©2005 Matthew Dodder. All rights reserved.

Costa Rica 07-14-05 to 07-29-05
(Section 4: Monteverde area, transfer to Selva Verde Lodge)

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Section 0 Introduction
Section 1 Day 1-3 (arrival in San Jose, Rancho Naturalista)
Section 2 Day 4-6 (Racho Naturalista, Savegre Lodge)
Section 3 Day 7-9 (Tarcol Lodge and Carara, Monteverde area)
Section 4 Day 10-12 (Monteverde area, Selva Verde Lodge and La Selva OTS)
Section 5 Day 13-15 (Selva Verde Lodge and La Selva OTS, return to San Jose)

Day 10:
Trapp Family Lodge and
Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
with our guide Adrian Mendez Cruz

I wasn't feeling completely good in the morning, but I simply could not miss our guided tour to Monteverde. After a breakfast that was far too large for someone with an unsettled digestive tract, we met our guide in the lobby at 7:00. Arriving (with telescope) on a motorcycle and appearing quite perky, our guide showed up, ready to go. His reaction to us was like Marino's, "I can see you are real birders... That is good." I started to offer a few birds that we had already seen in the area, but quickly decided I was being boastful and stopped. I just wanted him to know he need not pull any punches--we would be ready for any birds he decided to throw our way... "I have a gift," he said rather seriously. "I can often find birds just with my ears. I will be pointing out birds often by sound alone." Okaaaaaay, I thought. "We've been studying as well. That will be fine."

Above: the gleaming floors in the dining room as seen from the lobby

Above: the Trapp Family Lodge entrance

"Let's go, then." he chirped. His English was quite good as well, and we learned that he too, had been to Kansas working with his wife in a hotel. Strange, we thought. Two Costa Ricans in two days that had been to Kansas... We had to wonder why they hadn't chosen some place, I don't know... more interesting.

He was a happy man, about my age, maybe a year or two older. We found out later he was expecting a baby girl in November with his second wife. He was short and sturdy, with a springy manner. He seemed very much alive and eager to show us as many birds as he could find. We were his companions, new friends in fact, for this bright day. We liked him immediately.

"Is that a Black-headed Nightingale Thrush singing over there?" I asked... "Yes, it is. Very good." It felt good to be able to say that and Arian showed his approval with a warm smile.

We chatted for the first few minutes as we walked up hill along the road, and then spotted a large group ahead. There seemed to be a sudden increase of urgency as Adrian assessed the situation. "They have a Quetzal!" Several vans, a bus and a motorcycle were pulled off to the side, while some 20 people peered over the barbed wire fence into the woods. No fewer than five scopes decorated the shoulder and people scrambled for a view, first in one guide's scope and then another. Soon we too were among the throng of observers, but we didn't scramble from scope to scope. We stuck with Adrian, who politely made a space for us along the road and within a few seconds had the bird, a male in view. We each got a quick look, but soon the bird flew some distance up hill and following it was a crowd of guides and birders. This simply did not fit my boyhood expectation of an encounter with the Resplendent Quetzal. We were in a crowd of people, some birders, some not, exclaiming loudly about how beautiful this green bird was... I wanted silence and solitude if I were to enjoy this bird fully. This was no better than the bird in the Savegre parking lot above the Toyota 4Runner in the avocado tree, I thought. Still, we followed the others, hoping to get a better look at the streaming tail feathers. This male at least had the full complement of tail feathers, some 3 feet long! Maybe I was taking this too seriously, I thought. I peeked through the scope again. It was truly, the most beautiful bird I had ever seen, and pure magic. I just wish it had matched my dream...

The lodge was no more than a ten-minute walk from the entrance of Monteverde, but it took us a full 40 minutes to arrive. We stopped frequently, dipping into the woods here and there to search for birds we heard. Adrian recognized on alarm call from the Hummingbirds that suggested they had located a snake. He was right, of course, and after some time, we too were able to see the green snake high in the branches. Many birds moved in and out of the area, harassing the poor snake who seemed to be sleeping.

