More rain than La Selva Biological Station has seen in the last 10 years caused serious flooding in the area, leaving many locals homeless.
Two of the three roads out were shut due to flooded bridges and a landslide so we decided to cut our loses and make a beeline for the exit.
It a good job we acted quickly as the third exit was blocked off right behind us leaving our slightly slower American friends scratching their heads figuring a way out.
Being in one of the most important research centres in the tropics, boasting over 500,000 species, yet not being able to get into the rainforest because of the torrential rain was frustrating to say the least. Even the leaf-cutter ants were nowhere to be seen. But, in the wise words of OutKast: ‘You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather.’ However, the few days we had in La Selva were definitely exciting.
Before La Selva we stayed in a town named Cahuita on the Caribbean coast. A far cry from the deep rainforest, the Caribbean offered sun, sea and biting sandflies. On one day we explored a trail where the jungle met the beach, sloths chilled alongside racoons, pit vipers basked in the sun next to the path and White-faced Capuchin monkeys chattered in the trees.
The day before we had been shown around a botanical garden and cocao farm belonging to probably the coolest person I have ever met. ‘Tarzan’, as he soon became known amongst the group, brandished an nasty looking machete as he chopped bizarre fruit from trees for us to try.
Before heading to the Caribbean we stayed just outside of a town called Turrialba. Our first true destination was a serene spot, our abode was comfortable and certainly not lacking in the wildlife department. This seemed to be a particularly good spot for fans of bird (particularly of the humming variety). The moth trap also attracted an array in interesting (and often large) insects.
Filming exotic insects in Turrialba
Whilst in Turrialba we visited the renowned tropical research centre, CATIE. As well as maintaining a vast bank of endangered seeds they have also developed a strain of cacao supposedly immune to a deadly fungus that had pretty much wiped Costa Rican chocolate off the face of the planet. We also visit the Costa Rican Amphibian research centre for a night time walk where my head torch picked out beautiful multicoloured frogs in the darkness.
Before Turrialba it was San Jose. Arriving in San Jose the first time felt very different to the second time. First time round I was raring to go; the city was just the final frontier before I could truly embrace the Costa Rican wildness. I was naive and slightly overwhelmed by the fact it was hot and people were talking in Spanish. Arriving in San Jose now, I am both wiser and stronger and a lot more grateful for a Denny’s burger.
One thing I have learnt on this trip is that I am city boy. As much as try and convince myself that the country runs in my blood and that the stifling city scape of Manchester is restricting my creative horizons – I don’t think it is true. There may be a small part of me that longs to be knee deep in mud baths surrounded by bullet ants and eating weird fruit off another man’s machete. However, I think it is a small part of me that I am happy to leave at San Jose Airport.
Enjoying a Denny’s burger