Monday, January 18, 2016

Tortuguero Rain Forest - Part 2

Howler Monkey
Our second day in the rain forest turned out to be a slog. We began by trying to find boots that would fit us. Linda had some success, but we had to use an old plastic bag to get mine to slip on as they were two sizes too small. I guess I was supposed to bring my own. I thought maybe I could get by with my own boots, but our guide was insistent. He turned out to be correct, much to Linda’s dismay. We had to slog our way through muck and mud up to eight inches deep. I had to hold her hand through parts of the walk just to help her pull her feet out of the muck without losing her balance. It was a more difficult walk than the one we did in October between Vernazza and Corniglia in Cinque Terre. That walk took us 4.5 hours and this one only 1.5. At least in Italy we weren’t fighting just to keep our feet moving.

Grey-necked Wood Rail
Even with the difficulty of walking, it was worth the effort. We saw lots of different plants, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies, and a brown iguana. The iguana was difficult for us to see at first because it is so small relative to the other iguanas we have seen. The body is only about six inches long instead of the two or three feet other get. Of course, we also saw several birds including a couple of new ones. Just as we emerged from the forest a couple of gray-necked wood rails graced us with their presence and stuck around long enough for a photograph. Then after washing off our boots, we enjoyed two mail white-cheeked manikins as they danced for the lady that must have been nearby. Manikins are one of those species of birds that dance for their love. Some of them perform some exciting hopping rituals accompanied by clucking or singing. These two performed a circular flight. How the female would decide between these two I’m not sure, but she would – or she might reject them both. After a short walk back to our cabin we enjoyed the two hours of rest before lunch.

Turtle nests are under the sand here. Walking over them is ok. 

Several pieces of old equipment are reminders of logging days.
After lunch we had a tour of Tortuguero village. While it was interesting, I would have rather spent another couple of hours in a boat on the river. If you make this trip someday, I would recommend asking to do this tour on your own over the lunch break. Unless, you are here during turtle season when you will want to visit and get the opportunity to see the nesting sea turtles. This is between May and November.  Tortuguero is really just a tourist town with restaurants, small hotels and B&Bs, and guide services. I doubt that any job available there is not attached in some way to tourism and the national park.
The main street is paved

Some others are not

Small children will play
It is a pleasant enough village and does offer a less expensive way to visit the park. Upon landing, we walked the 100 yards or so across the land to the Caribbean Sea. There we got to look at the sea and see where the turtles do their nesting. They have divided the beach into zones and during nesting the tourists must stand and wait for one of the observers who will let the guide know when it is safe to move up or down the beach to see the turtles without disturbing the process. This careful monitoring has led to a significant increase in the survival rate of the turtle population. Otherwise the town really consists of only one main street about 1 kilometer long filled with the restaurants, hotels, and guide services. The park office at the end of the street offers information and an entrance to a 2 kilometer trail through the rain forest. The people live in houses between the street and the Caribbean. The main street and some others are paved.

One of the many tour agencies

Creatively decorated garbage cans are everywhere in town

Town harbor
The village used to be the center of the logging operation here before the creation of the Tortuguero National Park. Machine parts rust along the main road as a reminder of the old days. One result of the logging is that this park is nearly 100% second growth forest. We could see remnants of the logging days with trees growing out of the old stumps. Fallen trees also serve as nurse logs. We counted 14 trees growing out of one such fallen log.

Town Church
A pair of trogans

After our return, we wandered around camp and had a drink in the bar before dinner. After dinner came the most interesting part of the trip so far. We were sitting in the lounge area checking the internet when a group of Dutch visitors came running and shouting in excitement over a frog they had found. I quickly added myself to their group to see the excitement. As they headed off, in another direction the guide invited me along. I expected to see another exotic frog which we did. Actually it looked to me like the eyes were mounted on one side instead of in front, something I had never heard of. When I mentioned this, the guide said that the smaller male was on the back of the female. She is laying the eggs and he is dropping his sperm on them. I went back for another look and was able now to see what my eyes had fooled me about before. Then I went to get Linda so she could share the excitement. The guide said that this is particular frog lives in only a couple of small areas in Costa Rica so we were seeing something quite rare. Enjoy the pictures.

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