“Rare” Raccoon

Location: Upala, Costa Rica

It was a great day for a hike. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. A sweater would do just fine to keep myself from shivering.

The trails of Tenorio Volcano National Park were densely packed with trees and bushes which teemed with wildlife. Our guide told us he had seen monkeys and sloths and even endangered tapirs crossing the paths. It was a perfect place to expand my photo collection.

During the first portion of my adventure, I didn’t see much aside from plants and flowers.

I walked across teetering bridges and narrow paths wide enough to fit only one person at a time. My eyes were glued to the trees, hoping to catch a capuchin monkey swinging by or a sloth lolling on a branch.

A rumbling gurgle pulled my eyes from the treetops. It didn’t sound like a like it could have been made by an animal, but I wasn’t well versed in the fauna of Costa Rica. For all I knew, it could have been a herd of elephants stampeding through the forest.

I ran toward the source with my Iphone8 clenched in a firm hold, and my eyes widened at what they saw.

I was both baffled and amazed at the same time. How could the water be bright blue in one place and crystal clear in the spot right next to it? And the rumbling sound had actually been the sputtering of the white line separating the two colours. I thought maybe it had something to do with the nearby volcano, or some chemicals in the water, but I wasn’t a scientist, so I didn’t know.

Then came the Rio Celeste.

Rio Celeste

It was a beautiful sight and a perfect place to lean over the guard railing and relax. I listened to the crashing of the water and watched the sparkling blue waves with a smile.

As I turned to continue on my trek through the forest, I noticed a small shape blending into the muddy rock. My smile grew even wider. It was my first animal find of the day.

Just below the frog, in a patch of wet dirt, I captured an amazing video of an anole in action. I crept toward it, muddying the knees of my pants and the elbow of my sweater. But it was totally worth it. I watched as a tiny green insect crawled along the mud, completely oblivious to the brown lizard which stalked it from behind. And then, in a lightning fast blur, the insect was gone, and the lizard licked its lips in delight.

Humble Anole

The next hour of hiking was more of a relaxing walk. I saw lots of green and the occasional insect, but still no mammals.

The trail came to an end and I thought for sure my chances of seeing a mammal were gone. But I was wrong.

Between a gap in the thick forest green, I saw a furry head poke through.

My heart jumped. I had never seen anything like it, and wondered what it could possibly be.

It leaped from its hole and onto log, posing perfectly for a picture.

White-nosed Coati

I saw its claws and with a warning from my guide, I slowly backed away. But my camera stayed right where it was.

The guide told us that it was called a coatimundi, and was a member of the raccoon family. I had never heard of the thing, and I had seen a lot of animal shows on TV, so I assumed it was an extremely rare animal. I felt so lucky to get to see such a thing.

Little did I know, coatis are like the squirrels of Canada. The very next day I counted five of them climbing trees and walking the streets along with pedestrians. The day after that, I saw three. And the next, I saw four. They were everywhere.

By the end of my trip, the coatimundi I saw back in Tenorio National Park was just a number in the dozens I saw.

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