We started off early as we had to hike 16 kms by 1 PM to avoid high tides and thus crocodiles, bull sharks and hammerhead sharks. We did see more animals and birds on our way. Walked through devastating destruction of the rain forest due to gusty winds and rains and saw landslides of great magnitude. Gautam bathed in one of the waterfall on our way back. The weather was perfect, mildly raining, rainbow overhead; vast expansion of teal colored sea, few birds hunting for fish, rain forests all lush and green; synchronized pace of walk; collecting shells. I managed to collect few huge conch and corals that were abundant on the beach. They adorn my living room now :-)
William was a very interesting character; sociable, gregarious and childlike. He got very comfortable with us they way we got comfortable with him. He felt good that we respected him for his authority on the rain forest and we let him know how important he was for us and that without him; this would have been impossible. He reciprocated by mentioning that he never felt he was with visitors and he felt we were like locals belonging to that place. He was very passionate about the place and the flora and the fauna. He went great lengths to protect them. He mentioned about how tough the job was for rangers to hike days together in the forest to preserve and protect it. The rangers stationed in the ranger station had an easy job of keeping count on visitors and monitoring the area even though they were away from their family. That was anytime better than carrying heavy backpacks and hiking days together around the forest.
He took very good care of me; helping me cross the river or climb up in the forest or while walking down a steep area. He made sure I was safe. Among other things, he was constantly mentioning about how he was very different as a kid. In his words, "Bindu, I was a bad man". When I asked what he meant he said "I dont want to say. You will stop liking me" :-) I insisted and after much pursuance, he told me how as a young boy he killed many animals which he is striving to protect now. Once he and his uncle captured 100s of Coatis and shot them all as they were raiding their fields and destroying crops. He killed snakes, frogs and what not. My face turned pale and I said "That was bad William" to which he immediately shot back "See, you dont like me anymore". :-)
He was interested in what I do, what kind of job and such. He asked me age and when I asked him to guess; he guessed it right. Later the discussion went on to why women hide their real age and he was sharing an incident with me about an American visitor he met and they went around. She didnt reveal her true age until she left and when she parted she left a letter for him where she apologized for lying about her age.
We were served steaming hot coffee at the ranger station. Another interesting fact we were told was how few rich people from other countries like USA, Spain, France came in there; acquired lands and didnt let the locals venture into it. These lands included part of forests, beaches, water falls, creeks. How could beach, water fall, forest be a private property!! The Costa Ricans didnt know the value of their resource and sold it off to these foreigners and were now poor. William was mentioning how sad it was that they could not venture into their own land. We saw lot of "Privado"(private) written on wooden planks. But now the government has realized that and come up with a rule where foreigners cant own land but only lease them for certain number of years.
After reaching Carate, we waited for couple of hours to get a vehicle to go back to Peurto Jimenez. William's potential father-in-law didnt get his message and so he was not there with his Prado to pick us up. We also had an American couple for company. The ride was bumpy, tiresome and 2 hours long. We chatted all the while; continued our chit-chat through dinner. William took leave to freshen up and when we got back; it was just to say good bye. He was unattached and it was just business. We started to miss him.
The next day we left for the capital San Jose. Before that, William took us to the shop where he got his custom made machete as I was in love with it. I bought one as well as a souvenir. We bought a couple of T shirts; big good byes. William while parting gave a hug and said this "You have a friend here. Anytime you want to come here; just call me". 50 kms from San Jose was an active volcano site and a national park. The drive through coffee plantation was scenic. It was raining; foggy and we could see trees cutting through the clouds - the cloud forests. Visited these volcanic sites and the national park and got dropped off to the airport on time.
Guess what? We waited to get our boarding passes for an hour or so and when our turn came, the lady at the desk said "I am sorry but the flight is full". Thought she was kidding; but it turned out that they always overbooked. So even though we had our tickets booked 1 month earlier; we could not board that flight!! They talked about some compensation which was anyway useless; put us in a next day flight to El Salvador and from there to San Francisco. They put us up in a Holiday Express hotel near to airport and we were told; passengers being denied flight is normal. There was one person exclusively meant to fetch passengers from airport to hotel. Had to make calls to people concerned to let them know of this unprecedented turn of events. Now time for few pictures.
Jesus Christ Lizard. So called due to its ability to walk on the surface of water :-) When fleeing from predators, they gather sufficient momentum to run across the water for a brief distance while holding most of their body out of the water
A view of the beach as we hiked in rain
The devastation; broken and uprooted trees due to heavy rains
A Tarantula. We dared not disturb
Flock of Magnificent Frigatebird. William asked me "Do you know why the fly in that shape?" When I answered; he was impressed :-)
A secluded bunch of trees.
At the ranger station at La Leona, this young man was enjoying the view.
Either a species of Antbird or Flycatcher
Does it not look like a Dolphin's tail?
Criss crossing paths
This species of plant was abundant in the Volcano Poas area.the leaves are very large; almost 5 feet in diameter. When translated from Spanish; the name of the plant is "Poor man's umbrella"
One of the new leaf. Look at its stem. Does it look like poor man's umbrella? Who can hold this spiky stuff?
A pretty clear view after the clouds cleared; visible is the sulfuric lake.
Lake Botos. Botos is named after a tribe that lived near this lake. One of the lake near the crater. It fills an extinct volcano; and is surrounded by cloud forests.
This one is a Morphus. Remember my first post on Costa Rica and this marvelous butterfly? Seen here is the underneath portion of its wings.
There were 100s of humming birds of all colors. They were so agile and were fluttering all around. It was a delight to watch them
Any idea why all of them are standing on only one leg?
My souvenir from Puerto Jimenez - a machete
Costa Rica experience was rich and it would be memorable for long long time :-)