Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barra Honda Trail

This is a hiking trail in Barra Honda National Park. Tomorrow, as part of the worldwide first-day-of-the-month Daily Photo theme day, I will show what is at the end of the trail, which is one of the major attractions of Barra Honda.

I was recently in a bookstore in the U.S. and came across a book entitled "1001 Natural Wonders to See before You Die," and Barra Honda was one of them. After the photos I will post on the next few days, you will be better able to assess for yourself whether you will be satisfied visiting this natural wonder through the convenience of your computer or whether you will visit in person some day.

Barra Honda is located about an hour southeast of Tamarindo. It is just past the town of Nicoya, which is near the bottom of the map on the lower left of this website. As the above photo shows, Barra Honda is forested. This photo does not show that it is also a limestone hill that is 450 m. (1,475 ft.) high. The limestone nature of the hill may give a clue to some people about what lies ahead at the end of this trail, as will be shown tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glowing (and growing) Tamarindo

This photo shows the central part of Tamarindo catching the last light of the day. To illustrate the recent growth of Tamarindo, below is photo of the same area that I took two and half years ago.
Comparing these two photos shows the rapid, and upward, development of Tamarindo during the last few years, which has been a topic of my photos and comments in my posts during the past week or so.

These photos show the central part of Tamarindo beach in the area of the Diria Resort. The palm trees along the beach are on the grounds of the Diria and are the palm trees whose shadows on the beach were the subject of the first photo that I posted on this site. The large building in the right central part of the photo is the new condo building that is part of the Diria Resort complex. My wife and I are about to close the purchase of a condo on the 4th floor.

These photos show the recent practice of building taller condo buildings. The higher density makes possible the sale of more units, and enables higher prices if the condos have a view of the ocean. This has led to the Presidential decree I described a few days ago that will limit the height and density of future buildings.

I will now transition from the series of photos 0f the town of Tamarindo last week and this week. Tomorrow and the next few days I will show photos of a national park that I have not yet featured on this website.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is this supermarket in Costa Rica or the USA?

Above is a photo of just the wine selection in the supermarket that I showed the day before yesterday. This wide selection is to satisfy the international residents and tourists who want to enjoy their favorite wines from the USA, France, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Italy & elsewhere.
The above photo shows a regular aisle in the Auto Mercado supermarket. I posted a photo of the entrance to the supermarket two days ago. People can buy groceries in Tamarindo in a modern supermarket just like in the USA, Canada and Europe. They can enjoy preparing the same food and wine that they have at home. The only difference is that after they enjoy their meal, they can get out of the kitchen and enjoy a tropical paradise.

The supermarket in Costa Rica has newspapers that may remind people of the supermarket tabloids at home. On a recent trip to this supermarket, I noticed that the Costa Rican newspapers had blazing front page headlines and photos of . . . Britney Spears vacationing on the beach just south of Tamarindo. She and her parents were staying at a house near Tamarindo owned by Mel Gibson. Yes, the supermarkets in Costa Rica are just like the ones in the USA.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Huge tree, right in town

This huge tree is not deep inside a remote forest. It is located right in the town of Tamarindo. There are natural areas, such as the Langosta Estuary, that border the town and large trees such as this in the town. They provide a path for wildlife to travel and a habitat for the animals that we encounter frequently right in town, such as howler monkeys, raccoons, lingoes, and many birds.

There is a significant debate in Tamarindo about the amount of growth. Growth provides jobs and income for local families and tax revenue to support public services, such as education, health care, roads, etc. On the other hand, growth creates demand and need for more infrastructure such as roads, sewers, etc., and changes the appearance of the town. Tamarindo is now developing a skyline, with condo buildings as high as 10 stories, all within the last three years.

The President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, recently issued an executive order that is the equivalent of imposing local zoning on the Guanacaste coast, of which Tamarindo is the primary beach town. For the next four years there will be limits on the height of buildings near the ocean. Furthermore, developers will be allowed to use only about half of the surface area of their property for buildings, driveways, parking, patios and swimming pools. They will have to leave about half of the land area in a natural condition for trees, such as the one shown in this photo.

