which measures human well-being and environmental impact. Though the country is small in size, it possesses the highest density of species anywhere. Twenty five percent of the country is protected in National Parks and Forests. We were also amazed by the recycling efforts and the genuine steps to keep the country green and clean. Costa Ricans or "Ticos" are of 4 different tribes- Bribri, Cabecar, Boruca, Guayami. They are a very friendly people and enjoyed wishing us a "Pura Vida!" We traveled from the West Coast to East Coast and enjoyed many wonderful experiences along the way. | Pura Vida (pure life) | Our Trip to Costa Rica
2: Our Gang | Jeannette | Genevieve | Mangal
3: Merle | Alex | Avril
4: The Yellow River natural color from the iron ore deposits | Traveling from San Jose to Tortuguero | Rice & Beans are the base of every meal- at breakfast it is called "Gallo Pinto" and at dinner it is a "Casado" served with meat, salad and fried plantains & accompaniments. Fresh fruit is in plenty especially watermelon, pineapple, and papaya | The Butterfly Garden
5: The lush countryside | The numerous banana plantations along the way | The waterways are the highways and the ferry the mode of transport to get to the remote towns along the way
6: The Butterfly Garden We watched a beautiful morpho butterfly emerge from its chrysalis stage above. Outside it is a pretty brown, but inside the wings open to show off a stunning blue color.
7: For much of Costa Rica’s early history, coffee was the leading export. The formation of massive corporations as United Fruit Company changed that. Bananas have been a staple of Costa Rica’s economy for well over 100 years. Today, Costa Rica's banana production ranks eighth in the world. The bananas stalks are covered to encourage even ripening of the fruit. Each tree produces only one flower and one banana stalk. However the stalk may contain up to 100 bananas. The tree is not cut down fully after harvesting, but left to provide nourishment to the new shoots nearby. They have short roots and are usually tied to each other for strength. The bananas are washed in bleach to remove the sap and then packed for export. | Banana Plantation
8: Tortuguero | We went cruising down the canal to see the lush tropical forest around and spotted many iguanas, sloths, and even a crocodile. Opposite Genna is outside our room. The Oropendola bird is a beautiful gregarious brown and gold bird that cries out and swings upside down when it makes its call. Next to it are their nests that hang at the end of the coconut palms and swing like pendulums. They eat insects and fruit and are very vocal.
9: our room | a town along the waterway
10: The Canals and Waterways | Fungi | Oropendola Nests | The Oropendola takes about 5 days to build this nest, and if it does not meet with the approval of the female, the male has to remake the nest! | Laguna Lodge
11: Tortuguero (Giant Sea Turtles) A remote, tiny fishing village connected to the rest of the mainland by a series of rivers and canals. This aquatic highway is lined with a series of farmland and dense tropical rainforest that is home to the howler and spider monkeys, three-toed sloths, toucans and green macaws. We stayed at the Laguna Lodge and were fortunate to have the beautiful canal on one side that one could gaze upon and meditate if you were so inclined. On the opposite side of the property was the Atlantic Ocean. We walked along the beach and listened to the powerful, ferocious waves. We did not see any turtles, because we were there at the wrong season.
13: Arenal volcano is an imposing volcano close to the town of La Fortuna. It first erupted in 1968 with a tremendous explosion killing 78 people. We spoke to a staff member who recounted in great detail the fear and devastation of the explosion. Giant fireworks filled the night sky. Today Arenal is considered one of the most active volcanoes having erupted in 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. We could see the fumes from the top of the volcano before it was enveloped in the clouds. Arenal Lake is located at the base of the volcano and surrounded by both primary and secondary forests.
14: Let me show you to your room... | outside our room
15: and take you to the garden . . . | The beautiful Arenal Observatory Lodge is located at the base of the volcano and overlooking Arenal lake. Streams, rivers and forest abound in the 870 acres of the park. | The spectacular view from our room of Volcan Arenal and our private garden.
16: We were taken on a Park hike where we got to see many different birds, touch and feel the Oropendola's nest, walk on the hanging bridges visit the primary forest, and the Catarata Waterfall. Even attempted the Tarzan swing and rode on the tractor.
17: Genna got Montezuma's revenge and was so sick and weak she had to use the wheelchair for a day. | Oropendola - on the tree and doing their upside down dance below
18: White Water Rafting | pure exhilarating fun!
19: We used Wave Expeditions and covered Level 3 Rapids down the Baldi river. Snack of fresh fruit was served on a turned over raft. Then we continued our journey down the river and more fun.
20: Cold beer as a reward for our work! We then stopped for a very traditional lunch served on a banana leaf- rice & beans, raw papaya vegetable, fish, fried plantain and for dessert a coconut sweet. Coffee was lovely and even more delicious with the rum and coconut cream addition!
