Sunday, January 23, 2011

Costa Rica: Epilogue and Chronological Links

Here are the Costa Rica posts in chronological order. Note: we were there for seven days, two of which were travel days, so the day numbering here is a little off--mostly for clarity's sake.

Day One: Villa Blanca
Day Two: Monkeys and Motmots
Day Two: La Fortuna
Day Three: Tabacon
Day Four: Xandari
Day Five: Carara
Day Six: A walk down the road
Day Six: A walk down the beach
Day Seven: Los Sueños

Epilogue. One of the pleasures of visiting Costa Rica in the winter is encountering our summer birds. Except you may encounter them in enormous flocks. Take the orchard oriole, for example. It's not uncommon to see a few of them up here in the summer-time. My jaw dropped one day sitting at the Xandari when I saw a continuous stream pour from just one tree. There must have been a hundred of them.

The other appeal of a trip like this is the way it allows you to repeat the excitement of being a junior birder, when everything is so new (really not so long ago for me). Costa Rica, because of its bio-diversity, allows you to have this experience of newness repeatedly.

Final notes:
  • My "once-in-a-lifetime" description has more to do with the tier of resorts we stayed at than the expense and accessibility of getting to and traveling around Costa Rica per se. I'd like to come back some day.
  • Ticos are often described as crazy drivers (which discourages some people from renting cars), but I actually found the driving relatively easy (Boston is a good preparation), only really stressing out when I found speeding cars pulling up behind me impatiently on narrow mountain roads.
  • Night driving is probably a bad idea in the mountains, but is not impossible along the Pacific Coast. Do watch out for the occasional collapsed roadway.
  • Do get a GPS device, but don't trust it absolutely.
  • The driver on the Carara trip may not have always paid close attention to the road, but he made sure to toot his horn when seeing a child (or a great-tailed grackle!) on the shoulder of the road.
  • We were warned about insects in hotel rooms. To my wife's relief, and to my mild chagrin, we only spotted one--a garden variety hotel cockroach--the whole trip. (This may have something to do with the location and tier of hotels we visited).
  • We ended up not visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, one of our key goals when initially planning the trip. The birding is reportedly not top-notch and the good trails are apparently still closed because of last summer's storm damage. (And I had already seen plenty of monkeys).

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