To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
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Monday, May 7, 2007

Howler Wakeup

April 20

5:24 am, El Remanso Wildlife Lodge, Osa Peninsula

The howler monkeys started roaring at 4:55am and are still going strong half an hour later. In addition to the “oooooaru, arooooo, rooooah!” are some “woof-woof-woof” calls, then more moaning roars. It is an extraordinary way to wake up.

I’m sitting in a basket chair on the tiled patio in front of our room in the increasing dawn light. The sun comes up every day about now, and sets around sixish pm, so we’ll have to get up with the monkeys to get the full benefit of the day. People go to bed around nine here, so we’ll still get our sleep!

A Tico (a friendly name for the Costa Rican people) is singing a Spanish song down in the kitchen, so I went down and fetched back a cup of delicious coffee. Ahhhh……. Birds are chattering in the tall trees overhead, and for a few minutes at about 5am the cicadas pulsed with a sound like those bamboo rain tubes, a high-pitched rattle of short bursts – breathtakingly lovely.

Yesterday we went down to the beach and tested our trail legs. The lodge is on a high ridge, with heavily forested ravines on each side and a steep trail down to a lovely, wild Pacific beach. Just out of the restaurant, we were met by a 30” iguana snoozing on the trail, then down near the beach we spooked a mama coati mundi, called pizote (pee-so’-tay) by Ticos, with four kittens. She galloped away with one in her mouth while the other kittens bumbled, clueless, after her.

We didn’t stay long on the beach – it was a very high tide, with the water almost up to the edge of the forest, and it was late in the afternoon, so after a short ramble in the sand and an inspection of hermit crabs taking shelter up the buttressed trunk of a forest giant, we headed back up to the lodge.

Going down took a bit more than fifteen minutes. Coming back took me closer to forty-five (Dan’s in better shape. He made it back up in less than half an hour). I didn’t mind returning slowly, though, because I got to see a lot of cool things: the trail overarched with blooming scarlet hibiscus flowers with frilly petals and fuzzy hanging tongues, brilliant blue and purple hummingbirds guarding them fiercely; a slim vine snake (harmless) crossing the trail then twining up a shrub to safety, and the leafcutter ants. I'm having trouble taking sharp photos in this dim light!

On the way back up the hill I collected a leathery tubular canopy flower to sketch, dropped from high above. I'm eager to start sketching -- I've turned my journal on its side and I'm writing on the left half and leaving the right half of each page empty for drawings. Since a page looks really bare without any pictures, that encourages me to keep sketching. I've also collected a little hatched bird's egg, and now I see a bug on a plant. Time to draw!

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