A Night in the Jungle

Trip Start Jun 03, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Friday, June 27, 2008

Life in Barú gets easier and more enjoyable every day. I´ve discovered that new and bizarre bugs and creatures now interest me rather than scare me. And thankfully, the bugs have finished discovering me and Im no longer tasty to bite! Im finally getting use to the sounds at night, sleeping better, and waking up to start my day at six (which if you know me is quite a feat!) Surprisingly, I´m really quite enjoying not having a TV or mirrors all around, having limited cloths to choose from each morning, not having to put on make-up or style my hair everyday. It is a wonderful experience being relieved of the social pressure that designer labels and make up are what make you beautiful. I´m discovering that simplifying life simply makes it more enjoyable!

Nicolas, the French volunteer, arrived about a week ago, so La Casona is getting full. Nico and I tend to work the same hours and have the same day off, so we´re getting to know each other really well. We´ve fallen into the habit of staying after work and hanging out in the restaurant with the two guys who work it, Jason the manager/ server, and Ronan the chef. They all speak broken English, and I broken Spanish, so while we are learning about each other we´re also getting free language classes, it´s great!

The boys at the Casona are finally getting adjusted to the recent changes. We´re all usually together downstairs at night. Alex studies a lot. Nico likes to sing and play guitar, and sometimes we watch French movies. We all play different music for each other, figuring out what´s popular where. If there´s a futbal game on Carlos and Olman are glued to the broadcast over a cell phone. Live futbal games have even sprung up in the living room before! I´ve started teaching Olman how to play Texas Hold Em´, and have gone into town a few nights with some of the guys to grab dinner or a drink and just get out of the house. Life is getting regular. There´s a pattern to it, a comfort. I´m enjoying much more staying and actually living in one spot rather then constantly passing through town after town.

One of the wonderful things about being here is that I get the opportunity to really see Hacienda Barú and it´s wildlife. The other night I was able to join two of our guests, who happened to be Darrell, the owners cousin, and his wife Rite, on an excursion into the jungle for the night. Darrell and Rita are exactly the type of people you would want to spend a night with- delightful, witty, interesting, intelligent, always positive and smiling and laughing and learning. They definitely made the hike more enjoyable.
Our adventure started at three, when we left the ecolodge and started working our way back into the primary jungle. It was a fairly difficult two and a half hour hike up, with plenty of two and three toed sloth along the way to pause and enjoy. We also wandered through cacao and spiny cedar plantations. Finally reaching our jungle hide out, an open teak structure with a hammock and table and two tents further down, we unloaded and relaxed, Darrell and Rita wondering where the cocktail waitress was with our margaritas. Instead,we sipped on pineapple juice and pretended. It was during this relaxing that I finally saw a chestnut mandibled toucan. I´ve been listening to them for the past week but have yet to spot one. There were also fiery billed aracari flying about. As the sun set and our eyes adjusted lightening bugs began popping up around the jungle, how I wanted a jar to run around and catch them like I use to! With darkness setting in, we lit a few candles and sat down to enjoy dinner and each others company.

After dinner we put our hiking boots back on, grabbed our flashlights, and headed out for a short night hike. Unfortunately it was somewhat uneventful, but we did find a red and green poison dart frog, which is unbelievably small. Finding a comfortable long and some stones, we sat down and turned off our flashlights. The true jungle at night. This was one of my favorite parts, I must say. The canopy is so thick it covers any moonlight that might possible have filtered through. Just sitting there in silence, far back in the jungle, listening to the nearby stream and insects as your eyes become use to the dark. It was enchanting.

Eventually we turned our flashlights back on and headed back the camp to hit the sack. After Darrell and Rite headed off for their tent, and while I was getting ready to do the same, Christian, our guide, ran up asking for my camera. Following him out into the darkness, he crawled into a little patch of jungle and began taking pictures- two paca´s rummaging for food! They are large for a rodent, but still a relatively small animal that make an unproportionally loud grunting noise that surprised me half to death! After all the photos were taken, I left the paca´s to eat their dinner as I headed to the outhouse. Too much info, I know. But when your in the middle of the jungle leaving the outhouse and discover a scorpion on the door, your first thought is not to scream and run, but rather, "Thank God I didn´t see him while I was peeing!" I found the timing amusing. Of course, being me, I ran back to camp to grab my camera in hopes of him not moving, but no such luck.

Spent half the night staring out the tent just taking it all in. I was hoping for a clear, starry night, as the lights of California usually cover them from view, but this time bright light from a full moon obscured my view. The moon shone so bright while it was rising that I almost needed curtains in my tent. Early in the morning a light rain began and cleared before we woke for breakfast. Being the only rain we encountered on the hike, we definitely had luck on our side!

After a leisurely breakfast of granola, fruit, and coffee, we packed up our bags and began the three hour hike back via a different route. The hike back was much more adventurous as we almost lost Darrell down the side of a slippery slope! After hearing a loud rustle, I turned around to see Darrell slip off the side of the trail, lose his balance, and tumble away into the jungle. I don´t know how he did it, but he somehow managed to catch a vine on his fall down, so by the time Christian and I got to him he was holding on for dear life. After a little push and a pull, he was up and back on track. With a sign, a few witty remarks, a chuckle and a smile we were on our way again. On the journey back we saw Black and Green Poison Dart Frogs, a Golden Napped Woodpecker, hawks, vultures, a lively troop of monkeys, and more sleepy sloth.

Quite an eventful and memorable adventure if I can say so myself.
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