You are currently viewing archive for December 2016
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The weatherman's prediction were way off today. Instead of the 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) we probably received over 45 cm (18 inches).

Surprisingly, Ed went outside and started clearing cars and driveways and didn't take any photos. When we were almost done, I went inside and grabbed the camera.

Our neighbour was just starting to clean his driveway. The snow was up to the back bumper of his car.

Perry will usually dig his driveway out by hand but today it was a snow blower day.



Could resist a couple of art shots. ]



2016/12/25: Merry Christmas

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
As I'm writing this in January I should say Belated Christmas Wishes. Hope it was a good one.

It feels like Ed and I have been running since we've got back from Costa Rica. Ed's been working on the Costa Rica slide show and I've been catching up with household chores and baking. My mom and brother are getting lots of baked goods for Christmas.

Before Ed and I retired and moved away from the Campbellville area we spent many a Christmas Eve with our one time neighbours and close friends Chris and Tina and their son David. This year we decided to revisit that tradition and spent a wonderful Christmas Eve with them.

Christmas morning Ed and I drove to my mother's house to spend Christmas with my mother and brother. We had a lovely Christmas day.

My sister lives in Texas and wasn't able to join us for Christmas so she sent these lovely flowers for my mother.


2016/12/16: Winter's Really Here

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It snowed a fair bit overnight ---- I'm guessing there was about 10 inches on the car. The truck had 15 inches of snow but that was the total accumulation for the time we were gone. It's pretty but in my opinion it could have waited till after Christmas --- well a little bit on Christmas eve to help with the holiday spirit.




2016/12/15: What a Drive

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
As we landed in Toronto at 11:30pm we stayed in Burlington at my mother's house. After lunch we started driving home. The further north we went the worse the weather got. Lots of snow, blowing snow, strong winds, snow covered roads and closed roads. We managed to work around the closed roads and finally made it home. Three hours to do a two hour drive --- not bad compared to the horror stories I heard on the news --- 5 hours to do what was normally a 30 minute drive. Funny thing, the last 10 kilometers had the least amount of snow and blowing snow.

2016/12/14: Homeward Bound

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today we leave the cloud forest and Costa Rica and begin the trek home.

As we begin the drive out on the bus you can see that we are still in the clouds. It really was an interesting place ---- you can see the fog, feel the dampness (but not rain) and hear water dripping from the trees sounding like rain. I guess you stuck you tongue out you could taste it as well.

Once we are out of the cloud forest there is sun. This is one of the small towns we drove thru heading to San Jose and the airport.

The motley crew at the airport, including guide and driver.

It was a nice day for flying --- some cloud but mostly sun. The plane banked as we flew over the Florida Keys so Ed was able to get a good photo.

We had to switch planes in Miami so Ed snapped a few photos as we were landing. Luckily Ed had thought ahead and we had packed all of our souvenirs in the checked luggage that was checked thru to Toronto. This saved us a lot of hassle with US customs and immigration. After a 3 hour layover we were back in the air. I'm still amazed at how fast immigration and customs is in Toronto. I think it took less than 1/2 hour from the time we stepped off the plane to the time we walked out into the main concourse with our luggage.

Happy to be home but time to start thinking about the next trip.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I knew the cloud forests in Costa Rica are important but I didn't really know what a cloud forest was. I had heard of Monteverde Cloud Forest which is the most famous one but not the Los Angeles Cloud Forest where we are. Today I got some answers to my questions. A Cloud Forest is pretty much what it sounds like --- a forest that is in the clouds (or fog) a lot of the time. In a Cloud Forest the rainy season lasts about ten months of the year and the dry season is the other two months. Vertical rain (rain falling down from the sky) is rare, horizontal rain (rain from humidity ---- when you are in a cloud it's about 100% humidity) is common. I assume the guide was not pulling my leg when he said the Los Angeles Cloud forest gets 5 feet of rain a year. Though, the Los Angeles Cloud Forest is at a lower altitude than the Monteverde Cloud Forest and is smaller, you still experience a cloud forest plus you avoid the crowds. Some day I may still want to visit Monteverde but I did enjoy my visit here.

