Oscar, Ines, and I sit on the porch of Sirena ranger station, and the clouds are gathering, thunder beings to roll. The station waits at the end of a little used grass landing strip. Joy has headed out with Neyer and Esteban, our guides for an afternoon hike through the rainforest. The kids, we decided, would do better playing in the grass instead of another hike though the melting humidity. And anyway, for where we sit, we watch a rapid wander out of e looking trees on the north side of the strip, making a beeline for whatever mudholes he prefers in the hollows of the southern side. His ears twitch to the dueling calls of howler and spider monkeys.
The kids dash out into the green, setting out to explore the station. By now they are very comfortable here, as this is our third trip to the station. Tapirs, monkeys, sloths, and anteaters, these are old hat to them, though they still rush up to me to tell me of their latest find, and to ask help figuring out what it might be. Oscar comes back, having spotted up tiger heron in full breeding plumage. Ines is an expert lizard hunter, and there’s no shortage of basilisks and iguanas prowling the banana trees that line the upper end of the air strip.
I’m cooling my heels, mentally and physically preparing my self for tomorrow’s walk. Though we’ve come here again as a family, I’m heading off on my own (with Neyer, my guide) tomorrow at dawn. I’m walking the trail between Sirena and Los Patos ranger stations, to delve even deeper into this wide forest. It’s 22 kilometer walk, much of it through primary forest. It’s a goodbye, of sorts, and a last hungry look, as I prepare to leave the Osa for the next leg of the sabbatical. Even with all the hours I’ve logged in the forest here, as our departure gets closer, I find that I’m still far from sated. Every new experience just leaves me wanting more. I already made plans to return
Today was typical Osa, with a dawn patrol boat ride down from Drake Bay. Last night’s storm left the ocean in an uproar, so the launch on the beach at Agujitas was rough and wet, and so was the landing at the beach near Sirena. We hiked over to the Rio Claro, finding trogons and spider monkeys on the way, and 3 meter crocodiles lounging on the beach at the river mouth. On the hike up to the station, we saw the other 3 kinds of monkey (capuchin, squirrel, and howler), more trogons, and a crested guan (think cinnamon colored turkey, with a gorgeous salt and pepper frill). The 200 kilogram tapir wandering across the lawn, was all the excitement the kids could take.
And now the rains come down, and the scarlet macaws shriek their way across the bare patch of darkening sky scratched out by the airstrip. Howlers are starting up again, or course, and I’m left feeling a ‘the last time’ depression and the elation of cutting a transect through one of the biggest stands of primary rainforest in the new world.
But it’s 8:00, lights out, and the only illumination shines out from my tablet screen, and the red-and-green of a few dozen glowing click beetles, rising as dusk deepens. My fingers are losing a competition with a myriad of crickets, gnats, and other flyers attract to the screen-glow, so it’s time to go to bed. I’ll sleep (I hope) sweltering in but cradled by the deep black of the wilderness, content that my family is sleeping beside me, sharing this mixed-bag of a night in the jungle.