It has been far too long my dear reader(s) (for all I know all my views could be from my mom…Hi Mom!). And even if it hasn’t seemed that long to any of you guys, it seems like I have been withholding information of great times and updates and all of that business. So now is the time for another list!
Prepare yourselves…because not much of this is written in chronological order.
1. SLOTH WATCH 2013 IS OFFICIALLY OVER!!
Yes the day came when I saw a sloth. Here’s the thing, sloths sleep very high in trees and all just look like big fur balls which also look like termite nests which are EVERYWHERE. Even with my glasses I couldn’t find one for the life of me but I was still hearing about everyone seeing sloths and being amazed and here I was missing out. And then the sloth came to me, right outside the house in a small forested area. So even though I was wearing shorts and Chacos (the greatest adventure sandals ever) which is normally just an outside no-no because of the blood-thirsty mosquitoes I raced out, camera in hand, to get a picture of this big lazy blob anyways. First off it took about 5 minutes to see it in the tree and then another 5 minutes to 60x zoom with my camera AND find it again with the zoom. Sounds pretty quick, right?
The next day I managed to find no less than 15 bites all along my legs. And at that time it seemed worth it and I was so satisfied and I now have a couple pictures that I can’t post yet because the internet is like molasses. And next thing you know I see 2 in the forest a couple days later and then….
2. Tortuguero National Park
15 minutes into our 3-hour long boating adventure to the lodge we saw 2 sloths in a tree. And you know how many mosquito bites I got from that? Zero. It’s all about the experience I suppose. Anyways I’m kind of jumping ahead here just so I could get the sloth watch update in and then the semi-frustration about how easy it was to see them as soon as I got into a boat on a jungle river. But looking at it now if the worst things that could be happening in my life is that I received a lot of bites while looking at wild sloths and then getting in a boat to ride to a national park overflowing with wildlife and 100 different shades of greens on the trees than I’m probably doing something very right.
But yes, after spending a weekend in San Jose (more on that in a sec) we took a 2 hour bus ride to the boat and then proceeded to ride through jungle rivers and canals for 3 hours. So if you have been to disneyland, think about the jungle cruise ride, subtract half of cheesy tourist-y jokes (our guide Modesto provides just the right amount of wildlife knowledge and jokes), subtract tigers and rhinos and indigenous tribes, add about 20 feet to all the trees, some sunshine, and a lot of birds, then you can basically imagine what this experience was like.
After this we get to the Laguna Lodge where they had some towels waiting for us to wipe off residual sea/river water (I will admit I was not used to this luxury business and almost didn’t take because I preferred to have a reminder of the awesome ride I just had). This lodge is basically like a stationary cruise/best summer camp your parents could send you to. River on one side, Caribbean Sea on the other, a small soccer field, volleyball nets, 2 pools, buffet style meals, and rocking chairs on the patio of your room which really bring out the grandma I feel I slowly becoming with these early bed times and wake ups, sometimes I also envy the flowy dresses the older women in town wear.
This place is awesome and currently where I am now, we will be going on a bird watching boat ride through a small jungle canal later, a turtle walk, and zip lining through the canopy. Pretty sweet set up if you ask me.
3. The Weekend in San Jose
Costa Rica is an interesting case in terms of colonial history. I can’t remember if I’ve already blogged about this but basically they have Spanish, Chinese, and African American populations spread out throughout the country. I have seen about 500x as many Chinese restaurants that I would have thought but to be fair I thought I would only be seeing one…or less. But Costa Rica has not suffered nearly the same level of corruption and prying as other central american countries which is one of the reasons it’s so safe and tourist friendly. (Most of the corruption comes in the form of pineapple and banana plantations, so maybe more on that later). Anyways I was heading to San Jose for the weekend to get a head start on observation work and meet up with the wonderful professor who gave me this opportunity (she may be reading this right now since she has recently joined the Facebook world where I will be posting this) and I’m not sucking up because this is actually true, and everyone should be jealous of how awesome primatologists are.
I did some data collection for research on the general layout of the city and looking at how many western restaurants there are (note: A LOT) but there was also a cultural fair going on in one of the city parks. There were little street vendors with local artisan gifts, some standard tourist trinkets, and a little boutique booth where I bought a dress from the guy that sewed it, looking forward to the moments when I can say “It’s one of ind from Costa Rica.” And even though I am slightly ashamed at that level of snobbiness I am also very excited because it fit perfectly. One of my favorite things about San Jose is that they have a lot of city parks with plenty of benches that people will actually go hang out in and they are all constructed in this beautiful colonial architectural style which had me thinking about Midnight in Paris (except more like in Spain). From the jungle to this wonderfully aged city I can see why Costa Rica is slowly becoming one of the top destinations for retirees.
4. I’ve already lost track of what I’ve done.
I started writing this post yesterday morning with all these great ideas and then I started doing more great things and now I have a brain full of great stories that I just don’t have time to write so if you want more details there than hopefully we will be seeing each other shortly and then have a coffee date that will last 3 hours because I will have so much to say.
This was awesome for 2 reasons. First because it gave me a good idea of what the canopy is actually like and the forest we did it in looked very similar to the forest at the station. The monkeys and sloths and many other things have it pretty nice up there. Second, because my Spanish is now at a level where I get benefits for speaking the local language. The guides were really nice to me and we got to talk about life and culture in Costa Rica and I can count that as part of my research which is another reason why anthropology wins.
6. Turtle walk
Moonlit beach, sky full of stars, no flashlights needed (or allowed). We followed our guide along the beach and met up with a conservancy program, who then pointed out that a turtle was nesting about 10 feet away from us. We gave it some time before walking up and when we did I was amazed. I mean, I knew sea turtles were large (and can live to be over 100 thanks to Finding Nemo), but this mama was MASSIVE. And she was just chilling there popping out 100-200 eggs like it was no big deal and sure let’s let all these tourists come and invade my privacy. And then she used her back legs to cover up the hole which looked like a little child making a sand pile and patting it down and she scurried off into the moonlit ocean to never see her children again.
She was pretty fast mover too.
Even though there are still plenty of things missing from this post. The last thing I did is worth telling. 5:10 AM alarm went off this morning and I looked out the window if I could see the sun peeking out and thankfully the cloud coverage was minimal so I grabbed my camera and phone (for twice the picture taking abilities) and walked out onto the beach to see the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea.
There have been few other moments in my life that have made me feel completely appreciative and at peace than that moment.