Picked an appropriate T-shirt to wear today ---- Onward Thru The Fog. I bought the T-shirt in Newfoundland and didn't realize how appropriate it would be for Costa Rica.

Once again we are staying in a casita and it is quite nice. The main building here at Villa Blanca is very beautiful. Even though it has been hovering between 95% humidity and 100% humidity I'm really enjoying the weather ---- it's a nice temperature so I'm not hot and sticky.

We started the day visiting the dairy herd and the baby cows. The babies are 5 days old, 2 months old and two that are 5 months old. Very cute.

This is the 5 day old calf.

We even got to takes turns milking ---- it's hard work even after the fellow in charge of the cows got the cow primed and ready to milk. The calves are bottle fed and we helped with that as well.

On the way back from milking the cows we stopped to visit the La Mariana Wedding Chapel. It's very pretty and I can see weddings taking place here.

Looking up at the chapel through the cloud.

The ceiling of the chapel is made from 850 hand painted ceramic tiles.

In our wanderings Ed and I found the Research Building. The boss was away, but a volunteer who is from Germany was there along with a young woman who will soon be leading tours. They were very friendly and told us about the research centre.

Next item on the agenda was a talk followed by a guide led hike. I wasn't impressed with the talk as it was a bit too much of an infomercial for the hotel and it's three sister hotels. The hike on the other hand was pretty good, especially when the hotel fellow finished his part of the tour and the naturalist from the research centre took over. On the tour we watch some Leaf Cutter Ants, saw a deadly venomous snake, saw and heard birds and watch the guide plant a tree. Not sure I we watched the tree planting except I think that they want the tourists to see that cloud forest is being cared for.

A flower shot .... I haven't actually posted many photos of flowers on this trip.

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Red bananas and a Side-striped Palm-Pitviper --- bites can be serious, but fatalities are rare.

After a fabulous lunch, several of us went to visit the Hummingbird Gallery, a spot in the forest that had several benches and several hummingbird feeders. We must have timed our visit well as upwards of six hummingbirds visited the feeder. It's really hard to tell how many unique birds there were as they fly away and come back. There definitely were at least eight hummingbirds as we saw two Crowned Woodnymphs at one time, five female Green-crowned Brillants at one time and one juvenile Green-crowned Brillant.

Green-Crowned Brilliant.

Green-Crowned Brilliant.

Crowned Woodnymphs.

A Crowned Woodnumph and a Green-Crowned Brilliant.

After spending a fair bit of time watching the hummingbirds, Ed and I continued along the nature trail. We found more Leaf Cutter Ants, a new road that is being built and some interesting plants. A number of birds flitted by and serenaded us. A couple more flower photos.



Tonight is our last night as a group and we will enjoy a farewell dinner. I have high expectations as lunch was so good. Tomorrow we'll be on the bus by 9 am heading for the airport. Our flight leaves at 1:07 pm. We have a stop over in Miami and will finally arrive in Toronto at 11:30 pm.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The rain held off till the end of our night walk last night which was really nice for us. I don't know how much it rained during the night but by morning it had stopped though it was still overcast. By 8:30 am we were on the road heading to our hotel Villa Blanca at the Los Angeles Cloud Forest. Two stops were scheduled on the drive to our hotel.

First stop was an Ox Cart Factory where we had a tour. The factory is attached to a souvenir shop and a restaurant (it was lunch time by time we finished the tour) ---- one stop shopping today. Ox carts have been used since the early 1800's to cart coffee beans from the central valley to the pacific coast.

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Sixteens wedges cut on 22.5 degree angles are used to make the main part of the wheel.. A metal hub is placed in the centre and a steel band is heated, bent then wrapped around the wood. The steel is cooled with water so it shrinks and tightens around the wood creating the wheel. Jumping ahead to the other side of the factory are the painters. Some of the painters paint pictures, some paint trays and others paint the carts.

