When you hear “Costa Rica,” perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the verdant forests and thriving wildlife. After all, it barely scrapes the 10th parallel, so this tropical paradise is teeming with life.
In visiting for ourselves, we weren’t disappointed, and I was ready with my trusty camera around every corner.
I had many opportunities to bask in the beauty – from just chilling at the resort, to the local park in Alajuela. There was so much to take in no matter where I looked.
Old ruins were home to tropical birds and fascinating ants.
And, of course, the river was rife with life.
Birds, crocs, bugs, lizards, flowers, frogs – everything around us was living, breathing, thriving. Even cats abounded along the beaches!
We couldn’t get enough from our day-to-day, so we additionally signed up for two jungle walks.
The first was with Rainmaker in Puntarenas. We were there first thing in the morning, so we had the tour guide all to ourselves. With him, we wandered the damp path, through clouds of mosquitos, over tree roots, and along a creek. Around every corner, he pointed out a new life form, and I was amazed at his ability to discern the critters against the background of near-identical colors. The frogs were beautiful, the flowers stunning, and the lizards entertaining. Though I didn’t accept the invitation to swim mid-hike, we did grab a traditional Costa Rican lunch (rice and beans) afterwards, and I had more than enough to keep my attention with the local hummingbird.
Our visit to Arenal also brought another jungle hike, and this was surprisingly different. While we likewise had the tour guide to ourselves, we didn’t see nearly as much life as with the first jaunt. It also rained. Quite a bit.
At home, rain starts slowly. It’s a mist or a few sporadic drops, eventually coalescing into more substantial droplets. Most ignore it and simply keep on walking, the moisture never enough to warrant a hood, much less an umbrella.
This approach doesn’t work as well in the rainforests of Costa Rica. The first few drops are fine, but you quickly realize that this rain is bigger and wetter than anything at home. Without shelter, you’re quickly drenched and even more miserable in the oppressive humidity.
Fortunately, I came prepared, but Aaron had forgotten his jacket in the car. He was left shamefully sharing the umbrella with our guide until the water abated.
Interestingly, I found the rain was actually stronger under the canopy, pregnant drops plummeting from their cached heights among the boughs. Out in the open, the rain was more evenly distributed, falling in a gentle haze.
The rain didn’t scare away the forest life, however. I loved the little snake that curled itself on a leaf to disguise itself as a mere turd. That’s certainly effective at keeping predators from wanting to eat it!
I couldn’t get enough of the vast palette of species surrounding us everywhere we went. There was plenty to keep my trigger finger happy, and we didn’t even begin to see all the life that rich country has to offer. Perhaps next time we’ll see sloths, monkeys, or pumas!
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