21: We saw the sugarcane fields and how they extract the juice. Freshly squeezed, it was delicious. These beautiful birds chirped and sang all around us as we ate. Then it was on to the finish line and back to the hotel
22: Arenal Hot Springs | C a l m Y o u r S e n s e s | Take It Easy . . . . | Babes in Water | The more attractive Babes
23: Coffee Plantation | Coffee and chocolate tour & tasting | Coffee was brought to Costa Rica during the late 18th century. The economic bounty that coffee production and trade gave birth to, allowed the country to build the first railroads to the Atlantic Coast in 1890. Costa Rica produces excellent coffees. Their quality is unsurpassed. It is recommended to taste them unblended in order to taste the uniqueness of their flavor. The varieties grown in the country belong to the “Arabica” species, which yield a tasty, highly aromatic and well-balanced beverage. Costa Rica is the only country where only the Arabica varieties, by law, may be grown.
24: Monteverde | enjoying a traditional welcome drink | the gang surveying the grounds
25: Morpho's Restaurant | Hotel Fonda Vela
26: NIGHT TOUR | For those who wish to observe wonders hidden in the forest after dark, the night walk is a wonderful experience. We did the Hidden Valley Trail, a 2 mile hike. We did see a lot of Tarantulas, frogs, leaf-cutter ants, army ants, a variety of birds, a toucan that fell on us, a click beetle, fireflies and developed a new appreciation for the wonders of the forest and the marvelous ecosystem at Monteverde. | Leafcutter ants were most fascinating. They travel in long lines far into the forest, in search of leaves; they leave a scent along the trail so they can find their way back home. They use their sharp mandibles (jaws) to cut leaves from plants, and then carry the large pieces of leaves over their back. A leafcutter ant can carry almost ten times its own weight. They were a funny sight. They carry the leaf pieces back to their underground nests where the leaves are chewed into a pulp. The decaying pulp is stored with ant feces and fungus spores, and strands of fungus eventually grow on the decomposing pulp. This fungus is the crop that these ants feed upon; the ants do not actually eat the leaves. The debris is then deposited outside and forms the mound you see below. There is only one queen ant and millions of worker ants in each site. | leaf cutter ant hill | Tarantula
27: Morpho's restaurant excellent food and beautiful place. | The rough roads of Costa Rica. Our guide told us to think of them as "free body massage"! | Bromeliad. These are independent plants that live on another tree | Strangler Ficus Strangler fig begins its life as a parasite as its seed lodges in the cracks and crevices of the bark of a host. Cabbage palms are favorite hosts. The seed germinates and sends out air roots. These air roots take in nutrients and water from the air and host tree. Eventually the air roots grow to reach the ground and develop their own underground root system, independent of the host tree. Often during this process, the strangler fig may cover the host tree with its own trunk and strangle the host tree, hence the common name. New branches grow and if these reach the ground, they will send out new shoots and roots. Over time, this can create a compound structure of trees that covers a large area.
28: Cloud Forest | The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was established in 1972 and its protective reach extends over 35,000 acres and encompasses eight life zones atop the Continental Divide. Here a steady flow of moist air meets the mountains and creates a nearly constant mist.There are many species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles living within its bounds. It also supports the endangered three-wattled bellbird and resplendent quetzal. | Often taking the form of fog, clouds hover around the upper canopy of the forest before condensing onto the leaves of trees and dripping onto the plants below. The sun has a hard time breaking through this thick veil of clouds. This causes a slow rate of evaporation and thus provides the plants with abundant moisture. This moisture helps to promote a huge amount of biodiversity, particularly within the type of plants known as epiphytes. These plants grow on other plants (including trees) non-parasitically, collecting their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and debris that surround them. Common examples include lichens, orchids and bromeliads, all of which are abundant in Monteverde.
29: Cloud Forest | Monteverdi | A very natural smile! | A prominent plant is the poor man's umbrella. If you get caught in a downpour while in the rainforest; its giant leaves make excellent impromptu shelters. | Strangled Ficus or Strangler Fig
30: Cicropia The hollow internodes of these trees are almost always occupied by biting Azteca ants. Each tree typically contains a single colony of ants. | Giant Tree ferns are not really trees — they don’t have true trunks but giant fronds or leaves. | Bromeliad - non parasitic plants. They must find their own food and water without relying on the tree
31: banana flower | Turkey's Foot Flower
32: On February 14, Valentine's Day we took the Selvatura Park Canopy Tour and strapped in for the adventure of our life - zip lining through the Cloud Forest. We were equipped with the proper gear, then taken to the canopy tour course that had 13 zip lines, 14 platforms and a Tarzan swing along the way for a total of 1.5 miles (3 km) of total cable length. We zipped through the trees on cables that were 150-500 feet off the ground over canyons, creeks and forest. While cruising down the line I managed to spy the rest of our gang walking the bridge and looking up at me. The course took us about an hour and a half. Just being at that height flying over the thick lush forest with the mist around you was an unforgettable experience. The walk way is a 1.5 mile trail that crosses through the cloud forest canopy. We walked across 8 different bridges between 150 to 510 feet in length and 45 to 180 feet in altitude. The bridges were awesome. For anyone not seeking the high thrill, they were a solid surface to cross over the canopy, and had just a slight swaying feel to them. After that it was back to the gift shop to hunt for souvenirs of our memorable trip and adventure. It was a fabulous day! Pura Vida! | ECO-ADVENTURE DAY
33: ZIP line canopy tour | Heart of Palm Salad | Zip lining above the cloud forest
34: Tarzan Swing | The Course
35: Hanging Bridges | Zip Lining
37: Guanacaste Playa Hermosa
38: A Side trip to Nicaragua | The volcano | flamenco dancing | city streets
39: officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent as well as the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighboring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. | AUSTRALIA
40: l e t ' s g o s h o p p i n g | Pottery Coffee Jewelry | Beautiful bowls, trivets, napkin holders, carved from a variety of Costa Rican hardwoods | beautiful wood carvings
41: The Art Store - a treasure chest of paintings, carvings, jewelry, pottery and other artistic creations. We patronized them greatly | Wooden Goods Souveniers | W | The Art Store | handmade hammocks, souvenir T-shirts, sarongs, and beach dresses | The Monteverde Art House is a world of creativity within the forest full of shapes, colors, and beauty, resembling the environment that surrounded us.
