Costa Rican Monkey Rescue

March 18th, 2011

A new blog- by Mo (half of the newest addition to the Tierra staff)

I set off for a sunset jog from the Caribbean bungalows of Tierra de Suenos and headed away from the beautiful beaches of Playa Chiquita. Trying to distract myself from the actual act of jogging was easy to do since I was surrounded by beautiful Real Palms, Toucans, frogs and more. After reaching Punta Uva I recognized the familiar sounds of grunting howler monkeys in the distance. Although they are usually loud, they appeared to be more boisterous and plentiful then usual. I ran over Punta Uva bridge and noticed a group of tourists looking at the ground on the side of the road. Assuming it was the usual sloth crossing, I slowed down to take a look at the cute critter. Only, to my surprise, there was a badly hurt howler monkey who had fallen on the electric wires and had been severely burnt.

The boisterous sounds from earlier turned out to be his family, consisting of maybe 20 others, flanking the sides of the street and howling in concern. The monkey was shaking and I could observe burns on his arms and entire right side of his face, including his eye. Pamela, a local restaurant and cabinas owner, pulled up in her golf cart to inquire about the crowd. Together we decided to rush the monkey to the local rescue center in hopes to save him. We gathered him in a towel and I sat holding the little fella in the back of the cart. After one escape attempt and many potholes later, the crying and seizing monkey arrived at the Jaguar Rescue Center. Even after business hours, the workers were eager to help and whisked the monkey to the closest veterinarian for treatment.

The following day, a fellow Tierra de Suenos employee (Jake, the other half of the newest Tierra staff) and I decided to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center to check on my little friend. After an exciting tour observing snakes, monkeys, frogs, Caymens, sloths, and eagles, I was able to check on the monkey. We were unable to see him since he was sleeping in the recovery room, but we learned that he had third degree burns on his face, tail, body and had lost a finger from the electrocution. They had treated him with medicine and burn cream and the doctor stated he thought the monkey was likely to make a steady recovery. We thanked them for their work and the simple existence of such a center, because without it the monkey would have less than a fighting chance at survival. After this experience and my visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center I have decided to help these Costa Rican animals and my little monkey by volunteering at the center. More adventure stories to come!

February showers bring March flowers

March 18th, 2009

A glimpse of what happens after the rain….

After the rain...comes the blossoming flowers

More post-rain floral displays

Costa Rica Flowers

The flowers seem to stand taller after being threatened by pummeling raindrops.

A touch of Lavendar

A pine cone giving birth to a baby girl? IS pink...


Mr. Numbers

February 26th, 2009

I picture an accountant as hyper organized, all about details, perhaps with a shirt pocket full of pencils and a calculator in hand. I don’t picture someone who travels with a few folders in a plastic grocery bag, gives props when you see him, calls you “brudda”, listens to your business questions then asks to borrow a pen and scratch paper, writes a few notes, folds the scrap and adds it to the concerns of others in his wallet. The latter is who we, as well as just about everyone we know here, work with. He grew up in Limon, the biggest town on this afro caribbean coast, speaking English at home . This is crucial since you don’t want to have a language barrier between you and the ever confusing accounting principals of Costa Rica. He is an incredibly nice guy and from what we can tell he makes sure that you pay the right taxes at the right time. Other than that he’s more like a friend who stops by looking for a game of chess every now and then, hoping you have some tasty treat in the oven, rather than a trusty accountant.

The first time we talked he returned our call at 9:30pm. That actually seems to be the time that he sets aside to make business calls. He lives in San Jose but travels to Puerto Viejo about once every two weeks to meet with clients. He’ll often call on, say, Monday and leave a message that we should meet him, oh….around…… Tuesday at 9am at a restaurant in Puerto Viejo, which entails a twenty minute jaw crunchingly bumpy drive from Playa Chiquita. He knows that we serve breakfast here everyday making that pretty much the most difficult time to leave. That doesn’t stop him the same way that he’ll drop in unannounced at Jungle Love, the restaurant down the street, at 5:45pm knowing that they open at 5:30pm. All of his clients know the feeling of showing up to give him your receipts ready to tell him that if he doesn’t *&%$^%! call sooner next time you’re going to $%#%. But then he smiles, reaches out for that hand shake/hug, says “hey brudda, wha appenin” and you remember that this is part of what makes the Caribbean the Caribbean and one of the reasons you moved here.

A special moment was when he was helping us open a bank account. In Costa Rica they want letters of recommendation from your neighbors saying that you make a certain amount. They want an accountant to say that you make a certain amount and for you to have papers filled out from several hard to reach national agencies. We had tried various times on our own to get our ducks in a row, but we were always missing something. When we walked in with our numbers man we felt like there was no way we were walking out without an account. This is what he does. He knows all the tricks. He spends his time keeping up with the ins and outs of financial regulation. The interaction with the young female teller went something like this:

They greet each other. The accountant calls her by the wrong name. He’s always calling people by the wrong name. She corrects him. He compensates by commenting on her well put together uniform and then begins to cough uncontrollably. She gives him a home cold remedy. He asks if she’ll be his nurse. They start exchanging all the necessary papers for the new account. She’s naming them and he’s handing them over. It was great until she gets to the last one, a declaration of some sort from the ministry of finance. What? That’s new, they didn’t used to ask for that. He pleads. Just this once. She’s sorry but can’t set it up without it. We stand up, slightly amused and not surprised at all, but then the accountant seems to have a final card up his sleeve. Some pressure he can put on to get what he wants, maybe a little bribe. He leans back over to the window and whispers. “How about you give me your home number. I might forget that cold remedy.”

