Costa Rica continued to surprise me. I did expect some of the animals, photos of which are posted below, but did not expect so many cattle, especially the dairy cattle, including Jerseys, Guernseys, and Holsteins, that populated the steep mountain slopes. They grazed everywhere up to their tummies in grass on even the steepest mountainsides. I kept wondering how they learned to balance themselves and why they did not fall over, catapulting down the mountain. Everyone in the group commented on the fat, happy cows. Such abundance resulted in fabulous steaming milk for morning coffee, rich cheeses, and the creamiest ice cream imaginable.
A cow pen near the top of a mountain on the Caribbean side next to the restaurant that sold cheese and where I ate the raw turtle egg. Most of the cows roamed free up and down the mountainsides.
In the lowlands on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country, Brahma cattle relaxed or grazed in the lush grass. It reminded me of the landscape near Veracruz, Mexico, where I lived many years ago.
The most common meat besides fish, most of which is talapia, is chicken. Near the mountain top where the Jersey cow above was photographed, I saw a huge shed and when I asked about it, was told it was a chicken farm. However, pork is frequently served as well and occasionally beef. I took the following photograph at a small place on a dirt road. We stopped there to drink coconut water. The spotted, pregnant pig was due soon. However, the fate of the black pig remained less lovely–food. Their girth resulted from eating coconuts; they constantly gorged themselves.
Birds abound, from the protected scarlet macaws on the Pacific Coast to tiny hummingbirds. Hundreds of species I had never seen before and many I had seen rather often like various egrets and herons. And then there were the monkeys which I did expect to see but found difficult to photograph with my ordinary camera.
These white faced monkeys roamed everywhere near the beaches at Manual Antonio National Park, begging for food and if that did not work, actually stealing it.
While the white face monkeys remained highly visible, the howler monkeys could be heard easily but were much harder to locate because they tend to stay high in the tallest trees. Without a good telescoping lens, this was the best I could do.
Look for the dark blob in the middle of the photo. They also move fast so hard to locate and follow and even harder to photograph under those conditions.
Just as we arrived, walking, at the entrance to Manuel Antonio, a downpour began. Not fond of drenchings, I stayed back, hoping it would stop, and suddenly saw a small sloth, the grey spot in the nearly leafless tree in the middle of this photo.
Lizards of many varieties abound. The tree near my hotel room in Jaco contained four iguanas that appeared nearly lifeless since they never seemed to move. Again, without a better lens I could not really photograph them. However, at Manuel Antonio many other kinds of lizards ran here and there only slightly afraid and relatively easy to photograph.
When I think back as to what I expected, it never occurred to me that huge, brackish (salt) water crocodiles existed in such abundance or even existed there at all. Near Jaco, on the Rio Grande Tarcoles the Costa Ricans created a preserve to protect the endangered scarlet macaws and crocodiles. We arrived early in the morning and floated around the river, into a mangrove swamp, watching birds and crocodiles. The list of common birds included 58 species and we saw others that the guide referred to as “bonus birds”. The following photos come from this lovely, relaxing river ride. Truly, I loved this part of the trip.
Entering the mangrove swamp.
Two months old.
Where the Rio Grande Tarcoles enters the Pacific Ocean.
The boat captain feeding the crocodile in the mud barefoot. I thought about touching this one he was so close until I was told they could swim as fast as 55 miles per hour. It occurred to me that he could turn around really quickly and snap off my hand so…