Friday 24 July 2015 85 °F
This is the report on my second day on the Costa Rica trip, which was Wednesday, July 15. Again, italics will indicate copied journal entries from the journal in which I wrote during the trip. Enjoy!
I awoke in the 5 o'clock hour to the sound of foreign, almost ethereal birdsong, and after a few moments of groggy confusion, I opened my eyes to find myself not in my bed at home, but in a hotel. I was finally in Costa Rica!
Here is the first view I had of the country in daylight, from my hotel room window:
We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and packed up. Although we met them the night before, we really started to get to know our two guides for the week: Alexa, and Mario. Alexa has been living in Costa Rica for 5 years and she acted as the group's "expedition leader" for the journey. Mario is a Costa Rican native and he acted as our primary nature guide for the trip and also informed us upon many interesting facts and trivia about the country.
Then, we bussed to the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation in the neighborhood of San Jose called "La Carpio." The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to combat poverty in Costa Rica, and also specifically in the poor neighborhood of La Carpio which is comprised of descendants of as well as true Nicaraguan immigrants hoping to gain a better life in Costa Rica.
Driving to CRHF's headquarters, we passed through neighborhoods that looked very poor. It was eye-opening to see the country's struggles and poverty. There were hills packed with small shacks, literally boxes, that looked like they could fall on top of one another in the event of a heavy rain. It was an extremely hard thing to see. After we arrived at CRHF's headquarters, we immediately started helping out by bringing in and sorting food donations for "food bundles" that would be distributed throughout the community. During our trip to Costa Rica, our group discussed personal, environmental, and cultural barriers not just throughout the country but also throughout the world. We agreed that the people in La Carpio faced many barriers such as poverty, unsafe housing, and dirty drinking water, but we also saw that they were rising up and overcoming those barriers. This was evidenced by playing games such as duck-duck-goose with a lively, happy group of children in a common area as well as seeing a play put on by local residents. Huge props to the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation and the people of La Carpio themselves for being brave and fighting poverty.
After purchasing souvenirs from the gift shop that housed products made by women from La Carpio at the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, we took a long bus ride to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and our next location for the next two nights: the town of Sarapiqui.
This is certainly not a sight you would see everyday in Chicago!
We arrived at the Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge in Sarapiqui towards the evening after a long but pretty drive during the afternoon. We would stay at Selva Verde for the next two nights, and it would turn out to be a wonderful, beautiful place to stay. The property is situated in a mature, dense lowland rainforest along the Sarapiqui River. All of the buildings (lobby, dining area, gift shop, & all of the cabins) are seperate from each other and only accessible to one another by sheltered boardwalks - a really neat experience. After dinner in the beautiful open-area dining room, we had our first "circle meeting" of the trip. By the end of the trip, our group would come to cherish these special meetings where we would share our thoughts from the day, play bonding games, write in our journals, and discuss overcoming barriers on the trip such as a multitude of bugs or new foods. This meeting prompted me to write this in my journal:
This trip will serve me in widening my knowledge of the natural and cultural aspects of our world. I want to see many birds but also learn about the other facets of nature. I am also interested to study how Costa Rica's culture differs from mine and how that can possibly make me a more open-minded person.
After the meeting, we had our first night hike of the trip! We hiked along the boardwalk trails at Selva Verde, and it was so cool - the highlights were many interesting insects and frogs, only a fraction of which I photographed due to tricky conditions taking pictures without flash at night.
A HUGE moth with an 8+ inch wingspan:
A classic animal of the rainforest; the Red-eyed Tree Frog! So awesome!
We ended the hike by seeing a huge King Toad (unpictured) and then retired to our cabins for the night because it was getting late. Another great day!
World Life List: 855 Species (exactly 100 life birds in Costa Rica!)
Here is the bird species list, in order of when I found the species during the day, for Wednesday, July 15. I had 25 species in total for the day, including 9 life birds (species that I have never seen before). Not too shabby for birding just from the bus!
Blue-and-Black Swallow LIFE BIRD
Rock (Feral) Pigeon
Green Kinfisher LIFE BIRD
Gray-breasted Martin LIFE BIRD
Crison-fronted Parakeet LIFE BIRD
Melodious Blackbird LIFE BIRD
Brozed Cowbird LIFE BIRD
Collared Aracari LIFE BIRD
Pale-vented Pigeon LIFE BIRD
Lineated Woodpecker LIFE BIRD