There is the most melodious rain beating down outside, although I freely admit it differs little from rain back home. Of course, I love rain storms back home; I always, always, always have, from the time I was seven and my dad would let me put on my raincoat and play outside. Little frogs would come out, and I would catch them and play with them. I would catch the striped anoles, too, when I could, and the toads. The toads were the easiest; the anoles, the hardest.
Today I held a whip-tailed lizard, a male. Well, technically, they’re all females, but the ones with the turquoise tails can, should the need arise, grow testicles to further the species. The one I held had a turquoise tail and, although I couldn’t see them, testicles. And, yes, I checked. I didn’t catch him, though. Sergio did, and allowed me, with some gentle pleading looks and me just about grabbing the creature out of his hand, to hold him. Sharp little nails, but very patient with the human speaking in a strange accent. He tolerated me well, and when I set him down, I did so in roughly the same place Sergio grabbed her to show us. They are, he says, territorial, and I’ve stepped on about thirty five thousand leaf cutter ants in the past 36 hours, so I felt as though starting a whip-tailed lizard brawl would push the limits of karma.
Today we crossed the hanging bridges of Arenal, spending just over three hours touring the canopy and looking for howler monkeys and sloth (we found neither, but I suspect it was too late in the day; twilight and dawn may be better times) before heading back to Montana de Fuego and driving into Fortuna proper to have lunch at Rancho de Casada, where I tasted snook for what I’m ashamed to admit is the first time.
But back to the bridges: I am not a fan of heights. More accurately, I am not a fan of falling from great heights and endeavor to avoid any situation that could put me in that condition. The first handing bridge was fine, because the foliage was so thick I didn”t notice the drop. When we reached the one Sergio proclaimed the highest, I was not fine. He did his best to allay my fears, and I know logically that the bridges are structurally sound. I also know that being “the highest” is no more dangerous than being “third highest”; a fall from any of these bridges would kill anyone.
What a sight, though. We saw a toucan – two types of toucan, actually – before we even entered the park. The hanging bridges are an NGO, which means non-government organization, but they still feel very much like a state park. Someone not impressed with the Everglades would likely not be impressed with what we saw today. The forest does not explode with color – it is a thousand shades of green, much like Florida – save for the occasional flower and the tiny blotches of hummingbirds (those little nectar-sipping bastards are everywhere, although none attacked today) and other feathered sorts. The tiger beetle, the occasional tarantula, and the poison dart frogs (of which we saw none today) add to the color. Butterflies, too, flit through the green, displaying colors and reflecting light. The big blu one – the name escapes me – represents, Sergio told us, the spirit of God watching over Costa Rica. I enjoyed the owl butterfly, snacking on guava, quite a bit. Let your markings do the work while you drink fruit juice. Nice work if you can get it.
We were on the highest bridge, right in the middle. In the middle of my trying desperately to hide my insane fear (and likely, failing miserably) from our guide, I cast about, taking in the prehistoric ferns and broccoli-like tree cover. Waiting for El Cap to catch up (I tended to race along the bridges, because in my world, the faster you travel over something high and wobbly, the less likely you are to fall off the high and wobbly thing), Sergio turned to me and said, “I feel more at home here than anywhere.” I paraphrase but assure you I captured his intent. I know that because I feel that, not in the rain forests of Costa Rica, but at home in the swamps and on the rivers, on the beaches and in the water. I know in my soul that feeling of coming to a place and knowing that I have come home.
Later, we passed a tree felled by last week’s storm. Worth a lot of money, too, but not something a logger can touch; all the timber in the park remains protected in death, as it still contributes to the life of the forest. As we passed, Sergio stopped, turned back, and asked us if we noticed anything missing.
Missing? We looked again. Only when he pointed it out did we see notice the void.
“No rings,” he told us. “We have no seasons.” Indeed, the tree, split in pieces, had no rings spiraling from its center. Without seasons, the tree had no visible marks of time passing.
“It is always spring here,” Sergio told us.