Costa Rica, Day 2
We woke up this morning at La Ensenada, an arid but lush ranch next to the Pacific Ocean's rolling waves. We woke in the early light of day because of the howler monkeys bellowing. Not one but two troupes of monkeys were calling in very close proximity to our cabinas. We quickly located the two troupes and, together with a group of friendly birders from Europe, watched the monkey drama play out. Several males scampered about in the trees overhead barking at each other. What was most interesting to our group was the female with the her baby clinging to her back as she jumped lithely to find mangos above seemingly ignoring the male monkey drama.
Breakfast was interrupted by a Magpie-Jay looking for handouts. We had to watch over our eggs because food left unattended was up for grabs. At least the anolis climbing around didn't seem to want any of our breakfast. Luckily, nobody lost any breakfast; it was too delicious to risk losing to a bird!
After breakfast, we packed up and left La Ensenada. Before leaving the Pacific coast we went on a wonderful boat ride. Local fisherman gave us an amazing tour of the Gulf of Nicoya and its mangrove swamps. We even got to get out and climb around a bit, watch your feet, those roots are rough! We idenified over 27 species of bird, several sea turtles and a manta ray that jumped out of the ocean! The fishermen taught us about how they responsibly harvest the fish in that area to ensure the survival of both fish and Costa Ricans. As if that wasn't enough, we then went back to their private restaurant where they served us fish caught that morning...whole fish! The look on the kids faces was incredible as they stared back into the eyes of their lunch. To their credit, not a morsel was left and nothing went to waste. Again, yet another delicious meal in Costa Rica.
After an hour bus ride we arrived at our second overnight lodgings, La Calandria. It is a dormitory style scientific field station built into the side of a hill overlooking beautiful valley. The sunsets here were breathtaking! It's located in the mountains along the continental divide just a few miles from the cloud forests of Monte Verde. We all settled into our scenic new home and had dinner. Dinner was prepared by Lillian and Luce and was absolutely fantastic!
That evening we met Kelly and Vino, two experts in everything bats. Kelly has been catching bats with her dad since she was 3 years old! They come to the Calandria field station to catch and catalog the bats and we got to tag along. What an experience! We saw at least 7 bats up close and even got to pet some! Three different species, one pregnant mama and one who had just given birth. Kelly and Vino answered all of the hilarious and/or insightful questions with comfort and ease. The idea of the mosquito burrito is sure to be a big hit for the rest of the trip.
We ended the night by prepping for our hike down to San Gerardo in the morning. We'll be staying at another field station overnight. Two miles of hiking into the jungle guided by Mark Wainwright. I know we can do this and, after tonight, I know we'll shine when Mark finds the mind-blowing nature on our hikes that he is know world wide for. I'm so excited for tomorrow I don't know if I'll be able to sleep...