I’m here in what is considered the dry season, which happens generally from January through May. I was told today by Anita that there is a stretch of four to seven days known as the ‘little dry season’ in the middle of the rainy winter. Locals here have, until the last few years been able to bank on it. When it occurs, it is common for a house to be over-run by a swarm of voracious army ants which consume everything in their path including all the spiders, beetles, scorpions, etc. and do a deep cleaning that forces the inhabitants out until they have done their work. So intriguing. I asked a local named Solin whether his house had been swarmed recently and he said yes, a few months ago. Can you imagine? I want to see it happen.
This last year of rain was incredibly intense for this region of Costa Rica. Kimmy says that it downpoured torrentially for six days and nights straight on a few occasions. On the way here I saw evidence of roads freshly reconstructed from major landslide and washouts. In the steep hills from Puriscal to Mastatal, many slopes were massively eroded and slumped, patches the whole height of the mountain had given way revealing the red clay soil. Some of these had displaced people. In most cases it is a direct result of slash and burn practices, cattle overgrazing and deforestation. Without the matrix of tree roots to hold the hillside together, it gets saturated , liquifies and destabilizes. We are in a region that is extremely mountainous, at about 1000 feet above sea level, in a maze of deep ravines and pointed peaks bristling with incredible flora and fauna. Many of the most unusual insects will be seen once and never again. I am thinking of the Praying Mantis that looked like a crumpled up leaf in particular that I saw on the road to Mastatal a few days ago and, according to Annie, who spent at least four months in one stretch here at Choza del Mundo, said it’s true. There is such an incredible diversity of life Costa Rica that fill extremely narrow niches and have done long enough to become truly strange. Unlike in many bioregions, the sheer diversity here means that no one species has worked out a monopoly in it’s niche. It is hard to comprehend until you see it for yourself, or when you happen upon the strangest stickbug you can imagine. It is likely that it represents a population that is unique to the very ravine you are hiking through. Some people live a long time and never see a particular animal known to live in their area, like myself and Desert Mountain Goats (UNTIL 2 YEARS AGO). But here, it can happen daily and multiple times daily if you slow down and take the time to observe.
The girls are talking about relationships they’ve had while traveling and it makes me nostalgic for the past, and at the same time, curious about what lies ahead. I am not interested in love at the moment, but you never know when you will meet that individual that will cause your own landslide and displacement of all your wits and turn you into a passion infused hyperactive love-drug addled monkey.
Katie made dinner and it was an amazing concoction of Pineapple, Tomatoes, Basil, Chayote (sp? a zucchini like vegetable a little bigger than a mango and light green) over rice with a side of beans. It was delicious. I really enjoy seeing what can be done with food, learning from others’ repertoire of tricks and incorporating the tropical fruit and vegetable possibilities. Cuisine here has been off the charts, Brian, and all cooked in a basic kitchen.