Eventually we were at the entrance to the Monteverde preserve. Many tourists and guides with scopes were gathered in the plaza between several small buildings, a gift shop, a cafeteria, restrooms, an admin. building and two kisosks. A small family of White-nosed Coatis generated quite an "Awwhhhhhh-fest" among the visitors, cameras snapped and mothers knelt beside their kids, pointing at the animals. We paid our $13/person entrance fee and crossed the common area to the trail head. The guides all knew each other of course, and while many shared information about birds and other animals, there seemed to be an underlying current of cold competition. They each eyed the other guides and their groups. Adrian was to friendly to everyone the entire time, but seemed a bit uncomfortable around certain leaders, and began to speak in a measured fashion. At one point he began to explain things, saying that some guides liked sharing the preserve... but stopped short of completing his thoughts. I think he didn't burden us with anything so political. We understood though, and noticed obvious differences the leaders' personalities. We felt lucky to have hooked up with such a friendly guide, who liked to laugh and knew protect us from the others.

Anyway. The habitat was once again different from what we had encountered before. The trees were quite high in places and as expected, the overcast sky and glaucous mist created a ghostly blue haze among the bromeliad encrusted branches. We began to understand why this place is called a cloud forest. It was cool and moist, but not oppressively humid. The humidity was the kind you almost had to feel your way through. As you walked, cool drops eventually formed on your face before they fall off. Close to our feet, unfamiliar and brighly-colored mountain flowers bloomed and the damp smell of fallen leaves hung heavily in our noses. Adrian pointed out a huge Walking stick insect that was as thick around as my thumb. If he hadn't found it it would have absolutely been invisible to us, like just another woody branch. Elsewhere on the trail, he located a large, ornately-plumed caterpillar and a small green mantis. As everywhere in Costa Rica had been, this area featured many species of butterfly, some brilliant iridescent blue, others lemon yellow or orange. More than a few resembled our Monarch or Tiger Swallowtail, but seemed larger and more exotic.

Above: along the trail at Monteverde Coloud Forest Preserve

Somewhere deep in the the hanging tangle of the woods, a Black-faced Solitaire sang its magic song. The cloud forest seemed to echo with the clear tones of crystal wine glasses, slowly stroked to produce the voice we heard. As we sat on a bench and admired the peaceful surroundings, the other guides and groups out of view, one of the Solitaires alighted on a nearby branch. It was a nondescript gray and black combination, not much to look at, but what a voice! Orange-bellied Trogon made an appearance as well. Besides the Quetzal, this is the only Trogon expected in the area and we admired it through Adrian's telescope for several minutes. Soon we crossed a long suspension bridge that led through the canopy and across a small valley. Below we could see the tops of small trees and not far above us, the sky. Very few birds were seen here, Common Bush Tanager, Collared Redstart and an Ambiguous Flycatcher... but we could also hear Howler Monkeys somewhere and we knew were far from home. Prong-billed Barbets called in unison and being curious by nature, even answered the iPod.

Above: Adrian took this picture of us immediately after we saw the Black-faced Solitaire

Above: and then again along the suspension bridge. He seemed eager to help us record our trip

Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is indeed a beautiful place, but it has a manicured feeling. The numerous large and noisy groups of non-birders, visiting mostly to see monkeys Adrian told us, very nearly spoiled our impression of the place. Add to that, that only a handful of new birds were located and you have an experience that compares less favorably to some of the less visited places we explored. With a slight feeling of disappointment we sat in the cafeteria to eat lunch with our guide. He got an incomplete report of Leaftosser along the main road from another guide sitting nearby. We resolved to investigate it on the way back to the lodge. As he spoke, I examined his field guide. Like Aiko had done, Adrian had removed all the color plates from the Skutch guide and made a small, more portable version. He'd even made a hard green cover for it and carefully placed dates next to all the birds he had seen. I began to feel envious as I thumbed through the book and struggled to find a bird without a date... "Ah, the Leaftosser." he said. "We'll see..." First we would visit the Hummingbird Gallery, a small feeder station (with a gift shop, of course) before the main entrance.

We climbed the stairs to the gallery to find perhaps 15 people moving about from feeder to feeder to see what showed up. Adrian paused just before we reached the last step up and told us he would locate as many as eight species for us. He did, and all within a two minute space. Darting around like huge angry insects, buzzing and chirping loudly as they fought amongst themselves were Green Hermit, Green Violet-ear, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Green-crowned Brilliant, all positively glorious to behold, but none as shocking as the relatively large Violet Sabrewing. This last bird had also been seen at Savegre Lodge, but only briefly and it was a female. The Sabrewings we saw now were shockingly purple, like vivid amethyst. They hovered, like all the others, absolutely in place, then dashing in and out to feed or fend off the other adrenaline-charged intruders. The battle was completely fruitless, as rival birds numbered in the dozens. The Sabrewing however, had mass on his side and seemed able to intimidate the others somewhat more successfully. Adrian turned and asked if I would like him to try photographing one for me. He could see I was having trouble with my digital camera and said he had the same model. Perhaps he could try. Gladly, I said. The picture below, was taken by him and far surpasses anything I managed to get.

