Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sloths, and monkeys, and deer, oh my!

Sunrise over Manuel Antonio:

I was the second person in line to by entry tickets into the Manuel Antonio National Park,  the ticket counter opens at 7am and I was ready.  My goal was to get us in there and start our hike before the intense coastal heat started blaring down on us.  The idea was brilliant and worked out for the best.  Just as I finished purchasing the tickets a professional tour guide approached me to sell me a tour.  I politely declined since I heard it was $30 a person for a tour guide, that's close to $300 and I only had  $120 left to spend on the group.  I told him I had a group of students and unfortunately we could pay such a high price.  He immediately offered $10 a person and within 15 minutes I had the whole crew before him ready for our tour.    This man was amazing, incredible even!! I could spot things for off into the trees that normal people would never find.  We learned and saw so much that it's hard to even know where to begin.  Each guide walks around the park with a tri-fold telescope so we can see each animal and plant close up. 

This leaf is used to keep raw meat fresh.  Back in the day when the native Americans killed at animal they would wrap the meat in this leaf and it would preserve it for about 3 days. If you have arthritis the root of the plant will help ease the pain.

This tree is cover in a white healthy fungus that lets you know that the area is not contaminated with hazardous materials. 

This are called hanging ties or hanging sartin.  Snakes like to hide near these to catch the many hummingbirds that come to pollinate them.  

He also spotted the "Jesus Christ lizard" this iguana looking creature was so ugly that the first time it was spotted they yelled out "Jesus Christ what type of lizard is that". The name then stuck. 

The guide taught us that every animal can make 5 sounds. 
1. Mating
2. Detecting/ warning about predators
3. Hanging out
4. Fighting/ ownership for territory
5. Alerting other about food

He was able to make/ imitate these sounds for monkeys, sloths, and many bird species.  Sometimes he'd make a sound and the animals would answer back!   This man spoke animal!  It was amazing! 

Next we saw a sloth way up in the tree tops through the telescope. He made a sloth call for food and he moved his head ever so slightly.  

A few minutes later we saw vampire bats sleeping agains a tree.  They actually suck blood from mammals, humans included!  Yikes!

We learned about the big guava tree and that for ever human on earth there exist a 1/4 ton of termites.  Due to deforestation termite populations are at an all time high because their predators are dying off.  Termites produce greenhouse gases and are contribute to global warming since their populations are way too large.  

Next up was the spiky ortiga plant that helps with arthritis.

By the time we got to the beaches the white face monkeys, deer, and raccoons were out.  They were pretty scary, and the boys took pictures and videos but kept their distance.  

I only names a few of the numerous things we learned about.  One lesson that the guide stress to the kids is that whatever we need as far as medicine, lifestyle necessities, etc the forest already provides and it must be protected.  He was definitely worth the money and I have no idea how someone could soothe tour without a professional guide.

Tour videos: how to wake up a sloth

Walking through the jungle:

Deer, monkeys, and raccoons:
Listen to our guide speak monkey!  Incredible!

Poisonous and medicinal plants: 

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