Panama Canal (Day 12, Part 1)

December 26

A return trip to Costa Rica, the Pacific side . . . 

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[And here’s a little something I recently learned at our local Senior College.  Our port of call, Punta Arenas, is on the Gulf of Nicoya.  The Nicoya Peninsula, across the Gulf from Punta Arenas, is one of five international Blue Zones.  This Central American nation isn’t that far from the U.S. geographically, but it is way ahead of us in longevity. The Caribbean nation is economically secure and has excellent health care. But other factors are at play, especially in Nicoya, an 80-mile peninsula just south of the Nicaraguan border (bluezones.com).  Blue Zones are demographic regions of the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years (Okinawa; Sardinia; Nicoya peninsula Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California).]

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[Or maybe the reason for the longevity of these Costa Ricans are the beautiful sunrises?]

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[Well, it works for me . . . ]

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[Arriving in Punta Arenas . . . ]

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[Ho-hum, another sunny day on hand . . . ]

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[A beach . . . ]

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[And now we’re on one of the dozens of buses here to take we tourists on various land excursions . . . ]

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[Past the beach . . . ]

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[No, not our final destination, but . . . ]

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[A stop along the highway (literally on the shoulder) where buses have been pulling off for wildlife settings for so long . . . ]

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[That the wildlife reacts to the arrival of the buses . . . ]

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[Here capuchin monkeys . . . ]

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[They come in anticipation of . . . food!  Just like human beings!]

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[And here, for variety, a coatimundi . . . ]

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[Not the least bit concerned about being among we two-legged giants . . . ]

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[Do you know the way to . . . ??? ]

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[We’re on the way for a walk in a rain forest.  To pass the time, “old” Costa Rican is passed around the bus . . . ]

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[The signpost up ahead . . . ]

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[The Twilight Zone?]

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[Here we are!]

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[Carara National Park sits near the Costa Rican Pacific coast, in the Central Pacific Conservation Area.  Carara lies just about 30 miles (about an hour) west of San José and is home to one of the largest populations of wild Scarlet Macaws in the country.  You’ll often get a sighting as you drive on the nearby highway. The park is predominantly formed by primary rainforest, which makes it ideal for birds who nest in the dense trees (vacationcostarica.com).]

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[Elderly tourists begin what for many was a longer than anticipated trek through a rather warm and humid jungle . . . ]

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[A tree tumor . . . ]

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[I took this shot for a reason.  Do you see it?]

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[The monkeys, upset by our presence, attempted to discourage our trespass by launching debris at us from the tree tops.  Fortunately, the trees are so dense nothing seemed to get through . . . ]

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[A highlght for me were the leaf-cutter ants . . . ]

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[I don’t recall seeing any exotic birds (well, a pair coming up) . . . ]

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[There!  See it up there?  I have no idea what they were pointing at?]

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[Again, there’s something here somewhere . . . I think?]

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[Just to highlight a tall tree among other growth around and attached to it.]

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[The giant kapok tree . . . ]

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[The common American tourist . . . ]

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[They were looking at a tiny white bat – see it?]

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[Another large rain forest tree . . . ]

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[An example of the strangler fig (as it wraps around a host tree) . . . ]

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[I recognize it’s hard to see – but there’s an agouti back there in the sunlight . . . ]

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[Our guide was a good spotter of such.  Speaking of our guide . . . ]

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[Finally, you get to meet our morning guide, Andrea . . . ]

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[Another strangler fig . . . ]

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[Now you know . . . ]

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[We came to a fork in the road – and this was it . . . ]

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[Strangler figs are everywhere.  And if you look just to the right of this one, you’ll see . . . ]

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[The ultimate destination for our into the forest hike was to see them – a Scarlet Macaw couple in their living room.  Carara National Park is a major habitat for this endangered species . . . ]

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[Located at the bridge over this torrential body of water . . . ]

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[We said our good-byes to Mr. and Mrs. Macaw . . . ]

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[And turned around to head back out . . . ]

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[I forgot what this was, but it doesn’t look appetizing . . . ]

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[Leaf-cutter ants cutting over, under, and through our path . . . ]

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[Do you see it?]

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[I don’t recall . . . ]

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[But it wasn’t this guy, who I ran across a bit later . . . ]

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[In the jungle, the mighty jungle . . .  It was a 2-hour round trip hike.  Some realized early on they weren’t going to make it, so they sat down and waited to rejoin the group on the return trip.  Since I was constantly taking photos, I was lagging behind the group which allowed me to keep an eye out for any stragglers . . . ]

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[The park’s name is the native Huetar word for crocodile. Visit the park and you’ll understand why since the Tarcoles River, which forms the park’s northern boundary, is famous around the world for its giant and plentiful crocodiles. The Tarcoles River Bridge on the Coastal Highway is a favorite place for tourists to stop and view the monster-sized crocodiles below. Boat tours on the river also are very popular (enchanting-costarica.com).]

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[It was a tough walk across the bridge – it was high (my acrophobia), the walk lane was very narrow, and there was continuous vehicle traffic on both sides of the road (the holiday season) . . . ]

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[It was still morning, and we’re heading back to ship to catch our afternoon excursion.]

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[Passing by our beach . . . ]

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[And the holiday traffic . . . ]

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[And to say good-bye to Andrea.  We would have another guide in the afternoon . . . ]

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The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.  ~  G. K. Chesterton

Up Next:  Part 2

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “alexandriacardinals.wordpress.com,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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