Monday, October 25, 2010

China Fur Trade Exposed in 60 seconds

If you're still juggling
the ethics vs. luxury of fur watch this

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's so funny...

...about peace, love and understanding?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In case you are wondering, we have been in Puerto Viejo the last four days staying at Pagalu, a hostel that does not offer wifi, just internet. This translates to mean there is access to a couple of shitty house computers which are being used most of the time but no internet for personal computers. At the moment we are using the wifi at Veronica's Place, a super excellent vegetarian restaurant and our current home away from home. I highly recommend the veggie (seitan) "steak", mashed potatoes and gravy. Perfect comfort food when you've got the rainy season blues.

So far, although we hiked through some pretty real looking jungle, we continue to avoid a run-in with a sloth. At this point, one more day and we're safe. We rented really shitty bikes the day we got here and rode the hell of them, including beating it back to town through a pounding tropical rain storm at dusk along a pot holed jungle road dodging trucks, cars, pedestrians and other bikes. As with all our travels, this trip has not been a lovely excursion to controlled, prefab environments where we enjoy invigorating yet soothing memory making downtime. They are more like some kind of quasi-spiritual boot camp trek designed to purge the fantasy that life is a safe garden in which I can order up my private version of happiness. Everything is real, pressing, fragile, terrible, beautiful, necessary and inescapable. Dogs standing in the street, nowhere to go but where they are. I cannot forget them. Throw in love and hope and stir.

We leave on the bus in the morning and, if all goes as planned, arrive in Nevada on Tuesday around midnight. Well, my battery is nearly gone. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No sloth. Lucky us.

Okay. Okay. So we haven't seen a sloth. I don't even care. Who wants to see one anyway? They're just big slow-motion show offs. Here in Costa Rica, they're a damn cliche. Everyone has seen a sloth. Lucky for us we haven't see one, especially on our big jungle walkabout yesterday. Eight hours squinting up into the canopy, camera ready, stumbling over roots, soaking with sweat but not one sloth. Whew! Close call.

Photo by Pauline

One sauntered through the cafe when the Brits were having tea. Our German friend Marion saw one on her one and only two hour dash through the preserve and poor Ricardo and Marco had to brush a sloth off their car with a damn broom!

Photo by Pauline

I don't know how we escaped their shenanigans. We are the only people here who haven't seen a sloth. Sometimes you just get lucky. As for the "sloth" I photographed the other day, it was monkey. Pauline and Olaf said maybe it was but they were being "kind". Nice people but clearly the sloth won them over with his little game. But not us! Ha!

Photo by Pauline

Then this little clown insisted our Dutch friend Pauline take his photo. Talk about a poser. I mean, really. With her kind permission, I include Pauline's photos here so that you'll know who to avoid should to find yourself in the neighborhood. As they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Monkeys and sloths

Woken up this morning before dawn by a band of Howler monkeys howling in the trees directly above our cabin. They went on for until after sunrise. Seems they were exchanging the morning gossip and news with another band in the distance. Of course, I made several videos in an attempt to capture the sound. None of the turned out very good but I will post one anyway, but later. Right now, must sleep. I hear shuffling and rattling leaves in the canopy.

Is this a sloth?

At this point, everyone here at Alby's as seen a sloth but us. I took this photo on a beach walk this afternoon. Is it a sloth? Maybe it's a sloth. We have just under two weeks left in Costa Rica. Must see a sloth before we go. If all else fails, I'll go to the restaurant a wait for them to show up there. I hear they're regulars but that just seems too easy.

Monkey or sloth?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pathways and crossroads

There are paths running through the trees at Alby's Lodge in Cahuite. Eight Capuchins passed right over our cabin this morning and this evening a large family of Howler monkeys made their way along a line of palms while we all watched. There are four cabins at Alby's. One is occupied by an incredible couple from the UK who are currently traveling the world for 15 months and home schooling their two young, extremely bright, well-behaved children along the way. They are like the storybook family you know do not, can not, actually exist because they are so nice and so kind and so loving even though you secretly want to believe they do exist somewhere because, deep down, you need to believe that pure, simple goodness really can make it in this world.

Protect the sloths

Another of the cabins is occupied by a young couple from Holland who were stayingat Casa Marbella in Tortuguero at the same time we were. The four of us did the guided tour of the canals together so ee were delighted when, to our surprise, they arrived here this morning. Cool people. They told us that this afternoon, while they were having lunch, a sloth came into the restaurant. As is common here, the place has no walls so she came in along the open rafters. The owner gave her some lettuce, she hung around a bit (literally) then went on through, crossed the dirt road, joined a fellow sloth and they headed for the beach.

