Back from trip #2 to CR

Jan 12th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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That's what so fun about those trails, it's so hit or miss sometimes. I know one day I did the Titi trail, exited, walked past the entry on way back and decided to do it again. Back to back walks but completely different animals & birds, like "hey! spider monkeys! it's 8:15am, you're up! Coati's hit the break room" I'm still waiting for my boa maybe in May! A puma would be awesome but you know what I'd really love to see? An ocelot or margay! And a tayra would be too cool as well. Pics soon cam?!
tully is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 09:47 PM
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shillmac -- Yep, trip is getting close! I start a Spanish class on the 19th for 2 months to brush up on my high school Spanish, and then we're off! Ouch on the airfares for you! I paid more than I would have liked to as well...I think next trip will be rainy season. Probably solo too, as much as I love these trips with my daughter, I want to do some exploring on my own too.

cm -- Just glad you made such wonderful memories with your mother and great is that?

tully -- You're off to Spain this year too? Are you rich or something?
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 03:17 PM
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hip the airfare was "free" (FF miles) so technically I had to go, at least that's my reasoning It's only a quickie, 8 nights. You should've seen my boss's face when I asked if she was cool with the dates I picked, I'd just got back from nicaragua and here I was asking her almost a year in advance, luckily she always says yes.

Earth to Cam come in please, need photos, suffering withdrawl here, help a gal out
tully is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Hmmm. . that's what I should do with my FF miles of which there are plenty (credit card usage!). Spain is definitely on my list.

hip, you'd enjoy tooling around by yourself in CR. There's something about not having to worry about entertaining anyone but yourself. And I like the solitude. If I want to hang out with people I meet I can (like at BdC), but the option is always there to just do my own thing, satisfied with the brief acquaintances I make here and there. Selfish, I suppose, but occasionally it's nice!
shillmac is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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I'm back again ladies (and any gents who may be lurking out there...)!

I've spent yet another weekend at the office, and am anticipating a really crazy few weeks ahead as a big project deadline looms. I dearly HOPE that things will start to get better after that. All this work has seriously put me behind in organizing my CR photos (and finishing my trip report...).

Tully, I am totally envious that you are putting together a trip to Spain! Have you been over there before? I've only visited Ireland and the UK in Europe to date, but there are lots of other places I would love to see. Ah, the joys of travel!

I have been making some progress on the CR photo organization. I took almost 600 shots and have slowly but surely been whittling the number down for purposes of posting online. I need a few more days to finish weeding through everything.

Chapter 6:

December 8th, 2007.

We got up bright and early and headed over to breakfast. Today was our only major excursion, which would include the dolphin watching tour, boat trip to the mangrove forest along the Rio Esquinas, and a visit to the animal sanctuary.

As we finished eating, we were joined by Rob and Roz, a nice semi-retired couple from Toronto, who would be joining us for the day. Rob had worked for many years training race horses, which I found to be quite fascinating.

Carlos from BdC was to accompany us as our guide, and we were to meet him in Puerto Jimenez at the boat ramp. Eduardo had arranged our taxi ride into town and our cab driver was a very nice man who spoke very little english. I sat up front with him and did my best to make pleasant small talk with my meager spanish speaking skills. He handed me one of those laminated wildlife idenification cards and pointed to the picture of the 3 toed sloth. He said we would be on the lookout for one on our drive.

As we pulled out onto the BdC driveway, we came right up on a blue morpho fluttering along the roadway in front of our vehicle. Our driver had to slow way down to avoid hitting it. It doggedly stayed in the roadway right in front of us for several minutes. At one point, our driver even rolled down his window and made shooing motions in it's general direction . It was beautiful, but in a rather annoying way, as we crept along behind it!

The butterfly eventually wafted over to the side of the road and we continued merrily on our way. Our driver delivered on his promise to find us a sloth. It was sound asleep up in the tree branches and I don't think we ever would have spotted one on our own unless we had stumbled upon one that was actually moving. It turned out to be our only sloth sighting for the trip, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to see it.

