COSTA RICA

Tortuguero National Park


My traveling companions for the trip to Tortuguero, on the Caribbean coast. From left: Leonie (Holland), Sylvia (Switzerland), DeAnn (USA), Hilton (Costa Rica), Grescoe (Costa Rica), Fem(bot) (Holland), and Jen (USA.) Not pictured were Lea and the two Francescas from Switzerland. They kind of had their own groove going.

Hilton had the boat and lived in the area, and Grescoe was our guide from Heredia. These two sharp eyed guys showed me a lot more wildlife than I would have seen by myself, given the time available. Grescoe's English was better than my Spanish by a large margin, so he was not that great as a Spanish teacher (which wasn't his job, anyway,) but Hilton taught me a few words that we didn't learn in school.





A white heron posing for the camera. We got around by boat while at Tortuguero, since there are no roads or cars in the town or in the park. Tortuguero is an isolated village of about 450 people on a narrow spit of land between the sea and rainforest. It's a 1 1/2 hour boat ride to the nearest road from Tortuguero. The national park is almost 50,000 acres.





White heron fishing.





We were riding along in the van, not far from the park, when we pulled over suddenly. Grescoe had spotted a tree trunk with a few of these little long-nosed bats sleeping on it, each of them about 1 or 2 inches long.





We were cruising along a small waterway in the rainforest in Hilton's boat when he saw this tiny Jesus Christ Lizard, so named for it's ability to walk on water. Grescoe explained that its abilities arose from the design of its feet, but after seeing the tropical rain forest up close, some of us thought it might be his eponymous divine power





A river turtle swimming underwater. Tortuguero is named for the sea turtles that nest here, including the Giant Leatherback, the Green Sea Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle, and the Hawksbill Turtle. More information is available on the web about this place, including the Caribbean Conservation Corporation website. The CCC continues the work of one of the original researchers in this area, the late Dr. Archie Carr.





This is one section of the 22 mile-long beach that is the most important nesting site for the migratory sea turtles in the western Caribbean. They come ashore at night and lay their eggs in holes in the sand.





A tiger heron





A hotel alongside the canal in the park near Tortuguero.





A howler monkey. Über-guide Grescoe spotted this guy while hiking through the forest when it urinated from the treetops onto his shirt. Grescoe, like so much of Costa Rica, was full of paradoxes, but eminently likeable






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