Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Want some ants with that?

LA and I have spent the day exploring the area around Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica, where we will stay for a few days. The day started very foggy, but eventually the sun dried up the forest. This is a moss in my hand, like a little branched fractal.
Before lunch we went on a short hike into primary (=old) and secondary (=not so old) rainforest down to Rio Java, which actually is not filled with coffee even if the name implies this. On the way we saw several trails of army ants, which I unsuccessfully tried to take great photos of. Oh well, I have some less than good, so still proof that they were there. Now they have moved on, probably. They are nearly blind and only care about getting to where they going, so they won't disturb you if you leave them alone.
We also saw a really cool green fly that had legs on stilts, and here is a photo of that for my Dad. I am having problems uploading my photos to Flickr, I think I have to be closer to the router here at the station to get better connection, but the blogging works. I'll try to get some photos up here, directly to the blog.
The funny thing with rainforests are that everything is green and it is hard to see anything. Few flowers, fruits, birds, insects, mammals... it is just green, and very dark. Photographing is a challenge. But I love rainforests, you never know what you will see. But it certainly is hard to see the plants for all the green, and so far we haven't found any of 'my plants'. We will keep looking.

There are birds everywhere. In the morning you hear a giant cacaphony of birds you can't see, but they certainly tell you that they are around. Then when the sun comes up, you see some, and many are so brightly colored that it looks like a Disney movie. Today we have seen Cherrie's tanager, euphonias (one was Swedish - blue on the back, yellow on the belly), golden-hooded tanager, blue-crowned motmot (guess how it sounds? yes, 'mot mot'), chestnut-mandibled toucans, green honeycreepers and others I haven't identified yet. I am skipping all little and big brown birds and concentrating on the colorful ones as you can see. I have photos of some of these with the Olympus camera and the telelens but I can't download them until I get home. So my own (slightly less) gorgeous bird photos will come later.

This is the dry season, so of course it is raining for some strange reason. Seems like the weather is off everywhere in the world. Minus 27 degrees Celsius in Stockholm and one meter of snow, a little warmer and wetter snow in NJ, and now rain here (and 20 degrees Celsius). It is raining right now (9 PM at night), but it was nice until 4 PM, so we got lots of time in the Wilson Botanical Garden in the afternoon. The garden is the center of the research station, and to get to the rainforest you have to hike 1 km and more away. There are hundreds of different kinds of gingers, palms, ferns, and many other plants here. Heliconias are great, I love their bright shapes. Butterflies are common too, many many species.

And finally food. It is served family style here, lots of dishes on a large table and you sit down and eat with others and chat nd have a great time. Every meal, breakfast included, includes rice and beans (sometimes mixed, sometimes separate, sometimes black beans, sometimes red or refried). Then add suitable accompanying dishes - breakfast was bacon, yogurt, fresh pineapple and papaya, bread and jam - lunch was two different kinds of salads (cabbage with cheese and a pasta salad), cooked zucchini and orange juice, so VB6 (=Vegetarian before 6 PM) - and dinner was panfried chicken, salad, and hearts of palm salad that was cooked, not from canned hearts of palms. Very good.

(sorry, no food pictures yet)

One of the people here had a giant jar of salsa for the table, about a foot high, with extremely spicy peppers inside. PP would have like it. I ate the salsa but put the pepper pieces aside after having one, it was enough endorphins for the meal. There was also extremely hot pickled peppers that were from the "Cerro del Muerte" (mountain of the dead), but the area isn't named from the peppers but from a dangerous road that goes through it. But I didn't even try those :)

My favorite condiment is a local Worchester-like hot pepper sauce named Lizano that they tell me exist in every house in Costa Rica. I will see if I can find a bottle and bring home. It is great, great. Wish all my friends and family could be here and see all the gorgeous things.


EH said...

Wonderful to hear about your day, great pics I think. When tha trees are so big you can´t fit them in a picture. Use the telelens for plants too, it could be nice. I saw heliconias in a book today about greenhouse, indoor gardening, and there you have them in the free.

A bit of correction though, in Sweden we have 75 cm of snow and -10 degrees Celcius, but still!

Keep photographing and blogging. Have a good planthunt. Gentianaceae I suppose?

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PP said...


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LS said...

Dear anyone, this blog is marketing-free, unless we post the places and companies we like, so now I am considering removing your comment, dear Organic Grass-Fed Beef.

Mr. Lebo said...

Even better LS, I can you can buy Lizano right in Trenton at the farmer's market. There's a little Latin American joint just up from the the phenomenal Polish butcher. It's our favorite sauce too. Cheese enchiladas with green chili sauce just aren't the same without it.