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Travel Costa Rica The Eco Interactive Way April 30, 2009

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In Search of Costa Rica’s Elusive Quetzal July 12, 2009

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In Search of Quetzal

The quetzal may be small and pigeon like but it makes up for its stature with audacious plumage: vivid, shimmering green comes alive in the abundant sunlight of Central America flashing emerald to gold back to spectacular green.

While everyone spoke of its beauty, the bird was so elusive that early European naturalists believed the quetzal was just a myth of the Central American natives. Which makes sense since early Mayans and Aztecs worshiped a god called Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, and depicted him with a headdress of quetzal feathers. In fact, the bird’s name is derived from quetzalli, an Aztec word meaning “precious” or “beautiful.”

One English naturalist, Osbert Salvin, wrote he was “determined, rain or no rain, to be off to the mountain forests in search of quetzals,to see and shoot which has been a daydream for me ever since I set foot in Central America.” Salvin, the first European ever to record an observation of the bird, noted it was “unequaled for splendour among the birds of the New World,” then he promptly shot it. During the next few decades, thousands of quetzal plumes crossed the Atlantic to adorn fashionable hats of the elite in Paris, Amsterdam, and London.

The Mayans considered killing the bird to be a capital crime, but they too revered its feathers. They were worth more than gold in the Mayan society. Guatemalans were so taken by the bird they named their currency after it. The bird also graces the national shield, flag, postage stamps, along with their money.

Although the Costa Ricans don’t worship the bird with quite as much fervor, the bird is more easily seen in Costa Rica. Especially during breeding season (March-June) when the narcissistic males show off their beautiful tail plumes and scarlet red breast in spiraling skyward flights and dizzing dives causing their tail feathers to ripple behind in part of the courtship ritual. If you can’t make it out for their mating season, try to time your visit during the bird’s meticulous feeding hours, which you can almost set your watch by. They eat insects, small frogs, lizards, and the fruit of the broad-leafed aguacatillo.

From Ask About Honeymoons

Brief History of Quepos, Costa Rica July 11, 2009

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Quepos/Manual Antonio has become a quite of mix of adventures from around the world, as well as an intrepid group of locals who have hung around for the “Pura Vida.”
Quepos is known for, a place where the rainforest meets the sea, and is on a tropical inlet about halfway down Costa Rica’s Pacific coast on the Puntarenas Province. The town gets its name from the Quepo Indian tribe, a subgroup of the Borucas, who inhabited the area at the time of the conquest. As a result of diseases brought by Europeans, warfare and other Indian groups, and slavery, there are no pure blooded Quepos left by the end of the 19th century.

Quepos first came to prominence as a banana exporting port. Due to disease, African palm oil replaced bananas as the local major crop and, because the finished produced is much less bulky than bananas, Quepos declined as a major shipping port. Even as late as the 1950s regular communication with the rest of the country not easy. Roads were almost non-existent. There was a small railroad between Quepos and Parrita and at low tide the Alpa Airline landed a small plane on the beach in front of Main Street.

Tourists (almost all of Costa Ricans) came principally in Jan., Feb., and Mar. By the 1960s a group of Gringos mostly hippies, some draft dodgers, sport fishing captains (like Bill Gannon who helped spearhead Costa Rica’s catch and release program) and surfers started to build homes and began businesses at Manuel Antonio. And by late 1980, a Sansa Airlines DC-3 began service to the area.

The tourist industry at the time consisted of a gringo bar, El Barba Roja, a few luxury villas at La Mariposa, some rustic cabañas, a beachfront bar called the May y Sombra and that was about it.

By the mid 1980s Quepos became the travel talk and more and more Americans started to settle their. I remember when first entering the town back in 1982 it looked like a Clint Eastwood cowboy movie with its old Western style buildings and dirt roads. And with the awesome beach of Manual Antonio a few miles south the tourist industry started to take off.