We eventually pulled up at the boat ramp and met up with Carlos. Kevin was there as well and flashed us that trademark smile as he wished us a bon voyage. We scrambled into our boat which had just the right number of seats for the 5 passengers plus Carlos and our boat captain. Carlos gave us the rundown of the day's events and told us a bit about the species of dolphins we might see as we traversed the gulf. We were excited to get underway!

With a roar of the boat engine, we were underway... and then with a loud cracking noise, we were stopped; dead in the water, as it were. Something had malfunctioned with boat engine and it would not restart. The boat captain lowered the anchor while Carlos tried to make radio contact with BdC. It took a few minutes, but he finally got through to someone and arranged for a replacement boat to be deployed.

Luckily, we had a nice cross-breeze blowing across the water, and the skies were full of white, fluffy clouds that kept the sun from being too intense. The Merrell clan is known for its fair skin and propensity to sunburn!

It took about half an hour to get the new boat out to us. This was unfortunately, a slightly smaller boat and there was only one bench to sit on. The women-folk sat on the bench, while the men-folk made due perching on the large cooler which held our drinks for the journey. But we were finally underway! Within a few minutes, we found a pod of bottlenose dolphins. They were actively hunting and were leaping right up out of the water. That was pretty cool to see! I see bottlenose dolphins fairly frequently around where I live, but very rarely ever see them jump up out of the water. Part of the pod also swam along the bow of the boat which was really fun! You could clearly see their bodies under the water, and notice how powerful and muscular they were. My mom was worried that we would hit one of them and Carlos had to reassure her that the dolphins were perfectly in control of the situation and free to swim elsewhere if they so desired. ;-)

I was a bit bummed that we didn't come across any spinner dolphins but due to the boat snafu, we didn't have extra time to go in search of them. After a few minutes with the bottlnoses (is that the correct term?), we headed over towards the Rio Esquinas.

cmerrell is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 09:27 PM
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shill, tully, cm, vgirl - You people in TX and FL are so darn lucky with those great airfares!

I've got some FF miles I need to use someday too...maybe next trip!

cm -- We had that small boat with the bench too. Now that I know there are other choices I might have to make a request next time! And, I didn't realize Carlos even did those tours. Sounds like you had some great dolphin sightings. Anxious to hear about your wildlife sanctary experience and to see if Lulu, Winky and Sweetie are still there and anyone new...?
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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cmerrell - I've been away for a while and am just catching up with your report. Really enjoying your BdC descriptions. That will definitely be on the list for a return trip.

What else has been happening on the CR forum these days?
MRand is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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Hi MRand,

Nice to hear from you! I wish I could tell you what's happening on the CR forum, but I've scarcely been here myself this week; too much craziness at my job right now. Hopefully, the light is starting to peek into the end of the tunnel, because I miss having my usual Fodors time!

I remember you asking the forum for some vacation ideas a few months back. What did you end up deciding on for 2008?

On with the report...

Chapter 6, cont'd:

We had enjoyed a nice, slightly overcast morning thus far, but as we approached the narrow channel opening of the Esquinas river, the sun came out in full force and it was hot! Almost unpleasantly so, which was unfortunate, because the mangrove-lined river was beautiful; a little bit reminiscent of Cano Negro, and yet different as well...

Once again, I think our timing was off for primo wildlife sightings. We did find a boa constrictor (which I was quite excited about), but aside from that we mainly just saw lots of migratory birds; herons, ibis, egrets... Not that the birds weren't beautiful and worth seeing; we just didn't see much that I couldn't find here in Florida and I guess I was hoping for something a bit more 'exotic'.

After trolling up the river for several minutes, it was time to head back to the gulf and make our way over to the wildlife sanctuary (Fundacion Sanctuario Silvestre de Osa). The sanctuary is run by a North American couple who retired to Costa Rica and ended up taking in wounded and orphaned wildlife. They rehabilitate the animals that can be released back into the wild, and seek lifetime assistance/placement for those that can't. You truly get the sense that the sanctuary is a labor of love, and a 24/7 commitment. You have to admire the dedication and sacrifice required to undertake such a venture. I love animals, and I'm not sure I could do it...

The sanctuary houses several monkeys; many of whom were once kept as pets and later confiscated by the authorities for various reasons. Some of the monkeys are releasable, and some really are not. Lulu, Winky and Sweetie are all still at the sanctuary, Hip.

