Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Day 8 : Costa Rica and Panama…

This morning we were back exploring the rainforest - sorry, correction - the CLOUDforest. 

The distinction is important. The forests in this area are high up. So high up in fact that they are literally in the clouds. So the water vapour that makes up the clouds swirls around the flora and fauna. So it’s a lush, wet, misty green wonder. In the clouds. 

The particular forest we headed to today was the relatively young (and reclaimed) Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. I say reclaimed. It used to be dairy land, but just 47 years ago the government bought the cow land back and let it go wild. Which makes it slightly younger than Stuart. Yes, I got a side-glance when I pointed that out. 😁

The forest sprung back up really quickly though - proving how quickly reforestation can happen when nature is allowed to take its course. And the apex predator in these parts, the jaguar, came back too. Which proved to all and sundry the forest is ´viable and healthy’. 

So bathed in the mist and alive with dangling vines and wide-girthed tree trunks, we explored the relatively new cloudforest Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. 

And we sure saw loads of wildlife - much of it endemic (ie uniquely Costa Rican):

Yellow stripe-sided palm pit-viper 🐍 
Red tailed wood creeper 🐦 
Costa Rican warbler 🐦 
Summer tanager 🐦 
Blue jay 🐦 
Pygmy flying squirrel 🐿️ 
Thrush 🐦 
Grey-breasted wood wren 🐦 
Prong-billed barbet 🐦 
Slate-throated redstart 🐦 
Collared restart 🐦 
Tufted flycatcher 🐦 
Red-faced spinetail 🐦 
Silvery-fronted tabaculo 🐦 
Ruddy treerunner 🐦 
Azure-hooded jay 🐦 
Northern Emerald-Toucanette 🐦 
Ochre wren 🐦 
A rather sexy looking stick insect 🦯 
Black Guam 🐦 
Yellow wish flycatcher 🐦 
And last but not least the Olive flycatcher 🐦 

Midway through our trek we were above the clouds and it sure got windy up there. We had to hold on to our hats. And our glasses. 

Once back down in the lower areas we dried ourselves off, had some lunch, and planned our afternoon adventures. 

We hit on the idea of visiting one of the local sugar, coffee, and cocoa plantations. What’s not to like?

Sure enough we found one nearby. And had a couple of hours being schooled in sugar, coffee, and cocoa production.  

What we learned…

Sugar: Comes from cane (around here). It’s related to bamboo. It’s invasive. It gets cut down when it’s 5m high. It is fun to watch it being crushed and it makes great caramel. 

Coffee: They plant two coffee plants next to each other - the competition for water, nutrients and light mean they both grow faster. 
Ripe coffee berries are red. When dried black. When shelled, white again. When roasted back to being black. 
The best coffee beans are the peaberry (only 1 bean per berry). 

Cocoa: the fruit looks weird, it’s fermented, dried, roasted and ground in a similar method to coffee. It makes very nice chocolate brownies. 

After we had sampled all they had to offer we headed back to our favourite gay microbrewery in the hotel grounds for gallos (cheeky yet yummy snacks) and a few pints. They had a local musical act on too. All very big-ho. We clapped along. 

Tired, we decided on an early night. 

Another super day of fauna, flora, and fun. 

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