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mate and other factors. As we continued north, our bus be-


gan making a strange squealing noise and we were forced to travel very slowly, barely making it up the hills. Finally we arrived at our luncheon stop, and only had to wait a short while before another bus rescued us and delivered us to our next location, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in the northern plains region of Heredia province. Our morning tour took us to La Sel-


ba Biological Station, a research and education center since 1953. Scien- tists come here from around the world to study ants, or poisonous frogs or countless other topics. Hiking the trails, we found wild pigs, the Blue-jean frog (a tiny red frog with blue legs) and watched the Orapendula perform his mating call ritual. Perched high in a tree, he squawks, spreads his wings and flaps them while tipping forward until he almost falls off the branch. Ten he rights himself and starts the whole pro- cedure again. At the open-air restaurant where


we had lunch, bird feeding platforms were positioned right at the wall, so as we waited for our food, we were able to photograph the Clay-colored Rob- in, (Costa Rica’s national bird), the bright turquoise Green Honeycreeper and a Baltimore Oriole. In the afternoon, we visited an or-


ganic family farm. On his eight acres, the owner grows several varieties of limes, peppers, oregano and pepper- corns. Peppercorns grow in a row along the stem, and when one in the bunch is reddish, they are ready to pick.


Red ones are peeled to form


white pepper. Te others dry to be- come black peppercorns. He told us about the special methods he uses to be registered as an organic farm, and the current problems with fungi


attacking his plants. His hospitality included a delicious fruit drink and snacks from his garden. On the route to our next resort,


we visited the Corsicana organic pineapple plantation. We travelled through huge fields on a covered, tractor-pulled wagon with the planta- tion’s very humourous guide, Michael. Not only did we learn about produc- tion and working conditions for the mostly Nicaraguan workers, but were royally entertained, and tasted the sweetest pineapple fresh from the field as well as delicious cake.


To


buy good pineapple, look for: 1) big- ger eyes, 2) symmetrical shape, 3) a healthy green crown, and 4) a golden ring on the bottom. When Spaniards first took them back to Spain, only royalty were allowed to eat them. Travelling on, we stopped for lunch


at Restaurante Las Iguana in Muella, where huge iguanas wandered on the sidewalk outside eating fruit scraps, and rested in the trees in the yard. Our final resort was outside La For- tuna, near Arenal Volcano, an active, perfect cone-shaped volcano which last erupted in 1968 when lava poured over one side destroying two villages, but left the other side green with veg- etation. Our accommodations were lovely side-by-side bungalows with rocking chairs on the front porch to enjoy the balmy weather. Tey even had air conditioning and a fridge. Hid- ing in the drain pipe beside our cottage was a thin mother cat and her litter of five tiny kittens. Of course, we had to feed them some scraps and a couple eventually ventured up to our porch. Later in the afternoon, we visited


Tabacon Hot Springs which has the most beautiful setting of hidden pools at different levels, surrounded by lux- uriant shrubs and flowers. Although


hundreds of people were there, you could still find a totally private pool in which to soak. As darkness fell, the paths and shrubs were illuminated by mini sparkling lights, while the pools glowed with underwater lights cre- ating a fairytale wonderland. It was incredibly beautiful and I wished we could have arrived earlier in the day to enjoy the beauty longer. Our evening concluded with an expansive buffet in elegant surroundings, including a mouthwatering display of desserts. Our tour was nearing completion.


Some brave adventurers did zip-lin- ing. (I stayed safely on a platform and took pictures.) Te last morning’s adventure was travelling through the rainforest on a series of 14 hanging bridges. It was a misty day, so we were thankful for the cinder-blocks on the slippery mud trail and a rope to hold as we trekked up the forest path until we could look down upon the tops of many trees and out through the valleys. Our last tour to the Ecocentro Da-


naus Butterfly Farm was a case of “saving the best for last.” Although it was a relatively small area, there were many plants, animals, birds and butterflies to see. Te Blue Morphos, which I especially wanted to see, were plentiful in the butterfly enclosure, but fluttered so erratically and closed their wings so quickly on landing that it was impossible to capture a great pic- ture. At the end of the trail, there was a fruit feeding station where we enjoyed close encounters of the avian kind. We were delighted to see a Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Golden-hooded Tanager, a Yellow-crowned Euphonia, and three Collared Aracari toucans all at once. It was a fantastic end to a fabulous tour of Costa Rica! I highly recommend it if you enjoy nature. §


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