Day 8/23

Morning

Yesterday, everybody went early to bed, around 21:00 or something. That shed I am in is so thin-walled, you can almost here the neighbours breathing. So, I went to bed early as well. These cabins are situated under a couple of trees and every 10 minutes or so, fruit plunges down on the tin roof. At the end of the evening I heard a couple of Howler Monkeys, yelling. I hoped to encounter these in the morning.

Around 05:00 I hear the first howling. They do not seem to be that far from here. At 05:30 just before sunrise I go outside. Every couple of minutes a whole bunch of monkeys go out of their roof, so they are easy to find. They are hanging in a tree close to a farmhouse. I do not want to trespass though, but whether they are curious or not, exactly at this moment they descent one by one from the tree and walk over the roof of a large barn to the tree that is closest to me. For a while they stay hidden for me somewhere on the inside of the tree and I can see only shadows in between the leaves.

Howler Monkey

One comes a bit more out into the open, but the light is far from beautiful.

Howler Monkey

The flash unit doesn’t work well today. Apparently the batteries have not been charged completely tonight. Maybe the electricity has been off, that could be.

Suddenly there is a lot of noise in the trees. The howlers are being attacked by a some birds. Lots of yelling and screaming from both sides. A lot of things fly through the air. Branches and fruit rattle down on the roof of the barn. Somewhat later the peace is restored. Sometimes a car or motorbike passes by and that results in lots of howling of the monkeys. Unbelievable the amount of noise that can come out of such a small body. Football supporters are nothing compared to them. In between you here only those typical monkey sounds.

Slowly, the tree comes into the sunlight and most of the monkeys move more to the outside of the tree. Now they are bathing in warm sunlight and that makes things so much easier.

Howler Monkey

A nice view into the tree on a monkey face.

Howler Monkey

Often they just hang on their tail, picking out the best fruits from the outside of the tree.

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

After eating for a while they just sit and digest.

Howler Monkey

This one has the hiccup, very funny.

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Some are playing with each other, but this behaviour is very difficult to photographs as they literally run through the tree, chasing and fighting each other. At the moment I am done here, most of them move via the roof back to the original tree. What a timing!

I return to the camp and see a tree in nice sunlight.

Tree

There are some waterfowl at the beach but these take off as soon as they see me. The only that remains is to shoot the same pier from yesterday evening…

Pier

Pier

…and the beach.

Mangrove Beach

Back at the cabin I photograph that one as well, but the light is already quite harsh. I better should have done that yesterday afternoon when it was lighted by nice warm light.

My cabin

At 07:00 it is already getting warm. During previous trips I have learned to go easy for one day every week. Normally I tend to keep on running all the time, but after a couple of weeks your feeling completely exhausted. Yesterday afternoon I already rested for a couple of hours and ended up with a number of great photographs in the evening. This morning I will take another couple of hours of rest. I first have to find a motel for tonight and you usually can not arrive early in the morning. Going to a park and leave the car behind with all luggage inside, is most of the time possible, but that is not something I will practice here.

A couple of hours on my veranda in the morning sun is quite nice actually. Hereafter I continue to Liberia. I have the motel already in mind.

Afternoon

Around 12:00 I arrive and can go into my room immediately. It is already too late for visiting parks, that is something that has to wait until monday (Palo Verde National Park) and tuesday (Rincon de la Vieja National Park).

Now I am very curious what the peninsula is like. The first objective is to visit a couple of beaches: Tamarindo and Conchal of which I have seen some beautiful photographs. Driving is so easy here that I adapt my plans en route. Unbelievable, in barely half an hour I drive the same distance I did around Fortuna, while that took 4 hours. This implies that I have enough time to go further south and I decide to go to Diria National Park. If I arrive there before 14:00 I will have enough time.

Around 13:30 I arrive in Santa Cruz, the gateway to the park. The map on the GPS helps to find the right direction. The city consists of a netwerk of roads that are have a 90 degree angle to each other so that is easy. The outer neighborhoods are more poor looking. At first this does not feel very comfortable, but after a while I notice that the only really difference is the road surface. In the center you find stones and in the outer streets gravel. It looks very different because you immediately have the feeling of being in a very poor neighborhood. But the people are the same as are the houses. I am quickly used to it.

I find a sign to the park and should be there within 7 kilometers. Soon the road splits. Which one to take left or right? I choose the road that seems to be used more often. The road climbs reasonably steep and gets narrower fast. After a while I get the familiar feeling of ‘Is this allright, can I return if I have to?’. The surface is getting rougher with deep gullies in the driving direction. Sometimes these are so deep, that you can easily get stuck. One time I hit the ground really hard, because I miss a gully looking right into the sun. After 8 kilometer I still haven’t seen a park entrance. Apparently I did take the wrong turn after all.

Navigating in between the gullies is getting easier but I am still feeling strong doubts as well. After 10 kilometers I have a good look on the GPS again and now I see that this road circumvents the park in the direction of the sea. I am quite high and surrounded by moutains. The Pacific is cleary visible in the west. In the palce where the road is a little wider than the car I try to turn around. After going back and forth 7 times I suddenly see that the roads continues to a radio tower at the summit of a mountain. On the map I see a lookout point at the same spot. I go back and forth for the same 7 times and continue up. Next to the road is a gate and I decide to drive up towards the tower, but then I see a man standing. He seems to be doing something with the bushes and his clothes are covered by big holes. I walk to him and ask whether this is private property. ‘Not a problem’ he tells me, ‘just go up there’.

At the top I get stuck behind another car and there is a complete familie here. Going backwards is not an option because I can’t see a thing in my mirrors. There is a house here. Private property after all? A man walks to the car and drives forward, so that problem solves itself. The familie is looking at my like I am an animal in the zoo. I think ‘Just drop it’, turn around and go back down the road. Back the whole 11 kilometers it took to get here. I feel more confident this time, because I know what is awaiting me and know that there are no obstacles I can’t take. The view on both sides is very beautiful, but nowhere I have a clear sight. I don’t fancy going into the long grass.

Not alone do I not know what kind of critters there are in there, but quite close is a vertical drop off and it is very difficult to see where I can still stand. I leave the idea and continue. A couple of kilometers further down the road I stop for a couple of photographs of nice yello flowers. There many of that kind here. They are 6-8 centimeters wide.

Yellow Flower

On one of them there is a nice green spider.

Yellow flower with green spider

Back in the village I continue to Playa Conchal.

It is a bit of a mess overthere and I can not see the beautiful photograph I have seen of it before. Let’s go to Play Tamarindo.

This appears to be a touristic nuthouse for surfers only. Not exactly the kind of place I had in mind to play with my camera. I return to Liberia, still a 1 hour drive.

Evening

After the sun is gone I see a nice yellow glow transitioning into a complete violette sky. Haven’t seen something like that before. Everywhere I see photographs of silhouette tree against this colorful sky, but nowhere a place to take them. The last part I am driving in the dark. Unbelievable how many people are walking and bicycling in the dark out here without lighting. You really have to look out sharply, because hitting one is the last thing on my mind. Something popping the head lights helps good to spot them. Luckily this behaviour is only around the villages.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Costa Rica Dry Season 2011, Day 8

Download the original gpx file here.

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