Chillin' in Chilamate

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Apr 13, 2012

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Heredia Province,
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am on the porch of the Chilamate Eco Rainforest Retreat after a long day of travel and exploration. This is an amazing place. Night falls at 6 pm; we arrived at 2:30 or so. The sounds around us now are gentle summer cricket-like chirps in a random, soothing rhythmn, with occasional scratchy noises of insects buzzing against the metal roof. Just a bit ago, the kids discovered that endangered rhinocerous beetles fall to the ground from the treetops around the lodge. Since they are about 5 inches long, it is noticeable when they descend, especially if they flounder about, waving all six legs having landed on their backs!
But, back to the beginning of the day... Our travels went well. The hotel got a tourist van to take us to the bus station. Since we'd have all our luggage, we didn't want to take a public bus into San Jose. The bus station and buses have had an upgrade since Bob and I have been here. We got to the station a half hour early and, at Michael's urging, checked to see where our bus would leave from. Good thing, as we got the last 4 seats together, and practically the last on the bus. One man actually stood for the two hour journey. The best part of the trip was traveling through the Burillo national Park. The road winds through the mountains, and the view from the window is either sky-scraper-high, plant laden walls or openings that make you realize that you are. At the edge of a mountain, with a drop off to the valley below and a view of green, green mountains beyond. The plants along the way included layers above layers of poor man's umbrellas, tree ferns and what we'd recognize as house plants of gigantic proportion growing wild. I was very excited to see a morpho butterfly out the window. Now that is blue!
It was increasingly hot in the bus, and not much better in the station while Michael and I waited for Bob and Emily to change money at the bank. They had quite a hot, annoying time of it, and ended up using the ATM again instead of changing travelers checks. We were just a taxi ride away from the rainforest, and ended up here after passing the turn off.
The entrance to the reserve is across a one lane bridge with no railings. A local swimmer was on it, getting ready to jump into the river. The retreat section of the reserve consists of many buildings, with metal-roofed covered walkways between. My favorite structure is an open room with racks of rubber boots to use when walking the trails. This is only because of its unique purpose; other buildings, such as the main eating area and bar are beautifully made of local materials such as river rocks or wooden branches. Many spaces are tiled, and Bob was imagining all of the grouting with a groan.
'Our' lodge has a great porch on the second floor, where we have already enjoyed seeing lots of birds. My favorites so far were three separate kind of honeycreepers, each more brilliantly colored than the last.
Our hike in the reserve was amazing. Michael has a knack for seeking frogs, and my rusty branin remembered some of the stories behind the plants we were seeing. Our biggest thrill was following the sound of crashing in the treetops to discover a she troop of white-faced monkeys. A huge spider, termite nests, bullet ants and butterflies were seen as well.
I need to go to bed, so I'll just say that a swim in the river and a yummy meal were absolutely the way to end the day.
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