Above: Arian's beautiful shot of the male Violet Sabrewing (handheld)

After lunch and the Hummingbirds, we strolled back down the main road toward the Trapp Family Lodge. We continued past this and recognized quickly that every step we took downward would eventually be met with an equal and opposite step upward... Down and down we went past several modest homes, another lodge, some tour busses headed for Monteverde and the famous cheese factory, a veritable tourist magnet. As we walked, Adrian told us we were entering into a new eco zone which supports an entirely different community of birds. Few species pass between the two communities.

Above: in the area below the lodge where we began to hear Bellbirds

Above: Adrian and me looking over the pasture for Bellbirds in the treetops

Above: more beautiful pastures

I began to hear the unmistakable voice of the Three-wattled Bellbird. Since childhood, when I beheld one of these striking birds in the Boston Zoo, I've wanted to see one in the wild. It's appearance is bizarre enough--it is a vivid chestnut bird, roughly dove sized, with a fully white head and from its face, like three black worms, hang long tendrils of limp flesh, for what reason, no one knows for sure. Its visual oddity is exceeded perhaps only by its utterly deafening call which can be heard more than a mile away, even in the forest. If seen "singing" its mouth opens to the widest angle you can imagine for a bird, a full 90º or more, and it's black wattles flop about like dead snakes. Somewhere, in the distance the bird called to us, sounding more like a highly amplified electric buzzer than an animal. The sound is so distinctive (and arresting) that it is often used in Hollywood movies to communicate "jungle" whether or not such movies are set in the cloud forests of Central America.

So we heard one, and then another and then several. They seemed to be everywhere. Adrian directed us down a small road that was clearly marked "No trespassing" but in Spanish, of course. Let's just say, my Spanish is very poor... Probable deniability, I kept thinking to myself. Probable deniability. He located a place along the steep shoulder of the road that led up into the nearby grove. He clambered up, using broken roots for ladder-like footholds and then motioned for us to follow. One by one we entered the grove of second growth, the bird's megaphone voice growing closer and closer as we fought through the bushes. Above us somewhere...

Soon Adrian found the male, calling from the top branches of a tree. He was visible through a hole in the canopy and my heart beat a little faster. "I'll put him in the scope." In a second, another childhood dream would be fulfilled. I think I was the first to see it, and oh, it filled every expectation I had. It's white head, chestnut brown body and wattled face, all as I had hoped. Then, as I watched through the telescope that was oriented almost straight upward, the bird called, wattles flapping and all. So loud was the sound, I could hardly believe it. How could such an modestly-sized animal, bird or otherwise, have such a voice? I had stayed too long behind the scope, so I stepped aside to let Cricket and our parents get a look. All but Aiko got a good look. She did see one later, but not that one. Not the first one.

As we began our awkward climb back down to the road, Adrian paused. A car was approaching from up hill. He indicated we should stay where we were, and in fact, if we could move back into the grove for a moment, it might be best... The car moved past us and continued. Adrian, visibly relieved, waved us onward.

Above: Three-wattled Bellbird, notice the bill opened a full 90º while the bird "sings" (digiscoped images)

After that encounter, we left the hole in the canopy and the Bellbird to continue our quest for birds of the sub-cloud forest. We spotted Keel-billed Toucans, Blue-crowned Motmot, Yellow-throated Euphonia and the brilliant blue Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and Red-legged Honeycreeper, both related to Tanagers and rivaling them for color.

Above: Yellow-throated Euphonia (digiscoped image)

We took a turn down a short road where the trees grew higher and thin vines hung from high above. We had learned while in Rancho Naturalista, that this was the preferred habitat of several Manakins. Adrian broadcast a few samples of the Long-tailed Manakin courtship song, with no response. He then asked me to broadcast the Long-tailed Manikin sample from my iPod. It was very different from what he had played. The strange clicking and whistling made both by the bird's wings and syrinx, more like a toy than a bird, evoked an immediate response. From about 50 feet away, a small black bird rushed to a branch within sight of us. We trained our binocs on the bird as the iPod continued to played. I stopped it when I realized that it was agitating the bird. The male is more interesting than the other Manakins in appearance. He's tiny and puff-like, but his back is bright blue and he has a small red flattened crest on his head. His tail is long and quill-like, stretching twice his body's length. He, as all Manakins, is very protective of his lek. After we admired the bird for a few minutes, we decided to leave him in peace. On the way out, Adrian asked me if I would play the song again so he could record it on his MP3 player. He added it to his collection and remarked that the particular sample I had must be less common among the other guides. The bird seemed especially responsive to it, implying that he had not heard that recording before...

