Ahhhh.. . good morning Costa Rica!
Day 4 entailed a guided tour of the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is amazing how much cool stuff you can see, if you walk slow enough and take your time to really look around. Here were the highlights. . .
Our first intriguing animal of the day. . . just steps from the entrance! This photo is highly magnified (thanks to my zoom). This guy (we were told it was a green-eyed tree frog) was actually about 10 feet off the trail, nestled onto a leaf and was about half the size of the palm of my hand! It is impressive how these guides can spot these creatures!
This was a termite nest. Interesting factoid of the day: termites only eat dead wood. It is nature's way of cleaning the forest. So, they are just left alone to do their work. They don't harm living trees at all. . .
This was hard to capture on camera, but it was a translucent dragonfly. . . really cool looking!
Trevor spotted this little guy on a leaf. . . it is some kind of tree crab.
And just a few more steps into the park, we found the highlight of the day. . . a three-toed sloth just hanging from a branch! They come by their name honestly, and spend days on end just hanging from the trees--not moving at all.
It was crazy how this guy just hung there--by one arm--not moving a muscle!
We stood here for about 20 minutes as the guide told us all about this curious creature. Apparently, they are polygastric animals, which means their stomachs are chambered. It takes them a month to digest a meal! So, about once a month they will slowly climb down from their canopy, relieve themselves, bury the evidence and then slowly crawl back up the tree. Our guide got so excited in the middle of this explanation, as this guy started moving! I took a ton of pictures over the 20 minutes that he was on the move.
The guide was pretty funny, telling Trevor that "maybe this is the day that we get to see him poop"!
It was so cool to be able to see his face!!
The guide also told us that the sloth is not actually green, but this is algae on his body. The whole jungle is based on symbiotic relationships between plants and animals. So weird. . .
Yes, that is this guy's actual color! I did not photoshop the colors on these pics at all!!
Well, unfortunately (or maybe it's fortunately?) this guy did not need to take a dump. He was merely repositioning to another part of the tree. I think it's because the sun was in his eyes and he just needed a little shade. This is where he ended up and didn't move any more after this shot. So funny how he just drops a leg and hangs with 3--like it's no big deal!
Just a pretty shot of a stream running through the forest. . .
Zebra striped grasshopper? I dislike grasshoppers, but this one was kind of pretty. . .
I forgot what kind of lizards these were, but they were really cool . . .
And. . . more cool spiders!
Our guide told us that this particular spider spins silk so strong that birds will get caught in their webs!
Apparently, scientists are researching the material and working on bullet-proof vests, and even surgical sutures that will be made out of this stuff!
We had one of these on the porch of Pete's Place, and so of course Dave and I had to test out its tensile strength. It really was quite impressive. We never could break it, and the spider in the middle never even moved while we were trying!
Another little tree frog. Again, so impressive that our guide saw this thing. It was about 10 feet off the trail and about the size of my thumb! It was just hanging there in this vertical position. . .
So, our guide had this really high mag telescope that he was showing us stuff with. He had this view focused and told everyone to take a look. Not knowing what I was looking at, I told him, "All I see is a twig". He laughed, because apparently, that's what he was trying to show us! This is some sort of weird jungle walking stick! I still have a hard time believing it's an animal, not a plant!
This is the fruit bundle from the local palm oil trees. They harvest these, crush them and use the oil in everything from cooking oil, to makeup, to shampoo. If you see palm oil on an ingredient list, this is where it comes from. . .
This is referred to as a "monkey comb". It is the seed from one of the indigenous trees, and the local monkeys will pull these off and use them to groom themselves. The bristles looked really stiff, but they were actually quite soft. . .
Another sloth. . . this is the view that people usually get, so we were very fortunate to see the one earlier without all the leaves obstructing our view. . .
The best part about the National Park? You go from jungle canopy to beach!!
And the Anderson Family Baywatch photo. . .
No, she's not drowning. . .
She's learning to body surf!!!
These were white-faced monkeys and are pretty prevalent in the National Park. . . especially where there are tourists. They like to steal stuff from the poor oblivious humans. . .
Picking bugs off his tail. . .
Picking bugs off his buddy--and eating them!!
Whatchoo lookin' at? Never seen a guy eat a bug before?
Their little human-like hands are so fascinating to me. . . I know, I'm nerdy, like that. . .
And these monkeys have some prime real estate. . . this is their view from the jungle. . .
More pretty foliage. . .
Back at Pete's Place we were met with more squirrel monkeys just lounging in the trees. . .
It was funny, Trevor was just hanging out on the porch singing and they were so intrigued by him. I asked him to stop singing, thinking it might scare them away (he's a really noisy kid), but when he stopped, they grew bored with us and moved on. Lesson of the day: when there are monkeys, let Trevor sing!
Just a weird little fly. . .
And this guy was scratching and clawing his way across the awning on the patio. He was actually jumping through the trees, too!
Just a little lizard that we kept seeing on the porch every morning. . .
Another fun day exploring the beauty of God's creation. . .
Tomorrow: the best day of my kids' lives. . . ZIP LINING!!!!