Tortoguero National Forest

We traversed Costa Rica yesterday and are now in the Tortoguero National Forest. Our lodge is deep enough into the rainforest that a family of howler monkeys provided our 5am wake up call today. Most of our day was spent on an open boat floating our way through this wonderful nature preserve. Our Tauck provided tour guides have been absolutely exceptional. They grew up locally in the rainforest hunting for the first part of their lives. Now they are naturalists who can name every plant and animal in English, Spanish and Latin, tell you about the various medicinal uses of plants and provide in depth histories of the area. The depth of knowledge of these men who have barely an 8th grade formal education is phenomenal.

But rather than go on in words, I’ll tell today’s story via photos. All of these animals and flowers were seen in the rivers and canals of Tortoguero National Forest today(3/29/2012). They were taken while floating or speeding on the river tours using a Nikon D7000 with a 300mm zoom lens.



June 29, 2012


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Swimming With the Crocodiles

We went on an amazing water raft trip thought the rain forest today on the San Carlos river. The wildlife is truly spectacular. Just a few of the many pictures I took follow:

The second half of the float trip involved a little water bucket battle:

We visited a small farm along the way, enjoying the hospitality of the 100 year old owner Dom Pedro. He’s lived there for over 75 years with no electricity!

Back for some relaxation this afternoon, we ran into some other guests staying at the hotel:

One of the CR national soccer teams Is also staying at the hotel and evidently they’re very fashion aware:

And finally some of the beautiful flora on the grounds:




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Zip line!

1.25 miles traveled at 50 mph at 652 feet above the rainforest floor on a zip line. Pictures tomorrow.

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Lizards, Birds & Butterflies

Our first tour day was filled with adventure and great weather. They call this part of June “St John’s Summer” when the rainy season takes a break for 2 weeks. The countryside is simply stunning, and the jungles amazingly green and diverse.

Rose is keeping track of the animals we’ve seen and her list is already over 20 including lizards, birds and a bunch of beautiful butterflies (which are everywhere). No confirmed monkey sightings yet. My particular favorite today was the line of leaf-cutter ants doing their daily chores:

We took a vocal lashing from a howler monkey on the jungle hike today which included 13 rope bridges over 40 feet off the ground in the canopy:


The absolute highlight of the day had to be the water slide that traversed over 0.25 miles and 400 ft of elevation. I was camera guy on the last run so no picture of the train-wreck that was me shooting down the hill. Some great pics here of the kids and Lynn though:

We hit a little traffic on the way home:

… and the day came to a close with a fantastic sunset followed by an impressive thunder and lightning show:

Warmest regards,


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I found paradise

6/24/2012 Noon

Dear Oregon,

I love you dearly … really I do. But I found paradise today and it turns out it’s not anywhere near you. I’m sorry but I’ve decided to never leave Costa Rica. Be well.

Warmest regards,




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Pura Vida!


Today we travel to Costa Rica. It’s a terribly long day starting at 3am. We caught a 5:55am flight out of PDX and had what seemed like an endless 5 hour layover in Houston. The kids did great amusing themselves throughout the day. Owen enjoyed his light summer reading of G. Orwell.

We were entertained by a fantastic light show over the Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully the lightning was “over there” versus “over here”, if ya know what I mean.


The two immigration guys that pulled the swing shift completely underwhelmed us (not as bad as Beijing or Moscow but very slow nonetheless). However, we’re completely blown away by our hotel. From the open air restaurant and lobby, to the fruity drinks they brought us at checkin, to the sounds of the ocean lapping up only 10 yards away … It’s heaven. Rose is keeping her eyes peeled for those monkeys so hopefully I’ll have some pics to post tomorrow.


No wifi here so I’m suffering a little withdrawal at this point but I’m sure the shakes will stop by morning. ☺

Regards, Donald.



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All Packed!

Nothing says vacation like 4 packed duffles! Tomorrow night this time and we’ll be in Costa Rica!


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