Above: Manakin habitat

It was back up the hill at this time. One exhausting step at a time. We'd seen several birds in the yards and pastures below the lodge, none of which had been located in the cloud forest. As far as we were concerned, Adrian was absolutely correct about the division between the two bio zones. We invited our guide to join us in the lobby while we reviewed the day's discoveries. We joined him for a beer and went down the list, one bird at a time. Leo and Marino were slightly more accustomed to this exit procedure. Have a refreshing drink, review the list and say good bye... Visiting birders are lost without this debriefing. We too easily forget what we've just seen, especially when lifers come by the dozen. Adrian seemed a little stiff, like he wanted to go home, but managed to loosen up after a while. His face lightened noticeably as he told us about his new daughter, expected in November. As with all our guides, we have him a tip and asked him for his card. We would look him up again when we returned.

Above: Kaz and Aiko forge on up ahead

Above: Aiko, Kaz, me, Adrian and Cricket

A short rest, and then dinner. I had managed to get through the day with a minimum of complaint, but really, I felt pretty bad. Cricket had carried the backpack to give me a break as we neared the lodge, but still I was exhausted and not looking forward to food.

Whatever I ordered, I didn't eat. Instead, when the plate appeared I returned to our room and slept. I understand the meal wasn't all that great, but I missed being a part of it. I wanted to celebrate the Quetzal and the Bellbird. The menu is quite simple, pasta, chicken, pork, beef or fish, but it still takes forever for us all to decide. I had enjoyed that before tonight--the funny glances from the waiter as we each thoroughly considered the options... But tonight I couldn't laugh about anything. I felt miserable. After dinner, Cricket helped me record some events from the day and we went to bed early.

Day 11:
Trapp Family Lodge, Sky Walk bridge trail
and return to Hummingbird Gallery

You guessed it. Come morning I was too sick to venture out of the room. I remained in our room, sleeping until noon while Kaz, Aiko and Cricket visited the Sky Walk. What really disappointed was this was one of the things Kelly was most looking forward to. She had said early on in the planning stages that she wanted to walk in the canopy with all the vines and monkeys, high above the forest floor. We opted not to reserve the ropes version of the tour, but scheduled instead a more leisurely stroll on a route that included several suspension bridges. I was looking forward to it too, but I just couldn't get out of bed. So I remained at the lodge while the others when out by taxi to the trail head.

When they returned for a late lunch I was just beginning to feel normal. We ate a light lunch and I heard stories of their beautiful hike. I looked at the tiny screen on our digital camera at all the images Cricket had captured of their adventure. I felt horrible to have missed it, but at least now, I could eat without feeling queasy. They said they had not seen many birds, but enjoyed the opportunity to identify them without the help of a guide. Swallow-tailed Kite figured prominently in their account.

Above: Kaz reaches the top

Above: In the forest canopy

Above: Cricket preparing to cross the bridge

Above: Kaz and Aiko holding on to the swaying bridge

Above: view from the top

Above: bromeliads and orchids everywhere

After hearing about their walk, which made me quite jealous, we decided our collective fatigue was too great to attempt anything extravagant. We opted for a slow walk up to the Hummingbird Gallery and maybe an effort to locate the Leaftosser nest Adrian had mentioned. Great! Sounds great!

Up the road toward Monteverde we strolled, at a near snail's pace. The first thing we did was relocate the spot where we had seen the Resplendent Quetzal the day before. Two light posts between which runs a rusted barbed- wire fence overlooking a small forested gully. Within a minute, Cricket had located the male Quetzal as it stood motionless on a branch beside a large nest hole. It surveyed the surrounding area, slowly panning left and right. It gripped a large green insect in its yellow bill. We surmised it was intended for the young. A moment later it flopped to the nest hole, located in the broken tree, and ducked his head inside. The female stood watch a few yards away as well. When the male had delivered the insect to the young within and flown, she landed at the hole next. She entered the nest and somehow disappeared completely despite her size. Then after a minute she reappeared in the hole facing out and then left. This exchange happened a couple of times more, and we watched intently each time. It wasn't long before we noticed something was different. We paused to appreciate the scene. The male and female stood in perfect view, each shining in the dappled forest light and NO ONE else was around. The road was silent. There were no guides, no busses, no other tourists, scopes or cameras. No one. Just the four of us, a family of birders who had come thousands of miles to see these birds in the dreamlike setting we had imagined. Finally, we had had the perfect Quetzal experience. Suddenly, I felt quite recovered...

