Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Today was an interesting day. We decided to go to the beach on the Pacific Coast to a place called Playa Don Ana. It was approximately 50 kilometres from San Ramon along windy roads overloaded with big 18 wheeler trucks and buses. At one point the road had subsided into the hillside making room for one way traffic only. It took us nearly 90 minutes to drive the 50 kilometres.
Now, you are probably asking why did we choose this black sanded beach when we could have gone to beaches with beautiful white sand. Well, the answer is this beach had white cheeked monkeys roaming around that liked to interact with humans by stealing their food and I wanted to photograph them. When we got there there wasn't a monkey in sight. We spoke to a lady who was familiar with the monkeys and she said it was most unusual there were no monkeys to be seen. She said they may appear later on in the day.

The beach as I have mentioned before had fine black sand that was very hot to walk on as the temperature was, I would guess, about 90 degrees. The ocean had very large swells and strong riptides making it very difficult to swim in. I decided I would wet my toes and sit down on the sand to let the water wash over my lower body. Gary, on the other hand tried to get beyond the big surf to do some swimming.

Well, I paddled out until the water was at my knees when a big wave hit. As the wave receded it knocked me off my feet and I landed on my bottom with a thump. Luckily, there was not a big wave following the one that knocked me over. I decided I would stay sitting down as it was safer when another big wave came along and as it sped past me it turned me sideways to the beach (I was looking forward into the ocean). I now had black sand in places I do not want to mention!! Gary continued to attempt to swim but reported that it was even difficult for him to walk in the waves.
By now the tide was coming in and the waves were crashing against some rocks to the right of the beach. It made for a pretty photo.
I decided to give up my "safe" sitting position and go back onto drier land. The lady we had met before came over to me and pointed out a monkey in a tree. She went and got it small piece of banana and gave it to me so that I could feed the monkey.
The monkey took the banana without any hesitation. By now, there were several monkeys swinging through the trees. I noticed one of them go to the picnic area next to where I was standing and steal an orange off the table. As quick as you could say "Jimminy Cricket" he was up a nearby tree and attempting to peel the orange. Along came two more moneys and now there was a squabble over the orange. I never did see who won. Someone else had put pieces of banana on a picnic table in the hopes of bringing the monkeys down from the trees when along came a monkey who tried to pick up as many pieces as he could.
He had a piece in his mouth and two pieces in his "hands". He did not share the banana with any of the other monkeys. By now, people were gathering to watch the monkey show. Someone put out a bowl of water on the picnic table and along came three monkeys to drink from the bowl. This time, they did share the water amongst themselves.
We made the journey back to San Ramon safely in a shorter time than it took us to get to the beach. I promptly took a shower to wash the sand off and got ready to go out to dinner. I found a place on the web and we decided we would try that. It took us about 15 mins to get to the restaurant and we chose to eat by an open window overlooking some pretty scenery. I ordered pasta primavera and Gary ordered fish and we both enjoyed the meal we each had chosen.
Tomorrow, we have an early morning as we are off to the Nectandra Cloud Forest Reserve where we have a guide to talk us through the flora and fauna of the cloud forest. I am hoping to see some birds and to be told the names of some of the plants I have already seen since arriving in Costa Rica.
Wednesday, 14th February - Happy Valentine's Day to you all.
Today, we travelled about 35 kilometres to the Nectandra Cloud Forest Reserve. Luckily, the roads were paved all the way so the journey only took us about 45 minutes. The Reserve relies on money from visitors to fund the project and is managed by only 5 people. Evelyne, one of the founders was away so we did not get to meet her but we were met by Arturo, who was to be our own personal guide. Arturo was exceedingly knowledgeable about the flora of the cloud forest. I must mention at this time, the cloud forest was missing one main ingredient - you have guessed it - the clouds. We had a cloudless sky making for a very pleasant visit.
The cloud forest was very well paved most of the way making it safe for us golden oldies.
Today, we are off to the Nectandra Cloud Forest Preserve where we will meet our personal guide, Arturo, who will share his knowledge of the flora and fauna of the cloud forest.
The 35 kilometer drive to Nectandra was without incidence due to the road being paved all the way. All we had to do was miss the people walking at the side of the road, the illegally parked vehicles and the many loose dogs that seemed to have the right of way.
Arturo was waiting for us upon our arrival. He spoke excellent English so we were able to both converse with him and understand him. At the end of the tour we would have lunch on the reserve.
The cloud forest sits at approx 1700 meters and gets 150" of rain a year. We are in the dry season at the moment and Arturo said it had been two weeks since the reserve had received any rain.
The first thing I saw upon entering the forest was a beautifully paved path making walking much easier for us golden oldies.
I spotted a butterfly which landed on a leaf to the side of where I was standing. I was able to take its photo as it was opening its wings to reveal a lovely blue color. Arturo told us the name of the butterfly which went straight in one of my ears and out the next so I do not remember its name. I know it was not a blue morph butterfly.
The path we followed wound through the reserve as Arturo pointed out different vegetation to us. There were many different types of fern, bromeliads and orchids most of which were not in bloom. I did manage to get a few photos of flowers, some of which I share with you.

The above orchid was covered in bugs that were attracted by its color, perfume and nectar.

The path took us past a small waterfall which had guppies in the water. They were too small to get a photo of but I did take one of the waterfall.
The stream led away from the waterfall and into the forest.
Halfway through the tour we hit a clearing which gave us a wonderful view of the country side.
Continuing on with our walk we came across an orchid with the smallest of flowers I have ever seen. I took a photo of the flower along with Gary's finger to give you an idea of how small the flower was.
Arturo explained that some plants had leaves that were red on the underside in order to attract hummingbirds. I would never have thought of looking at the underside of leaves but we found one that was worth a photograph.
I have two more photos to show you that I like.

After the tour we had a lunch that was just prepared for the three of us. It comprised of the Costa Rican staple - rice and beans plus chicken, vegetables that comprised of broccoli and a type of squash, a fresh salad including mango, and a lovely drink made from a local fruit of which I cannot remember its name. Following the main course was a lovely homemade banana cake and ice cream. I tried everything with the exception of the beans, of which I am not too fond.
So ends two very exciting days. We have a day off tomorrow for me to do laundry and then on Friday we are of to La Paz Waterfall Gardens for the weekend. See you then.

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