Jumping back to manufacturing, the factory is run by water power. Water turns a large wheel which turns a pulley that drives a belt that drives a lay shaft which in turn drives belts that power the different wood working machines.

A decorative Ox Cart.

This is probably a lot closer to a working Ox Cart. Today small trucks are used to bring the coffee beans in from the fields and large trucks transport the coffee beans to the drying area and any where else they need to go.

A small town we drove through on our way to the coffee plantation.

The next stop was a coffee plantation where we had a very informative tour and sampled some very good coffee. The coffee plantation we visited is a co-operative --- many farmers with small farms (just a couple of acres) work together to produce coffee and sell it.

A field of coffee bushes. A lot of the fields on are sides of the hills.

Our timing was good as harvest season is just beginning. We tasted beans picked off the plant, saw trucks bringing beans in from the fields, saw beans being roasted and packaged. As picking was done for the day, we watched the pickers (entire family including children) coming in from the fields. The children are on summer vacation so they are able to help in the fields.

The berry from the coffee bush is red when it is ripe. It must be hand picked because the berries ripen at different times. The berries are picked three times over a period of approximately two months.

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When the berries are trucked in from the fields the quantity of berries is measured using a special container. The growers are paid by the number of containers (the green box the berries are being dumped into). The pickers are paid by the basket. Our guide asked if I would help measure the coffee. The balls are used to count the number of containers.

After the berry is picked the fruit is removed from the pit and the pits are dried. Once the pits are dried, the outer shell is removed and coffee bean emerges. At this point, the coffee beans are readied for shipment overseas. If the coffee bean is staying in Costa Rica, it is stored until they are needed. Once the bean is roasted the quality begins to decrease, so they are roasted just before packaging and shipping. Grinding also affects the quality so our guide suggests that you buy coffee beans, preferably from Costa Rica, and grind them at home just before you make your coffee.

Just as the tour ended, the rain began ---- timing was good once again. The hotel isn't far from the coffee plantation in kilometres but it took over an hour to get there. The countryside is very hilly so the roads are narrow and winding. The last 10 kilometres were not paved and took about a half hour to drive. Even in the rain the scenery was amazing. It was dark when we arrived at the hotel so picture taking will have to wait till tomorrow.

2016/12/11: Manuel Antonio

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our day started with a hike in Manuel Antonio National Park. From the park's website “Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, encompasses rugged rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. It’s renowned for its vast diversity of tropical plants and wildlife, from three-toed sloths and white-faced Capuchin monkeys to hundreds of bird species. The park’s roughly 680 hectares are crossed with hiking trails, which meander from the coast up into the mountains.” We of course only hiked a small portion of the park but we did manage to see a lot of different animals, birds and scenery.

It's fairly easy to spot these crabs.

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A hummingbird but not sure which one and a Three-toed sloth hanging upside down eating leaves. He's got big claws that are used to attach him to a tree so he won't fall out when he is sleeping.

Yes, they have raccoons in Costa Rica and they act the same way as they do at home. We saw one raccoon walk up to a person's bag on the beach and try to get into it.

Another white-faced Capuchin photo. They were running around the beach area getting lots of attention.

A lot of people were sitting on the beach or in swimming. We just went in up to our knees.

Across from the hotel and belonging to the hotel is a Nature Preserve that contains a butterfly garden. Admission to the butterfly garden is free if you are staying in the hotel.


It's not a big butterfly garden but there are some nice butterflies in it.

Ed and I decided o eat a late lunch / early dinner at about 3pm. It was kind of nice to have the entire dining room to ourselves. From the Rico Tico dining room you have a beautiful view of the pacific ocean and a few times we were serenaded by howler monkeys.

We think this is an Agouti. He was hanging around outside the dining room.

Tonight we did a "night walk" thru the jungle in the Nature Preserve owned by the hotel. We set out at 5:30 pm ---- the sun sets around 5:15. The guide spoke very good English. Turned out he had lived in Toronto for 5 years starting in 2000. He was also very knowledgeable about the jungle, the frogs (could make lots of frog noises), the birds, the plants ---- well, you get the picture.

