Monkeys!

After leaving Bahia Ballena, we arrived at Islas Tortugas, which are a pair of islands not far off shore in the Gulf of Nicoya.  The islands were absolutely beautiful, and we were excited to be at such an awesome spot.  We had read that there was good diving and snorkeling around the pinnacle islands, but we were a bit concerned about the water visibility.  The water looked pretty green, and we were only two days since the big storm that washed all the silt and debris into the water.

Dan and Susan on Kini Popo decided to do some reconnaissance snorkeling, while Mike and I had to do some work on the boat.  After sitting in the brown bay of Bahia Ballena with the runoff from the storm, we had two issues to deal with.  First, the waterline of the boat looked horrible.  We had to jump in and do some serious scrubbing to get the dirt and growth off the paint.  And, second, somehow our salt water intake was clogged up, probably from the debris after the rainstorm.  Unless we unclogged the saltwater intake, we were not going to be able to use the watermaker.

After scrubbing the waterline, Mike jumped in with a long drill bit and dove under the water to the thru-hole for the salt water intake.  I was monitoring the hoses on the inside to see if he could shove the drill bit up high enough to dislodge whatever was clogging the intake. Sure enough, a bunch of wood chips got dislodged and made their way up to the filter.  After several cleanings of the filter, we were good to go with the salt water and could run the watermaker again.

Dan and Susan returned with the bad news that the water visibility was horrible.  There were lots of fish, but you couldn’t see them unless they were right in front of your face.  We decided to make a Plan B.  The Curu Reserve Park was on the bay just around the corner from Islas Tortugas.  We decided to dinghy over to the park the next morning to go exploring.

The Curu Reserve Park used to be a family farm and was slowly converted to a park and received protective status in the 1980’s.  It is a natural tropical forest and wildlife reserve.  So, we were definitely on the lookout for the wildlife.

After paying the small fee, we received a map of the trails and set off to wander into the forest.  Although we saw signs warning us of crocodiles near the estuary and lagoon, we didn’t see any crocodiles.

We did see all sorts of birds (well, mainly heard them in the trees) and lots of different lizards and iguanas.  We even saw some small deer.  But, the highlight was definitely the monkeys!

We were about half way through the hike when the sounds of the howler monkeys started getting louder and closer.  We knew we were on the right trail.  As we craned our necks to look into the tree tops, the howler monkeys were jumping from tree to tree coming toward us. The larger and vocal males were clearly first.  Then the rest of the troop of females, juveniles and even some babies started following.  There must have been at least 40 monkeys in the pack.  We stood there for about 30 minutes just watching them. It was awesome!

After making our way a little farther down the trail, we started seeing a bunch of capuchin monkeys.  These are the little, white-faced monkeys you’ve probably seen on tv or in the zoo. They don’t growl like the howlers but make some small squeaking noises when trying to communicate.  These capuchins did not seem to be traveling in a pack like the howlers. Each of them we saw looked pretty solitary.

One of the capuchins was sitting on a branch not that high up off the ground eating a mango.  He was clearly watching us below him but didn’t seem too bothered by us.  There were a ton of mango trees, and the monkeys were making meals of the mangos as we saw numerous half-eaten mangos all around the trail.  The mangos were also huge – much larger than what we find in the grocery stores.  Mike and Dan started to walk under the tree to check out all the mangos that were littering the ground.  The capuchin seemed quite interested in what they were doing and started following above them in the tree.  Then, the monkey started picking the mangos and dropping them down on Mike and Dan!  It was hilarious. Luckily, none of the mangos hit the boys.  I’m not sure if the monkey was trying to be nice and give them some mangos or was being naughty and trying to hit them with the mangos.  Either way, we got a good laugh.

We kept on the trail and saw some more capuchins, one little guy looked so sleepy just relaxing on a branch.  We snapped his picture before he shut is eyes to get a nap in.

Toward the end of the trail, we came upon a lagoon (again, no crocodiles in sight) that was quite beautiful.  There were water lilies floating on the water, some interesting ducks lingering around, and so many beautiful flowering plants surrounded by butterflies.  Fantastic!

After a full day hiking in the rainforest, we headed back to the boats for a quiet evening with plans to depart the next day for Bahia Herrradura across the Gulf of Nicoya.

~katie

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