What do you think about such limits on growth and preservation of green space? What would you think if you owned property that you planned to develop? Does preservation of the beauty and environment of the area help preserve the value of the land to offset the limits on development of the land?

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This is a supermarket in the Garden Plaza Shopping Center at the entrance to Tamarindo. Have you ever seen a grocery store with a water feature like this in front of it for decoration? There is some parking next to the store, and a large underground parking garage. There are about 30 shops in this shopping center, with the supermarket and a home furnishings store being the two biggest.

This supermarket would be considered a high quality store by U.S. or European standards. It has a large produce section, fresh fish, butcher shop, fresh bakery, huge wine department, frozen foods, and it carries lots of imported foods from the USA and Canada. I will post a couple of photos of the inside of the store the day after tomorrow, and tell a little story that I hope will amuse you.

This supermarket, called Auto Mercado, is a chain based in San Jose that opened in Tamarindo last August. A friend of mine who was in the store on the day it opened said that the operators of the other, small grocery stores and convenience markets in Tamarindo were walking around the supermarket checking out the prices with which they were going to have to compete. You have to feel sorry for the owners of the small, local stores.

This photo, and my previously posted photo of
another part of this same Garden Plaza Shopping Center offer a contrast to the older main part of town shown in yesterday's photo.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The main street in Tamarindo

This is the main street in Tamarindo. It runs parallel to the beach. The beach and ocean are just behind the shops on the left. Tamarindo has some modern, new shopping areas just off the beach, such as the
Garden Plaza Shopping Center that I posted previously.

Tamarindo has no traffic lights, street signs, or addresses. They are not needed because there are only a few streets in town. Everyone knows where everything is. There are plenty of signs to direct tourists how to find the hotels easily. If someone needs directions how to find something in town, people give directions by referring to landmarks, such as hotels, shopping centers, or restaurants.

Costa Rica has been improving its roads. The main street in Tamarindo, shown in this photo, was repaved earlier this year. The road from the international airport in Liberia to Tamarindo (a little less than an hour away) was repaved last year. (I have added a map to the lower left of this website.)

The addition of international flights to Liberia about 8 years ago sparked the explosive growth of tourism that has transformed Tamarindo from a sleepy beach town frequented primarily by surfers, as it appears in this photo of the main street, into a more cosmopolitan resort with fine dining, shopping, high quality hotels and resorts, and upscale condos and homes.

Tomorrow I will show a new shopping area that is a contrast to the old main street running along the ocean, shown in the photo above.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Condominiums and construction methods

This is an example of the housing built for foreigners. It is in contrast to the common housing for Costa Ricans, an example of which I showed in my earlier post of a typical "Tico" house.

The condos that are built to market to foreigners, such as this one, are much more expensive than most of the housing for local residents. The increase of real estate and housing prices in the past decade is a reason that Tamarindo today consists mostly of international residents.

The construction methods for new condos in the Pacific area of Costa Rica differ from what is common in other areas of the world. New construction is made of concrete, including concrete interior walls. The walls are finished inside with a smooth coating that gives the appearance of plaster, but the walls are solid concrete.

The concrete walls are very strong for earthquake protection. Soundproofing between condos is excellent. Fire risk is extremely low, as the walls, ceilings and floors will not burn, and the concrete that surrounds each unit acts as a firewall. Insulation from the heat is good.

The disadvantages are that special hooks are needed to hang pictures on the wall, and you cannot run additional electrical or cable TV lines in solid concrete the walls. Hopefully, the builder anticipated where the residents will want electrical fixtures, appliances, cable TV, etc.

The condominium in the photo above is across the street from our condo in Playa Langosta, the most upscale residential area of Tamarindo.

Yesterday a reader left a comment asking an excellent question about whether the growth in tourism is good or bad for the country. I left a comment giving a partial answer. In my future posts I hope to shed more light on this topic. Comparing the housing in this photo with the typical "Tico" house I posted earlier is one way to present information for your consideration on this topic.

Tomorrow, I will show the main street of Tamarindo, which is the old town, before the growth of tourism in the current decade. Sunday, I will show one of the new shopping areas as a contrast to the main street.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eat, drink, stay in the pool

This photo shows a portion (about half) of the large, free-form pool at the Diria Resort in the center of Tamarindo. It is the largest pool in town, and it is part of the largest resort in town.

Guests of the hotel and the condos that are part of the Diria Resort may swim up and sit at the bar and have a drink, snack or lunch without leaving the pool. The pool has a beach-like gentle sloping entrance, and islands with bridges, tropical plants, and replicas of pre-Columbian statues. Children love this pool, and it is large enough that adults can find quiet places away from children if they wish.

For guests who want to venture beyond the pool or the adjacent beach, the hotel has an excellent activities desk that can book a variety of tours and excursions, such as flying through the forest on ZIP lines, ATV tours, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, golf, surfing lessons, horseback riding, the sail boat sunset cruise (shown in photos posted last weekend), guides who will take visitors out on hikes in some of the nearby national parks, (some of which I have shown in past photos on this website,) such as wildlife viewing boat cruises at Palo Verde National Park, the volcanic activity, waterfalls and forests in Rincon de la Vieja National Park, watching turtles nesting on the beach, and more.

One of our two condos in town is part of the Diria Resort and overlooks this pool, as well as the beach and ocean adjacent to the resort.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What would you like for dinner?

Does this photo fit your image of a beach town restaurant? No burgers, hot dogs, French fries or milk shakes here. This is the Bistro Langosta, located in the upscale Langosta residential area of Tamarindo. It is open only for dinner and has live music on some nights. A link to Bistro Langosta's website is here.

My wife is a "foodie." She enjoys fine dining, and one of the major reasons we decided to buy a condo in Langosta and another in Tamarindo is that there are more than 50 restaurants in town and many of them offer gourmet dinners, not "beach food."

Like many of the Tamarindo shopkeepers, many of the chefs and restaurateurs are European. In the U.S., many of the Langosta and Tamarindo restaurants would be of the quality that you would expect them to have white table cloths, but in Costa Rica they are casual, usually open air.

There is a wide variety of international cuisine in Tamarindo because almost all the residents and tourists are from foreign countries. I will post more about Costa food in the future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beach or pool?

This is the beachside pool of the Tamarindo Diria resort. Guests face the difficult decision: should we swim and lounge by the pool, or by the beach, or on the beach?

The Diria has a large beachfront location right in the heart of Tamarindo. The beach in front of the Diria was the subject of
my first photo posted on this website. Although the beaches in Costa Rica are public, the hotel grounds are naturally reserved for guests at the hotel and people who own condos that are part of the resort complex. The Diria has a staff person at the beach where you walk from the sand to the resort grounds to make sure that non-guests are not trying to use the lounge chairs, pool, and other amenities that are quite understandably reserved for hotel guests.

The Diria is the largest resort in Tamarindo. It also has another pool, much larger than the one shown in this photo, and I will show a photo of it in a couple of days.

If you will indulge me in a personal reflection, my wife and I initially visited Tamarindo because a travel agent booked us to vacation at the Diria Resort for a week several years ago at the end of our first trip to Costa Rica. That led to us first buying one, and then a second condo and to become part of the Tamarindo community.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunset's glow on clouds over Cabo Velas

Just before sunset on the sunset cruise that I described in my posts two and three days ago, the late afternoon sun cast a pink glow on the clouds in the sky over Cabo Velas, at the north end of Tamarindo Bay. This photo was taken from the sail boat on the sunset cruise that I described in my posts on July 18 and 19.

As riveting as a glorious sunset is, sometimes it can cause us to focus on the sunset and miss the soft pastel glow it casts on the scenery around us.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shopkeeper dog

No, this Yellow Labrador Retriever is not the shopkeeper, although she acts like it. She has a water dish inside this little clothing shop on one of the two main streets of Tamarindo and is the faithful companion of the shopkeeper, who is a woman from Holland.

