Day 10 |
Mar 25, 2012

Golfito, Costa Rica

By Uli Kunz, Oceanographer and Zodiac-Driver

Position: 8°40’ N, 83°18’ W
Air temperature: 30 °C, 86 °F
Water temperature: 26 °C, 78.8 °F
Air pressure: 1007 hPa
Wind speed: 15 km/h

This morning we visited a private botanical garden, which is called Casa Orquideas (Orchid House). As the name suggests, this beautiful setting displays over 100 species of orchids of all colours. John, the owner of the garden, has been living in this remote place for thirty years now. The area does not have road access, so when he needs to go shopping, he goes to Golfito, which is a twenty-minute boat ride.

Together with the expedition staff, I jumped in the scout boat to set up the landing site for our guests, who arrived shortly after. We were greeted by John and a number of local guides who lead 90-minute walks into the spectacular garden and explained the different species of plants and animals we could observe here.

After lunch, our ornithologist Patricia presented a lecture about birds in our daily life. From the early Egyptians or the Roman Empire to modern civilisation, birds have always played an important role to humans. Doves were used by Christians as a model of fidelity, as they were believed to mate for life. The peacock was believed to be immortal, so it became the symbol of Christ and the Resurrection in Christianity. Cranes are masters of killing snakes so they were seen as natural enemies of Satan. But not only Christians made use of birds as powerful symbols, other religions adopted similar signs and symbols. In Hinduism, for example, the eagle is worshipped as the king of all birds. In Egyptian culture several thousand years ago, all gods were symbolized either with a bird's head or with bird feathers.

Patricia gave an impressive insight into the different symbols and presented a multitude of bird species that were worshipped over time. She ended with a presentation of the important bird symbols used in Central and South America. The clay-coloured Thrush, the national bird of Costa Rica, calls the rain at the end of the dry season... we hope we don't hear its call tomorrow.

In the afternoon, we visited a Rescue Center for animals, which was a spectacular experience. A few meters away from the beach, we were greeted by Carol Crews, the owner and founder of the Center. With her came a very unusual greeting committee... several spider monkeys, which were definitely the heroes of the day. They were sitting in and around a big tree close to the beach and came very close to all of us. Several guides took us deep into the lush tropical jungle and showed us some animals that are kept in cages before they are released into the wild. A macaw, a toucan, several capuchin monkeys and sloths lived behind bars but did not look unhappy! Unfortunately, not all the animals can eventually released, as some of them grew up as pets and therefore are not trained to live a life in the jungle.
After several days of sunshine, clouds appeared and we experienced a mild tropical rain shower.

Tomorrow will be an Expedition day around the Osa Peninsula, so we are looking forward to another day in one of the most bio-diverse areas on Earth.