Video of the cruising Quepos and Crossing Costa Rica’s Suspension Bridges

Within its city one can find just about everything, clothing and book stores, gyms, ecology groups, yoga and pilates classes, all types of recreation and restaurants, rehab and learning centers and a lot of American features. It is also known for its sportsfishing with a new marina that might put Los Suenos Marina to shame.

From Tico Times Directory Blog

Costa Rica: The Happiest Place on Earth July 5, 2009

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(CNN) — Forget Disneyland! Costa Rica is the happiest place in the world, according to an independent research group in Britain with the goal of building a new economy, “centered on people and the environment.”
Costa Rica is known for its lush rain forests and pristine beaches.

Costa Rica is known for its lush rain forests and pristine beaches.

In a report released Saturday, the group ranks nations using the “Happy Planet Index,” which seeks countries with the most content people.

In addition to happiness, the index by the New Economics Foundation considers the ecological footprint and life expectancy of countries.

“Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world and have the second-highest average life expectancy of the new world (second to Canada),” the organization said in a statement.

They “also have an ecological footprint that means that the country only narrowly fails to achieve the goal of … consuming its fair share of the Earth’s natural resources.”

The Central American country, tucked between Nicaragua and Panama, touts its lush rain forests and pristine beaches. Its president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for trying to help end civil wars in several Central American countries.

This year’s survey, which looked at 143 countries, featured Latin American nations in nine of the Top 10 spots.
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The runner-up was the Dominican Republic, followed by Jamaica, Guatemala and Vietnam.

Most developed nations lagged in the study.

While Britain ranked 74th, the United States snagged the 114th spot, because of its hefty consumption and massive ecological footprint.

The United States was greener and happier 20 years ago than it is today, the report said.

Other populous nations, such as China and India, had a lower index brought on by their vigorous pursuit of growth-based models, the survey suggested.

“As the world faces the triple crunch of deep financial crisis, accelerating climate change and the looming peak in oil production, we desperately need a new compass to guide us,” said Nic Marks, founder of the foundation’s center for well-being.

Marks urged nations to make a collective global change before “our high-consuming lifestyles plunge us into the chaos of irreversible climate change.”

The report, which was first conducted in 2006, covers 99 percent of the world population, the statement said.

From: CNN World

Volunteer for Turtle Conservation, Stay on One of Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches May 6, 2009

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Click Here For More information about the Marine Turtle Project at Playa el Rey

This is your opportunity to participate in a critical conservation and research effort, and at the same time live on one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful, pristine and least visited beaches. The sea turtle monitoring and conservation season at this site runs from June through December. Participants are invited to stay from 1 to 7 months.  You will have the opportunity to work with trained professional biologists, wildlife conservationists and environmental professionals, as well as personnel from the Costa Rican Environment Ministry. You will also have the chance to spend time with local people, through our education programs, and local students who also come to volunteer with the project. You will take part in our research efforts and all their activities. This includes beach cleaning, night watch patrols, searching the beach for turtle eggs (mostly at night), taking scientific data, learning about sea turtle habits and population, taking care of the nesting area, construction activities, environmental education activities and the liberation of hatchlings. You will live in rustic, comfortable conditions, far away from any human presence. You will be provided with three home cooked Tico meals each, and will also have time to enjoy your surroundings. Laying in a hammock, looking out over the pacific ocean, reading, playing soccer on the beach and searching for local fauna are all encouraged during your free time.

You will also be a short drive away from the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s premier destinations where you will find the diversity of restaurants, bars and nightlife. Regular trips “back to civilization” will be planned for those volunteers who want to grab a beer, go out dancing or use the internet. Those trying to escape civilization are welcome to stay at the beach as long they want.

Our project runs from June through January of each year, and you are welcome to join us for as long as you’d like, anywhere from just a few days to several months.

Schools and educational travel groups are also welcome to visit through specially designed visits.

Click Here For More information about the Marine Turtle Project at Playa el Rey

Click Here to Apply


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