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A red-eyed tree frog and an ignuana.

Another frog --- maybe a bull frog.

Not only did we see frogs and iguanas but we saw a two toed sloth with a baby, a couple of birds roosting, a possum, a tarantula, a snake with a fat tummy and much more. One of the functions of this nature preserve is to rescue animals. There were 2 boa constrictors in a cage that had been bothering people. After a month in captivity (enough time for the snakes to call the preserve home) they will be released and will hopefully stay in the the nature preserve. There were some turtles that had been pets and crocodiles and caymans that had been trouble.

2016/12/10: Birds and Crocodiles

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today's schedule is busy with long bus rides and interesting stops. It wasn't raining when we left our hotel near Tenorio National Park and the Rio Celeste but it was overcast and foggy. It didn't take long before we did get some rain. We heard later that it poured rain at the hotel most of the day.

Our drive followed the same route the people on the rafting tour had taken two days previous, so Ed and I saw the devastation from Hurricane Otto. On the route we drove we saw lots of mud, downed trees, lots of debris and a couple of severely damaged and collapsed houses.

One of the damaged areas.

The drive continued through the mountains crossing the continental divide and down into the Northern Pacific Lowlands. The vegetation changed and so did the weather --- more open forest with a very welcome sun cloud mix. After driving about 2 1/2 hours we stopped for a coffee break plus the bus needed refueling. We spent the time bird watching.

Scarlet Macaws. We've seen them flying but finally got a close up look. The birds are free but I think they are fed which keeps them close.

Back on the bus for another hour and half or more as it turned out. There is some road construction on the road we were driving causing a back up of several miles. You knew the tie up was bad when people were walking up and town the road selling snacks and drinks. Our bus driver is very good at his job and with skill and a little luck we were able to get past the tie up in a reasonable amount of time.

This is a 2 lane highway for both south and north bound traffic. There was a break in the north bound traffic so everyone took advantage of lull in traffic and tried to get ahead --- it was a free for all and some how no one was hit.

Next stop lunch followed by a boat tour down the Tarcoles River. The tour was amazing we saw a number of crocodiles from pretty small to one of the biggest in the river. Birds were also plentiful ---- 42 different species were spotted, 3 of them that aren't regulars on the river. The guide thought we did pretty good considering the tour was only one and half hours long. I could have spent a day on the river.

The basilisk lizard can run on water so it is some times referred to as the Jesus Christ Lizard. It's amazing how fast it runs on those big back legs. A number of these guys entertained us while we waited for our boat.

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On the left, an osprey eating a fish and on the right, a Black-mandibled Toucan.

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It was very exciting to see the Boat-billed Heron and the Mangrove Swallows. We also some familiar birds like the Great Blue Heron, the Little Blue Heron, Black-necked Stilts, the ever popular Red-Winged Blackbird and Egrets.

A view down the river towards the mountain.

One last hour and a half drive but this time part of it was along the Pacific Ocean. It didn't take long before we were in a heavy tourist area .... lots of hotels and restaurants. Our guide called one town a surfers paradise with many of the hotels catering to surfers.

Several Scarlet Macaws flew over our bus.

One of the many small tourist towns we drove through.

At last we arrive at our hotel and were welcomed with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

We had arrived in time to enjoy the sunset.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Another rainy day in paradise. Today we are visiting the Maleku Araraf Ecological Center. The Maleku are one of the last indigenous tribes in Costa Rica. As a tribe they are working hard to maintain their culture.

Once we were on the bus, the rain stopped and we even saw the sun for a few minutes.

As we approach the Maleku village we see some homes with palm thatch houses. This one must be leaking as it has been covered with a tarp.

There was an unexpected stop on our drive into the village. New water pipes are being installed and the road was dug up when we arrived. After about 15 minutes, the road was filled in and we were able to continue on our way.

The "repaired" road. I thought it was a little scary but the bus driver managed with no problems.

We got off the bus and did a walk with a medicine man. He showed us plants that are used for medicinal proposes. This interesting fungus was at the side of the road. Of course, it started to rain again.

