La Selva- the Jungle


Yeah, that’s a sloth. A two-toed sloth, located directly above and next to a nice, wide concrete path running through the forest here in La Selva, an OTS Biological Station on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It’s casual. No biggie. Sloths are just sort of the coolest and weirdest things ever. 

We arrived at La Selva, unpacked, and tumbled directly out into the jungle again. It feels like Corcovado but cooler, wetter, and quieter- the cicadas are fewer and farther between. There isn’t the same sense of inherent wildness (the warm-ish showers and solid bathroom floors help) as in Corcovado, but all the animals here seem a little closer to the paths, a little more accessible. Tapirs and jaguars are less likely here, but snakes and frogs and birds are everywhere. We’re actually doing our project here observing mixed flocks of Keel-Billed and Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans, Collared Aracaris, and Montezuma and Chestnut-Headed Oropendolas, following their calls and their flight paths through the forest.


I’m starting to become fonder and fonder of jungles like this- I feel like nowadays I know what to look for in the riotous foliage and bright colors, and things get more and more interesting the more I learn. And they’re beautiful. When we take off in a few days for Little Cayman Island, as excited as I am for reefs and beaches (think kid-on-Christmas-combined-with-Halloween-and-birthday-excited) I think I’ll miss the big trees and the little mosses, the tree ferns, the clear streams, and the bromeliads.


But the jungle’s not done with us yet. Still a few more days to spot the fer de lances, track the Great Potoo calls through the trees, and listen to the different calls of the toucans. And of course, write some more papers.

Tree-root Bridge

One of the best sights from yesterday deserved its own post.

As we were scrambling along the stream on our way to our next sampling site, I came around a corner and saw what looked like a bridge ahead. I was surprised to see a path so far off from where we had expected one… but it wasn’t actually a path at all. It was a huge tree root that sometime in the decades past had reached across the ravine and grown itself supports, anchoring the tree and creating a natural barrier and bridge across the stream.


The forest here is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Read my previous post for more musings on time.

Adventuretimes by Day, Writingtimes by Night

It’s been difficult to blog the past few days, in part because I’ve been booked solid from 6:30 am till midnight or later every day and in part because I’ve been doing so much writing that I can’t fathom choosing to do more. But I just couldn’t wait to explain all my adventures from today!

Jimena, Sammi, and I are working on a project in which we’re sampling stream invertebrates at various elevations along a tropical mountain stream, which sounded fairly simple at the time of inception- go find the stream, walk up and sample, walk down and sample, sort out the bugs, analyze data, and done, right? But then it got fun- we couldn’t walk far down the stream from our top point, and when we found it again it was down a very steep ravine. Eventually, we found a road that crossed and asked the… interesting gentleman… who lived in the adjacent house-type object if we could use his backyard for Science. He was very enthusiastic and probably a little bit altered in state of mind, and was thereafter referred to by our group as “shirtless booty-shorts guy.”

After sampling the stream in his back yard, the epic journey continued down the mountain slope. We talked to probably twenty different townspeople (using my rudimentary and Jimena’s more real Spanish), and encountered what we termed the “Tiny Dog Gang” (which is definitely what I’m going to call my next bank-robbing venture).


We bravely continued onwards and downwards until we reached the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, where our Spanish was greeted with blank looks and an “excuse me?” They actually did give us directions to a super-secret path down to the stream, which we found after a bit of extra walking. Our other extremely valuable acquisition from the garden we named Nacho- he ran up to us as we arrived and then followed us out as we were leaving. I know it’s bad to pat stray dogs, but his enthusiasm and his big brown eyes reminded me too much of Murphy, one of my dogs at home, and I just couldn’t help myself.


Nacho followed us for four hours, scrambling down rocks, splashing through the stream (downstream of our study sites, luckily), scaling ravine walls, inspecting unexpected river crabs, and sharing my lunch. He cheered us on when we thought we were lost, and definitely became one of the crew. Our most noble pathfinder, our scarer-of-birds, our little sleepyhead in the later afternoon, and our constant companion, Nacho just made the sampling process a happier time.





After our last sampling site (possibly in private property, definitely not road-accessible, potentially the best spot in Monteverde for spotting Blue Morpho butterflies), we headed back up through town, stopping at a grocery store to pick up necessities (loofahs, chocolate, nuts, sunscreen…) and catching a cab for the last long hill. Nacho went home when we headed for the grocery store, and I miss him already, but today was definitely a good one for the story-telling later on.

Just remember, kids, adventure is out there!

Photo on 1-24-13 at 12.58 AM #2


And now back to editing, editing, editing papers. Ah, well, an adventure in journal research awaits…