Saturday, December 3, 2011

Visitors and Monkeying Around

Dear Friends,
Poinsettias growing by the roadside
  I hope that this finds you well and having a good weekend. We are well and looking forward to the coming days with much anticipation. Our first week in Costa Rica was spent making arrangements and taking care of business. It took a few days to get settled in and then we needed to start preparing for the next stage of our visit.
  We are hosting eleven people from my husband's hiking group for a week of hiking and sight seeing. We will be staying at a place just outside of Tilaran that has some quaint little cabinas, a huge pool, (by Tico standards), and beautifully landscaped grounds all for $12 a night per person! As we speak my husband and a driver are making the several hour trip to San Jose, in a 28 passenger bus, to meet them at the airport. So-o, as of tonight we will be playing host and tour guide for the next 8 days. It will be very nice to be able to share this place with people who have heard our stories about living in Costa Rica. They will hopefully come to love this place as much as we do.
  I am not going on the ride to San Jose and back. I am taking some quiet time before all the activity starts later on this evening. Dawn broke this morning with skies congested with thick grey clouds. The winds were high all night, and the rain beat hard on the tin roof of the house in fits and spurts, but by morning all that was left was the cloud cover. It has continued to be gray most of the morning, but the temperature is comfortable, even with the wind. So I will sit on the veranda and watch the birds and enjoy the breeze before I have to put myself in "host mode" to greet our guests.

Patriarch Howler on our farm in 2009
Off in the distance I can hear the howl of the patriarch male Howler monkey. He is just letting anyone close by, (within 3 miles, since that is how far his voice will carry), know that his family is claiming the area as their present feeding ground. Howler monkeys travel a circuit that takes about 2-3 weeks to complete. This  is done so that they don't exhaust their feeding areas. They spend a day or two in a nice grove of Cecropia trees, (their favorite food source), and then move on. This allows the trees to put on new leaves before they return to feed again a few weeks from now. From the sound of it, these monkeys are still out a ways from the house so we won't actually see them in the trees for a couple more days. Howlers don't come down out of the trees unless there is a problem, like a baby falls from a limb that was too thin to hold it, or gets unseated by the high wind gusts of "windy season". If this kind of thing happens the male will howl loudly, while a female or two goes down to retrieve to baby. They will not be on the ground very long since they have many predators on the ground and their best defense is the fact that most of their predators can't reach them in the canopy.
Mother and babies watching us work
  When we lived on the farm in Sabalito, we had two Howler families that would come and visit. During the course of the year I got to see the family grow and in a way we were accepted by them as part of their environment. Howlers are very shy of people. If they are disturbed or feel threatened the male will make a ruckus while the rest of the family discourages closer inspection by throwing poop at those who venture too close. The monkeys never threw poop at us.We would quietly observe them and keep our distance, over time they began to venture closer. Before long we were practically on a first name basis. They would hang out in the trees near our vegetable garden and watch us work.The young males would entertain us with acrobatic feats of daring until their mom or grandma would call them back closer to the clan. I always felt so blessed and full of awe at their acceptance of our family. The  electrician that came to work on our well was not so fortunate... while he worked on the electric box for our well pump the Howlers pelted his truck with poop. He was not amused, but I think the monkeys were quite pleased with themselves.
For the next week I will not have consistent internet access. We will not have WIFI at the cabinas and many days we will be gone from dawn to dark, so I won't be able to go into town to an internet cafe as often as I would like. I will continue to write my blog entries and then post them when I can get to town. There may be times when I am posting more than one entry, so make sure that you check out below the top entry for the possibility that I posted multiple days worth of entries. I am very excited about what the next week will hold. There will be many activities going on and lots of opportunities for photos and stories for me to pass on to you. I know that this is supposed to be a blog about letter writing and mail art, but in a way each of my posts from Costa Rica is a letter to you all. I hope that you are interested in hearing about our time here, please let me know what you think. If you wouldn't mind, from time to time leave me a note in the comments to let me know how things are going with you... it is hard to be out of contact with you for 6 weeks. I miss getting your letters and hearing about life in your world. For now I will sign off and send this out into the ether. Until we next meet, Pura Vida!  Elle


  1. Elle I am enjoying reading about your adventure!! Thank you so much for sharing. I find myself checking your blog the way I check my mailbox!! Things are great here in Southern California except for the 100+ MPH winds!! We live just below the Cajon pass so we are quite used to that type of wind...but the Pasadena area is not. I am looking forward to more "letters and pictures" on your blog. Have a wonderful time.
    Lots of love

  2. Sounds like a lovely place. I cannot imagine those poinsettias growing wild along the road - loved seeing them.

  3. LOL. Monkey business. A lovely post, Elle. Just lovely.

  4. Kimi, Thanks for posting me an update. I am glad to know that you are well. Wow 100 mph winds...Yikes! Please be safe. I will be posting more often than I thought now that I know the little cabinas we are staying in has wireless!I will be working on a post for our trip today when I am "off duty" and can get a few minutes to myself. It was a lovely day and worth posting a few photos.... Missing
    you! Elle

  5. Pamela,
    This is a great time to visit Costa Rica. The rainy season is over and everything is lush and green. The Poinsettias will be coloring up from now until January. They are best viewed at this time of year as they get rather spindly later on. They grow to 15-20 feet but are usually cut back shortly after the first of the year so that they will be full and bushy for their colorful show in December. I hope that all is well and that you are enjoying the best of the season!

  6. Hi Limner!
    We are having as much fun a a barrel of monkeys :) Wishing you wre here!

  7. are you guys staying at the country club? We rented that home for awhile.. gorgeous place. :)