9:00 a.m. January 5, 2017
We are now on the Sarapiqui River tour surrounded by iguanas, crocodiles and Jesus Christ…Jesus Christ lizards, that is. Amazingly, these little dark green lizards can run for up to 15 feet on water, hence the name. We walked down a concrete dock and jumped on a boat. There were life jackets just in case, but we didn’t have to wear them. The wind was blowing through my hair and I was tempted to put my hand in the water, but was afraid of crocodiles. What a difference from Vermont. Spotting the animals along the bank was a fun challenge—looking for movement and patterns in the green of the trees and the brown of the bank provided entertainment as well as education.
From night to day, life is non-stop here in the tropics. No cold or rain stop the constant change, ever present movement and sound, or the wonder of life around us. From night to day, life breathes.
4:15 a.m. January 5, 2017
Alarm goes off at 4:15 a.m….I’m totally exhausted, but wide awake at the same time. We are expected at the lobby of the Sarapiquis Lodge at 5:15 a.m. to leave for a morning bird walk at La Selva. I was walking from my room to the lobby in total darkness with nothing but my headlamp to light the way. Normally, I would have been frightened, however, after the night walk out in total darkness my fears have completely disappeared and a calm sense of security has taken their place. There was a light drizzle and a mist in the air as we set up with binoculars and a spotting scope. As we were looking for one bird we would see another and another and then the monkeys started howling. What kind of monkey howls? Well, the Howler Monkey, of course!
7:00 p.m. January 4, 2017
Watching the light leave the canopy, night descended upon the La Selva Biological Research Center (one facility of the Organization for Tropical Studies here in Costa Rica) and the jungle began to breathe with a different life. In the night, small sounds felt deeper, sounded louder, and permeated the air around us. Our eyes wide and our minds curious, we were led into the darkness with new knowledge of what to expect. Jo’el and Yahira—our guides for this evening trek—bore large flashlights, walked lightly, and spoke kindly of the nocturnal movements all around us. Julie Bardales and Katie McGranaghan’s combined dream was quickly fulfilled: a sloth hung over the suspension bridge, idly snacking away at the leaves above. Two hours of dark exploration—with the discovery of the Smoky Jungle frog, the nighttime march of the Leaf Cutter ants, the plethora of large Wolf Spiders, millipedes and centipedes, Peccaries, tarantulas, a gecko and a Dobsonfly—quickly slipped away.
More photos from the field: