Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Costa Rica: Jungle Time

by Donna L. Watkins

My entire time here is now planned. Every day scheduled and booked. We finally found a place to go when Randal arrives. He'll spend 3 days here in the city and then 7 days out in the rainforest. More on that in a later post. The current excitement is my trip to La Selva Biological Station.

In six (6) days I'll be headed for the jungle! It's less than two hours by car. I've been reading the wildlife book I purchased prior to coming and it lists the various preserves and then has an index for each species where it can be seen. I'm amazed at the number of species that La Selva contains and feel so incredibly blessed that the Up and Down Battle was finally won to get to be there. Each day will be filled with so many memories and photographs.

Although I do not desire to include any close encounters of the many poisonous snakes in my treasure of memories. Their list is long including bushmasters that can be over 11 feet, boa constrictors, coral snakes, pit vipers and other vipers. Pit vipers have "pits" or depressions between their nostrils and eyes. They act as sensory organs.

Back in Alabama we relied on the King Snake to take care of the rattlesnakes seen in our neighborhood of woods. We were grateful to see King Snakes guarding our property. At La Selva I will have to rely on the Mussurana since they eat several of the poisonous snakes. Maybe I can hire one as my guide for my stay.

The fer-de-lance snake is known to have the most human kills because it actually attacks and never backs down. Randal and I encountered a fer-de-lance on our last trip to Costa Rica. We were returning to our cabin after dinner at dusk arm-in-arm and walking much too fast for a rainforest path. Before we realized it we were only 5 feet from a huge snake that was already coiled with head raised. Randal's first words were, "Get a picture!" And I did. Whether it was the flash or the fact that we looked so large being "tied" together, I do not know, but it began to crawl away.

The description sounded like a fer-de-lance to the lodge owner, but he said it couldn't have been because it would not have backed down. When the photograph was developed it was obvious. We really do have guardian angels. And I will be relying on them for my rainforest time at La Selva since I won't be arm-in-arm with anybody. I love all of God's creation but I also have a healthy appreciation of safety since I'm not good at identification during face-to-face encounters.

One great thing about poisonous snakes in the American tropics (besides their beauty) is that they tend to be nocturnal. So enjoying the wonders of nature during the day is relatively safe as long as you watch where you're walking. The motto is to stop if you're looking up, and to walk only while looking down. Each foot of the rainforest is filled with delicious delights and possible trouble, so it's a good motto to remember.

Fear of snakes is a common phobia brought forward from Bible times with many cultures having their own stories and legends of evil snakes. The reality is that there are few poisonous snakes in locales around the world, except for unfortunate Australia which has many, so they should be enjoyed for their beauty.

View all Costa Rica photo albums.

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