I realize that many of the photos that I have posted during the first six weeks of this blog site have been pictures of the beach and the national parks near Tamarindo. I will therefore post more photos of the town itself during the next week or two.

At the end of this row of shops is the main intersection of Tamarindo. Although Tamarindo is the most developed and most cosmopolitan beach town in Costa Rica's northwest Pacific coast, it still does not have or need a single traffic light in town, even at the main intersection.

I am partial to Yellow Labs. They are smart, have great personalities, and are especially well-suited for children. We had a Yellow Lab that looked just like the dog in this photo for my two sons when they were growing up, which we named "Tortilla" because her coat matched the color of a flour tortilla. She was as loyal a companion for them as this dog is for the shopkeeper.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunset No. 4

Although there were no guarantees of a scenic sunset given with the sunset cruise on the sail boat shown yesterday, Tamarindo usually cooperates with memorable sunsets. The day of our sunset cruise was no exception. Here is a photo of the sunset taken from the sail boat.

The Mandingo Sailing sunset cruise sail boat that I showed in yesterday's photo is a replica of 1800's schooner, 50 feet (16 meters) long, built in France in the 1990's. Like many of the businesses in Tamarindo, Mandingo Sailing is operated by Europeans. The skipper, Andree, was born in Germany and sailed the boat from France across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and up to Tamarindo. His wife, Maria, is Dutch/Italian and handles the duties on land taking care of tourists and reservations. She speaks English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, and French. (As an American, I can without insult observe than anyone who speaks that many languages is likely to be European.)

Sunset photos such as these give an appreciation for why the area of the Pacific around Tamarindo is called Costa Rica's "Gold Coast." I suspect the name does not refer merely to the color of the sunsets, however, but also refers ot the rapid development of condominiums, hotels, resorts, and other tourist facilities.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sunset cruise

This sail boat makes nightly sunset cruises from Tamarindo. The views from the water of the town, beaches, shoreline, and surrounding hills in the late afternoon light are delightful.

The staff serves a variety of food and drink, including slices of fresh fruit that are refreshing on a warm day. (And, yes, tourists from the USA and Canada can eat fresh fruit and drink tap water in Costa Rica with no problems. Costa Rica also uses the same electricity as the USA.)

My wife and I have taken this a sunset cruise, and if you are wondering whether there was there a sunset, please check tomorrow's photo.

The scene of a sailboat on the Costa Rican coast gives me an excuse to talk about the history of Costa Rica, which of course included the exploration and settlement of Costa Rica by Spanish sailing the coast. Columbus visited Costa Rica on his fourth voyage and spent 17 days on the Caribbean coast. (The Caribbean coast is quite different than the Pacific coast.) He made reports of natives wearing gold and silver, which of course prompted further Spanish expeditions, beginning with an unsuccessful attempt to establish a settlement in 1506.

A second attempt at colonization was made in 1522, this time on the Pacific coast. The gold possessed by the native population caused the expedition leader, Gil Gonzalez Davila, to give the area the name la costa rica, or "rich coast." The first permanent settlement in the country was on the Pacific coast in 1524. The indigenous people's gold, however, came from elsewhere and the Spanish did not find a significant source of local gold in Costa Rica. As a result, they enslaved some of the indigenous people to send them off to work in the gold and silver mines of Peru and Mexico, disease decimated the local population, and the Spanish generally overlooked the area for the next 250 years.

I will find an excuse in later posts to talk about later Costa Rican history, which includes independence from Spain, the decision of the Guanacaste region to join Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua, the resistance to an invasion by an army from the USA in the 1850's, and more contemporary events.

A major event was the country's decision in the late 1940's to discontinue its military and invest its funds in education and health care instead. Costa Rica has been a stable beacon of democracy in Central America, and its current President, Oscar Arias, won the Nobel Peace Prize due to his peace-maker role for the Nicaraguan conflict during his earlier term as President in the 1980's.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cattle drive through town

On a visit to the pottery village of Guaitil, which was the subject of my June 23 photo, you can imagine my surprise in seeing cattle being driven through the middle of town. Two boys were rounding their herd back to a corral for the night after a day in the pasture.

