Posts Tagged “baby animals”
Nov 06 2012
After the best beach day ever, we decided to spend our last free morning in Costa Rica at Cahuita National Park, a unhurried one hour bus trip south. At the entrance to the park, we hired a guide, and set off along quite a busy path parallel to the beach. The guide was much better than we were at spotting those halcyon sloths, and after a few telescopic sightings, we spotted a mother sloth with her tiny baby peeking out at us though the leaves. After seeing all those orphans at the rescue center, it was a relief to see a baby snug in the arms of a birth parent.
A while later along the track, we spotted another sloth, quite actively munching its way through the treetops. A nearby park ranger was very interested in its orange moustache, an unusual feature he was going to report back to headquarters.
All to soon it was time to turn back, as Hayden kept on trying to wriggle down and play with the battle ants. On our return trip, we came across a picnic area that was orbited by some very mischievous creatures. The first creature I spotted was drowsy baby raccoon watching the scene from above.
While I was admiring the character of the juvenile raccoon, Hayden pointed out its parent as it darted in front of us – a crab-eating raccoon who was eyeing off a discarded banana peel. With a white-faced monkey to my left, we were surrounded by a wild treasury of mammals.
With another sloth welcoming us back at the lodge, it was such a perfect way to end our week in Costa Rica. An abundance of sloths and other wild creatures, a secluded bungalow, welcoming hosts, and a prismatic beach – the perfect ingredients for a magnificent vacation.
Our days in Costa Rica have found a gentle rhythm. A chorus of howler monkeys announce the sunrise at 5:00 a.m., the pair of kinkajous who live above us drop the left-overs from their breakfast on our roof, and our own little primate wakes up clapping. We toddle around our bungalow and verandah for a few hours, looking forward to the amazing breakfast that will greet us at 7:30. Hayden grabs two handfuls of watermelon or bread, and then conducts small circuits around us.
Sometime after 8:30, we catch the bus that trundles down the only road. On this day we were off to the Jaguar Rescue Center, a rehabilitation center for injured and confiscated animals. Our first stop was a quick visit to meet the orphaned howler monkeys. Hayden was too small for the baby monkey house, so the boys stayed outside while I played with tiny agile primates. One little guy climbed up on my lap, wrapping his tail around my wrist for support. He played with a few of the toys attached to the rope, before deciding that it might be time for a nap, snuggling up next to his already slumbering friend on a chair.
I thoroughly washed my hands and arms, then held a Gaudy Leaf Frog. It soon jumped onto my shoulder for a better vantage point, patiently posing for a photo.
The JRC also contained a small Sloth Garden, hosting a lone tree with perhaps the ultimate sloth density in all of Playa Chiquita. One three-toed sloth and three two-toed sloths were dangling from its boughs, while in its shade below reposed an ennui of two-toed sloths, a zippy agouti, and a single sleepy kinkajou. Long after the other visitors had left, we lingered to gaze at the sloths eating, climbing, and sleeping. While Adrian and Hayden interacted with a friendly woodpecker, I reached out to stroke a somnolent sloth and its fur felt soft and springy.
We farewelled the lethargic lads, and caught the 12:00 bus back to our local Punta Uva beach bar, where the staff had some Bavaria beers and Caprese sandwiches waiting for us. After a few bites to eat, Hayden happily toddled around in the garden while we enjoyed our lunch, then we all strolled back to the lodge for a well-earned afternoon nap until dinner time.
Nov 02 2012
Sunday was one of the best days of my life.
The previous Thursday, we began our long journey. Up at 6 am, to the airport two hours early for a one hour flight to London, one hour delay, two hour stopover, ten hour flight to Miami (highlight: Britox bulkhead toddler seats exclusive to British Airways), announcement of a major tropical storm, one hour delay, frantic scramble through US immigration, customs, and security, two hour delay, four hour flight to San Jose, immigration, customs, airport shuttle, brief overnight at airport hotel (highlights: soft bed and fresh waffle robot), and finally a six hour drive to reach our destination.
It was all worth it.
We are staying for a week in a small jungle lodge on the edge of the the Manzanillo-Gandoca wildlife refuge, 400 meters from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. As I write this, the rain, the frogs, and the howler monkeys are creting a relaxing symphony, as we take a rest after our delicious breakfast of tropical fruit, banana bread, eggs, and toast.
Why did I choose such a location?
On Sunday, after a day at the beach to recover, we met our guide to take us for our first trek through the jungle. We began the tour at his home, and he demonstrated the aromatic properties of all his plants. We smelled and tasted a dozen species, including wild ginger, tumeric, coconut, and lemongrass. Hayden demonstrated the colourful properties of the “make-up plant” and then met his first locust.
A short stroll down the beach led us into the jungle, where our guide pointed out a furry blob high up in the trees. I had my first sighting of a two-toed sloth – an inanimate pile of brown shaggy fur. A little way further along the track, I had my first sighting of a three-toed sloth, lazily scratching itself in the treetops.
An hour later, we were deep in the jungle. Hayden was fast asleep in the baby carrier, and we were all covered in sweat in the humidity. Our guide asked me to stand on a particular tree root. I told him that I would do so only if it was for a sloth. He then told me that there was a sloth 1.5 meters away from me. I looked left and right, but I couldn’t see it, and I asked him for a direction. He pointed directly above me.
There, just above my fingertips, was perhaps the cutest little animal that I have ever seen. A one-year-old three-toed sloth was sleepily blinking at us. Hanging down languidly from all four legs, it rotated its head and looked deep into my eyes. It seemed to smile warmly, as it stretched out one paw in greeting. Our guide told us that this would be its first year living without its mother, a young sloth enjoying its first taste of independence. We were told that was very rare to see experience one like this so close-up, and we were very lucky. This little sloth was so adorable. “Look! Look how cute it is! Look at its little mouth. Look at its little eyes.” I kept on saying. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the diminutive mammal.
The slothling languorously made its way up the branch, watching us curiously as we stared back and took hundreds of photos. I recalled the sloth book by Eric Carle that we have been reading with Hayden: “I may be lackadaisical, unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid back and, well, slothful, but I am not lazy… that’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.” I was so happy to have the chance to meet one of these extraordinary creatures in the wild.