Thursday, March 17, 2016

Costa Rica wrap up

Above: Howler monkeys use their tail for balance and to hold onto tree branches. They are given that name because they make a lot of noise. Their favorite trick is to start this at 5 a.m. to wake up American tourists.

Things got hectic and I didn't post any blog pieces after the first three days. My trip was amazing. Folks, if you haven't been to Costa Rica, consider adding it to your bucket list. Besides being a beautiful country, the people are beautiful as well.

In 1949, Costa Rica abolished its military, and used that money for education and health care. It has a 98% literacy rate with a huge middle class. Compare it to its neighbor, Nicaragua, which has a few at the top of the economic structure with the majority of people living in poverty -- no middle class at all.

The population of Costa Rica is 5.9 million of whom 1 million are illegal immigrants from Nicaragua. These are people who are trying to find a better life. If the authorities catch them and spend the money to deport them, they are back in the country a day or two later. The Tour guide asked us if this problem sounded familiar?

The bio-diversity is due to the variety of ecosystems and the fact that it is a crossroads for North and South America. We visited rain forests, cloud forests, dry forests, jungles, etc. We went from the ocean to 11,000 feet elevation. We saw two volcanoes (yes, Costa Rica is part of the Pacific ring of fire) and sunset at the Pacific Ocean. It's a pretty amazing place.

Above: Anhingas, sometimes called snake birds, are common where the weather is warm, including Florida. After diving, they sit on branches to dry their wings. They are also called piano key birds because of the markings on their back.

Above: Iguanas are everywhere. The joke was they taste like chicken. One day when we had chicken for dinner, somebody remarked it tasted like iguana. Um, well you had to be there.

Above: A Pacific Ocean sunset. It doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Costa Rica - Day 3

Today my brothers and I toured a Zoo Ave animal rescue sanctuary. It's like a zoo, but the animals are ones who were injured (usually by humans), and can't live out in the wild any longer.

We also toured the famous ox cart factory in Sarchi. The ox cart is a traditional sign of labor in Costa Rica, and the giant wheels are elaborately painted. (See below.)

Above: A brown pelican spreads his wings while grooming.

Above: Macaws are colorful.

Above: A proud peacock struts his stuff.

Above: This giant ox cart was built for the Guiness Book of Records. Read about it here.

Above: An artist at work.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Costa Rica - Day 2

Day 2 in Costa Rica is in the books. The most exciting event today was visiting Poas Volcano National Park.

We also toured a coffee plantation, hiked a cloud forest trail and some other stuff. Weather was cooler because we were close to 9000 feet altitude.

Tomorrow I visit a Wildlfe REscue Center among other things. Will spend the night in Sarchi, Fortuna in the San Carlos valley.

The weather has been wonderful. I hope all of you are suitably jealous.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Costa Rica - Day 1

When I left for the airport this morning, the temperature was 37 degrees F. When I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, it was 78. Can you say "dig it?" Pic above shows me chilling out by the swimming pool.

The tours start tomorrow. Have you heard of a cloud forest? It's like a rain forest with lots of humidity, but less rain. Poas Volcano is Costa Rica's most popular park. Besides the volcano, there is lots of wildlife, hiking and a guided tour of a coffee plantation. Should be a busy day.

Above: I'm staying at a gorgeous hotel.