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Saturday, March 23, 2013

SHAGGY

3/11/13    El Zota Biological Station

I set the alarm a little early this morning so I could be sure to be up and dressed while the Howler's were still calling.  Well they barely called at all this morning, at least right here in camp anyways.  I could hear them off in the forest.  After walking around for a bit I got my chance when they called from right behind the kitchen.  There were 3 adults in one tree.  The lighting wasn't the best, however, so the pictures I attempted weren't that great.

Breakfast was served at 6AM and we in the army truck and on the road to the primary forest by 6:30.  The path that would have taken us 1-1.5 hours walking took all of 30 minutes driving (very slowly).  Both groups went on this hike so we split up, our group going with Israel down the trail head, and the other group down the back side of the trail.  When we met on the trail we traded guides and continued in the same direction so we both walked the full trail.


This walk was unique so far because of all the herps we saw, including 3 species of snake and at least 3 species of frog.  The first snake was quite small and I was surprised Israel saw t at all.  And his moves to catch the critter were really impressive as well.  The most impressive find was the poisonous fer-de-lance that Dr. George spotted.  It was only a juvenile, but they can actually be more dangerous because they bite and inject poison into anything that moves.  The adults can at least control their poison injecting so you have some chance of surviving.


(Not a fer-de-lance) 

This was definitely the most strenuous hike so far, and the longest- about 4 hours start to finish.  My personal favorite part was actually on the ride out there.  The truck ride wasn't quite what I expected, but we were about 3/4 of the way there when we came across two El Zota workers who had left early in the morning to remove a tree that had fallen across the road.  With machetes.  Very impressive.  They also found some tracks in the mud of the road.  Jaguar tracks. (!!)  And they were most likely from the night before.  I cannot portray my complete and utter excitement to you.  Jaguars.  In the near vicinity.  In the wild.  So cool!  The only thing that could be better would be to see one.  But that's not going to happen.  And that's okay.


The afternoon continued with lunch, a much needed nap, and a rousing game of futbol.  Costa Ricans v. Americans.  We didn't actually do too badly: 9-0 them.  Kept them under double digits, which was the goal apparently.  The evening kicked off with a fiesta!  The Pulperia is a building with a small bar and tables, etc.  They set up an oil drum barbeque and had a mulit-color disco ball thing with some music playing.  We had a lot of fun, first with just conversation and some Costa Rican beer, then the food was delicious, and then Israel taught anyone interested how to salsa. 

The basic steps are pretty easy and it gets really fun when you start to put everything together (why wouldn't it, right?).  My partner and I danced for a long time, even after the music was turned back to pop.  It was very tiring though, and extremely sweaty.  I was almost happy to take a cold shower to finish off the evening.  Almost.