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Joined: January 1st, 1970

I needed a reminder that today is Wednesday! We had plenty of time to say thank you to both Yadi the chef and Joaquin the all-around man, and do our packing up. Joaquin sent us off with a box full of goodies: plantains, huge avocados, and cassava roots. We exchanged hugs and left by 11 am, Heather and David having left earlier to return the 2 rental cars. BTW we spent about $112 for that 3 day rental. The road that Carlos took was to the west, past the entrance to Ecotermales and Arenal Observatory and Mistoco Hanging Bridges. We circumnavigated the huge Lake Arenal, created by tectonic activity centuries ago, but expanded on purpose to create electricity (Carlos said it supplies 1/3 of the country’s needs), and wiping out two towns that were rebuilt elsewhere. ... read more
2 Iguana crossing bridge
3 Adult heron
4 Black vulture

Once more up with the birds and first light before 6. David and I toured the grounds as usual and saw the herons and whistling ducks etc. Those are the photos that are named but not numbered. Today was our one thing planned – the Ecotermales Hotsprings. When we arrived around 9:15, there were only 2-3 cars in the parking lot: a German lady living in England who had been dropped off by tour bus (sad story – she said David was really the first person she’d chatted to for 5 days, the others on her tour being Spanish speaking, and no one else from UK having signed up). We went from area to area – the ones furthest “up the hill” being the hottest. In fact, not everyone could sit in the shoulder-massaging-hottest waterfalls. Unlike ... read more
1 at Hot springs
1 at hotspring A&M
1 at Hotsprings Andrew

Wow, have we done a lot today. Lovely breakfast again prepared by Yadi, who lives next door, on the grounds. Had a 45 min drive to Mistoco Hanging Bridges tour – a guided walk. Our guide was Donald, and he was excellent at pointing out all sorts of things. David understood that this would not be a birding tour – for that we should have been there at 6 not 9. We saw 3 snakes, the flat frogs on leaves that looked like gummy frogs, a NEW HUMMINGBIRD, and an owl (NEW BIRD), a bat, and some bluejean frogs (they are bright red but have blue legs). We heard toucans and saw a Rufous motmot. We went up and down for 3 hours and were very very hot by the end. Donald recommended a soda for ... read more
Arenal with fumeroles
Aricari in our own backyard

Today was long, hot, but very nice. We had breakfast cooked by Yadi – scrambled eggs, bacon, and the traditional gallo pinto. Yummy. We wandered the garden a little and found just one new bird: NORTHERN JACANA, at the lagoon. Joaquin the gardener also pointed out a small cayman (small, but still about 4’ long – no swimming in the lagoon, for sure!) Then we and Heather and Dario caught a taxi into La Fortuna to get our rental cars, and everyone enjoyed time in the pool. It was very hot and sunny. When lunch time arrived, everyone but us walked down to the local soda, and we headed off for the Arenal Observatory Lodge for a day pass entry, hoping that the rain would hold off. Arenal the volcano was stunningly “out” for most of ... read more
Arenal volcano
Black mandibled Toucan
Collared Aracari

Unfortunately both flights got in very very late Friday night, so none of us got much sleep, but the good news is that all our family arrived safely, and we are very grateful.. Even with 4 hours sleep, we walked the grounds a bit before breakfast. It’s bright so early, everyone was soon up and enjoying the traditional Tico breakfast of eggs, fruit, rice mixed with black beans, and coffee and juice of course. Our driver Carlos arrived early and we piled in. More than enough room for all, but not much more for luggage if we’d had more. Jean in the way back with Andrew, as neither of us get car sick, then, closer to the front was Heather & Dario and Megan, right behind driver was Anna & Mike, and David sat shotgun. We ... read more
1 Huge tree at Villa
1 morning at Villa
1 Standalone house at Villa

Well, the day we’ve been both dreading and looking forward to….time to leave this magical and cool place but also to welcome our nuclear family. Before breakfast we walked along the very rocky and rapid small river – yes, found more of those cute Torrent Tyrannulets. They are the size of English robins - little balls of birds. We did NOT see any herons (David’s hope) or American Dippers. After breakfast we were encouraged to walk just a little ways up the hill – yep, 2 female Quetzals. And then 2 males. Then while we were trying to pack up a cleaning lady encouraged us to look up in the tree just next to our room – yep, a pair. So, we were full to overflowing in our wish to find these amazing birds. We managed ... read more
2 Long-tailed silky flycatcher
2 Torrent Tyrannulet
4 Female having a fluff up

Our last day here in the mountains – we leave tomorrow for Alajuela and meeting our family, whoopee. But sad to leave this lovely cool area. Today’s rain actually held off longer than any other day. So we walked A LOT. This hotel has its own huge natural preserve, up in the hills, so we drove our own 4 wheel drive up to the viewing platform after breakfast, and then walked quite a bit up the mountain. Sadly didn’t see many birds, but there were butterflies, caterpillars, mushrooms, and very “Hobbity-looking” moss-covered trees. David saw something big run across the path – so I took a photo of its hoofprint. Boar? Tapir? I didn’t see it.We also walked along the river some more, and saw a huge Black Guan. We had seen it last year, but ... read more

Another fun day in the mountains. We didn’t get up with the chickens today – actually partook of the breakfast that comes with the hotel. Not quite as good as Dona Rita’s but fine. And we picked up our spare take away breakfast that was our consolation prize for not being able to get out of the gate yesterday. Actually we walked down the road a bit beforehand, along the small but very fast-running and full of rocks Sevegre River, looking for the bird that I had seen on videos about the area – the Torrent Tyrannulet. And we saw one – a NEW LIFER. Plus a MOUNTAIN ELAENIA. The weather was lovely all morning – when the sun was out I was down to just a shirt. When the wind blew I was glad for ... read more
Female Golden-browed Chlorophonia

Where to begin! We were up at 4:30 again so that we could leave at 5 to meet our birding guide Michel (pronounced Michael). To our horror, however, the main entrance gate across the bridge was locked. Yes, it locks from 9 pm to 5 am. We walked up and down the steep entrance road trying to find someone, anyone, to help us. Tried every phone in the info kiosk and on the outside of reception. Finally, around 5:30, a woman was driving out and I flagged her down. She must work here, and knew the man who should have opened the gate – he was still asleep. Fortunately we have bars on our phone here and David could WhatsApp Michel to explain the delay. We drove up the steep and winding road to the main ... read more
2 Mr Quetzal
3 Mr. Q at nest
4 Mrs Q with lizard

Well, we made tearful goodbyes to Dona Rita and Wendy and Samuel the toddler. Heard that Wendy’s dad only died 7 months ago, blood clot complication of hip surgery. What a shock to the family. After extolling the benefits of attending a Marriage Encounter Weekend and reading Dr. Chapmans Five Love Languages book, we packed up and left our wonderful simple life. It was amusing – the little dog Dorie had faithfully been sitting outside the front door, but of course it is often left open for the breeze. Jean was out on the deck waiting for the breakfast, and who should appear but Dorie – having walked through the house. Very naughty dog. She got in troube with Mama. We considered stopping at some places for birding on the way, but the traffic was so ... read more

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