Winky and Sweetie are spider monkeys (Winky is still a baby and sooo adorable and mischievous!). Sweetie is a bit older and lives up to her name. Lulu is the one who really tugged at my heartstrings though. She's a young howler monkey whose hind leg was badly broken and has healed at an odd angle. She gets along very well, however. She is apparently free to leave the sanctuary if she wishes to do so, but so far has chosen to stay. She's very acclimated to people and likes to be held. She snuggled in my arms for several minutes and even took a little nap there. There was just something special about her.

We also got close up looks at a 2 toed sloth, kinkajou, and several capuchins, toucans and scarlett macaws who currently live at the sanctuary. We were told they also currently have 4 ocelots and a jaguarundi on the premises, but it's very important to keep human contact extremely limited with the cats as all are candidates for release back into the wild.

The setting of the sanctuary itself is gorgeous; set in a small cleared area of rainforest that fronts a black sand beach. It looks like pretty rustic, remote living for Carol and Earl (the couple that runs the place). Carol told us that her family back in the States think she's crazy to live the way she does. She was quite the character and so enthusiastic about her work.
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:15 PM
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Chapter 6 Animal Sanctuary Cont'd:

The professional hazards of such a life choice are certainly there. Carol was sporting a nasty looking gash on her shin from cleaning out one of the pens, and Earl was accidentally bitten by the sloth as he carried it out of its enclosure for us to look at (he had been temporarily distracted by something while holding the sloth and sort of stuck his ear against the sloth's mouth; she instinctively bit down and drew blood). Carol noticed the blood on his shirt and was much more concerned about the sloth than about Earl.

The couple has learned a lot about dealing with the variety of animals that come their way. They must also spend a hefty amount of money on veterinary bills because many of their charges require medical care. They gladly accept donations and we were happy to contribute.

I did notice however, that not everyone agrees with their approach to handling the animals. I was trying to find their website and stumbled upon some Trip Advisor reviews of the place. A few people posted some pretty scathing commentary of the couple and their work, siting that they don't properly care for the animals and that it's wrong for them to allow the monkeys to interact with people the way they do. It was sort of distressing to read! I am not qualified to judge their techniques and choose to believe that the intentions are pure, and that they are doing their best to make a positive impact in their little corner of the world...

Our visit to the sanctuary was over all-too-soon, and it was time to head back to Puerto Jimenez. We parted ways with Carlos and met back up with the taxi driver who had delivered us to the boat earlier that morning. I wish I could remember his name, it phonetically sounded something like 'Cee-lee-lu'. I tried to pronounce it a couple of times and probably butchered it, but he geninuinely seemed to appreciate my efforts!

Back at BdC, we ordered cool drinks and lounged poolside for a few minutes. Mom opted to relax at the cabin, while brother and I hit the nearby trails. We did the Creek-Manakin-Trogan Trail loop and saw a few forest creatures; frog, coati, spider monkey... We smelled (but still did not see) more peccaries. I seriously could have been supremely happy to spend an entire week at BdC, just exploring their trail system. We hiked everyday, but still didn't get a chance to hit all of the trails.

That night, we sat with our new buddies Rob and Roz at dinner. We were joined by the Newfoundland family and had another enjoyable meal.
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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cm -- The stories you hear at the sanctuary really tug at you don't they? There was one there that had it's collar sewn to it's neck so it couldn't remove it, he was a guard monkey. He's probably still there as I don't believe he could be re-released. And then there's the ones who are taken from the wild as infants and literally go crazy without nurturing and a mother to guide them. Sooooooo sad. They also told us they had to keep watch of their monkeys on cables, or bring them in at night because they lost one to a Puma shortly before we were there. That was the first time anything like that happened, but how traumatic.

It's expensive to visit, but pretty sure we'll be going again in April.

Sorry about the downpour!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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Hi Hip!

We must have been posting at the same time because I just finished the second half of the animal sanctuary day, and saw you had posted!

I'm excited for your upcoming trip! Just typing up my memories makes me yearn to go back.

