Hasta la vista

We're running on our last 24 hours here in Costa Rica.
We're in the capital San José.
The SJ traffic is intense, aggressive and noisy, – and should be seen through the old windows of the old airport terminal, turned an art museum downtown.

Tomorrow, we'll visit a couple of more museums in town and then drive to Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santa Maria to grab a non-stop Air France flight to Paris and Copenhagen.
Eucalyptus deglupta also known as Rainbow Tree in San José's central park.



After 50 years of drinking coffee we thought it about time to check out what coffee really is.
Therefore, we visited Café de Monteverde, a sustainable, organic-based coffee-growing cooperative.
It all begins and ends with coffee beans! 
Here, the beans are sprouting to eventually become coffee bushes.
Part of the highland (c. 1300m a.s.l) coffee plantation with Arabica plants.
Coffee berries. Green = unripe. Red = ripe and ready for picking.
Picking coffee berries for a living is a really tough and warm job. A professional picker (i.e. from Nicaragua) can fill the basket in less than 30 minutes.
Each fleshy coffee berry has two beans (seeds).
Most coffee flavours / varieties require the soft berry parts to be separated from the seeds (beans).
The natural drying process of berries and/or beans takes some weeks.
After the roasting process (which is extremely flavour-specific), the beans are ready to be ground and, eventually, the fluid coffee can be made, ready for consumption.
Please note that the coffee man uses Bodum coffee pots, a genuine Danish design product!
Please also note that the coffee water was heated using methane produced from the "end products" of this sow in the cooperative's stall. 
The sow was fed sugar canes cut by this re-cycle machine.
Very sustainable !


Green paradise

Nature in the Monteverde area is indeed something else!
We've been doing our best to hike around to see as much as possible.
Yesterday, we spent 7 hours on the trails in the cloud forest.
We saw the incredible loads of epiphytes that all forest trees must endure.
We checked out the slow wildlife on the forest floor,
and we experienced just how much water there was everywhere in the cloud forest.
During the evening we went for a walk-in-the-dark with a local guide and found this miniature frog: a Costa Rican Pygmy Rain Frog. This one is a fully grown specimen, but it is still only about 20 mm from nose to tail.
Blue-crowned Motmot.
Today, we've been birding in the Cure-Cancha Reserve that provided tremendous wildlife moments.
Green-crowned Brilliant Hummingbird
Some of the highlights were the many species of hummingbirds and ...
... then the trophy: The extravagantly dressed male of the Resplendent Quetzal.
A close-up reveals a uniquely colourful and funny-looking bird.

We took around 4000 photos yesterday and today, so it's going to take a while to find the "keepers" and write photo captions. Therefore, be patient as new uploads to the photo folders will not happen for another couple of days.

Tomorrow, we'll take a tour of a coffee plantation and a producers' cooperative, and then head downhill to the coast and drive south towards Punta Leona.


Transfer to the clouds

We're on our last roadtrip away from the beach.
The destination is the Monteverde Cloud Forest in the mountains Cordillera de Tilarán.
A very green, very wet and very windy forest ...
... and with an amazingly high biodiversity.
This is a genuinely humid rainforest, albeit a cool one. Air temps are down to less than 2/3 of the ones we have adjusted to along the coast, so we are shivering.
Epiphytes in high numbers and mosses in thick layers are growing on the forest trees. This place does look like something right out of Lothlórien, the home of Elves in "Lord of the Rings".
Tomorrow, we'll get an early start and explore this mystical wildwood.


Monkey business

We've just spent two days in Manuel Antonio on the SW coast.
The small and local National Park is visited by MANY people, but is still a beautiful spot although it is being worn down, especially along the main trails. Because of the "wear-and-tear", the park is now closed on Mondays.
We did see quite a few new species of birds and four-legged mammals.
The slow and sluggish sloth (with two toes on its front feet) was a treat to see. This animal sees the world upside-down, so it is almost tempting to let him do a "180"!
However, most of the action we heard and saw in the canopy and on the ground was due to monkeys.
Female Howler Monkey with her newborn under the belly.
The largest were the Mantled Howler Monkeys, who live their lives in the tree tops. 
White-faced Capuchin.
The medium sized primates in these forests are the capuchins. They are quick, fast-thinking guys who like to hang around in gangs. Some have (unfortunately) developed a taste for stealing foods (or any bags, really) from unsuspecting tourists/park visitors.
After the robbery, they are quick to devour the prize. Inedible stuff is thrown away. They can even un-zip people's bags to get the goodies inside.
Red-backed Squirrel Monkey.
The small size primate is probably also the cutest.
They formed a big lively group in the trees, especially around our hotel, and did all kinds of funny and acrobatic stunts while playing and chasing each other.
It appears to be obvious that (except for the tail/no tail) the amiable monkey "Curious George" (Peter Pedal) in the popular children's books should have been cast over the model of a Red-backed Squirrel Monkey.


Rush is over

As the two weeks of Christmas holidays have now passed, most of the Tico families have left, life on the beach is low key and our road has gone back to a less hectic traffic level. The wild parties also seem to be over, – for now at least.
Sunlight refracted in the threads of a spider web.
We have our quiet routines during the days checking on nature and its creatures ...
Orchard Spider
 ... and nothing is too small or too scaly to be studied and admired.

Red-mantled Dragonlet.

Every dawn and dusk we stroll our beach and take a swim in the very warm Pacific waters.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan almost outperforming the photographer.
Tomorrow, we'll be heading south. – Stay tuned.



We've been here for two weeks now and still have 14 days to spend.
The young bikers have left us, so we are just a twosome.
Yesterday, we went on a long sunrise walk along the beaches ...
... and took an even longer afternoon hike in the woods/jungle northeast of here,
White-faced Capuchin
 where we met this distant cousin and three more of its kin.
Weather stays the same every day: Sunny, hot and humid.
All nights are dark, hot and humid.
However, we have finally adjusted to the tropical climate.
This morning I watched the brown pelicans fishing off our beach.
See more pelican shots in the Costa Rica photo folder.

We are still without cabled internet connection. The company is reportedly trying to fix a major and regional data break-down. Therefore, the blog will be updated only infrequently as I have to use my telephone for connection.


Rio Tarcoles

Picked up the bikers in San José January 2 in the afternoon, but we began the day in Carara and the adjacent mountains.
A Scarlet Macaw couple in the entrance hall to their home.
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan.
The following day (yesterday), we all went on a boat trip on the Tarcoles river, which is bordering the Carara National Park. We saw an amaizing number of herons, egrets, other birds and lots of American Crocodiles.

Boat-billed Night-Heron.
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.
Go to the Costa Rica photo folder to see more birds.

We kept the eye open for lurking reptiles! 
The crocs were large, eager and hungry. 
The boat driver volunteered his right arm.
– He did make it back in one piece, though.
This very morning, during our breakfast on the porch, this Macaw flew by in all its glory.

Our internet connection is dicey, so expect only sporadic blog updates, – until further notice.