A Journey to Carara National Park, Costa Rica
To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write a blog post to share their adventures with all of us (and the world)!
Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the rainforest. The very idea of a place packed with an extreme amount biodiversity of flora and fauna has always blown my mind. As a young girl, my best friend and I started own our environmental group, where we raised money to protect the rainforest by writing a monthly newsletter, organizing runs and having bake sales. It was my dream to preserve this beautiful ecosystem around the globe, and of course, to visit and experience it for myself.
On my recent trip to Costa Rica with my husband, I was finally able to realize this dream! During our time in this amazing country, we visited several rainforests, my favorite being Carara National Parc. Another motive that drove us to visit this gorgeous place is my first true love: parrots. When I was little, I read a book called “Harry’s Mad,” by Dick King Smith. Now, in this story, a little boy inherits an African Grey Parrot from a great-great-uncle he didn’t know he had. At first, he was sorely disappointed that he didn’t get a dog, or something cooler. I mean, what is so great about a parrot?!? Well, it turns out this parrot is very special: He can speak fluent English, play chess and knows many recipes by heart! It was then and there that I fell in love with parrots. My father made a deal with me: if I saved up my money, I could buy myself a parrot. And I did. Now 20 years later, I am the proud mama of an African Grey Parrot, PG, and a Catalina Macaw, Mango. While I love my pets to pieces, I have always wanted to experience these beautiful creatures in the wild.
Costa Rica used to have a very large population of scarlet macaws. Through habitat destruction and human invasion, the population has been greatly reduced and only 2 large groups of this fantastic creatures exist in Costa Rica. We were fortunate enough to visit Carara National Park, where a healthy population exists today.
On our drive to this park, I kept my head out the window, scanning, listening for any signs of these alluring animals. To my dismay, I didn’t see or hear anything. While eating breakfast at our inn on a private forest reserve, I heard a loud squawk. I ran outside and careened my neck around, hoping for even a glimpse of these birds. And there, finally, my second childhood dream was realized: a pair of scarlet macaws came soaring through the sky and landed on a tree not 15 feet away! If you didn’t know, macaws mate for life, so this adorable pair of eternal partners sat on a tree branch, cleaning each other and playing. To tell the truth, I teared up at the sight of them. They were so comically beautiful and unlike any other creature: bright, loud, gutsy–this is so unusual and it is fascinating in the animal world! What other animals not only doesn’t attempt to hide, but rather announces themselves loudly and boldly everywhere they go? Amazing birds macaws are!
I had to see more! We drove straight to the national park, to be there right when they opened. We meandered the foot trails, in search of more macaws. We tiptoed around the enormous banyan trees, hoping for another peek. To our surprise, we found more animals here than anywhere else we hiked in Costa Rica! A family of playful spider monkeys traipsed from tree to tree, snacking as they jumped around. A skittish coati (a relative of the raccoon) raced in front of us, pausing once under the cover of a large root system. A noisy toucan clacked his beak as we passed, apparently to send us a welcome message. We saw more whiptail lizards than I could count! We even spotted the elusive green and black poison dart frog!
We had such an amazing day exploring this beautiful national park, that is so well maintained. Costa Ricans loved the natural beauty of their wonderful country and are working very hard to preserve it. We cannot wait to go back and explore even more of this gorgeous place! Next on the list: jaguars!