Above: The male Resplendent Quetzal, as he should be seen, long streamers and all. The female is below and to his right (digiscoped image)

We continued up the road, toward the gallery, stopping briefly to examine the muddy embankment where the Leaftosser was supposed to have a nest. We saw a small brown bird rush out from the bank, but quickly lost it in the underbrush. We guessed it had just delivered some food to the young and their tiny squeaks could be heard somewhere right in front of us. I quickly zeroed in on the sound and located a small hole, the inside of which was pure darkness, but the tiny sounds were clear enough. This was it! All we had to do was wait, and wait and wait...

This was quite clearly getting us nowhere and since we knew the gallery would close early, we chose to continue upward, hoping to have another chance at the Leaftosser later. We managed to get a few shots of the Hummingbirds and Banaquits at the feeders, and also spent some time in the gift shop to get a checklist and some gifts for the grandchildren.

The walk home produced nothing new until we reached the Leaftosser nest again. It's important to know that this is one the most difficult birds in the Monteverde area to see, and highly prized among birders. As we approached, we saw small brown bird leave the nest again and heard the soft complaints of the chicks, again. What to do... How do we get this bird? There was plenty of time before dinner we agreed, so we waited all over again. For about 10 or 15 minutes we saw no sign of the bird or any activity for that matter. Frustrating. We stepped back, farther from the nest, but still within view of the hole. Soon after that we heard a faint rustle behind us. Then to our left. Something was making its way around us toward the nest. A second later, as if it had been beamed there, a rusty brown, wren-like bird appeared for a microsecond at the nest hole. Then in. Small sounds emanated from within the hole. We refocused our glasses on the hole and waited some more. Then suddenly and without warning it emerged, shooting out at cannon speed from the hole and across the road into the tangle. We lost it of course, and the whole event lasted no more than a fraction of a second. In that time however, we had gathered a few visual cues, such as the bright rufous rump patch, short tail and overall dark brown color. We identified the bird, with some trepidation, as a Gray-throated Leaftosser. It seemed like a post-trip email to Adrian might be in order to confirm to bird's identity.

It was getting dark and we were hungry, so it was back to the lodge for dinner. This evening, I was actually looking forward to it.

Day 12:
Trapp Family Lodge and Ecological Preserve

2:30 pm transfer to Selva Verde Lodge
(7 hour drive, due to weekend traffic, to this Caribbean lowland forest, 100')

Not far from our lodge, and requiring only a short taxi ride is the Ecological Preserve, a privately owned, rather primitive mid-elevation forest. There we hoped to practice our newly acquired knowledge of local birds and perhaps locate a few lifers.

Cricket sat in the back, which was a bad idea. As soon as our driver turned onto the dirt road leading down to the preserve, she began to get car sick and did not fully recover until almost lunch time. In broken Spanish, I tried to communicate with the caretaker, a woman still dressed in her nightgown, and apparently living in the small shack that served as headquarters. She accepted our entrance fee, gave me a trail map and rattled on about the various walks we could take. She mentioned Toucans, Manikins and a few other birds. I just nodded politely and pretended to understand. I think she believed I knew what she was talking about, and I had Kaz and Aiko convinced as well. We set out, with plenty of power bars and juice, map in hand. We had four hours before we needed to be back for lunch, and that seemed plenty of time to explore this modest area.

We encountered several mammals here, Varigated and Red-tailed Squirrel, as well as several White-faced Coatis and giant hamster-like Agouti. Birds were relatively scarce, at least at first, but a few presented themselves for us. Additional Long-tailed Manikins responded to the iPod and seemed eager to show themselves, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari and Emerald Toucanet foraged directly overhead along the trail, and Swallow-tailed Kites soared over the great valley. New birds included Pale-vented Robin, White-throated Robin, Rufous-capped Warbler, and White-eared Ground Sparrow (not new to Kelly, who had seen one in Bougainvellia).