Mr. Lee buying bread from the Italian breadman

The fourth cabin is occupied by a couple from Spain. She is a dunce and he is a total asshole who won't acknowledge that the rest of us exist. When the Howlers were sitting in palm trees looking down at all of us looking up at them, he shook the fronds and shouted to get the monkeys moving because he wanted more action in his damnvideo. None of us like him, not even the storybook people.

Marion, our German friend from Tortuguero, got here the day before we did. In that one day she hiked in the National Park where she saw a sloth, took the bus to Puerto Viejo, saw it, rented a bike, rode to Manzanillo, had dinner with us when we arrived last evening and left for Mexico City this morning where she will live with an Hispanic family for the next six weeks while she does a Spanish immersion program. She already speaks it fluently but has plans to teach it when she returns home. She was baffled that we would want to stay in the tiny town of Cahuite for the next six days and then do five more in Puerto Viejo. Not everyone is ready for the philosophy of One Thing of the Day.

Marion leaving for Mexico City

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tortuguero comings and goings

This little Capuchin monkey tried jumping, spitting (0:12), barking, shaking and throwing things to drive us away. Naturally, we obliged. I don't blame him a bit. I wouldn't want us in my jungle either.

The fuzziness is from raindrops.

It is such a treat being in a place where there are no cars, trucks, SUVs, buses, trains, campers, trailers, motorcycles or homes. And I have seen only one ATV during our time here. Of course, there are lots of motorboats on the river however many of them have four-stroke engines which are quieter than regular outboards so they are not so bad. Tortuguero really is at the end of the road. No. It's beyond the end of the road. And the path. The community website does mention that you can try hiking to Tortuguera but adds that you'll probably die trying.

Can you spot Raymond? He is looking at you.

When we first got here we took a guided river tour through some of the jungle water ways then went back another day in a canoe with a German woman we met enroute to Tortuguero. She was great fun to hang out with. Meeting cool people along the way is one of the best parts of traveling like this.


In the last four days we have seen all kinds of wildlife, including Capuchin, Spider and Howler monkeys, Raymond the Caiman, tons of lizards, a few toucans, frigates, lots of vultures, grackles, herons and other fisher birds. I found an unearthed turtle egg on the beach and reburied it in the sand and lent a helping hand to a couple of dazed and confused stragglers still paddling around in the sand after dawn. Good luck, little guys. And two nights ago we did the guided beach walk in hopes of seeing a mother turtle come up from the sea.

Turtle tracks to the sea

Watching a giant sea turtle lay her eggs in the sand, seeing a mother in a species so ancient that her ancestors watched the dinosaurs rise from the flux then fade back into it, seeing her repeat the birth ritual alone at night, as it has been done for 150 million years, then slip back quietly into the sea was an amazing and truly humbling experience.

We leave in an hour for Cahuita via boat, bus, bus and hopefully taxi. Hasta entonces.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tortuguero outtakes

The only way to Tortuguero
is by boat or plane.

We went by boat.

View from Casa Marbella.

This little Capuchin had a pretty good view of us from her tree.

Mr. Lee spotted this
little turtle on the forest path.

Don't worry. She isn't dead!

She looked dead. She was pretty far from the shore and she was covered with horrible stinging red ants but she moved her head when I photographed her. I immediately scooped her up with a leaf and rushed her towards the beach. The damn ants started swarming up my arms. The little bastard's really bite. I think they inject some kind of acid. Anyway, I had to put her down a couple of times along the way to brush them off. But we made it to the water, I released her to the sea and, as far as we could tell, she swam away but at least we know one thing for certain... the fucking ants didn't get her.

M. Lee also found this beautiful sand dollar on the beach. It was too fragile to consider trying to get it back to Nevada and, even if I managed to get it there intact, it would be in Nevada... a damn desert .... so I photographed it and left it on its beach.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hello again

The trip to the Caribbean is on again. According to the Tico Times, while the rest of Costa Rica is getting pummeled by torrential rains and devastating mudslides, the Caribbean is experiencing the "longest dry season in more than a decade" and is "perfect for swimming for kilometers over bright sand and psychedelic reef". According to the article, the bottlenose dolphins and manatees are doing just that so, Kristiana, perhaps I will get that photo of a manatee for you yet.

Tomorrow we will do bus bus boat to Tortuguero... (San Jose to Cariari to Pavona to Tortueguero). Price, under $9 each. We'll stay in Tortuguero for four nights then we'll take a boat and bus to Cahuita for another six nights then on to Puerto Viejo for four nights. Then home. Unless, by my luck, storms drive us out early. Rain is predicted everyday next week so we shall see.