Another day, another new country for our collection. We’d heard a little about Costa Rica from Harry Chittick, our on board lecturer, who spoke of a country with no military, where education is key and the envy of many Nicaraguans.
As we sailed into port this morning, I looked at those clouds and knew that if I spent any considerable time at sea, then I’d need to study meteorology. I mean, look at that sky!
Actually, I was distracted, for some people had seen dolphins early this morning and looking out over the rail, I hoped to see some too. Instead, I saw these largeish birds, of crow size, swooping down over the smaller, flying fishes and occasionally, scoring a catch.
Not really what I would choose to observe at this time of the day!
Around lunchtime, we watched as the Captain brought the ship into port. There was a narrow pier for us to aim for and slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y we inched towards it.
Hey, as the onshore gang watched and took selfies of themselves, we noted the JCB on the pier and said “Hurrah” for British engineering (and Daylesford, of course )
Whilst we inched towards our berth, there was fun being had on the beach. Small boys and water, eh?
We decided it was time to go and collect our tickets in the theatre and sitting there, marvelled at the theatre designer who thought it would be a wizard wheeze to place that chair and table behind the pillar. What? (Not as if there isn’t room to move it a couple of feet to the left, is there?)
Anyway, we were in group #1 and by the time we left, the gazebo was all set up and ready, with pot plants and chairs in place too. Nice one, Regent!
I felt quite sorry that we were already on the coach when we passed these lively chaps, playing some local tunes to greet us.
And the charming young woman with some local produce could only smile and wave as we drove past. I always enjoy the local welcome parties and felt sorry that on this occasion, their efforts couldn’t be fully appreciated.
We were soon out on the road and it was immediately apparent that Costa Rica is rather more prosperous than Nicaragua.
There were more private cars around, the homes looked more solid and the general feeling was one of greater prosperity.
Soon we were out into the country, heading into the lush, green interior.
We were heading for the high country, to the cloud forest, in fact.
And when my Hero said he’d just spotted a monkey in the trees, of course, I couldn’t stop looking for another one!
But the road was becoming more precarious and I’m sure the driver needed someone like me to keep an eye on it too.
Soon, we really were in the clouds and there might even have been a splash of rain on the windows. So much for setting out covered in sunblock, with a hat and other hot weather precautions. Did we bring an umbrella? Of course not!
Now, this tour was titled “A Walk in the Clouds” and we knew that it would include walking on high suspension bridges. In fact, it was accompanied with a caution and labelled unsuitable for those afraid of heights. Like my Hero. The description also included details of bird life…which my friends will know, would send me running. So, the pair of us had agreed to be brave, to stick it out together and if we ended up as a pair of nervous wrecks somewhere along the way, we’d support one another to get through it.
You can see who had to face their demons first.
Having crossed the bridge, we encountered this jolly group of workmen, maintaining the very bridge we’d just steeled ourselves to cross. Ha ha, very funny….but thank you for making it safe for us!!
My fear of birds extends to large butterflies in enclosed spaces too, so it was my turn to be brave. Thankfully, there were not too many in the butterfly house and those which were there were mostly taking a siesta.
The markings were so very beautiful, it was impossible not to admire them.
When I was directed towards one just emerging from the pupa, I just had to take a closer look.
Hard to believe that they all come from this, a butterfly egg, isn’t it? (At this point, our guide had to painstakingly refresh a few memories of the life cycle of a butterfly, making specific reference to the caterpillar stage. No, that enormous butterfly doesn’t come directly from that tiny egg!)
I chased one of these blue butterflies around for a while before catching a picture. It’s actually the same one as in earlier pictures, with the brown “eye” underneath, but the irridescent blue is magnificent, isn’t it?
But we’d come to walk through the clouds, hadn’t we? To look out for monkeys and sloths and snakes and….well, anything else that chose to make an appearance. Our guide, Miguel, walked slowly and quietly, just in case…
Is there a monkey in here? An exotic bird perhaps?
There’s a colourful flower!
But no monkey.
There’s another bridge to cross. Ooooer.
Maybe there’s a monkey or a bird to see over there? (What do you think?)
There’s a beautiful leaf, enormous, too. (Did we come to see leaves?)
There’s a hole and a web where a spider has been. Is the spider still there?
(thank goodness for that)
Another bridge to cross. I’m beginning to feel like one of us is having to face way more demons than the other…and it’s not me feeling scared right now!
Actually, the bridges weren’t too bad (depending on who you ask) and on the wobbliest of all, Miguel stood in the middle to stabilise it a bit for us. Good man.
(I’m sure we wouldn’t have noticed the wobble had a monkey turned up)
Miguel pointed out the bromeliads, where frogs lay eggs and baby frogs hatch at a particular time of the year (not now).
There were some interesting roots too.
But you get the picture? You’ve been here with us before, haven’t you? Walked through the rainforest/cloudforest/nature reserve and not seen a thing?
(even if that’s an awfully nice moss)
So it’s hardly surprising to walk over the last bridge having seen nothing but each other. Oh, and a few lovely trees and plants.
Bridge #1. We had done the trail backwards and were back at the start.
Where it was my time to be brave in the Hummingbird garden.
Strangely, these little things hardly counted as birds. They showed no interest in us and merely fluttered around the sugar syrup in the feeders.
I could focus on getting a decent photograph of one.
But it wasn’t easy, and I kept trying!
Because, it was the blue and green one I really wanted to capture – only with my camera of course!
Suddenly, there was a whoosh and I looked up to see a very large hummingbird swooping through the trees. Was it a monkey at last?!
Sadly not, it was someone ziplining through the canopy.
We retreated to the small cafe for a plate of local fruits and a glass of juice. We’d survived the ordeal of suspension bridges and flying things but sadly had seen not one single bit of wildlife.
But you know, somehow it didn’t matter. We’d spent an afternoon out in the Costa Rican cloudforest. We’d had fun and faced down our fears. We were smiling and had enjoyed an afternoon with friends.
So this is what we might have seen?
We’ll just have to come again, won’t we?