When I was getting ready to come to Costa Rica, I knew that there were 3 things I absolutely intended to see. #1 was a Quetzal– a colorful bird that is resembled largely in the Mayan Culture. #2 was none other than the sloth. #3 was a Tapir– a large mammal that seems to possess the body of a pig and has a snout that resembles an elephants trunk. I was able to cross two of those things off my list, but the Tapir turned out to be a little bit more difficult to track down.
Nonetheless, I was able to add things to my “hey I saw that thing” list. During one of our famous night hike adventures, I saw a carnivorous frog, a coral snake, a tarantula, and a bluejeans poison dart frog. Yesterday we were walking along the trail just looking for birds when the guide pointed out a plant with large leaves. The plant is known as the heliconias plant and one of the leaves on the plant had been bent down the center of the vein of the stem as to produce a tent. A closer look underneath the tent showed that there were actually white bats sleeping inside. I never would have noticed that on my own and I definitely had no idea that bats would use a leaf in the forest to create a sort of makeshift house.  Just the other day I looked down from an overpass and saw a river full of crocodiles that were at least seven foot long. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a crocodile, only alligators, and never one so large. I saw more toucans and macaws that I ever imagined I would see and heard/saw more monkeys than one could count.
Besides the animals that we saw, we also got the chance to learn a little bit of history and culture. We visited a Maleku village. The Maleku is an indigenous people of Costa Rica and learning about their culture and listening to the indigenous language being spoken was a great opportunity. Since I am part Cherokee Indian, I was able to pick up on some of the words that were spoken in the indigenous language, because the Maleku language seemed to be a mixture of old world spanish and shared some of the Native American words. The stories were quite familiar as well.
With the diversity that Costa Rica, both biologically and culturally, anyone–bird lover or not– could go on this trip and learn alot from the experience.