Friday, September 24, 2010


Costa Rica is the most touristy country in Central America. Seeking to avoid the crowded tourist spots and the associated pickpockets and shady individuals, we made immediately for the Peninsula de Osa, sparsely populated and home to a huge variety of animal species.

We stayed at the Iguana Lodge near Puerto Jimenez, home to friendly staff and several cats and dogs.

That`s Spike on the left. The day after we arrived Spike decided we were his humans, and for the rest of our time there he followed us around, even napping in our room and sitting by our feet as we ate. When any of the much larger dogs at Iguana Lodge tried to nose in on our affection, he would get angry and drive them off. The exception was the cat, whom Spike was clearly wary of.

Sometimes a group of squirrel monkeys passes through the lodge, fascinating to watch and maddenly difficult to photograph. I suspect a similar gang of macaques or baboons or other Old World monkeys passing through would make the humans lock their doors for fear that the monkeys would leave a trail of stolen food and modest destruction in their wake. But squirrel monkeys are tiny and harmless - their name is apt, as they look like squirrels with monkey forepaws and heads. They aren't the least bit intimidating.

Our first morning we went kayaking, which Jenna hadn´t done in years and I had never done before. Sharing a two-person kayak, our guide Adriana took us up a river through a mangrove swamp. We saw baby crocodiles and capuchin monkeys, and got a physical upper-body workout of the sort I don´t often receive.

On our second morning, we went on a hike, accompanied by an excellent naturalist guide, Sidnar. With his help we spotted all 4 species of monkey native to Osa: the small squirrel and capuchin monkeys, and the large spider and howler monkeys, the latter of which (as their name implies) are more commonly heard than seen. We also saw some beautiful macaws and parrots with Sidnar´s help. Sidnar has an excellent eye for these things. He saw a distant lump on a tree, one that Jenna and I would just walk past without really looking, and he set up his telescope and invited us to look through it. And it turned out the lump was a sloth, sleeping with his limbs wrapped around the treetrunk.

I didn`t take many pictures in Osa, but Jenna`s got some great wildlife pictures here.

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