Today was a day of reflection- we went on a morning walk and identified birds with the park naturalist, but were then set free to wander the woods and the marsh on our own. When we’re not in a big group, it’s easier to slow down and check out the little stuff, turn over rocks, sit and watch a capuchin for twenty minutes (and thoroughly piss it off), spot the baby crocodile eyes in the water, and get REALLY close to a ctenosaur.
This capuchin tolerated my observation for 15 minutes, continuing to crack open those seed pods you’ll see in the picture and drop them more or less on my head. Eventually, however, he or she seemed to get tired of me and climbed out of the tree, showing me teeth.
The ctenosaurs were all over today, and they blend in well enough to the surroundings that you could almost walk right over them… except that they are 3-foot lizards who do not appreciate such actions. If you get really low, though, and come up quietly, they’ll let you get reasonably close before diving into a hole or running away (or biting you, if you’re very unlucky and/or tasty-looking).
Our last stop of the day was the top of “La Roca,” the local high point overlooking the tufa marsh and the experimental patches of mowed weeds (there are lots of invasive-plants problems limiting the bird habitat nearby) along with the Tempisque River and the nearby mountains. The view was described to us as “soul-changing,” and I think it might actually have lived up.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of good views in my life (the Annapurna mountains in the Himalayas, Yosemite and its waterfalls, glaciers and snowscapes and coral reefs, to name a few) but this one… people talk all the time about how important diversity is, and how great nature is, and science and identification and harvesting the knowledge that the planet still holds from us, but looking out from that rock was special. There’s a spirituality in science, at least for me, that takes the research and the insight and the millions of questions still left to answer and makes them sacred. I don’t feel it in the everyday dirt and grind of school and research and reading, but above it all, my spirit or mind or whatever wants to leap up and glide on the updrafts with the wood storks and the hawks, and look down on it all, and ask and answer all the questions.