San Jose - Cerro de la Muerte - Sierpe [13-14 Feb. 2008]:
We drove on a charter bus all the way from San Jose to Sierpe on the southern Costa Rican coastline, however there were many stops along the way.The view out of San Jose was lush, green, and filled with shanty towns.Just outside San Jose in Cartago we stopped at a church considered the most beautiful in Costa Rica.I was in aww as we ascended higher and higher from Cartago, where we began to see light, fluffy, low hanging clouds, and what felt like a rolling, lush rainforest.At about 3,500 m we got out of the bus in Cerro de la Muerte.I was struck at how it felt like a temperate forest with black oak being a dominant species and some mountain blueberry.We ate lunch overlooking a downward slope of rainforest, which was incredible, with a sunny sky and fluffy white clouds.
After lunch, we descended Cerro de la Muerte, noticing how cloud forest turned into pineapple plantations for several kilometers.The plantations sat in bright red-claysoil and were in several stages from full grown, to newly planted, to just picked.I soon realized how common pineapple was when we passed pineapple shops. We actually stopped at one where I ate pineapple in huge diametric rounds.Yum!
We followed the Sierpe river for some time, watching a beautiful sunset and soon arriving in Sierpe,the most humid place I have ever been.The moment I stepped out of Sierpe I was wet, but the Cicadas were actively giving a constant sound and the small quiantness of the town was sweet. A woman that works in the grocery store even made us a flan and the "restaurant" we ate in felt like I was in someone elses kitchen.
Day 2 (2/14):
We woke up in the morning to a pancake breakfast (I hardly ever eat this well for breakfast) followed by a boat tour of the local mangroves along the Sierpe River.It wasa mangrove diversity day, so all of us got into three different boats and went up the river.There were lots of different floating plants and a great diversity of mangrove trees.My favorite was the tea mangrove which has a beautiful fluted stump and heart-shaped fruits.The mangroves was teaming with life.The wide river was surrounded with mangrove trees where we saw a basilisk (basking in the sun), squirrel monkeys playing in the trees, 8 bats lined up on a tree trunk, mangrove swallows flew all around us, tree crabs with bright red chelipeds, active butterflies, obnoxious grackles, and large aggregations of different types of egrets.It was tremendous.lI was amazed at how cryptic the animals were.At one point we got out of the boats and hiked on the branches of the red mangrove, which twist and tangle to no end, creating exceptional climbing. I felt like a monkey.
That afternoon we took the boat out the mouth of the Sierpe River and onto the Ocean from where we boated to San Pedrillo (a part of Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula).I was instantly in paradise.Our campsite was beach front, with palms looking out at Isla del Cano and the groups of 60 juvenile brown pelicans.This distracted me from the exceptionally sore butt I acquired from the boat ride and that would stay with me for 3 days.It was so interesting to see a sandy beach abutting a lush rainforest.
I instantly started to explore when I got off the boats.There were 3 shy Tiger Herons, limpets the size of a small lemon, thousands of hermit crabs (I feared stepping on them), scallops, green aggregating anemones, shore crabs, and flying fish that hit me in the face and arms while I swam in the ocean after a day of sweating.
That evening we discovered the wonderful food we were being fed at tables with tops up to my nose.Alan gave all of us a box of candy hearts for valentines and I opened my card from Ben.I am constantly amazed at how well the staff takes care of us.They think of everything.That night I slept next to the ocean in my tent with my tent mate Katelynn and we tried not to stick too much to our sleeping bags, but were unsuccessful. Oh well, we were in paradise.