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Published: April 13th 2014
After the excellent chocolate tour I say goodbye to the aged Americans some of whom were actually really lovely and friendly, and meet up again with Eric and we decide to explore some more of the reserve before lunch.
First spot is a groovy stick insect - evolution is frickin' awesome! I also manage to get a great photo of a bejewelled lizard before it flickers off into the undergrowth.
It is so warm and humid yet we start to feel spots of rain attempting to penetrate the jungle canopy.
We reach another suspended bridge and half way over Eric clocks something and trains his scope on another surprise creature I never would have spotted otherwise. This time the scope brings into view two incredible little bats clinging upside down to the tree bark. They are beautiful little things with zig zag markings on their backs and are straining to have a look at us. Eric tells me they are Long Nosed Fruit Bats, not Zig Zaggers which would be far more accurate as their noses don't seem overly long to me and I see no sign of them peeling bananas!
Having crossed the bridge we pass
a massive tree with folds at the bottom. It's girth is at least 5m wide. They have built the raised walkway around the tree. We walk a couple of metres up the sloped path and see a fallen tree. The reason for mentioning this particular tree will become apparent later.
Next to catch our eye is a tree creeper doing what it does best - creeping up a tree! It's like a brown woodpecker and I think is from the same family. Any trip to Costa Rica isn't complete without seeing the resplendent quetzal and although we don't see this famous bird today, we do see its cousin George, otherwise known as the Collared Trogon.
At this point we hear loud, threatening howling coming from high up in the trees. It's a couple of howler monkeys letting us know this is their territory. I imagine this noise coming from agitated, teeth-baring, chest-beating males facing us off in a battle of wills to see who scares first and safe to say it would likely be me.
We shelter from the rain up high on a walkway overlooking the dripping trees stretching heavenwards. We are utterly absorbed by the
sound of the rain, the freshness and other worldliness of the jungle.
All too soon it's time to get back to the car. As we are re-crossing the narrow aerial walkway we see a couple of different toucans. I think Eric says they are Kill Bills and I imagine them as a sword wielding Uma Thermans. Rather disappointingly they are actually Keel Billed Toucans. Our final spot of the day is a rather unremarkable brownish bird, presumably female, a Montezuma Oropendula, a type of oriole. This reminds me of the time a golden oriole was spotted on Bardsey Island only to be seen later in the day being snatched and eaten by a sparrowhawk right outside the Bird Observatory! Oh the irony.
We stop for some lunch of black beans, rice, plantain and salad at a roadside restaurant complete with roaming chicken wending its way between tables to pick up scraps. On our drive back we talk more about politics and set the world to rights between us.
And what of the particular tree I said I'd get back to? Well - finally my gps picked up a signal and sods law dictated that I'd missed picking
up my first Costa Rican geocache in a hole just behind this very tree. But as Eric pointed out - putting your hand into a hole in the jungle generally isn't considered a very good idea! So it was probably just as well.
As we drive towards the cloud forest area we pass a landslide that must have happened only hours previously. Traffic had come to a standstill, fortunately in the opposite direction. While we're waiting Eric is a star and phones his office to ask a member of his staff to work out where Hotel Colonial is - the new start point for my trip proper. He marks it on my street map and drops me right outside my hotel. What a great guy and what a great end to a perfect first day.
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