I'll look forward to reading your impressions of MA, especially after having visited the Osa. I liked MA and bet you guys will enjoy it! Your visit is going to come so quickly. Is it just me, or is 2008 already flying past in a blur?
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 09:10 PM
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Oh man...I'm soooo already counting down the days (and I know you know what I mean)! Even though MA may not be our favorite place, I know we're going to have a great time there and I'm looking forward to it for sure.

Yes, 2008 is flying by and being in fiance that means year end and audits. Ugh.

I read some of those negative TA reviews of the sanctuary as well. I'd like to think they are doing their best. I definitely don't think their doing anything to intentionally harm the animals. The volunteers leading the tours seemed to be very concerned about the animals best interest. If there are some animals that get used to the human touch, I'm sorry, but at least they aren't being abused.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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Awww...I think Lulu seems to grab most people's hearts, you know? I know she did mine. She just seemed so sweet natured and wanted to be held. Hopefully in May we'll be able to make the trek over there and ser her and others again. I've read those reviews too, but I can't help but feel with animals like Lulu or Sweetie, where else would they go? In CR they don't have a huge amount of places to take them to, I know Zoo Ave takes in some but can't possibly take them all.

I think Manakin is one trail I've never finished. Does it loop back around? Looking forward to the rest!
tully is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 06:01 PM
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Hi guys,

Thanks for continuing to read! Sounds like we're in accord on the animal sanctuary, Hip and Tully. I deliberately make reference to the negative TA reviews because I do think its important to consider both sides of the story and draw your own conclusions. Topics related to conservation and treatment/handling of animals always seems to illicit a passionate response from those of us who really care about such things!

I've got my crumpled copy of the BdC trail map and descriptions in front of me, tully. Manakin is a short trail section that links the Tropical Garden to the Trogan Trail. You can reach it via the Creek Trail, or find the official trail head right after the suspension bridge (as you head towards the Tropical Garden). I remember it descending down to a small creek that you had to cross, and then you climb up a series of stairs to hook into the Trogan Trail. It was a nice short hike, but a bit steep in sections...

Man, I wish I was there right now!
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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C, so sorry your boat conked out on you. We loved the animal sanctuary too. When we were at BdC, there was an injured pelican with a broken wing on the beach, and a kind-hearted soul from our group carried it up the trail and back to their room. The sanctuary adopted it, fed it, and was rehabilitating it when we left, so I do think they are kind. Was the macaw damage to the house still there? When we visited last July, they had chewed a big hole through the wall and laid eggs in the bathroom! I look forward to more of your adventures.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 06:27 PM
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Chapter 7:

December 9th, 2007.

We were longing for some beach time, and knew my mom would never make it down the Pacific Trail, so we decided to give the Golfo Dulce Trail a try. We arranged to have mom dropped off at Pan Dulce beach at an appointed time, and also arranged a ride back to BdC for the 3 of us. We had asked Carlos where exactly we would meet up with our mom, and he said she would just be down on the beach and that the area was small so we wouldn't miss her. Hmmm, do you sense some foreshadowing??

Brother and I set out on our hike, stopping periodically for photo ops along the way. We saw a few spider monkeys and a toucan or two, but not much else on the wildlife front. Still, it was a nice hike, and quite steep towards the bottom; lots of rocks to scramble over and a small stream to ford...

We eventually emerged from the trail onto the beach access road and took quick detours to check out the beaches of Matapalo and Backwash Bay along the way.

It was a very pleasant day, but we were a bit hot and sweaty from our exertions and ready to cool off in the blue waters of the gulf.

As we approached the access area for Pan Dulce, we came upon a large truck that had broken down in the middle of the narrow, muddy lane. Several men were gathered about and we could see a pair of rubber boots and human legs protruding from under the truck. As I mentioned, the road was quite muddy and I felt sorry for the poor soul laying on his back in the muck and mire, trying to repair whatever had malfunctioned.

We skirted the truck and reached a pathway leading down to the beach. This was right by the unused stone guardpost (known as the 'White Gate' according to my BdC trail description map). From the gate you could see the main road that heads into Puerto Jimenez.

