Costa Rica: N P & T F

Day 10 - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - Manuel Antonio National Park; Dairy Farm Visit; Stroll Through a Páramo; Overland to San Gerardo de Dota; Orientation Walk

The electrical power was off and on this morning; mostly off, but we managed to pack up our belongings and have our bags out at 7:00. We found out that a truck had hit a power pole which had been causing the outages for two days.

Once we were in the bar area of breakfast, we tried to get an internet connection with no success. We were not able to send or receive mail; how did we ever keep in touch with each other before the World Wide Web?

Samy had all of our bags under the tarp on top of the bus. By 8:30 we were on our way east and then north to our destination for the night of San Gerardo de Dota. We made a brief unscheduled stop at the La Foresta Nature Reserve to see a troop of very rare spider monkeys, endemic to Monteverde.

The spider monkeys are the smallest of the four species of monkeys in Costa Rica. They do not have a prehensile tail so they reach out and almost fly from branch to branch. We watched them for about 15 minutes until Eddie said it was time to move on – miles to go and more to see!

We passed palm plantations extending as far as the eye could see. These palms are grown for the palm oil as the cash crop, but all of the by products are used in some form or another; nothing is wasted.

Our morning restroom stop was in Playa Dominical. We stretched our legs and took a few photos. Back on the road at 10:30, we began climbing into the mountains and steep terrain.

Eddie continued our discussion of the demographics, populations, and growth concerns of the country. Once there was a worry about over population at almost 7%, now there is a concern because the population growth is only about 2%. At some point, as in many countries, Costa Ricans may have to encourage more young people to support the aging populace.

We had a wonderful learning and discovery visit to a dairy farm in the valley of San Isidro de El General. Our hostess Vera explained about her third generation, family farm called Finca de Don Tavo.

Their Grandfather Barrantes began this dairy operation in 1921.The farm is very diversified and produces coffee, wood, milk, rice, sugar, fruits, and vegetables.

We walked to the dairy barn and Vera and Eddie showed us the process of milking and caring for the cows. In Eddie’s agronomy degree, he specialized in dairy cattle so he was very familiar about this process.

Kay was brave and successfully milked a cow showing off her milk-maid skills. This was harder than it looked. It is a good thing for the cows that the electronic milking machines accomplish this process with less work and in less time!

Back at the restaurant, we were served a traditional light lunch of beans and rice, green papaya, and curried chicken. Dining beside the Río Parcuare while watching the wildlife and beautiful gardens; we could have stayed there all day.

We thanked the Barrantes Family and then began our drive up the steep mountains until we made an orientation stop at 9,838 feet at the Restaurant La Georgina. Fog and wind kept us inside; the temperature was 47°, 100% humidity, and the wind was breezy at 9 mph.

Climbing out of the Cloud Forest and up into the Paramount, the abrupt change made us chilly. When we got back into the bus, Samy had the heat on. In four hours we had come from sea level and 90° to 10,839 feet of altitude and COLD – Costa Rica has such biodiversity!

After reaching the summit, we continued on to San Gerardo de Dota, the location of our stay for the next two nights. Eddie told us the story of the development of this lush valley of fruit orchards.

The rare Quetzal bird is found near the Savegre Lodge in record numbers. There are three different kinds of almonds that grow in this lush forest that attract this beautiful bird. Tomorrow we will be on a quest to spot them!

Our little cabin was a lovely, but there was no internet. We walked down to the lodge to listen to Eddie tell us about the Education System of his country. We also used this time to check our mail.

Dinner was at 7:00 – a fantastic buffet with salads, main courses, and a dessert bar. After finishing our meal, we went back to finish the journal and choose the photos for the day.

When we walked back to the lodge to post the journal, the bar was crowded with people enjoying the fire, having an after-dinner drink, playing cards, and watching the Costa Rican Soccer finals on TV.

We got back to our room at 9:30, organized our gear for tomorrow’s 6:00 bird walk, and enjoyed the sounds of the wind whistling in the trees.

Accommodations: Savegre Lodge - Meals: B, L & D

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Milking Cows at the Finca de Don Tavo

Milking Cows at the Finca de Don Tavo (1:10)

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Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

Entrance to Finca de Don Tavo

Entrance to Finca de Don Tavo

Cattle Barn

Cattle Barn

Green Crowned Brilliant Humming Bird

Green Crowned Brilliant Humming Bird

Montaña de la Muerte

Montaña de la Muerte

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