This quaint practice did yield to technology, as the two boys performed their cattle round up duties on a bicycle and a small motorcycle. The cattle made a right turn at the town square, where they should have gone straight through the intersection, presumably after obeying the stop sign. This photo was taken right after the boys had sped around in front of the herd and got them turned around and heading back to the square, where they made a right turn for a block, then a left, and on back to their corral.

The Guanacaste province of northwest Costa Rica has a tradition of cattle ranching, but usually the cattle are on haciendas or fincas, not in the middle of town.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bare-throated tiger heron

This bare-throated tiger heron was in the bushes along the banks of the Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park. Hopefully, it will stay clear of the crocodile shown in yesterday's photo.

I assume that the bare-throated tiger heron got its name from the stripes on its back (and, of course, its white throat). It is known locally as the garza-tigre cucillinuda, or garza for short. Its scientific name is tigrisoma mexicanum. It can reach 80 cm (2.7 ft) in length.

Herons are relatives of egrets, such as the snowy egret posted on July 2. The most unusual member of the heron/egret family is the boat-billed heron, which I will show in the future.

Yesterday's and today's photos came from Palo Verde National Park, which is about an hour southeast of Tamarindo. It offers a contrast to Rincon de la Vieja National Park, whose volcanic activity and forests were the subject of the five previous posts. Palo Verde National Park consists of the wetlands and river delta in the area where the Tempisque River flows into the top of the Gulf of Nicoya. It has the largest number of wading birds in Meso-America (the area from Costa Rica through southern Mexico).

Rather than build levees and dams as would occur in industrialized countries such as the USA or China, the Costa Ricans had the wisdom to leave the flood plain as natural wetlands that flood each year and provide habitat for wildlife.

Palo Verde National Park is one of seven sites in Costa Rica that were designated as Wetlands of International Importance by the 1971 International Convention on Wetlands. These sites are are known as "Ramsar Sites," named after the city in Iran where the convention was held (in very different political times).

One of the other Ramsar Sites is right next to Tamarindo -- the Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge, which is the Tamarindo estuary that flows into the ocean along the north edge of the town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crocodile: "Is it time for my dental check-up?"

This crocodile was lurking in the underbrush on the banks of the Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park. His color matches the mud bank quite well, although he is certainly not as camoflauged on the river bank as he is when he is floating just under the surface of the water.

This close-up of the crocodile's head demonstrates how tour operators can take tourists in boats on river cruises to view the wildlife up close in their natural habitat. It is similar to the Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World or Disneyland, except the animals are real, of course, and the tour guides do not have a microphone and do not give a narrative of corny jokes and puns.

Four of the 23 species of crocodiles are found in the Americas, and two of those four are native to Costa Rica -- the American crocodile and the caiman. This is an American crocodile, which can reach 7 meters (21.5 feet) in length. Some crocodiles can live more than 60 years in the wild. (I will post more crocodile and caiman photos in the future.)

This crocodile allowed us to get so close I could zoom in on his head. You can enlarge the photo to check his teeth. Is it time for his dental check up? Costa Rica has very good medical and dental care, and there is a growing trend of people from the USA coming to Costa Rica for medical or dental procedures that are not covered by insurance at home. The savings can more than pay for a vacation while recuperating.

Crocodiles don't go the dentist of course. They can get their teeth cleaned by one species of bird that picks insects off them and can even clean their teeth without being eaten like all the other types of birds that the crocodiles encounter. This remarkable cooperation between species is something biologists would call "mutualism."

P.S. (I realize that the above contained a strained segue, but would you rather I talk about dental care with a crocodile photo on display, or would you prefer to see a photo of a person being worked on by a Costa Rican dentist?)

Monday, July 14, 2008

"March" of the cascading roots

These roots seem to be marching, or perhaps slithering, down the slope in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Hollywood could perhaps turn them into creatures in a movie.

