It’s hard to be amazed as a jungle connoisseur…

What’s about half the size of a hippo, but not aggressive?

Tapir looking for food
A hippo-anteater hybrid: The tapir!

That would be a tapir, and some people might want to punch me in the face if I said I went to the Corcovado rainforest and this was the only thing I thought worth mentioning.

Corcovado National Park is isolated in the southwest corner of Costa Rica and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. I had read a lot about the park and finally decided it was time to see it for myself.

To get there, you boat through canals on what could pass for the set of Jurassic Park, then hit the open ocean to make a beach landing on one of the few primary rainforests left in the world.

For most any visitor, this would be the trip of a lifetime and I was hoping for a great experience.  But honestly, I’d be pressed to remember much of this visit because I’d done and seen most of it before.

Our visit started out traversing the ocean, which could be an experience in itself. Though I had never been in that much open water in such a small watercraft, I wanted to avoid seasickness, so I daydreamed, studying the coastline for jagged rock formations, to take my mind off the rolling waves. I’d seen many similar coastlines up and down the pacific side of Costa Rica before and this was nothing special.

There was no dock at the beach, so we had to jump in the water barefoot to get to shore. It was an exotic beach with the rainforest right at the edge, but it was familiar to me as it reminded me of the beaches in Manuel Antonio and Samara.

coati running
This is a coati!

Even when we saw a coati looking for food as we approached the ranger station, I didn’t bother taking my camera out. I’d seen these in La Fortuna many times before.

We started hiking and encountered a beautiful group of red scarlet macaws, each with a mate and a few with children. They were having a lively conversation while eating their lunch in the trees and gave us many photo opportunities.

Of course, these things fly all around Jaco and the Carara National Park, all places I’ve been.  This would be the equivalent of taking a picture of a squirrel.

That’s when it hit me. In a way, I’d seen it all. That’s why this trip been so ho-hum despite all the adventure it had taken to get to this point.

I recalled going to other national parks and being intrigued by everything, but Corcovado just couldn’t turn the switch for me. We’d go on to see a spider monkey, sloth, herron and some capuchin monkeys, but it was so “been there, done that” for me.

howler monkey hanging out
No big deal, it’s just a monkey..

I was actually disappointed we didn’t see all four types of monkeys that are in the park. It felt no different from Tortuguero, a national park in northeast Costa Rica I visited two years ago.

The most drama on the trip was me forgetting things and Mother Nature making me pay, like getting sunburned and drenched (only in Costa Rica can you get that combo that quickly) on a 1.5hr hike without a change of clothes.

I’ve been dumb before, and I’ll be dumb again so thank goodness I saw the tapir to have more than just a funny story to laugh about in the future. But even at that, the reality is watching the tapir was as about as exciting as watching a cow graze.

All this is not to say Corcovado isn’t a great place to visit. I just have higher expectations for my forests now that I’ve been living in Costa Rica since 2013.  I can’t believe the non-effect it had on me. A first-time rainforest visitor would fill an entire scrapbook.

I’ve really been spoiled by rainforests though, and they really have to work hard to amaze me. I still have a few parks on my list left to visit, and I hope one of them will spark some excitement.

I now know what guides and rangers must feel like. Our guide spent over an hour tracking the tapir and was noticeably excited when he spotted it.  At least now, he’ll have something to want to talk about at dinner.


The Rains Have Returned?

mountain range

Wednesday afternoon April 15th felt a little strange.  Something didn’t feel right.  Maybe it was the cloud formations in combination with the wind patterns but something didn’t feel right climatically.

In Costa Rica it really isn’t difficult to say what the weather will be: rainy or sunny.  What is difficult to predict is when and where it will be one of those two options.  You can travel a few miles down the road and go from sunny and clear to cloudy and rainy.  Sometimes you can look out your window and see (and hear) what appears to be a storm approaching however it may never arrive and just stall out where it is.

Weather patterns don’t enter from the west and exit east.  They just develop and expand for a few hours until their energy runs out.  That’s what made Wednesday afternoon so interesting.  It hasn’t rained in San Ramon since December and the rainy season typically begins sometime in April or May.  It really depends on where you are though in Costa Rica.  Some places it rains the whole year, other places only 9-10 months and some places only 4-5 months.

Rain cloud or normal cloud?
Rain cloud or normal cloud?

That afternoon as I was looking out my window towards the NE I saw the storm cloud.  Was it raining just outside of town?  Or was it just threatening?  Should I take the clothes off the line or risk being caught off guard?  I decided to play it by ear because something didn’t feel right.

I went back to work and after about an hour I heard the slight “tac—tac—tac—tac” noise that the rain makes when it hits the metal roof sheeting.  I jumped out of my chair and went into the backyard to confirm my suspicions.  Yes the clothes were being sprinkled on by big cool drops of rain, totally refreshing on this 80 degree day.  A few minutes later the “tac-tacs” on the roof would increase to a full blown snare drum so loud that you would have to yell to have a normal conversation.  For instance, imagine you are watching TV in your room and your mom comes in and starts vacuuming.  If you are lucky and have a two story house you can escape the madness by hanging out on the ground floor until symphony subsides.

Now some people may dread the idea that it is going to rain for the next 8 months but with so many droughts all over the world this is really a great blessing.  Everything in and around San Ramon has turned to a dirty, brown color and the wind has howled up numerous clouds of dust making it impossible to keep anything clean for more than a few hours.

That afternoon it rained for about an hour.  As I write this two days later it hasn’t rained since then and I haven’t felt the indescribable sensation that it might rain.  Maybe it is

Ready for the rain
Ready for the rain

something that you pick up unconsciously after living here for awhile.

I do know that the transition will be happening soon and I am looking forward to the greening pastures and the reduction of dust in my lungs.  I’m also hopeful the rains will allow Costa Rica to keep its streak of producing all its electricity renewably.

Rainy season begins!

It’s not as bad as it looks.  As long as you get all your shopping in by 2pm you should have all5-25-2007-06 afternoon to nap to the soothing snare beats from the rainwater as it bounces off the sheet metal roof.  ¡Pura vida!