The medicine man Luis, in one of the tradition Maleku buildings. On the wall behind him are crafts that can be purchased.

Some young people did a tribal dance for us.

The photo doesn't show the steepness of the slope, but this is the dirt road (with concrete strips when the road is steep) that leads to our hotel.

2016/12/08: Rio Celeste Hike

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today's breakfast visitor is a Coati.

Today we have a choice of hiking in the Tenorio National Park or going on a rafting (float) tour. Ed and I enjoy hiking so opted for the hike while the rest of the group opted for rafting. The rafting consisted of a 2 hour bus ride to the river, a 2 hour float on the river, an hour for lunch then a 2 hour bus ride back to the hotel. Our hike consisted of a 1 1/2 km walk from the hotel to the national park and a 7 km hike in the park with a guide. This morning we wondered if we had made the correct choice when we heard the rain pounding on the roof of our casita.

We met our guide in the lobby at 8 am and started off optimistically as the rain had stopped. Along the road we saw a Broad Winged Hawk, several Crested Guan, a sloth and several other birds. Our guide was actually quite pleased with the number of birds we saw. It didn't take long for the rain to come once we started our hike in the park. Luckily Ed and I know we won't melt in the rain so our main concern is keeping cameras and lenses dry --- the cameras are water resistant so that actually wasn't a big deal either.

Disclaimer: Today is overcast, foggy, and rainy thus the river is not as blue as it can be.


Rio Celeste or "light blue river" is a beautiful turquoise. According to researchers, most of the rocks on the river’s bottom are covered by a substance composed of aluminosilicates – a combination of aluminum, silicon and oxygen – that are capable of absorbing all colors, except blue, present in sunlight. The rejected blue rays of sunlight create a visual sensation in the human eye of “blue water.”

Río Celeste’s bed is formed by waters from two completely transparent rivers: Quebrada Agría and Buena Vista. At the junction of these two rivers, Río Celeste’s water turns turquoise along its 14 kilometers.


Along the route we was a waterfall. I'll have to try is at other waterfalls --- our guide told us to stare at the water cascading down for 20 seconds then quickly look at the rocks --- the rocks look they are moving up and down.

As we are hiking on the side of a volcano there are hot springs and sure enough we saw one. The guide said the water is not too hot --- just above body temperature. Years ago you could swim in the river but today it is no longer allowed.

There were a couple of small suspension bridges to cross. It wasn't too made as only one person was allowed to cross at a time.

At times the rain stopped but at other times it came down pretty hard.

We also saw the spot where the rivers mix. One river comes from the left side of the photo and the 2nd river comes from behind the tree. The white line is where the reaction occurs and our guide said that when they use to swim in the river they'd try to stay on the white line as it was the warmest water.

Our guide was trained as a naturalist. Not only did he tell us about the river but he also told us about the local flora and fauna. We ate some leaves, smelled other ones, looked for flowers, counted the number of plants growing on a small area of a tree and examined different types of fungus. Even though it was soggy we had a lot of fun and even learned a few things.

Several spiders and a

viper were the most exciting wildlife we saw in the park.

The group that went rafting saw first hand the devastation the houses and forest where Hurricane Otto hit. They said they couldn't believe the amount of mud or how high the river had risen.

Back at the hotel and when there was a break in the rain, we sat in the hot tub and took a walk around the grounds and on the nature trail.

The pool area

and the lobby.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Morning comes early in the Costa Rican Rain Forest --- about 5:15 am in fact. The early morning quiet of dawn is broken by the deep guttural howl of the Howler Monkeys. The noise is so intense that it even woke Ed up. The howling lasts for about ten minutes then the rain forest quiets down and you hear a few birds chirping as you fall back to sleep, or at least Ed falls back to sleep. This morning I couldn't fall back to sleep so I got up and wandered around the resort listening to sounds and watching birds and a few Capuchin monkeys.

