Our first stop in Costa Rica was in the tranquil bay of Santa Elena. We were exhausted and ready for a break from the high winds. Once the anchor was down, we relaxed with a sunset cocktail and to enjoy the deserted scenery surrounding us.
The tranquility soon was broken by this sound
Had we entered Jurassic Park? Are there gorillas in the mist? No, just the local howler monkey troop welcoming us to Costa Rica. We were certain they were going to be giant, gorillas even, but when we finally saw them they were basic-monkey sized. This country had me at first grunt.
Eager to see more of Costa Rica, we left the boat safely at Marina Papagayo and rented a car with pals, Robin and Mike from Mermaid and spent a few days up in the very wet inland mountains and the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Driving in Costa Rica is a combination of well paved roads and pot hole filled dirt trails where interesting obstacles are par for the course.
We spent a fascinating day touring the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which was made even better by our knowledgeable guide, Javier. Its protective reach extends over 35,000 acres atop the Continental Divide. There are over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles living within its bounds.
It is well worth having a guide to help you spot the local flora and fauna and explain the fascinating ecosystem found in this lush forest. We had just started the tour when a spider monkey quietly swung overhead. Unlike the Howlers, they don’t make a peep because as Javier explained: in this wild preserve full of predators (mainly wild cats, who actually prefer to hunt in the trees), “monkey cry, monkey die”. Sorry to say I didn’t have the camera out in time for the spider monkey, but we did for the resplendent Quetzal. What is this you ask? I did too after the 100th person in Central America talked about this colorful, yet elusive bird. It is the official bird of Guatemala, even their money is named after it, but they are rare, almost non-existent in Guatemala. However, good ol’ Javier (aka the Quetzal whisperer) with his bird calls and years of experience spotted this majestic creature for us. And wow was it a treat, this bird’s colors are so brilliant he looks like a cartoon. Javier was ingenious enough to help us take this picture through his scope with our phone.
Later in the tour, Javier calls us over to a small crack in the hillside, shines his flashlight and with a devilish smile tells us to look inside. Eeek, I believe is the word you are looking for…
After a few days of R&R in Monteverde, which included delicious meals, cool weather and an earthquake. Yes, 5 years in San Francisco without an earthquake and 5 days in CR and we were rockin and rollin’, we headed back to our marina along the coast.
We had a lovely stop in Playa Avellanas and enjoyed lunch at Lola’s watching an international crowd of surfers in this remote spot. (Good lord all we do is eat.)
We came to Costa Rica 20 years ago and it is amazing how much it has changed. A LOT more expensive, but still as beautiful. We’ll tell you more of our adventure in Part II of the CR post.