Wildlife of both the animal and human variety...
Trip Start Mar 01, 2006
9Trip End Mar 12, 2006
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I headed over to the scooter rental place and was on my way in 10 minutes and $15 lighter in the pocket. The road to Cahuita is...less than optimal for scooter riding. Parts of the road are literally more pothole than road, and with small tires, it's pretty rough riding. Still, I had a lot of fun on the way over there - when the road smooted out, I actually got up to 40-50 MPH, which on a scooter seems pretty fast. I pulled into the entrance for the wildlife reserve, paid the $6 entrance fee, and rode until I found the parking lot. Walking down the trail was amazing - I was literally surrounded by thick rain forest on one side and pristine beaches on the other. I knew entering the park that I should be looking for wildlife, so I walked at a slow pace with my neck craned, scanning the trees, for most of the hike.
For the first 30-45 minutes, I was having very little luck seeing anything other than tons of lizards and butterflies. The butterflies were so cool - huge and bright blue - it seemed like they were leading me down the path, as there always seemed to be one in front of me. As I rounded a corner and entered a section of the trail that runs along a point, I saw a large animal run down a tree that looked like a cross between a raccoon, anteater, and fox. This thing was big and fast - and it was really exciting to see, given that I wasn't able to see many large mammals in the rain forests of Ecuador. Almost immediately after the animal scurried into the vegetation, I spotted a Capuchin monkey. This was a monumental event for a monkey-lover like myself - my first non-captive monkey sighting! Capuchins are medium sized primates with dark fur, although their faces are white. They are the monkeys used by organ grinders because they are inherently inquisitive when it comes to humans and can be trained fairly easily. I snuck around to the other side of the trees for some close-up pictures and was on my again.
About half-way down the trail, I ran into a park ranger, who told me about some snakes to look out for further down the trail. She informed me that they are bright yellow and extremely poisonous - she had placed little red flags won the trail to inform hikers where to look. I indeed found one - it was nestled into some vines on a tree trunk. Although I'm not particularly scared of snakes, I was thankful that this one was A) small and B) lazy. In fact, it really didn't seem to move at all, which I guess is why the ranger could leave a marker at the spot for hours. I got as close as I felt comfortable to snap some more pictures (I will put all the pics up when I return home).
Further down the trail, I ran into several more Capuchins. This time, I found one that was only about 3 feet away from the trail. An Italian couple was already watching this guy, who was looking for a bite to eat. He picked up a tennis ball-sized fruit and tried to crack it open on a branch. Unforunately, he knocked it so hard that it fell to the ground. The Italian man picked up the fruit and cracked it open and then held it close the Capuchin, who hesitantly took the fruit from him and proceeded to eat it. I think primates are so interesting to watch because their behavior is so similar to humans. This guy ate his fruit just like a human would - and then sneezed several times after his meal. I must have snapped 20 pictures of him.
I wanted to hike all the way to Cahuita, but I only had 4 hours with the scooter, so I headed back. On the way back, I saw more Capuchins, another snake like the first, crazy looking large land crabs that lived in holes all over the place, and various types of large lizards. I was quickly running out of time, so I jammed back to town, potholes be damned - and returned the scooter just in time. I also learned why my server in the morning had so enthusiasticallu recommended this scooter place - he's the owner!
After the mandatory siesta, I ate dinner at Chili Rojo - a small restaurant on the main strip that serves vegetarian, thai and mediterranean food. I had some killer chicken in yellow curry with rice and a couple Bavarias - a dark beer made in Costa Rica. Afterwards, I headed over to the Sunset Bar, which is owned by the same people. The Sunset Bar had a good reggae band that played all night. I drank my share of Imperials and met a bunch of other travelers - all of whom had been in Costa Rica for at least 3 weeks and had a lot of great advice. All that beer made me hungry, which I remedied by eating a personal-sized cheese pizza that promptly knocked me out cold...the relaxation of financial and dietary limitations whilst traveling is a beautiful thing.