March 27 - April 4, 2004
A trip to Costa Rica

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March 27 - 28: Volcán Poás and a brief stay at Poás Volcano Lodge
Looking into the crater of Volcán Poás - the green lake at bottom is about half a kilometer across and full of hot, acidic water. Mmmm, delicious. Laguna Botos, a lake filling an older crater farther up the volcano. Look out for falling stick figures. Two horses and a mouldering fencepost in a meadow up the hill behind the lodge. Evening sun over the fields at 2000 m Flowers are everywhere along the road to the lodge The lodge was once a dairy farm, hence all the old fences and lumpy terrain The lodge was once a dairy farm, hence all the old fences and lumpy terrain A hummingbird in a rare moment of rest Robyn and I in the chunk of remaining cloud forest behind the lodge Ummmm... a leaf? Lizard! More specifically, I think it's an anole.

March 28 - 31: Nosara (on the Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific coast)
The dining room at Lagarta Lodge, where we stayed. It's perched on a hill above the beach and river mouth. Robyn at breakfast The views are great while you eat, drink, or just hang around Looking out the window of our room - Robyn napping with the nature preserve in the background below Playa Nosara, down the steps from the lodge. Totally empty as usual. Except for Robyn, of course. Robyn coming back from a swim The beach is a sandbar across the moth of Rio Nosara, which at this time of year is barely ankle-deep. Judging by the gigantic trees bleaching in the sun, it must get some pretty impressive floods. Bleached driftwood - easily seven feet tall Driftwood on Playa Nosara Driftwood on Playa Nosara - closeup Robyn on Playa Nosara, drift [tree] in foreground Stray kitten. Awwwww. Yes, Robyn did break down and smuggle leftovers to the kittens and their mother. Please don't tell Marcel and Myriam. As you walk around the area, there are lizards constantly scrabbling noisily away among the leaves. This one was probably a foot long. Big mangroves in the preserve - note that this is the Rio Nosara's floodplain at the height of the dry season. Howler monkeys - mother and child One afternoon a group of turkey vultures landed on a rock near us, including a juvenile (all black at right) A vulture sunning itself - they're big birds, and they were only maybe 15-20 feet away Robyn descending some of the 180 steps down to the beach, river mouth, and nature preserve Late afternoon sky reflecting on the wet sand Staying on the beach until the last possible moment A father and son staying at the lodge would go surfing before dinner every night Back up at the lodge for another sunset - 6 PM on the dot. We took a boat ride up the river one morning to see what we could find... this is a Turquoise-browed Motmot, with characteristic long tail feathers. Its nest is the hole in the riverbank visible at bottom right. A baby crocodile, about half a meter long A tiger heron hunting on the river bank Rio Montana, which shares its mouth with Rio Nosara Among the mangroves on Rio Montana A fisherman on Rio Montana An enormous cactus growing between Rio Montana and the beach. It's probably 10 meters tall We walked down to Playa Pelada, the next beach down the coast. Playa Pelada on a crowded day Robyn on Playa Pelada The crabs on the beach scoop up sand with their claws and stuff it in their mouths. When they've extracted whatever they want from it, they spit it back out as a little pellet. There were millions of these all over the upper part of the beach. There are a few rocky areas along the beach with great tidepools. A tiny anenome (about the size of a finger tip) Some shells we picked up along the beach A two-inch long snail, quickly burrowing back down into the wet sand. We played with these guys for a long time. Robyn playing in the sand Taking a dip before sunset The Nosara airport on our last day there

March 31 - April 4: Osa Peninsula, Pacific Coast
We flew into Drake Bay. This is the airport, taken from inside the plane, runway in foreground. We then got into the white van in the picture for the next stage of the journey. After driving through a few small rivers, the road came to an end. To the boats! This is the only way into or out of our destination, Marenco Beach and Rainforest Lodge The trail up to the lodge from the beach, a pretty steep hike. The only vehicle is an ancient tractor they use to haul supplies up and down. I have no idea how they got it here, probably via heavy-lift helicopter. The dining room at Marenco, with beautiful views of the Pacific Robyn in the dining room before breakfast A big (2 foot?) basilisk lizard in a tree next to the dining room. These are the lizards that can run across the water surface when they want to. The path to our bungalow Relaxing before sunset on the porch of our bungalow Sunset from our porch We shared our bungalow with a big gecko A large coati at the Corcovado ranger station. They're related to raccoons. The same coati snacking in a cashew tree by the beach. You can see the capsules containing the cashews on the end of the yellow cashew apples. Two young (and curious) coatis descending a tree in the forest. Leaf cutter ants, hard at work in the forest A spider hiding in a curled-up leaf A large, grasshopper-type insect. It looks bald. A bird foraging on the forest floor - about the size of a chicken After a few hours of hiking in 300% humidity, Robyn enjoys a dip in a quiet jungle pool The jungle from above, taken on our flight out. That's [very] approximately where we were hiking. A white-faced capuchin monkey with her baby White-faced capuchin monkey relaxing for a moment A white-faced capuchin monkey on the railing along the path up to the lodge; the place was crawling with monkeys! A pair of monkeys trying to scare us away from the rest of the troupe as we walk up the path. A troupe of capuchin monkeys playing and running along the beach Robyn making a friend by the water Robyn's the one on the right Mmmm, yummy mango. I think I'll take one bite and then grab twenty more off the tree. Robyn in our back yard - miles and miles and miles of virgin jungle A rainforest hog-nose pit viper (Porthidium nasutum), nestled on a root of a gigantic tree [background] that was at least 30 feet in diameter, with a root system many times that. A close up of the viper - don't touch! A big spider that had built its web across the path at chest level. We went around! Same spider from another angle. The body is about three inches long. Another hog-nose pit viper, of a different color. I was taking pictures of leaf cutter ants on a tree root across the path and didn't see the snake until I was a few inches away from it. Scary. Note the ants - one is carrying a big piece of leaf right across the snake. The same snake retreating. It was only about 18 inches long, though still potentially deadly. A bright blue damselfly in a rare shaft of sunlight on the forest floor Just a short walk down from the lodge are miles of unspoiled, deserted beaches with great surf and virgin rainforest at your back. Nice. I'm standing near the mouth of the Rio Claro, right at the edge of the beach. About a 30-minute walk from the lodge. A very well-camouflaged lizard on a mossy rock along the Rio Claro Poor dead monkey. A creepy little find. A scarlet macaw - they're numerous, beautiful, and very noisy Our last night there we were treated to a beautiful sunset - all the photos are unretouched, straight from the camera. Amazing. By the way, that's Isla del Caño in the distance, where we spent a great day snorkeling and lounging on the beach. We'll definitely be coming back here someday!

April 4: Homeward bound
Sunset above the clouds somewhere on the eastern seaboard Landing in Philadelphia

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