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February 22,2003 as I write this it is snowing outside my window, temperature dropping...
Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson talks of Biophilia - the love nature and living creatures. I think I experienced it when after a 4 hour walking tour of the jungle at the ecological reserve of La Selva, we returned to the scientific compound and a couple of naturalists had set up their huge telescope to look at a sloth hanging in one of the trees. As I looked up into the trees, he seemed to be 5 feet away from me, sleeping. When our guide whistled he opened his eyes and looked right at me. Boy, I felt a shiver go up my spine, as if I was looking at a creature with feelings and intelligence. How much time and evolution separated was irrelevant at that moment, what mattered was that I felt a connection to this creature who hung around trees, hardly moving, scratching, and eating.
Yesterday, February 21, I woke to the sound of Howler Monkeys, and who knows what else, after a night of torrential rain in La Selva Biological Reserve in Costa Rica. That was at 5:30 am, with the tropical sky still dark. My wife saw a Green Macaw in the trees near the entrance, while packing the 4x4 diesel SUV we had rented. We left in good time, only to find that the Tunnel back to San Jose blocked by a rock slide, about a 100 trucks were waiting and I figured, whenever it was cleared, the trucks would be hell to follow up the mountain in the rain and cloud fog. So I turned around, retracing our route and then took the other road, the one that twisted into the mountains, passing by waterfalls and volcanoes. Mostly in second gear. A few trailer trucks also made it that way, to my consternation. At the top, I stopped at a restaurant, the Colbert, run by an expatriate French man who sold us some excellent croissants, almost as good as those in Paris. We made it to the airport in good time, only to find that the flight had been delayed an hour. We didn't want to leave.
Our week long stay in Costa Rica had been a dream. The first day, we arrived around noon after a five hour flight, hopped into a mini bus and traveled on the hairpin highway to the Pacific coast. Trees in bloom, orange, pink, purple; very beautiful. Very steep and high too, lots of trucks. Then we climbed into mountains, past Toucans, windmills producing electricity, to see the first view of Arenal Volcano, clear sunny day. Just before arriving in Eco lodge, we see a young male Howler monkey hanging in trees over river. We stop, and as I film him, leaf cutter ants bite me, I am standing on their path. Next day we go to Palo Verde park, take boat on Tempisque river and see crocodiles, birds and iguanas; fantastic. We are taken on nature walk around hotel, Eco Lodge Lake Coter, and meet native Indians, see more ants.
Juan Diego, our guide. convinces us to do the canopy ride, the next day we do it, wild and scary. 8 runs, longest about 160 feet, or is that meters. In afternoon we go to Tabacon hot springs below the volcano, passing by a Swiss village on rough roads. The hot springs are like a movie set, it feels wonderful to soak in 40 centigrade hot water. Heaven on earth. On the way back, we stop to hear and see volcanic eruption. Cows are sitting on the dark highway.
On to MonteVerde, the eco tourist Mecca. We stay in cabins, do the butterfly (we learn about the sex lives of insects from an enthusiatic young American girl) and hummingbird galleries, the latter was more impressive, incredible. Next day we do a tour into cloud forest with Bobby and find the trails encumbered with people. We see Quetzal. The park itself is the size of Manhattan, but the tourists only see one per cent. Afternoon, sky walk on swinging bridges over forest. We smell insecticide, wonder if they spray to keep bugs from eating tourists? Next day on to Puntarenas, Fiesta Resort, all inclusive. Spend the afternoon in pool, or on chair reading, relaxing. Night; Costa Rican folklore dances.
Thursday, drive through San Jose, no street signs, then on to La Selva biological reserve where we catch tour in afternoon after rain shower. Hot, humid, tropical. See so many animals. Insects. 4 hour walk in mud. Exhausted but happy. Bunk beds with sheets not on, so you can see if ants or scorpions. Wierd electrical heater on shower head. Meet mother and daughter from Los Angelas touring by bus. The daughter will go off to work with turtle hatchery in Touriega on Carribean coast, also meet students from OTS program here for 2 months doing tropical ecology studies.