Costa Rica is one of those special places where you can come 'up close and personal' with nature in all its diversity. It didn't take long while walking a path through the rainforest to see the reality of this in an unbelievable experience.
Looking down at our feet we discovered leaf-cutter ants. Our approach did not divert their determined journey. They pretty much all kept pace with the rest of the group. Their green burden far out measured their minature size. We had obviously violated their territory and so we were careful where we stepped.
Our senses were heightened with the smell of flowers and abundance of orchids so suited to this climate. Tropical birds were heard but not seen in the canopy overhead. Most amazing were the butterflies. It is recorded that there are more species of them than any other creature about. You couldn't help but be stunned by them. The blue morpho butterfly can reach a size of seven and a half inches. Spread your fingers far apart and you get a good idea of their size. The color was spectacular. The brilliant blue could not be matched by anything else in nature.
The Sarapiqui river is a draw for whitewater rafters, but we took the slower paced route. This afforded us the opportunity to encounter these creatures around us on their terms. This river is the habitat of crocodiles, iguanas, caymans and even hummingbirds. However, two of its more notable inhabitants are the howler monkeys and the Jesus Christ lizard. The endangered howler monkeys are 'tree huggers', spending their days in the safety of the trees. Because their territory is limited, their numbers are threatened. The male is in charge of keeping the distance between troops by his very loud call that can be heard as far away as four miles. He let us know he was in charge.
The Jesus Christ lizard (formally called a baslisk) only measures about a foot long. To flee from predators it has been given the ability to 'walk on water', hence its name. This iguana-like companion scooted in front of our boat, tacking a path to the opposite shore. Perhaps it was acting as an early warning system for the others in the area.
The cayman lazing on the bank of the river paid no mind to our passing. One sleepy eye must have surmised that there was no food worth moving for. On the other hand, parrots and other tropical birds fluttered and kept up a symphony in the canopy overhead. They were well aware of our presence.
The river trip left little to be experienced for our senses. Unforgettable sights and sounds still remain in memory. I can almost hear those howler monkeys calling me back for another visit to their home.