There was a bit of exciting this morning at breakfast. One of the Capuchin monkeys sat in a tree near the open door of the restaurant. When no was was near the door, the monkey jumped down from the tree ran to the nearest unoccupied table (which was near the door), leaped onto the table in a single bound, grabbed the plastic contain full of sugar and sweetener packets, leaped off the table dropping the container and equal packets making good his escape with the coveted sugar packets. I think this took all of 3 seconds. About 5 seconds later at least 10 Capuchin monkeys were sitting in the tree.

Today we leave Evergreen Resort just outside of Tortuguero National Park area with a destination of Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel just outside of Tenorio Volcano National Park. We get in a boat and ride down the river, then the canal to the port where our bus is waiting for us.

Just before we left this crab was spotted. There is lots of wildlife in the rain forest, you just need patience and good eyes to spot it.

The boat on the river.

The port is a parking lot, washroom and shoreline where the boats pull up to load and unload. The boats are used to take the tourists back and worth to the resorts, take the locals in and out, deliver goods like vegetables to the resorts, washing machines to the locals and bring garbage out. One boat was loaded with pieces of metal which was at one time in its life was a building.

I'm sure I mentioned that there are only 11 people in our group. The bus waiting for us was a luxurious 40 or 50 (I didn't count the number of seats) passenger bus. The bus has a washroom at the back of the bus, a refrigerator at the front of the bus, two televisions, USB outlets for charging cell phones at each seat and a control panel that I'm sure required the driver to take a course on. Needless to say we have lots of room to spread out and be comfortable. Apparently, the travel company Collette wants to provide a comfortable mode of transportation Smaller buses are on order for the smaller groups but haven't arrived yet.

A popular cow in the Caribbean Lowlands is the Brahman as it tolerates heat and humidity well.

Bananas are covered with a bag in the field to protect the bananas from insects --- us consumers want perfect bananas. Bananas are just one of many crops that are grown in Costa Rica and exported to many countries. Other crops that are exported are pineapples, coffee, orange juice and many more.

A conveyor system is set up in the fields that makes it easy to bring the bananas into the processing area where one of the jobs is removing the bag.

We stopped for lunch at the restaurant we had breakfast at on our drive to Evergreen Resort. Turns out the company that owns Evergreen Resort and two other resorts in Tortuguero also owns this restaurant. Couldn't find the sloth or the poison dart frogs today.

We also stopped at the Trimbina Rainforest Center. What this private conservation center does is very interesting but it's too hard to sum up quickly, so check it out on the web if your interested. One of the ways the center raises money (it's self-sufficient) is by giving chocolate making tours. They start with the pod that is picked from the plant and ends with a chocolate bar. Really interesting and fun activity.

Many cocoa beans are in this pod.

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The old way to grind the cocoa beans into a paste used a hot stone. An updated method uses something similar to a meat grinder.

After many steps one ends up with recognizable chocolate. We did get to sample the chocolate at just about every step.

A supermarket is our last stop. A chance to pick up some beverages and snacks as the place we are going is very isolated --- that's why hideaway is in the name.

Many of the products are the same as at home but the packaging is definitely different.

This morning our bus driver indicated that the total distance covered today would be about 300 km. At home that's maybe a 3 or 3 1/2 hour drive but here the roads are narrow and winding. Add large trucks and you have a slow though pretty drive. The last 4 km was done in the dark on a gravel road going up a hill. At last we have arrived. The hotel is amazing but I tell you about it tomorrow after I've seen it in the daylight.

The bedroom portion of our room. There's a huge bathroom and an outdoor shower.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
A boat ride around Tortuguero National Park was the this mornings group activity. We were on an open boat that could seat about 15 people plus our guide and driver. The ride started on the river then went into some natural canals and finally a man made canal. In the 1960's and 1970's this area was logged and the canal was built to facilitate the removal of the trees. In the 1980's, Costa Rica realized what the logging was doing to the environment so they stopped the logging and created the National Park. Locals working in the logging industry were told not to worry about their livelihood as tourism would come into the area and provide them with lasting opportunities and it has.