This photo, in combination with my posts from previous days, should give an idea of the diversity of plant life in the park. There are dry forest plains in the area with the volcancitas and fumaroles, and there is a dense cloud forest, such as the area shown in this picture, at a slightly higher elevation just a short hike from the dry forest plains. On July 5th, I posted a photo of a tree with a flying butress trunk from the same area of the forest.

The plants in the park include the most plentiful growth in the wild of the orchid that is the national flower of Costa Rica, the guaria morada (cattleya skinneri). At higher elevations, the park has barren volcanic craters.

I will show more photos from the park in the future, including some of the waterfalls, but not right away. Tomorrow, I will resume showing more of the wildlife in Palo Verde National Park, starting with a crocodile.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More volcanic steam

This photo should give an idea of the amount of volanic steam that bubbles up in some of the fumaroles in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The steam results from underwater reserviors of water that become super heated due to the geothermal activity, and the water finds fissures to work its way up to the surface.

On the surface, there are pools of hot, muddy water that bubble and let off steam. The water can be grey and thick, but some mud pots are reddish. They usually have a sulfur smell.

Rincon de la Vieja is located just 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Liberia, which is the capital of the Guanacaste province. The addition of international flights into Liberia about 8 years ago is responsible for the enormous grown of tourism development along the Pacific resort areas such as Tamarindo.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Plant thriving on volcanic fumes

Some plants are remarkably adaptive to be able to live in diverse environments, including those we might think are inhospitable. This branch was growing directly above the fumarole shown in yesterday's photo. It apparently is not bothered by the repulsive fumes that surround it.

The seed pods on this plant are also unusual. They look like acorns stuffed with cotton. I believe that this is what is known as a buttercup tree, sometimes called a cotton tree, and locally referred to as poro-poro. Its scientific name is cochlospermun vitifolium.

It grows to a height of 8-10 meters, or 25-33 feet. It is a dry forest plant, growing commonly in Central America in plains areas, but not in a dense forest under the canopy of higher trees. It loses its leaves in January and February, which is part of the dry season. It later bursts into color with bright yellow flowers.

Friday, July 11, 2008


As promised yesterday, here is a photo of one of the bubbling, sulfuric fumaroles in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. On June 1, I posted a photo of a sign warning people not to walk up close to one of the large pools that has temperatures above boiling. Small mud pots, such as this one, are right along the hiking trails and visitors can get very close.

Tomorrow, I will post a photo of the unusual plant that was growing right above the steam vent shown in this picture, apparently thriving on the fumes that we humans would avoid.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Volcanic steam

Geothermal steam looms behind the trees in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The park has the craters of nine volcanoes, ranging in height up to 1,800 m/5,900 ft, but only one is active (and not in the last 10 years). The park has many hot sulfur springs, bubbling mud pots, and fumaroles, one of which will be the subject of tomorrow's photo.

Rincon de la Vieja translates as "old woman's corner." I don't know why. It is a wonderfully diverse park, with many hiking trails, 32 rivers, cloud forests, dry forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and other attractions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ocean surf

Tamarindo is known for its surf, so here is a photo of the typical waves rolling in on Tamarindo beach. The point of land across Tamarindo Bay is Cabo Velas. The first photo that I posted on this site, on June 8, showed a wider view of the beach and ocean from this same spot. While I am pleased to share the sight of the beach, I regret that I cannot share the sound of the waves, the stimulating feel of the gentle ocean breeze, or the refreshing smell of the ocean.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pottery making in Guaitil

This man is making pottery in Guaitil, carrying on a tradition that dates back before the arrival of Columbus. The oven used to bake pottery is visible behind him.

On June 23 I posted a photo of the church in Guaitil, and several people posted comments asking me to show the pottery. I decided to show the pottery making process first, beginning with today's photo, that shows the shaping of a vase.

In a few days, I will show a photo of a man painting the pottery, and a few days after that I will show what the finished pottery looks like.

Sunset No. 3, the second coming of . . .

