Arenal Volcano

Well here we are in the middle of yet another major winter storm so I will continue with my chronicles of our 8 day excursion to the beautiful country of Costa Rica back in March of 2012.

As part of our trip, we spent 3 days at the Arenal Observatory Lodge at the base of Arenal volcano.  This area is a popular destination in Costa Rica for the luxurious hot springs that surround the mountain, and for the natural spectacle of the living earth it can provide.  Though the volcano was not in an eruptive phase while we were there, it was still quite a sight to behold.

Coati - very curious and social animals!

Coati – very curious and social animals!

During our visit, we enjoyed lots more hiking and wildlife watching.  One of our favorites was the racoon-like mammal known as the coatimundi or coati.  We had glimpsed one at Villa Lapas, but were astonished and delighted by the close proximity we got at Arenal.



We also got our only look at a wild snake at Arenal, a highlight for me, the reptile lover! While hiking to a breathtaking waterfall, a local guide pointed out a small eyelash pit viper, a highly venomous snake, curled up on a dead palm leaf only a couple of feet from the trail, and very close to the ground.  It was napping quietly, and we snapped some photos from a safe distance.

Female black howler monkey carrying her baby on her back.

Female black howler monkey with a baby on her back.

Arenal also gave us our best looks at black howler monkeys, including a troop with mothers and babies.  It was quite a treat!

Of course, we also saw an incredible variety of colorful birds and some gorgeous flowers as well.

Male green honey creeper.

Male green honey creeper.

Violet-headed hummingbird

Violet-headed hummingbird

One of many beautiful orchids in Costa Rica.

One of many beautiful orchids in Costa Rica.

The blooms of this stunning orchid lasted only a day or so, and I vividly remember watching one of the lodge workers pausing a moment to sniff its lovely fragrance as he went about his busy daily routine. Inspiring!



Stay tuned for the last stop on our trip to Costa Rica- Selva Verde, the heart of the rainforest!


The beginning . . .

People often ask me if I grew up in a home of “exotic” pets.  Did I have a snake, turtle or lizard as a kid?  Did I bring home frogs and newts from the local pond ?  Did I keep bugs in jars in my room?  The honest answer is “no.”

I had cats and a dog.  I caught grasshoppers and fireflies in my yard, but always released them by the end of the day.  I did try to “keep” a wooly bear caterpillar for a while, but other than that, I had pretty run-of-the-mill pets.

Isis, a snow corn snake

Isis, a snow corn snake (1992-2006)

I didn’t adopt my first snake until I was well into my 20s.  He came to me as “Elvis,” a name given to him by his previous owners.  “Elvis” quickly turned into “Isis”, when I discovered that he was a she.  Isis was a two year old corn snake, and she remained my only exotic pet until I started acquiring animals for Teaching Creatures in 2003.  She was one of the original Teaching Creatures.

Terra, a ball python

Terra, a ball python

Another was Terra.  Terra was a four-year-old ball python when I adopted her in August of 2003.  It was a classic story:  A family had purchased her at a pet store for their 12 year old son, and after three years or so, his interest in her had waned.  He was driving, working and otherwise occupied with his high school career, and his parents noticed he wasn’t taking her out, cleaning her cage or feeding her on a regular basis, and decided it was time they found a new home for her.  She was the first animal I adopted for Teaching Creatures, and after 10 years, she remains a very active part of my programs.  With good care and a little luck, she will continue to be so for years to come.