Fruit tree galore!

July 27th, 2008

Rainforest or Exotic fruit farm?

Tierra de Suenos could just as well be an exotic fruit farm. It seems everyday we discover a new tropical fruit tree just waiting to explode with some colorful, tasty, or not so tasty, edible. We enjoyed the ackee when we first arrived. This Jamaican fruit was a delight to us not only because of its delicious flavor but because it attracts Toucans. We are lucky to have the ackee hanging over our patio; a perfect spot for the collection of fruit and bird watching! We discovered a new citrus tree the other day. We already have three others bursting with the most delicious limes you’ve ever tasted.

Massive Guanabanas!

It’s hard to know what to do with 3 massive guanabanas at the same time. This very large fruit is great as a beverage but time consuming and messy to deal with.

We’re looking forward to the water apples, that tree has yet to fruit for us, and the two avocado trees which have yet to produce. A grapefruit tree has recently been pointed out to us, it was being strangled by the jungle, hidden in vines. Pineapples were a delight a couple months ago and we’re still waiting on another papaya. Jack fruits hang heavily from the trunk of a tree that actually goes right through the roof of a bungalow and star fruits are falling by the dozen. Our neighbor is quite jealous of the Mangostien tree he saw behind our storage house. Apparently this is the most delicious fruit in the world and with a little love, ours should be sprouting in no time.

Yummyyyyy Fruit

We decided to give planting a few a shot and recently transplanted air-layered mamon chino, a soft spiky skinned grape thing, bayrum, and peanut butter fruit, a shrub that produces creamy little balls that actually taste like peanut butter. They all seem to be doing well so far.

Savory Fruitstuff

We’re trying to save our cacao tree from a blight and it’s looking better. We just roasted our first chocolate beans! The insane amount of bananas are overwhelming but they are best bananas we’ve ever eaten. The list goes on and on and I haven’t gotten to the herbs, vegetables and melons!

Where we live

June 2nd, 2008

Punta Uva

-Sorry about the drought, folks. Now we’re blogging.

Howler Monkey

We wake up every morning with the birds, many of them. Becoming more knowledgeable everyday about which bird is making which sound, we have impressed our recently visiting friends with our new ability to discern the chirp of a toucan, follow the sound to a neighboring tree and then spot the colorful beak hidden in the leaves. When our ackee tree was in full bloom toucans would frequent our very own patio which made this practice much easier!

Flower- Rice'n'beans

Hummingbirds are not so difficult to find, however. In fact you must watch yourself for they will plow right into you if one of our peach colored hibiscus blossoms is on the other side. At least one hummingbird a day flies into our kitchen, in the front door, out the back. Scarlet rumped tanagers are constantly trying to seduce the not so attractive females by showing off their full inflatable red puff while the white-necked puff bird watches quietly. The morning excitement is quite outrageous and makes rising a delightful experience, unless of course we have the opportunity to sleep in which is pretty much impossible.

If the bird sounds are not enough, once out of bed and down stairs to our open air living room, we are quickly reminded that we live in the jungle. Some mornings it seems as though everything grew over night. Massive leaves hang heavy with dew and some bright new blossom shows its brilliant colors. If it rained during the night the jungle may appear to be devouring our house, something it would gladly do if we did not keep up the battle. Heading to the reception house where we serve breakfast we are encouraged by a pink and black butterfly through the narrow jungle path. Everyday without fail this butterfly shows us the way. We’ve barely made it to the reception house and as one of our friends put it, we feel like we’re on an episode of Lost!

Three Toed Sloth

Brendan and I have also become quite adept at finding sloths. These adorable little tree bears love certain trees on the property and can be spotted hanging about quite frequently. They climb down to the ground once a week to relieve themselves and this is the best time to catch a close-up glimpse of their permanently smiling faces. Howler monkeys you may not see but will definitely hear! We thought the novelty of these loud monkeys would wear off but hearing the wild roar throughout the jungle still brings a sense of excitement and rawness.

Bri Bri Water Fall

Speaking of rawness, I will try to paint a picture of the beaches across the way from us. Golden sand unites the jungle with the sea. The crystal clear, green tinted water creates a lagoon feeling. While swimming in this salty lagoon gazing out the jungle cliff back drop it is easy to lose sense of time and place. You can walk along the beaches for miles and see no houses, hotels, restaurants and often no people. Each corner unveils a new cove or stretch of beach different from the previous. The beauty of this coastline is honestly breathtaking.

I felt it was time to attempt describing our new home in terms of beauty. In my mind this blog is no exaggeration. I am amazed at the raw beauty of this earth. It is beyond humbling to be in a place where nature is so powerful, enchanting and mysterious. I feel overjoyed to not only be a part of it myself but to have the means to share it with you……

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