Sunday, February 16, 2014

Costa Rica continued ...

After our days in and around San Jose, the group headed to the northeast.  Over the rim of mountains, and out into the coastal plain that faces the Caribbean sea.  Temperatures and humidity rose steadily, and the culture became more heavily influenced by the Caribbean, and Jamaica in particular.  On the way, we stopped for a break at a butterfly garden.

The old sign, to me, was prettier than the new one out front.  A few birds had infiltrated the butterfly enclosure, including this rufous-tailed hummingbird.  Rufous-taileds are one of the most common and widespread hummingbirds in Costa Rica.  We saw them everywhere.  I like how they rock the reddish bill.

Butterflies of all types were also everywhere, but it was surprisingly hard to get decent pictures.  They moved so much!

After the rest stop, we had another hour or so of driving through banana country.  Our guide explained how the fruit is grown and harvested.  When bunches are picked, they are placed on hanging conveyors that run throughout the fields so workers never have to carry them too far.  In this case, the conveyor system runs under the road for vehicles.

In the field, bags are placed around the ripening bunches for protection.  Each bunch has a colored tie at the bottom.  The color of the tie indicates when they will ripen, and helps determine when to ship which bananas to which countries - the idea is time their arrival before they fully ripen.

Bananas were just one of many crops we saw as we drove around the northern two-thirds of the country - mangoes, papayas, guavas, pineapples, sugarcane, a few oranges, and even farms that grow fern foliage for flower arrangements.

One last treat - although the picture is cruddy.  As we cut from the main road, we passed a pile of old banana plants where a small group of capuchin monkeys were feasting.  

As a Pennsylvanian, I'm used to seeing deer out and about, but monkeys are something else altogether!  We would see many more this trip - and several different kinds, too - but these were the first so they get a special shout out here.

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