February 18, 2005 [LINK]
Welcome to the Jungle!
I've seen and experienced so much over the past two days that I don't know if I can relate our travel adventures in a coherent fashion. But I'll try. After learning from the weather forecasts that the Caribbean coast was expected to remain rainy for the next couple days (as it has been for at least the last two months), we opted for the Pacific coast, taking a seven-hour bus ride from San Jose to the town of Golfito, not far from Panama. Along the way we crossed some very high mountains, most of which were shrouded by thick clouds. Occasionally the sun would peek through and we would get a fanastic view of distant peaks and clouds far below us. We arrived in Golfito at 10:00 PM and took a "taxi-boat" to the village of Playa Cacao, and got settled into our thatched hut cabin. "Cabinas Playa Cacao" is a splendid, beautiful place to relax and enjoy nature, and Dona Isabel is a wonderful hostess.
The next day (Thursday, I think) I got up at the crack of dawn and saw Ruddy ground doves, Scarlet-rumped tanagers, hummers, various flycatchers, among others. In the afternoon we bought supplies in town (via the taxi-boat) and basically relaxed, since it was too hot to do much else. Late in the afternoon we walked up a hill and saw a Striped-crown sparrow, an olive-colored foragers that was so big that it looked like a towhee to me. I also saw a Thick-billed seedeater, plus others. Then it started to rain so we had to hurry back.
This morning we took a hike along a stream into a genuine tropical rain forest. It was VERY dark in the dawn's early light, adding mystery to the ominous surroundings. Would we see jaguars or peccaries? Fortunately not, but we DID see two species that were at the top of our "target" list: White-faced monkeys (four or so) and Chestnut-mandilbed toucans (two). We could hardly believe our eyes, but since I had the presence of mind to turn on my video camera, there is no doubt. I got great images of those, plus many other birds.
I wish we could have stayed another day or two in Playa Cacao, but I learned that our only hope of getting into Corcovado National Park was to spend two nights in Puerto Jimenez, across the Golfo Dulce on the Osa Peninsula. So we hopped on a ferry boat, and we are now ensconced in a decent hotel in this dusty fishing village / tourist mecca. I've learned that getting around in Costa Rica is a lot harder than you might think, given the country's relative prosperity. It's a jungle out there!