Prior to leaving I had 3 mental checklists. What I wanted to see, what I wished to see and, the final category, wouldn't it be cool if I saw.
Toucans in the wild - Wanted to see
The first sighting we missed as we were already ensconced in seats on a shuttle which was taking us from the rain forest to our regular tour bus. Mildly disappointed but undaunted we were cheered later by seeing a group of the big billed birds on a roadside tree. Then, on our final rainforest tram a lovely bird with a jet black body and yellow beak perched in a tree, among several other of his kind, standing stock still on the branch as if posing for a National Geographic wildlife photo. We got a great shot!
Scarlett Macaws - Wanted to see
On a couple of occasions we spotted these magnificent birds from a distance appearing as silhouettes in the sky. On our final day one was spotted close to the bus. It banked spreading it's wings displaying the stripes of color which ran along them. Finding the group in the tree several minutes later was the icing on a scarlet cake.
Crocodiles - Wanted to see
This was almost a sure thing as scores of the reptiles reside along the banks of one of the rivers we cruised on. We saw at least a score of them.
Monkeys - Wanted to see
Hit the mother lode on this one, seeing all four species that are found in Costa Rica, albeit two for only seconds. The troupe of howling monkeys foraging over our heads on the river cruise and white face monkeys hanging like oversized Christmas ornaments from the trees in the national park are visual memories that will be with me for the rest of my life.
Volcanos - Wished to see
With only a 30% chance of seeing the crater of volcano Poa and the peak of Arenal due to Costa Rica's cloud cover I kept my expectations low so as not to be disappointed. Luck was on my side. The crater of Poa was visible on the day of our visit for only a brief period of time which happened to coincide with our visit. The view of Arenal was crystal clear all three days we were in sight of it. Our guide mentioned that she had never hosted a tour before that was able to see the peak all three days.
Water Walking Lizards - Wouldn't it be cool if I saw
I cheered and applauded as the reptile sped across the top of the water to seek safety from us on the shore.
Rosette Spoonbills, a heron like bird I had not heard of prior to my visit. A most colorful and unselfconsciously elegant creature. A stork wading in the water foraging for food with it's long bill. The tiny bats, pit vipers and and brightly colored poison frogs of the rain forest. The sound of frogs at night at our resort at the foot of Arenal. The songbirds at that resort with their brilliantly hued plumage. Sticking my big toe into Costa Rica's neighbor Nicaragua. Parrots flying in pairs overhead. Tiger herons with their feathers arranged in alternating stripes down their bodies. The cat like raccoons and the iguanas picking up the colors of the world around them. The otherworldly huge cricket on the wall of our jungle side hotel.
Thank you Costa Rica!