On the boat ride we saw a number of caymans, a Northern Jacama, a Bare Throated Tiger-Heron, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, King Vulture, a Pooto, several types of turtles, several types of Iguanas and a few more things that I don't know the names of. A lot of the different plant life was also pointed out to us, like trees with roots that spread for better water consumption, plants that are parasitic and plants are are symbiotic, etc.

One of the river turtles

One of several different types of Iguanas we saw.

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Northern Jacama and Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

When we returned to the resort Ed and I decided to go out in the kayaks that the resort loans out. There is a small natural canal that runs along side of the resort that is recommended for kayaking as it does not have boat traffic on it. It's a small, shallow and short canal but we enjoyed the hour we spend on the water. We saw a few turtles, some kingfishers and a spider.


This afternoons group activity was a walk around the resort with the guide looking at the wildlife in the park. A troupe of Capuchin monkeys found us and entertained us with their antics for quite awhile. It was a interesting watching them swinging from the branches, chasing each other, eating and just monkeying around.

Ed's favourite monkey photo from today was this little guy sitting in nearby tree staring at Ed.

Several birds were also spotted ---- purple-throated fruit crow, Montezuma Oropendola, Olive-backed Euphonia, a Tucan and high in the sky a Macaw

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I know I posted a Tucan photo yesterday, but this guy co-operated and Ed got a really good photo that didn't need to be cropped. On the other hand the Olive-backed Euphonia required a fair bit of cropping.

Our guide is quite knowledgeable regarding plants, birds and animals in the Caribbean low lands, so I learned a lot about this area of Costa Rica.

2016/12/05: What an Amazing Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
oh and Happy Anniversary Ed ---- we made 30 years and are still going strong --- Ed, hope you agree!

Last evening we met some of the other people on our trip and this morning we met the remainder of them. Happily our small group with a maximum of 24 people is actually a small group of 11 people and everyone seems really nice and we're all of a similar age. Should be a good trip.

Today is the first real day of the Costa Rica trip. After a 5:15 am wake up call, we were in the lobby by 5:45 am having the first cup of coffee of the day --- my only one and the first of many for Ed (he's decided he likes Costa Rican coffee, think I know what he's going to want to take home). The bus was loaded by 6:15 am and we joined the rest of the rush hour traffic to San Jose. Apparently, traffic is very heavy and many offices allow people to start early in hopes to ease some of the traffic. As we drove through the city, our guide pointed out important or historical buildings and it wasn't too long before we were on highway 32 headed to the lowlands and the Caribbean coast. After a beautiful drive through the mountains, we stopped for breakfast and a wander around the restaurant property looking for sloths and poison dart frogs. Breakfast was great and the hunt successful as we found a momma sloth complete with baby, (I assume) a daddy sloth and a number of red poison dart frogs.

In the mountains we drove over a muddy river that joined up with a clear river

One of the sloths.

The poison dart frog.

Next stop the harbour where we picked up a boat for the one and a half hour ride to our hotel ---- Evergreen Lodge just outside of Tortuguero National Park. On the ride we saw some egrets (no big deal), a great blue heron (already have thousands ok maybe hundreds of photos) and an iguana. Nothing exciting. After check in, it was time for lunch. The exciting part of the day started after lunch. First were the white faced Capuchin monkeys. They were a lot of fun to watch --- probably have a few hundred photos of them now. On the way back to our room we spotted a number of interesting birds --- some toucans, black birds with red patches on their throat, macaws, birds with yellow tail feathers --- I need to spend some serious time with pictures and the Costa Rica bird book. Then a different kinda of monkey appeared --- so more photos. After we picked up the things we needed for our trip to the Turtle Conservancy we wander the grounds a bit more. This time we found some Howler Monkeys, an iguana and a lizard.

A mom and her kids.

A toucan, not sure which kind.

I think this is a Howler monkey.

Unfortunately, it's not egg laying time for any of the sea turtles that frequent this area so at the Turtle Conservancy we saw a movie about turtles laying eggs and the plight of the hatchlings. On the beach we saw holes where the turtles lay their eggs and we saw a video a women took just a few minutes before we got to the beach of two baby turtles entering the water. Just missed it by that much! We looked but couldn't find any hatchlings though we did find the body of one (very sad).