42: The BORUCA MASK | The pride of the Boruca people is their ornately carved, wooden masks. The masks come in many different varieties and styles, but authentic Boruca masks demonstrate an expert craft, passed down for centuries. In addition to the two most common styles: Diablo and Ecological, masks are made to look like jaguars, birds or a combination of the styles.
43: Boruca is built on faith in the wisdom of elders and the Boruca legends they tell, passed down for centuries. The identity of Boruca reflects a deep respect for the stories told, the nature that surrounds them, and the community they share. The Boruca people are still fighting to preserve their identity. The historical struggle against the Spanish continues to influence present day efforts to maintain the Boruca identity despite the changing culture. From their mask-making, the Dance of the Devils, and the unusual story of a group of women organizing to turn the economy around, daily life in Boruca has changed to focus on cultural preservation. The annual festival, Dance of the Devils (Baile de los Diablos), is important to the Boruca people. It celebrates the resistance to Spanish colonization and their ability to maintain an identity rich with their own traditions in the face of foreign influence. During the festival, the village celebrates with a four-day depiction of Spaniards being chased off by the Boruca. The Spanish are represented by a bull costume and the Boruca wear their traditional devil masks.
44: Dear Kids, We are having a fabulous time in Costa Rica. There is a rich mix of mammal, amphibian, and reptile life and the lowlands and marshes create the perfect conditions for the largest concentration of waterfowl and wading birds in Central America. Beautiful plants too. We have seen a boa, frogs, hairy tarantulas and lovely birds. We miss you! | February 16, 2013 To: Everybody Back Home With Love, Mum & Dad | Cicropia | Tumor plant- it has a wasp parasite | PLANTS | Fiddle Fern
45: Insects | The giant 7" insect that landed on Alex's back! | boa constrictor - just had lunch
46: Poisonous Frog- the poison in one of these frogs can kill 8 people.They are 1 inch in length. | The JESUS CHRIST LIZARD is so fast, it can walk on water! | CROCODILES | The green iguanas are herbivores, the black ones are carnivores (look out monkeys!) They can grow up to five or six feet long and have very powerful tails. | r e p t i l e s
47: HOWLER MONKEY | SLOTH | COATIMUNDI These nocturnal rodents feed on anything in site. They are similar to racoons. | a n i m a l s | Howlers are New World monkeys found in tropical Central and South America. They are aptly named for their cacophonous cries. When a number of howlers let loose their lungs often at dawn or dusk, the din can be heard up to three miles (five kilometers) away. Howlers also boast a very strong tail. They can use this tail as an extra arm to grip or even hang from branches—no Old World monkeys have such a tail. A gripping tail is particularly helpful to howler monkeys because they rarely descend to the ground. They prefer to stay aloft, munching on the leaves that make up most of their diet. | Sloth sleep a lot—some 15 to 20 hours every day. Even when awake they often remain motionless. | The sloth is the world's slowest mammal- so sedentary that algae grows on its furry coat. The plant gives it a greenish tint that is useful camouflage in the trees of its Central and South American rainforest home.
48: Motmot | B I R D S | Humming bird | Heron | The owl that hooted right outside our room. It was amazing to stand below this beautiful bird and listen to him call out.
49: Sleigh throated red star | Quetzal | Guan | Toucan | Grackle | Orange Belly Trogan | Toucans are predator birds. They eat the eggs of other birds and this keep the population of the birds balanced. Quetzal is a beautiful endangered bird rarely seen. Grackle are very very noisy birds
50: Gallo Pinto enjoy the taste of Costa Rica Ingredients: 1 large onion 8 slices bacon diced 1 red bell pepper diced 1 bunch fresh cilantro sliced 3 celery stalks diced 6 cups cooked black beans without liquid 4 cups cooked white rice Salaa Lizano (to taste) 2 tbsp oil Heat oil in a skillet and add bacon. Cook until nice and crispy. Add onion & peppers and cook till translucent. Add beans and mix well. Cook to absorb the taste of the onions. Finally add the rice, celery, cilantro and Salsa to taste. Mix and allow to cook 5 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gallo Pinto is usually served with eggs. Enjoy!
51: Hasta Manana Costa Rica- We hope to visit again soon! | Costa Rica | 17 FEB 2012 | X