Sunshine, finally.

Paula is currently typing out a post about the last two days here in Nuevo Arenal. It has been really nice since the rain abated. Yesterday was not exactly sunny, but we spent a lot of time outdoors and did not have to dodge raindrops for more than a few minutes. Today we went on a forest hike and emerged from the jungle to our first experience of of bright sun since we have been in this part of the country. After a couple hours in the sun, I decided my new political slogan will be “Make America Sweat Again.”

Tonight I’ll mostly post photos without too much narrative. I’ve come to find that noone really appreciates my outstanding wit as much as I, so there will be no more of that.

Yesterday spent so much time out and about that neither of us had much energy to summarize the day. We started with another walk in the local forest, and I began composing my thoughts about another gray day of clouds and rain. Knowing it would be wet, we drove to a private reserve called Mistico which has a very well developed trail with a number of suspension bridges, some of which were above the forest canopy. We sprung a few bucks extra for a guided tour, which we were told would be in a group of ten people. However, after we arrived at the park we found that the group had already been filled so we were assigned a private guide, Alonzo.

Alonzo is a young man who has been working as a tour guide for thirteen years, and is currently a backup guide at the Mistico park. He was an impressive guide who was able to explain the habits of the forests creatures, the role of various plants in the ecosystem, and the evolutionary pressures affecting both plants and wildlife. He was able to show us spider monkeys, howler monkeys, several bird species, nesting bats and owls, snakes, various ants, bees, and the like. He used Paula’s camera to take some great photographs through the telescope he carried on the entire walk.

There were a few times, however, that I think he was exaggerating. For instance, when we mentioned that we had heard the howler monkey will throw feces at people who got to close, he agreed, and elaborated that several monkeys would do that, including the Foostiner monkey, whose poop supposedly has magical qualities, according to folklore, and being hit by their feces is considered auspicious. That is why most Costa Ricans understand that ………!

“But you promised!”, I hear you say. I’m not sympathetic, since you know I can’t be trusted.

Here are a few photographs from the park:

The optical illusion of Volcan Arenal behind Paula at the entrace
An Bee Hotel
Leaf Cutter Ants at Work

Leaf Cutter Ants are not grouped in army’s, but in Corps of Engineers. They bring the cuttings from the upper leaves of palm trees into their nest, where the leaves are coated with excrement and saliva to generate fungus that will feed the colony.

Looking up to the canopy of the “Broccoli Tree”
A ladder vine. Right I don’t believe it evolved to give monkeys a way to climb trees either.

I apparently forgot to take any photos of the suspended bridges. I trust Paula did, so check out her post (“two good days”).

Today we went to the Arenal 1968 park that is adjacent to the Volcan Arenal National Park. This park is another private reserve that claims to allow visitors to get the closest view of the volcano since climbing in the national park is no longer allowed. The park is named for the 1968 eruption that destroyed a number of towns, including the original Arenal, the ruins of which are currently under the lake.

Visitors to this park can choose a trail over the lava field from the 1968 eruption, or take a forest trail that joins the lava field trail after a couple of kilometers. We did not see much wildlife, though we did hear some howler monkeys along the trail.

At the trail entrance
Volcan Arenal from the 1968 trail summit
The lava field has become a quite healthy ecosystem
The clouds finally lift

After the hike was completed, Paula wanted to swim in the lake, so we headed to the boat dock and finally got to see the lake in full color.

It was a great day to be outside. It was a great day to be alive.

More later.

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