. . . sorry for the spiritual tease in the title to this photo. No, this is not a supernatural diety rising from the sea. This is a picture of my son, Stuart, standing in front of the sunset on the rocks at San Francisco point, which separates Tamarindo and Langosta beaches.

This photo has not been edited, color adjusted, or "photo-shopped" in any way. The image that you see is exactly how the image appeared when it was downloaded from the camera. Perhaps this suggests that Tamarindo sunsets are supernatural.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monkey: "Here's looking at you, kid"

This white-faced Capuchin monkey was staring right at me on a boat excursion on the Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park, about an hour east of Tamarindo. The white-faced Capuchin monkeys are very active, and not shy. The tour boat operators will bring along some fresh fruit, and the monkeys will hop right on board the boat and take the food right out of the hand of the tourists on the boat.

They have very human-like, expressive faces. I have usually seen them in groups of about 10 together, often with a mother carrying a baby on her back. They at times will hang from a low branch over the river and scoop up water with their tail and sip their tail for a drink. Why would they use their tail rather than a hand or drink with their mouth? If there is a crocodile lurking below, they would rather lose the end of their tail than a hand or head.

Yes, there are crocodiles in the river. I will show photos of them in future posts.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Costa Rica has many species of butterflies. There is a butterfly garden at Monteverde and some resorts have butterfly aviaries. But visitors do not have to make a special effort to see butterflies. They are everywhere. This butterfly was located on the short trail between our condo and the beach in Playa Langosta.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tree with flying buttress trunk

This tree trunk has extensions for stability and strength similar to the flying buttresses of gothic cathedrals.

Typical of the vegetation in Costa Rican cloud forests, this tree was along the trail in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Horse and colt

This pastoral scene of a mother horse and colt was located along the road on a small finca (ranch) just before the entrance to Barra Honda National Park, near Nicoya, southeast of Tamarindo. The Guanacaste province of northwest Costa Rica has a very strong ranching tradition, with lots of horses and cattle.

I will post photos in the future from Barra Honda National Park, which features caves available to be explored with a guide.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


This is a close-up of one of the colorful flowers that brighten the sidewalk and parking lot of our condo in Playa Langosta. Costa Rica is an ideal climate for tropical flowers all year, if some watering is done along the Pacific coastal areas, which have a very dry season from November to May. Costa Rica has more than 10,000 varieties of plants.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Snowy egret

This is a snowy egret, one of 15 species of egrets and herons in Costa Rica. It can be distinguished by its white body, black bill and feet, and touch of yellow next to its bill. It slowly stalks its prey, mostly small fish, crabs, and insects, in shallow water and on land. They can be 64 cm (25 in) in height and have a wingspan of 1 meter, or 3.3 feet.

Costa Rica is described as "Nirvana for birders" by the Eyewitness Travel Guide edition for Costa Rica. There are 830 differend species of birds in tiny Costa Rica, more than the 700 in the USA and Canada combined.

I don't profess to be a birder. I like to watch (and photograph) birds, but I am not an expert. Fortunately, I have several reference books to help me with some of the information I am posting about the wildlife and plants of Costa Rica.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Volcano danger sign

Today's first-of-the-month worldwide Daily Photo Theme is "no" signs. Here is a sign that gives what should be an unnecessary warning to hikers not to walk near the steam vents and bubbling, gurgling mud pots releasing scorching heat from the Rincon de la Vieja volcano.

Note that the Costa Ricans have posted the sign in English as well as Spanish, a reflection of the country's focus on eco-tourism from English-speaking countries.

Rincon de la Vieja has hiking trails past the volcancitas and fumaroles, through a lush cloud forest to waterfalls, streams and opportunities to view wildlife and tropical plants.

It was a bit of a challenge to post a "no" sign to satisfy today's Daily Photo Theme Day. Tamarindo does not have a lot of "no" signs. It does not have any traffic lights or parking meters. The attitude towards life in Costa Rica is embodied in the national expression: "Pura Vida." Although it translates as "pure life," it is used in many of the the same ways that Hawaiians use "aloha."

Here is a link to a listing of the other Daily Photo websites participating in today's Theme Day: Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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