by Richard Kuehn
My brother Doug, who lives in Ellensburg, WA, and I returned this past week from our 2+ weeks trip to Costa Rica. While we also spent time visiting non-birding friends and traveling with them during Semana Santa, (Holy Week), we still managed to see ~300 species during our visit and I have 5 hours of video, including a pair of R. Quetzals feeding young at the nest hole, Double-toothed kites mating, White-collared Manakins doing wing-snapping at a lek, and a pair of Violet Sabrewing hummingbirds at a feeder at the El Mirador Restaurant above the La Paz Falls-(Special thanks to Gail).
This occurred, at least in part, due to the excellent information I received from fellow members of this List. While I have thanked many of you directly, I also wanted to provide some follow-up to those of you who attempted to ease my fears regarding the danger involved with birding at Braulio Carillo. While I experienced no problem, those planning a trip there should be aware the government has now stationed 2 members from the Rural Guardia just North of the Tunnel from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. to protect people's vehicles. They insisted I park my car beside their vehicle during my stop there and were reluctant to encourage me to pull off at other areas before reaching the Ranger Station near the South edge of the Park. In fact, some of the areas recommended in Keith Taylor's guide, (for Braulio Carillo), now have wooden signs, in English and Spanish, saying the parking has been restricted due to safety concerns. The park information manager informed me he feels badly he does not have more rangers available to increase the safety and blamed the problem on the direct access from San Jose.
Unfortunately while we were in Costa Rica, the TICO TIMES, a San Jose paper printed in English, did contain a front-page story about 4 Californians, who were robbed of their rental car near Limon by several men weilding AK-47s, who had stopped them when they yeilded for on-coming traffic over a single-lane bridge. The latest scam, according to our friends who reside in San Jose, is for the rental car to be stolen, stripped of the tourist's valuables, and then offerred to the rental company for $5,000.00 The rental companies have made matters worse by paying the ransom rather than have their insurance rates increase by filing a claim.
Though I asked for a vehicle with a security system, the agency had none, and while I carried their insurance as reguired, it left me with $1,000.00 deductible. As I indicated earlier, we were lucky and had no probleMs. However, several individuals checking in their vehicles at the rental agency counter while I was there had had their rental cars broken into and one had had it stolen. In each case, these vehilcles carried large decals indicated the rental agencies name. We had noticed upon renting our vehicle that the decal had been scraped off the rear window. Perhaps anyone planning to rent a vehicle in Costa Rica might wish to ask the company to remove the decal. I believe this was finally done in Miami, Florida several years ago to reduce their vulnerabilty. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the trip immensely and recommend birding in Costa Rica to those open to a sense of adventure.
The Sea Ranch, CA