Posted tagged ‘Crocodiles’

Crocodiles In Paradise

October 7, 2010

Sorry, that was just a teaser.  First I’ll show you the paradise that is Costa Rica, then I’ll reward you with crocodiles.  Welcome to one day on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, a country that you must visit if you’re a nature lover.  Must!

We started our day with a ride above the forest canopy, followed, after a gentle descent, by a walk through the forest floor.

Waterfalls were everywhere, courtesy of the month of flooding that Costa Rica has just experienced.

I couldn’t keep track of all the species we saw, but these are bats hiding under a huge leaf

and these look a lot like breakfast. Then there were

and a serpentarium showing some of the most interesting of Costa Rica’s 137 species of snakes, at least 22 of them poisonous.  I was understanding why so many foreigners emigrate to Costa Rica, where life is good and there’s a 96% literacy rate, right up until the serpentarium.  Snakes are not my thing at all, and I was very glad not to see any in the wild.

And then we went out on the Taracoles River, where the bird life was entrancing. This beautiful caracara bird was my all-day favorite

but the little dance performed by this roseate spoonbill and a woodstork was also really special.  And there were

and not forgetting

iguanas, which look a lot like baby crocodiles.  I know you’re getting impatient for the crocodiles, but first, let’s look at the mangrove

with its fantastical aerial root system

and the red and blue crabs hiding in every nook and cranny.

The mangrove fruit splits as soon as it drops, and begins to root and flower, which is how the mangrove spreads itself far and wide.

And now, for the crocodiles.  The mud was everywhere, and hid many things, including the well-camouflaged crocs.

Here’s a small fellow, perhaps only 4 feet long.  They sleep with their mouths open, as a way of cooling off.  But the real thing, fearsome as can be, capable of taking a full-sized bull, or a human, right off the bank (or even out of a boat) and finishing it off with ease, looks like this.

You’re right, we were really close.  This guy, nicknamed Osama bin Laden by the guides in the area, was 15-18 feet long and weighed easily 1200 pounds, likely more.

Our guide pulled the boat right up alongside the sleeping behemoth, and was ready to reverse at the slightest hint of motion, but crocodiles are reportedly faster than any human reaction.  I sneaked up for a couple of close-ups, then retreated hurriedly to the other side of the boat, just in case.  I was bound and determined to live to see another day, the day we’ve been waiting for: the transit of the Panama Canal.  See you there.