Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th of February

Happy Valentines Day!

Or, if you prefer, en Espanol: Día de tarjetas del día de San Valentín feliz!

Okay, so maybe I won't be publishing more than monthly? We have had company. My parents were here for 2 weeks and my aunts for a week and we had a great time with them all! It is birthday month for my Mom, who turned 74 here, Christiana who just turned 17 (!) and Bella will be 5 on Tuesday! Fiesta!
Above is a photo of Christiana on the left and her friend Sydney at her birthday dinner at Mama's Deli, a great little Italian restaurant in Tamarindo. Mama is the mama of Bella's first boyfriend, Geronimo, her little Italian lover, but that is another story entirely.
Just when I thought I might be missing Winter with all that lovely snow and ice skating on the pond everyone keeps writing to us from RI about, we took my parents on a trip to Monteverde in the mountains. It was SO COLD! We wanted a fireplace in our room at the Trapp Family Lodge, purportedly of the Sound of Music family ilk, but had to settle for 4 comforters. It was raining and we had a nice walk in the cloud forest to a waterfall. Saw none of the creatures Andy and I had seen there in 1987, which included the elusive quetzals way up neck-achingly high in the canopy and we even found a group of the now extinct Golden Toad, a fluourescent orange little frog that lived only in that cloud forest and was last seen there the year after we tromped through the bush to find it. So the wildlife was a bit absent last week but the papagayo winds were howling at hurricane strength and only the most stalwart creatures could have come out to play without being blown to the beach. The road up was so precarious with steep drop offs and we did think we might get blown off that several times. Above is a photo of the beautiful emerald toucanet we enjoyed seeing at a bird feeder from a breakfast cafe. Also saw a bright orange baltimore oriole and a blue-gray tanager while warming ourselves over coffee. I am concerned that the wildlife of Costa Rica is becoming less wild and more bird feeder-ish.

I am teaching a bugs and slugs after school class once a week with the art teacher. It's a combo art/nature ed. We did ants, hormigas, the first week and anteaters, oso hormigueros, yesterday. Did you know the giant anteater can be 7 feet long including its bushy tail and its tongue extends 2 feet?! Unfortunately they are thought to be extinct in Costa Rica. I have seen one of the smaller, collared anteaters crossing the road one turtle-watching night. They stand firm when attacked, slashing out with their front claws; the Bribri Indians place their claws in the homes of pregnant women so their baby will be strong and resilient. There is one other kind of anteater in Costa Rica and that is the silky anteater, an adorable little golden creature with velvety fur. They look more like sloths, which they are related to. They are called serafin, or angel of the forest, as the indians believe they guide newly departed souls to heaven.

I have been back to walking the beach this week where there are many sea snakes washed up dead at the tide line. I don't know why. They are venomous, like 10 times that of cobras, but nobody ever gets bit as they are not aggressive and their mouths are small so they could only bite your ear lobes or finger webbing and the fangs are in the back of their mouths. They are pretty cool to look at with black on top, yellow on bottom, and yellow and black spotting on their paddle shaped tails. This is clearly a decoy as the tail looks much more interesting to bite from above or below. What eats them I do not know. On my Tuesday walk I just missed a hatching out of baby turtles, darn it!

I love my hour morning beach walk. Andy drops me off in Brasilito and I walk along that flat, brown sand beach then cross over a little path and onto Playa Conchal which is a beautiful white sand beach. The first half of the beach is tough to walk as it is all soft, shelly sand. Then it gets firmer and is easier going. At the end of the beach the dirt road turns up and I walk along a shaded dirt road to our gate and up the hill to our house where a jump in the pool is refreshing and necessary! It is like Fall in New England here now as the trees are all dropping their leaves. They are also blooming and there are pink, yellow, and white flowers everywhere! Unlike the temperate forest, they are preparing themselves for the heat that is coming. It is very dry and windy now and there have been several wildfires burning. The water is several shades of tropical blue and a bit cool now due to the upwelling the winds create. When it is cold in Florida the cool air is pushed South and through the gap of Lake Nicaragua and comes howling over us, the Papagayo winds. They can be hurricane strength, but of course nobody measures them, and it did lift up the edge of our roof last week on several nights, leaving a line of dirt and bugs on the floor below. These winds are important as they drive the upwelling which provides an abundance of food for the Pacific game fish, like the sailfish and marlin and tuna, as well as all the other critters here in the sea.

We were at the beach on Sunday when a feeding frenzy of amberjacks drove a school of little silvery fish, maybe sardines, right up and onto the beach! The whole beach erupted into a flurry of nets and hand-held fishing lines cast into the boiling water and the blue-green fish were thrown up onto the dry sand one after another! Andy and Isaiah were fishing so cast out into it, the only ones who had a gringo fishing pole, and caught one large amberjack they gave away. It is always nice to live in a place where the local people enjoy and use their environment so thoroughly and Costa Ricans do love the playa and to fish. Everyone scooped up the little fish too, stuffing them in bags and in their pockets. Andy impressed Bella by eating one of them raw!
Well, go and kiss your loved ones! And enjoy the day of Love!

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