Friday, February 10, 2023

2023 Costa Rica Trip (Big Waves, Offshore Winds and Howler Monkeys)

I traveled back to Costa Rica in January 2023, but this time I went with my younger brother, Jordan. My wife was supposed to come as well but she was nervous about leaving our new dog, Ginger, with a sitter for two weeks. Jordan and I took the red-eye flight from LAX to Liberia and arrived at my dad's house in Playa Negra on Sunday morning. We had a relaxing day, hanging out in the two hammocks I brought and watching the iguana's bask in the sun. The dominate male, Sherman, died last year but a new male has moved into the territory and was wooing all the females around the house.

Dramatic clouds began rolling in as we cruised down to the beach for a beautiful sunset. As we were walking back from the rocky point, the rain started to fall. It was a light tropical rain that lasted all night but didn't return again for the rest of the trip.

Last year, I could hear the village monkeys howling every morning and sunset but I never saw any of them. This time, a whole troop crossed over our heads on the very first day as we headed toward the beach. Several days later, I had my telephoto camera with me when the entire troop passed through the trees again at sunset. The Mantled Howler Monkeys are named for the long golden fur along their flanks and they are the loudest of all the New World Monkeys. The males use an enlarged hyoid bone to amplify their calls and communicate with nearby troops. It was cool to see several mothers carrying their babies around on their backs.

Eating mostly leaves, the howlers spend most of the day resting and only travel and socialize for 45 minutes a day. They look so natural in the trees, using their long prehensile tail as an extra arm to grab slender branches in the rainforest canopy. I captured a fun silhouette of a monkey leaping between the trees. My dad cooked a lot of our meals but Jordan and I went for the tasty breakfast burritos at the nearby Jalapeno Eatery several times. My dad has never eaten a Cubano sandwich so we went to the Corazon Surf Cafe to try their version. He really liked it! We also went twice to La Ventana for the Ahi Sandwich. It was so delicious with their homemade bread!

My dad's house is surrounded by horse pastures. At sunset, several of them always seem to end up at the beach. Particularly, three young colts have been grazing on the lawn out front of the Playa Negra Hotel and exploring the sandy beach.

Video of the three Colts running past me on the Beach. They got a little too excited trying to maneuver through the beachgoers back to the grass.

I surfed during high tide on the first two days of the trip, but when the large swell arrived on Wednesday the waves grew too big for my taste. I enjoyed staying on the beach with my telephoto lens taking pictures of my dad, brother and other surfers out in the water. After each surf session, we would buy a Pipa Fria from a local Tico to drink the chilled coconut water on the walk home.

The biggest waves arrived on Thursday and I saw a lot of good surfers enjoying the powerful barrels formed by the strong off-shore winds that started blowing for the rest of the trip. 

Video of Dogs playing Fetch while Surfers caught Bombs in the background.

Between taking photos of the surfers, I enjoyed tossing sticks for the dogs on the beach. The dog in the picture below would patiently wait for me to toss another but would never bring the stick all the way back so I needed to find a new one each time.

On Thursday evening, I sat in the restaurant at the Playa Negra Hotel, enjoying a meal and cocktails during sunset and watching the surfers. My brother caught a few good ones!

In the picture above, I captured the one of the natural mandala patterns in the sand at Playa Negra. I wish I knew what created them. Must be some type of beach crab who rolls the little balls of wet sand into concentric lines around the outside of its burrow. After one week, Jordan flew home on Saturday, right as I started to feel under the weather. It sucks to be sick on vacation and I spent three days in bed with a cold. By Tuesday, I was finally walking back down to the beach and going out to eat.

On Thursday, my dad and I borrowed the neighbor's car and we went for a drive on the dirt roads. After dealing with a flat tire and eating lunch again at La Ventana, we found two horses had snuck into the backyard and were grazing on the overgrown lawn. Better than a lawn mower and they fertilize the grass as well! 

It took until my last day, but I finally felt 100% as Flori drove me to the airport on Saturday. Except for being sick and missing my wife, I had a relaxing but quiet two week vacation. For more information, check out my previous posts about Costa Rica where I participated in a lot more activities and went into more interesting detail about the surrounding area and wildlife.

Blog Link to 2022 Costa Rica Trip - Post

Blog Links to 2004 Costa Rica Trip - Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5