Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Costa Rica - Day 2 (Part 3)- March 17, 2013

After spending a few hours on the trail at Carara National Park we were quite hungry. So we piled back in the car and drove up the road until we found a small restaurant that looked clean but not too tourist oriented. This was our first experience with trying to order food in Spanish. Out of the 4 of us only one person had enough knowledge of the language to navigate the challenges of getting food in front of us and paying the bill. However, I successfully ordered my first Costa Rican meal with very little assistance! There was a lot of pointing and gesturing involved, but the task was completed and I got what I wanted. I also learned that "Coca-cola" is the easiest thing to order since it spans the language barrier very well (don't call it "Coke", this is not recognized).

The meal I ordered consisted of a fried rice with chunks of pork, a pasta salad, and the most delicious, flavorful french fries I have ever had! I am still trying to figure out what seasoning they used on those fries because it was absolutely perfect. There was a jar of hot sauce on the table that looked as though it was made from scratch and probably was. That was the best hot sauce I have ever tasted. A kick in the beginning and at the end with a smooth, not- too-hot flavor through the middle. It went perfectly with everything I poured it on. We also tried the ketchup here. Costa Rican ketchup is MUCH sweeter than its counterpart in the USA and I was not a fan of it, but some of our group enjoyed it very much.

After lunch we went back to Carara to meet up with our tour guide for the birding boat trip we had set up in advance. We followed "Victor" through a small town to the boat launch area on the Tarcoles River and waited for the boat to arrive. While we were waiting we got some great looks at Whimbrel, Mangrove Swallows, Black-necked Stilts, Tropical Cormorant, and Purple Gallinule. We also had a nice little chat with Victor about the history of the area and how far simple things such as communication infrastructure and access by roads have come in the past 25 years.

Once on the boat the birding craziness began. It seemed like there was a new bird for us no matter which way you looked! The tour guide was doing his best to point out every species he saw, but his one pair of eyes was no match for our four pairs of eyes. He was very helpful though in answering questions about which subspecies we were seeing of certain birds and in leading us directly to almost all of our target species. The highlight of the tour (at least for me) was seeing the Boat-billed Heron on a nest with two eggs and one fluffy chick!
Pictures are worth a thousand words, and I don't want to bore you with thousands of words, so instead I will allow you to enjoy  the following photos from the boat tour.

Green Heron fishing along the bank of the Rio Tarcoles

Northern Jacana 

White Ibis in a heron roosting colony. Notice the bird droppings all over the plants.

Ringed Kingfisher

Amazon Kingfisher

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

Greater Yellowlegs

Crocodile seeing if we were one of those tour boats that feed them

Boat-billed Heron with two eggs and a fluffy chick!

Southern Lapwings

Turquoise-browed Motmot

Black-necked Stilts

Roseate Spoonbill coming in for a landing just before sunset

Typical cow along the bank of the Rio Tarcoles

Hawks love these random trees

Sunset - looking out the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles.

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