Above: on a rickety platform overlooking the gorge

Above: view from the platform

Above: Cricket

Above: I loved this place

Above: another arm's length photograph. Wer'e both feeling much better

After a few wrong turns, we eventually found our way back to the headquarters. Kelly was feeling much better by now but of course dreaded the drive back to the lodge. She sat in front this time, and the driver, who we had prearranged to meet us at 11:00, took us home. After final packing was completed, and we ate our lunch, we checked out and awaited our transfer to Selva Verde...

An hour and a half, and two nervous phone calls later, our driver showed up. His name was Alex and he apologized for being late. There had been a miscommunication and he thought we would be leaving the next day. It wasn't long before we began to feel sorry for our driver. The road to Selva Verde Lodge, on the Caribbean side, was already a 5 hour drive. This was mid afternoon on a holiday Monday, so traffic was unbelievable. Our drive lasted seven hours and as it grew dark, the rain came making it even more difficult. Alex did the best he could to find short cuts, but it was useless. This was just going to take a while. We hoped only that our late arrival at Selva Verde would allow us time for dinner. As the drive stretched on and on, even more heavy rain fell and then there was the fog. By now it was quite dark and we were in some steep walled valley, with numerous one-lane bridges and sudden blind turns. We kept descending into this darkness, our headlights useless against the heavy fog. We had not seen a house or car in quite a long time and Alex maintained a complete silence as he concentrated on our situation. We'll be there soon, I thought... At least one of us had to use the restroom.

The road evened out and soon we were passing through a small community. We joined a larger main road and the community grew to a small town with businesses and a few restaurants. He slowed our van slightly, scanning left and right at the various lodges along the strip. Alex looked a bit lost, but then sped up again and said, "I remember now. It's up a bit farther. On the right..."

He was correct of course, but it was actually another ten minutes before we arrived, at about 9:30. The entrance was a huge green gate, with an equally impressive sign that read Selva Verde Lodge. A guard wearing a blue uniform and a hat spoke through the rain to our driver and then swung open the gate to let us in. The covered drive way was tiled and adjoined a lobby with a very tall ceiling just a few yards from the reception desk. After pulling the bags out of the van we checked in. We were given keys held with a large wooden discs decorated with hand painted birds. The key to Cricket's and my room portrayed a stylized Violaceous Trogon. Fitting... We were also given a map of the compound and told the chef would prepare us some food if we had not eaten.

From the lobby, a paved walkway led steeply down into the trees. It was level after that first descent and covered the entire length. To the sides we saw pristine lowland woods, small natural creeks and occasional feeding platforms. I can honestly say I'd never seen such a perfect hotel in my life. Not that it was luxurious or anything, but that it was perfectly suited for this area. It was a meandering network of covered walkways, leading directly through a natural rainforest and small dark wood bungalows resting on stilts. And everywhere we could see, banana trees, huge moss-covered boughs and dripping palms glistening in the faint light of the walk way... I was in heaven! We opened our doors to find latticed windows, a ceiling fan and two low beds. Outside, the sounds of hundreds of tree-frogs, insects and unnamed scurrying animals filled the darkness.

Above: Selva Verde Lodge (taken early the following morning)

Above: Selva Verde Lodge corridor

After finding the dining room, which was huge and elevated, we met the chef. He prepared us a generous meal of Mexican food which we ate before bed. In the morning we would visit the nearby La Selva Biological Preserve and meet our next guide, but that seemed like a long time from then. We were all so tired from the long drive and arriving in a strange place in a storm always makes one uneasy. Cricket and I eventually fell asleep to the loud hiss of rain and rumbling thunder, restless about the next day. As we slept, it continued to rain without regard it seemed for earthly beings, and the constant sound eventually woke us up. Imagine a storm that is so loud you have to raise your voice to be heard, and add to that the utter blackness of the jungle...

Go to the NEXT SECTION of this report....

Or choose a different section:
Section 0 Introduction
Section 1 Day 1-3 (arrival in San Jose, Rancho Naturalista)
Section 2 Day 4-6 (Racho Naturalista, Savegre Lodge)
Section 3 Day 7-9 (Tarcol Lodge and Carara, Monteverde area)
Section 4 Day 10-12 (Monteverde area, Selva Verde Lodge and La Selva OTS)
Section 5 Day 13-15 (Selva Verde Lodge and La Selva OTS, return to San Jose)