Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Days. 4 Types of Forests. 1/2 The Costa Rican Country Side. 1 Awesome Experience.

We arrived to the Reserva Natural Monte Alto in Hojancha, Guanacaste, Costa Rica's wester province, at about 10pm. The parking lot was empty, there were no lights and no visible buildings. My boss, Roger, told us to get out of flashlights as he began leading us down a path into the jungle. Exhausted and just getting over the flu, I was beginning to question if coming on this four-day forest-management field trip was such a good idea. All that was going through my brain was 'bed, bed, bed, sleep, sleep, sleep, it doesn't matter where". A few hundred meters later a green building appeared that would be our lodging for the evening. It was all open, rustic in the true sense of the word. The sounds of the night insects sounded peacefully, interrupted occasionally by the terrifying howl of the Howler monkeys. Roger was giving us an introduction, and I must admit I did not hear a word. My eyes were immediately transfixed on a spider the size of a large man's hand in the room across the hall from mine. I couldn't scream, I couldn't jump around like a 5 year old child, which is usually my first instinct. No, I had to act like a dignified adult and pretend like nothing was there, kind of like how everyone else did. My friend walked by it and just casually kicked it to the side. No big deal! 

Let's just say I didn't sleep so great that night. However our 5:30am wake up call was definitely worth it. The birds sang from the treetops, the sunlight poured over the mountains and a hummingbird gracefully sucked nectar from a banana tree. 

We were guided through the 20 year old forest, that had been collectively paid for by the surrounding farmers and restored from bamboo, coffee and tree plantations into a vibrant habitat for over 40 species of birds, 70 Howler monkeys and countless butterflies, insects, snakes and I am sure many others. 

Butterfly by the river

Howler monkey enjoying the morning

Grasshopper for breakfast

We continued on to a small farm of a few hectares, where there were greenhouses filled with cilantro, lettuce, dozens of different kinds of flowers and all surrounded by orange trees. 

After a sweltering day in the heat we were rewarded with a late afternoon trip to the beach, just in time to see the sunset over the pacific ocean.

The following two days were just as informative of the first. It was an amazing experience to get deep into the woods and see some of Costa Rica's world renowned biodiversity. We drove through about half of the country, and I must tell you, it was beautiful. But nothing compares to the breathtaking mountainsides of Turrialba. It was nice to come home. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pana Puppies

This won't be a long post (although I tell myself this every time). I just wanted to update everyone on these cute little bundles of fur! 

So I went to give the puppies some food one night after work. I knew where they were, but hadn't had a chance to see them yet. Poor Pana had them in an old aqueduct pipe. Anyway so I am walking to give them food and I see people there at a distance, with a broom and a box. I got a bit closer and they began walking away and I could see puppies in their hands! I immediately began panicking. Where were they going? Were they taking Pana? Who were they? 

After a couple of Heather-acting-like-a-crazy-person phone calls and Facebook messages I was relieved to find out that a student from CATIE had taken them to her home in Turrialba, all 8 of them. 

Josique and I went to visit them on the weekend....and I don't need to tell you how cute they are...

Best buds


5 of the puppies already have homes waiting for them in a month, and this will be Pana's new home. 

I guess sometimes there are happy endings...