Two Coasts and No Army, 8: Ogling the Olingos, 2 December 2023

February 17, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

      On our last night in the capital, we enjoyed a reunion with our friend Ava, who lives in Jerusalem.  Ava’s son and his family had been residing in the prosperous suburb of Escazú for over a year.  They invited us to dine with them, though I suspect that Ava had suggested strongly that they do so.  The conversation flowed, the food was plentiful, and our hosts treated us kindly.       We arranged for our driver to collect Ava before he came for HL and me on Friday morning.  Ava would be traveling with us for the remainder of our sojourn in Costa Rica.  Dario drove the three of us north to Monteverde, where we toured the Curi-Cancha Reserve.          We had dressed for chilly, probably wet, conditions, as the altitude of Monteverde is 1,500 meters.  There was no trace of mist in the cloud forest, however, so we did not have to don our protective gear.  It was very humid but not oppressive as we waited for our guide, Jorge.  The young naturalist was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.  I appreciated his detailed answers to my barrage of questions.  Most people find my unflagging curiosity tiresome, but Jorge was eager to display his familiarity with the local flora and fauna.        There is a staggering abundance of plants, insects, birds and animals in the cloud forest.  Coatis, related to raccoons, investigated us as soon as we stepped onto Curi-Cancha’s shaded paths. 

A female coati was unperturbed by our proximity.

         It was towards the end of our sylvan exploration that we noticed a pair of cat-like forms moving rapidly along vine-laden branches, high overhead.  Jorge was practically dancing with excitement as he told us that the animals were olingos, another procyanid, like coatis and raccoons.   There were other guides with their own small groups behind us on the path.  Jorge alerted them so that they, too, could watch the olingos darting through the forest canopy.  The olingos, alas, moved too quickly for me to photograph them.          Olingos are nocturnal and therefore rarely observed in daylight.  It had been months since Jorge had glimpsed one, let alone two, even at night.  A few paces further down the trail was another pair of olingos.  I thought that they might have been the first two, but Jorge said that the second two were larger.  He was convinced that we had seen four of the elusive olingos, and was elated by our good luck.  I was willing to celebrate any number of the exotic creatures that had graced our tour with their presence.  


Ava, HL and I before our trek through the cloudless forest
 

A tiny full-grown avocado, one of many types of the fruit that grows in Costa Rica

 

In any landscape in Costa Rica, water is never far away.

This picture was taken from the inside of a ficus tree, a Strangler Fig hundreds of years old.
 


Costa Rica is reputed to have a greater variety of hummingbirds than anywhere else on Earth.
 


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