Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Going to the Birds.... Part 1

Hola!  We've probably all heard that phrase "A Trip of a Lifetime"...  well, I must have the 9 lives of a cat, because Bill & I just took another trip that I'll never forget.  

We hired Alex to take us from our house in Cuidad Colon to the Musoc Bus Station in San Jose
Alex's service isn't really a "real" taxi, but he's a friend of Vanessa, the girl who lives in the house just down from us.  It was about a 45 minute drive to the bus station...  traffic was very heavy.  San Jose is the capitol of Costa Rica and has a population of around a half million people.

As I've mentioned before, my Spanish is nil...  Bill can usually speak enough to get by.  This time that didn't work.  The ticket clerks didn't speak any English and from what we could read above the ticket counters, it didn't look like any buses would take us to our destination (half way between San Jose and San Ysidro...  about 50 miles).  I did what I usually do in times like this...  started looking closely at all the people waiting for their bus to see if I could pick out someone who spoke English.  I hit the jackpot!  Vivian and her daughter were sitting in an area across from us.  Turns out Vivian is Swiss...  speaks German, Spanish...  and...  English!  She has lived a good part of life in Argentina, met a guy who's from San Ysidro...  they've used the internet and Skype for over 2 years as their means of correspondence...  and finally, she's moving to Costa Rica so they can be together.  Vivian took Bill under her wing...  went with him to the ticket counter and between them, he got our tickets to ride.  We were on the same bus as Vivian and her daughter, which was also a stroke of luck, because Bill & I were to get off the bus at KM 70...  pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  Vivian made sure the bus driver knew where we wanted off.  Turned out that the bus driver knew the owner of the hotel and knew exactly what to do.

We were going to the Hotel de Montana...  the Paraiso Quetzal
This sign greeted us as we got off the bus.

We walked about a quarter of a mile down a dirt road to the hotel.  What's at the end of the road?
The most magnificent bird in Costa Rica...  
the Quetzal.

We got checked in, and were given the key to our cabin...
You can barely see our cabin... it's way in the back in the middle of this picture.  There are 9 cabins in all at this time, situated in strategic spots on the side of the mountain...
Doesn't look very big...  but had everything we needed...
Here's the view from inside.  There was a small deck with stools if we wanted to sit outside.

I'll mention here that the elevation here is 8,862'
This place is in the "Cloud Forest"
The cabin was anything but airtight..  no insulation, but it did have a small space heater, and...
FIVE blankets on the bed!  I kind of arranged them here so that you can see how soft, fluffy and... warm! they are.  It can get into the low 40's (F)...  It didn't get that cold during our stay, but we'd been living in shorts and tees...  windows open all night...  that sort of climate for a month.  So we needed all the warm we could get.

We got to the hotel before check-in time and our cabin wasn't quite ready.  That suited us fine...  we headed right out to the back deck.
Here I am...  surrounded by hummingbirds.
There are 4 species of hummers here at this time...  the Magnificent, the Fiery throated, the Volcano, and the Green Violet-ear.  (there are 8 species during "prime" time)
I took over close to 300 pictures...  I never did get a really good shot of all the hummers here.  Try as we might, neither Bill nor I could get an accurate count of how many birds were flitting in and around the feeders at a time....  but I'm guessing it would be close to fifty.

My favorite ...
The Fiery throated Hummingbird

The Magnificent Hummingbird

Look at the detail of the feathers on this guy!

We could have spent hours just watching the hummers...
But the afternoon rains were coming, so we decided to take a walk on one of the trails as soon as we got checked in.

There are thousand-year old cypress trees here, as well as huge oaks and various other trees.  Although the only thing in common was the size, we kept thinking of the Redwoods in California.  Here's Bill...  looking WAY up into the top of this tree.

And we came across several waterfalls....
This one dropped probably 75'.  

We didn't see many birds during this walk...  the rains were starting to come, and the tree canopy was actually fairly dense.  Since Costa Rica is already a bit into the rainy season the paths were kind of muddy and I had to really watch my footing.

While waiting for dinner, we sat around the fireplace..
Just relaxing...  sipping a glass of wine...  looking a pictures of all the birds we hoped to see in the morning.

Evening came fast...  we had a lovely dinner of trout, with the traditional Costa Rican sides...  rice and a cabbage salad (slaw?).  Also strawberries for desert.

We went back to our cabin...
The rains had slacked off...  the fog kept rolling in.... and the sun would occasionally peek through the clouds as it was setting.  I took this shot from inside our cabin...  looking out over the valley.

During the night I woke up and looked out the huge picture window...  I could see the lights of houses in the valley.  It was just beautiful!

It was early to bed, though...  we were to start our birding walk at 6:30 in the morning. I'll continue with this adventure tomorrow...  The BIG DAY!

The day of the Quetzals!

That's All for Today...


  1. This looks magnificent! I would love to be there and I love the little cabin!

  2. You are outdoing yourself! We love it, love it, love it! C.R. could be our destination if we one day wouldn't have a dog.

  3. Love the photos! The view out your window is amazing.

  4. Just look at all those And the view is amazing. You two are so adventurous!!