We went down to the beach and looked around. We had dawdled a bit on our hike and figured mom must have arrived by then. We didn't see any sign of her, so we poked around a little bit, but were hesitant to settle in until we had the whole clan together. We were assuming that she would be dropped off at the White Gate (because the BdC map document lists that as the pick up point for rides back to the lodge). After several minutes down on the beach, we decided to walk back up the gate and wait for her arrival. We were rewarded for returning to the access road by a good-sized troop of capuchin monkeys that crossed the roadway on overhanging tree branches above our heads.

We leaned up against the White Gate wall and waited... and waited... and waited... We were starting to get a bit concerned by this time. To pass the time, we periodically took turns checking on the progress of the broken down truck that was just down the road. My brother also headed back down to the beach and followed it north for several minutes in case she was indeed on the beach and we had managed to miss her. Not a sign...

After about an eternity waiting around by the gate, we decided to go back to the beach and start leisurely making our way south in the general direction of the Golfo Dulce trail. We assumed we would be hiking back up to BdC.

As we rounded a low, scrubby tangle of plant growth that sort of jutted out onto the sand, we could see a woman sitting on a fallen log at the southernmost fringe of the beach. It was our mother! She had been there for about 2 hours!! And our return ride to BdC was supposed to arrive to pick us up in 15 minutes...
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 07:58 PM
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Hi VG,

Yes, the damage to the sanctuary house is still there. The owners told us that they are actually in the process of moving to a nearby location (as in moving the whole sanctuary...) so I assume they'll be building a new home for themselves. It's good to hear your pelican story. Hope he recovered from his injury nicely!

Chapter 7, cont'd:

We had apparently missed our mother on the beach because A) the plant growth partially blocked our view to the south, and B) mom had spent most of her time in the shade of the trees lining the sand and would not have been clearly visible from where we had entered Pan Dulce. Also, the timing was such that Kevin might well have passed us on the access road had the broken down truck not blocked his return to the main road. He had to take an alternate route, so we never saw him and had no idea mom was waiting on the beach for us…

It was a bit of an exercise in futility all around! We hurriedly dipped our feet in the gulf water and wolfed down the packed lunches mom had brought from BdC (I think it was after 2:00 p.m. and we were famished by this time!). It wasn't a bad day, by any means; it just hadn't played out the way we had planned. It happens...

Kevin arrived on schedule to take us back home. Once we returned to the lodge, we parked ourselves by the pool and sucked down some cold drinks. We laid in the lounge chairs for about an hour, watching a lone capuchin monkey climb around in the trees behind the bar area.

Dinner was a much quieter affair that night as Roy Toft and crew had departed that morning. It was a fairly small group that sat down to eat. We sat once again with Rob and Roz and the Newfoundland family. We were also joined by a young couple from California who had just arrived. They had lots of questions about what to see and do while at BdC. We obligingly gave them all sorts of information!

That night we had our only scorpion encounter. I went into the bathroom in our cabina after dinner to wash my hands. I switched on the light, stepped over the sink with hand outstretched to turn on the faucet. I immediately let out a little yelp of surprise when I saw the scorpion sitting right in the sink. He flipped up his tail when he sensed the flailing movement of my hand as I yanked it back away from the tap. We trapped him in a water cup and released him outside. It was a very good reminder that you should always check your shoes and low-lying belongings each morning in case any unwanted visitors have infiltrated your stuff!

I believe he was the first scorpion I've ever encountered outside of a zoo, so I happily add him to my list of 'new critters' observed in the wild.
cmerrell is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 10:31 PM
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C, I just want to give you a hug for having such a sense of adventure and a good attitude - your poor mom - what a trooper. We saw a scorpion at the PJ "airport" - I loved seeing it, but from afar!
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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We had a scorpion in Casa Blanca at Bosque one visit that was approximately 4 inches long! And that is not a Texas-tale! I grew up in the country so have seen scorpions but never one that size.
fae is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 06:49 AM
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No more talk about scorpions, k? I have, so far, avoided them in my trips (though I did have a whip scorpion outside my cabina in Nicaragua) and do not wish to make their acquaintance! But so jealous you got to see a boa!

cam what a snafu meeting up with your mom at Pan Dulce! You know, I don't think I've ever been actually picked up at the white gate; they tell you to meet them there but always seems like just when it's time to head there the driver is already at the beach. I love the Golfo trail though, rocky & steep in some places but definitely keeps you on your toes!
tully is offline  

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