A Night with Frogs

In my last entry into the Costa Rica travel log I shared about our time at Mirador el Silencio.  With lots of photos.  Leaving you with the impression, perhaps, that that hike was all we did that day.  You would be wrong.

After leaving Mirador we were hungry enough to chew an arm off.  We headed into La Fortuna for a late lunch at Pollo Fortuneo Chicken.  We sat at a street-facing table and watched people and cars go by as we mowed our way through a platter of roast chicken. It was accompanied by these very tasty deep fried plantain patties.  The Costa Rican version of the hush puppy?  And, of course, an orange Fanta for me (yes, I had just gulped down a grape one 30 minutes earlier as we left Mirador el Silencio).

Satiated, we headed back to our bungalow for a dip in the pool, a beer on the patio and some down time before our night walk at Ecocentro Danaus.  As we sat on the patio we were joined by a new friend:

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This is Peso.  So named by the husband.  I reminded the husband that the Costa Rican currency was colones, not pesos, but he was not deterred.  Peso it was.  As you can see, Peso quickly made himself at home.  In fact, he tried to convince us that he should come inside the bungalow, but we told him that wasn’t happening.

Peso appeared quite hungry, so I dug around in the snack bag.  The only thing remotely feline-friendly I could come up with was turkey jerky.  Peso said it was the best thing he’d ever eaten.  He ate and ate and ate, then hopped up onto the low railing of the porch and began grooming himself.  A few minutes later the orange cat turned an odd shade of green and gacked all of the turkey jerky back up (I may have shoved him off the railing so he puked on the ground rather than on our patio).  Undeterred, Peso returned, accepting water that I offered.  He probably would have accepted more turkey jerky, too. But, I wasn’t going there with him again.

We also watched it rain (if you listen really closely from 50 seconds to the end you can occasionally hear howler monkeys):

Soon, it was time to gather ourselves together and drive out to Ecocentro.  The rain had stopped and while we were optimistic that it would stay stopped, we still packed raincoats, hats, etc.

Ecocentro Danaus was recommended to us by Santos (our guide from the day before).  I had specifically asked where to go for a night hike and he set us up (as in, he kindly made the reservation for us).  This small sanctuary also has a butterfly garden, which I was eager to explore, but the butterflies had all closed their wings and settled in for the night by the time we arrived.

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We were not lucky enough to be the only ones on this tour, but we did luck out in another way.  Or, rather, I lucked out.  Our guide, Elias, chose the group he would lead that evening (there were four of us) based upon what he saw us carrying…camera gear. Turns out Elias is a hobbyist as well (check out his Instagram page, he’s got some beautiful stuff on there).  And, he assured me, he would provide recommendations on settings to help get good shots.

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Holy crap, I had died and gone to heaven!  We started our tour just outside the refuge as there was a sloth hanging around in a tree.  We saw two sloths while in Costa Rica.  I was not able to get photos of either as the light sucked and they were too far away.  However, I was struck by their size.  All of the photos make them look so big.  But, the ones we saw were about the size of koala bears.  Still way cool to see sloths, no matter how far away or how big (or small).

The problem was that while Elias was talking to us about sloths I found myself crazy distracted by what was going on behind us.  I mean, how could I ignore this?

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Pause for a moment.  Drink that in.  Pura vida.  Welcome to Costa Rica.

After the sun dropped we headed back into the sanctuary to begin our look around.  We all were given flashlights, instructed always to let Elias lead (hey, no problem.  Better him to meet a poisonous snake in the dark than I) and headed down the winding path.

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So, what did we see?  Monkeys?  Nope.  Sloths?  Nope.  Frogs.  Lots and lots of frogs.  Was I disappointed?  Nope.  We also saw a couple of snakes, glowing click bugs (think fire fly), caiman (you read right.  Hundreds of shiny eyes in a pond glowing madly in your direction).  It was a good time.

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We wandered around for two hours in the dark, flashlights glowing merrily, gasps and oohs and ahhs with each new creature seen (or maybe that was just me).  Elias’ setting recommendations were spot-on, which only added to my experience.

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We did see a bird, too.  With a baby.  I don’t remember what kind of bird, and the photo is a bit soft, but who can resist a bird with a baby?

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We wrapped up the evening and wearily drove back to our bungalow.  It had been a long day, but an amazing one…just as those before it and those after.

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