My art shot on the beach.

The town of Tortuguero reminded me of small tourist towns in Mexico. After a walk through the town we got back in the boat and were taken back to the resort. A meeting with the guide resulted in a drink and snacks provided by the tour company --- the spicy empanada was really good.

2016/12/04: Slack Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I mentioned watching a wedding last night, what I didn't tell you was we saw two other wedding parties come into the hotel. I think there may have been three receptions at the hotel last night. At least one of them had a lot of “base” in their music. We couldn't really hear the music in the room but we could hear the “boom, boom”. I think we were pretty tired, as we went to bed about 9 pm and fell asleep quickly even with the noise.

Today was our extra day and we decided to make it a lazy one. We went down to breakfast around 8:30 and enjoyed a wonderful buffet which included fresh pastries, fresh seasonal fruit, beef tips, rice and beans, bacon, eggs (not me), cheese, cold cuts, Costa Rican coffee, etc. After breakfast we spent a bit of time organizing our luggage as we need an overnight bag for the next two nights (our main suitcase will meet up with us on Wednesday). Once that chore was done we decided to go for a walk. Unfortunately, it rained while we were walking but we still managed about a 2 hour walk around the subdivision by the hotel.

First a few photos of the hotel

the lobby

a view of the pool area from a second floor balcony

one of the many flowers in the hallway gardens

On our walk we found a pond that had a number of ducks in it. This mom and her babies were really cute and fun to watch.

I have a feeling there's going to be lots of flower photos on this trip.

The area we walked around had several golf course and some amazing homes. We couldn't believe it when we came across this view of the dump.

One of the amazing homes we saw. One scarey part was the gates, fences and bars that we on every home. We also passed a number of what I think are security guards in small huts through the neighbourhoods.

Interesting palm tree with a red nut.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our flight to Costa Rica is scheduled for 7:15 am which means we need to be at the airport by 4:15 am or 5:15 am depending on who you talk to. Given the early hour we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport last night and being frugal we decided to leave our car at my mother's house in Burlington and have my brother drop us at the hotel.

Today started with me jumping out of bed and shouting "we slept through the alarm". Then I realized that it was only 2 am and I had dreamed sleeping through the alarm. We didn't need to get up till 3:30 am. (we went with the arrive 3 hours before your flight option) Unfortunately, I don't think either of us got any sleep after the 2 am mistake. Checking in was uneventful even though we still aren't use to self check in with computers. We had to switch planes in Charlotte N.C. so we had to go through US immigration which is also done on a computer terminal. The computer takes your photo and compares it to the photo on your passport. If the computer doesn't think the photos match (mine didn't) you get sent to an immigration agent.

Costa Rica immigration was done the old fashion way ---- we got to stand in a long line till the next agent was available. Even though the line was long it moved pretty quickly. Customs was also a breeze, you fed your bags through an X-ray machine, picked them up and walked out the door.

On approach to the airport in Charlotte North Carolina.

The hotel doesn't look like much from the front but it's really pretty inside --- tall ceiling in the lobby with stone work, gardens blend into the walkways to the rooms, the dining room is open to the pool and courtyard.

There is a geocache within walking distance to the hotel. Guess who had to do that right away. Luckily, there aren't very many geocaches in Costa Rica.

The hotel has an outdoor building set up for weddings and there happened to be a wedding taking place while Ed and I were enjoying our dinner.

2016/12/01: And we're packing....

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary on Monday in Costa Rica. Yup, we decided that 30 years was worth a trip. Costa Rica has been on our list for a long time and it finally made it to the top. Today is packing, tomorrow we make our way to Toronto, then early Saturday we fly to Costa Rica.

My enthusiasm for the trip has waned a bit as both Ed and I have colds. I hope our colds won't be able to get boarding passes so we can leave them behind. Not sure what our Internet access will be like but I'll post when I can.