After the Clicker Expo, my head was spinning with new learning and enthusiasm. I now had a bag full of books and we were heading to Costa Rica for a two week holiday. I had to pinch myself! It was really happening. It was April 2014 and I thought about what I was doing the previous April – which was spending each day with Mum while she was in the private hospital. I felt both sad and guilty… it was only because she had died that I had been able to do the trip….
We caught a plane from Norfolk to Miami – then to San José, Costa Rica. We then caught a small Nature Air plane to Puerto Jiminez in the south of the country. We were heading to Laguna Vista Villas near Corcovado National Park. I had researched this place and found it would be ideal for a week – to relax and watch all the wildlife – and plenty of opportunity for Doug to wander and find different plant species.
I was terrified of the light plane – I’m much better in a big plane – preferably with more than one engine – but that is how they get around in Costa Rica – driving over the difficult terrain takes a long time. I think I held my breath all the way!
Laguna Vista turned out to be all I’d hoped for. We had a villa which overlooked the lagoon and ocean and also a large tree which was home to two Macaws. I spent so much time watching them – and the many other animals, swam in the beautiful pool – kayaked on the lagoon and wandered the area. Doug ventured further afield some days. It was so hot – being only 10 deg north of the Equator! Here are some photos.
After a week there, it was time to head to our next destination – Arenal Observatory Lodge. Once again, I had to hold my breath on the plane ride back to San José – to me the pilots looked about 15 – but of course they very expertly flew the plane and landed us safely! I know the company has had a few fatalities – one recently – I thought of those young pilots…..
The Observatory Lodge is set in such a beautiful location and has outstanding views of Arenal Volcano. While it’s an active volcano it’s described as being in a passive phase. There is a small amount of steam you can see – but since 2010 it has been in this resting phase.
I loved staying here. It was pleasantly cool after our hot week – but the wildlife is abundant. The lodge is a favourite area for birdwatching groups – we spent time being entertained by the birdlife – I even saw a Toucan – and we were also entertained by the group of Coatis who headed up to the Lodge each day – and stopped at our villa to say hi!
We did quite a bit of walking – I was very proud to make it all the way to the top of the Cerro Chato dormant volcano which has a lagoon filling the crater. Arenal was probably my favourite part of the Costa Rica trip. Here are some photos.
When we left Arenal, we had one more stop – Savegre Nature Reserve. It was about two hours from San Jose and from there was access to the Paramo and cloud forest. For me what was exciting is that it is home to the Quetzal – a fairly secretive but spectacular bird.
On the day we arrived, we wandered around the grounds. We visited the Quetzal site – but sadly, for everyone waiting, there was no sighting. However, the place was full of hummingbirds and I had a great time photographing them.
On the following day, Doug was going to walk all the way to the Paramo – the high alpine landscape. I was doing something much easier – spending time at the spa resort and once again trying to catch sight of the Quetzal. Someone had told us the best chance of sighting is around 8 am. It’s when the male and female change ‘shift’ to guard the nest. I was a little late as I was searching for a new memory card for my camera. When I arrived there was a crowd gathered. It is well managed to ensure humans can’t get too close.
Nothing was happening – people started to wander away – but I stayed. There was a family there from South Africa and they had their own personal guide. He was something of a Quetzal expert. It was nice they included me in their ‘family’. The guide kept saying it will happen… so I stayed…. and sure enough it did. There it was – on the tree – in all its splendor!!!! He was so excited for us to see it. He said to me – now you will have good luck! It is said someone who spots the Quetzal will be lucky! Well…. I’m not sure about that – but I was happy for that to be bestowed upon me!! And I already felt so lucky!! Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky in the camera department. I only had my video camera so the pictures weren’t too clear – but I will include this one!
After the excitement of that – it was time to head to the spa. As I sat in the bubbling water, looking out at the view, another young couple joined me. We got talking. They lived in San Jose. They were young (well everyone seems young!) and were hoping to travel through South America for a year. I told them I had been to Peru, Bolivia and Chile way back in 1982. Their eyes grew in amazement! So long ago!
I said Doug and I went on two treks – one in Peru and one in Bolivia. We trekked up to the high altitudes in the Andes, camped near glaciers, came eye to eye with Condors and enjoyed the alpacas which carried our gear. It was probably one of the most difficult treks I have ever done! We saw plenty of Inca ruins, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca – and most scarily – had guns drawn on us in Chile if we approached the guards too quickly!
We also had three weeks after the tour – and did a nightmare train ride across the Atacama Desert – but were in awe of the smoking volcanoes. We also got the compulsory tummy bugs and the South American handbook was our bible. We were able to diagnose Doug with amoebic dysentery and get him the correct antibiotics – no mean feat while in the jungle towns where no one speaks English!
They also wanted to tour Easter Island and I was able to tell them about our four days there and how I was just fascinated by the statues……
So after telling them all that, what fascinated them the most was that we managed to plan it……BEFORE THE INTERNET!!!! I laughed – I told them we did lead reasonable lives before the internet. I forget so many of the young ones have never lived without it!!! Here are some photos of that ancient trip – before the internet…
I’ve wandered off track a bit……… so after the spa and a few hours relaxing, reading some of the books from Clicker Expo, Doug arrived back from his long day. He had made it!!! Such a long walk – but he was very happy with what he had seen. I told him about the Quetzal and we headed to the viewing spot – it was almost time for the evening shift change….. but there was no sighting…. I had been very lucky that morning!
That was our final day in Costa Rica – the following morning we headed to the airport. I was heading back to Florida, and Doug was heading to Mexico for two weeks. I was so excited… it was almost time for the Five Go To Sea cruise!!! Before that though, I would be meeting up with a fellow Aussie who was also on the cruise – and we were going to have a few days in Orlando and Miami beforehand.
COMING UP – FIVE GO TO SEA – THE ANIMAL TRAINING CRUISE!!
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