Costa Rica 2012, Part 8.

Soft animals with fur and lactating parts! But first, hairy things that do not lactate. And have a lot of limbs. And sometimes eat their kinfolk. For example, this furry-butted spider with angry eyes. Cricket took this picture and is very proud of it.

Then, this beautiful golden orb spider. Love the coloring.

When I was on the hanging bridges (where I saw the hummingbird in the nest), the guide pointed out a wee hole on the side of the mountain and I was face-to-face with a smootchy little tarantula. Not often an animal most might think is cute, but this little feller was. Look at his sweet little toes.

Dotted all over the countryside were cows. Aaron explained that Jerseys and Holsteins didn’t do well in their climate because it was too warm, so the farmers cultivated “hot cows”, predominantly the Brahman cows from India. I think Brahman cows are terrific and Susan got some good shots of them. Look at them and their magical neck-humps.

The oxen are a critical part of Costa Rican society. Before cars, people used oxcarts to bring their wares and possessions where they needed to go. There’s a town in Costa Rica that is known for their exquisite oxcart painting. We didn’t go there, but we did see a few beautiful oxcarts around and about.

Monkeys! There are four types of monkey in Costa Rica and we saw three of them: Capuchin, Howler and Spider. The Squirrel Monkey lives on the Pacific Coast and I didn’t get a chance to go to into the forests on that side, but I saw all the Caribbean monkeys and I feel pretty great about that. The Capuchin Monkey everyone is pretty familiar with – they are used in a ton of movies and as helpers to quadriplegics because they are as smart as a seven-year-old human.

Sometimes you gotta chew on a branch.

And eat some fruit.

Then take a nap.

Needless to say, Capuchin Monkeys = a whole lotta cuteness. Cricket got some video footage of them with the palm fruit. It gets more interesting around the 1:00 mark.

But, despite what you might think, Capuchins were not my favorite type of monkey (although they were marvelous and I love them very much). Spider Monkeys are. They also have a prehensile tail and they go up in the tippety-toppety branches, hang there and use all four of their hands to delicately pick tasty leaf-bits. It looks like they’re playing the harp with all four limbs. I could watch them all day.

If you go to Costa Rica, you will hear a really weird noise, something between a bark and a grunt, but very loud. Those are howler monkeys and their calls can be heard over two miles away. We encountered Howler Monkeys several times on this trip. There were mixed opinions on the call of the Howler – some people hated it, I liked it. It’s really basic and it sounds like it comes from the gut. Here’s a example I found on good old YouTube:

And here are some pictures of Howler Monkeys. Let me preface by saying they are brown and black, but we came across a famous one called Blondie, who is not an albino but she is lacking pigment in her skin and fur. So the orange-y one is not a typical Howler Monkey.

OMG Howler Monkey baby!

When I was on the hanging bridges I was very excited to see coatis. Coatis are in the same family as raccoons and they are adorable, with the sweetest little markings on their faces. They spend their days shnuffling around in the underbrush looking for delicious things like worms and fruit. I was photographing this one…

… and I had started to videotape him when one of his cohorts popped out next to my foot and commenced foraging, which surprised me to say the least. I’m sorry the footage is so Blair-Witchy, it’s very dark in the rainforest and I was startled.

And then he ran away.

Later that day, we saw a group of females and babies snacking out by the side of the road. The males are solitary and are called “Coatimundi” which I believe means “Lonely One”, so if you ever see a group of them, it’s always ladies and their wee ones.

Sloths! I saw both the two-toed and three-toed variety. First, the two-toed. It was raining. He was climbing from one tree to another and he was very soggy. Here he is in all his soggitude.

And here’s a snippet of footage I took of him. They move pretty quickly considering their name.

But the ultimate thing on this trip was the three-toed sloth. One day, everyone came to breakfast saying that there was a three-toed sloth in the tree, but by the time I got there it had magically disappeared. They’re hard to see anyway because they do their best to resemble a rotting bathmat. Later we saw one in a tree far away, but honestly if they hadn’t told me it was a sloth I would have mistaken it for a pile of leaf-debris. The only slothlike defining feature was the three loooooong claws.

I was coming to grips with the lackluster sloth sightings, you know, accepting my plight, when one day we were at a rest stop Aaron came over to me and said, “Would you like to see a sloth with a baby?” I was like YES NOW PLEASE and started craning my neck to look in the trees, but Aaron said, “No, it’s over here.” He took me to a bush, pulled aside some branches and there it was, a sloth with a baby maybe two feet from my face. I calmly asked Aaron if I could touch it (translation: can I steal it and hold it close to me for eternity) but Aaron said no because it is a bacteria-and-algae-encrusted creature and it will get us sick. Here are pictures. You might want to hold on to a chair or something to brace yourself.

Wait, it gets better: video footage.

My favorite part is when all the women on the tour come over and immediately start ovulating in unison at about the :42 mark.

Coming up in the next entry: All the pictures that are left. And then we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Leave a Reply