Saturday, July 21, 2012

Travel home

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wake up in the dark to the first of several alarms going off. Very tired; don't want to get up. But yes, I do! I get to go home to my wife today. I make coffee and watch CNN on the TV. Drag my bags up to the lobby at 4 am, for my taxi. It isn't there. The night guard is puzzled to see me. I check the time on the clock in the lobby. 3 am. Oops. I set my alarms an hour earlier than needed. They must have been on daylight savings time, as is Oklahoma, while Costa Rica sensibly stays on central standard time. I leave my bags there and go back to my room for an hour and drink more coffee.

Back to the lobby at 4 am and this time my taxi is there. I requested the front desk call the same driver who took me to Haras del Mar on friday for horse riding as he was nice, punctual and had a great car. He was here on time at 4 am. Helped me load the bags and away we went through the dark.

On the way we heard a howler monkey calling. Nice sound. And as an aside, I have neglected the mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) in this travelogue. I saw a family group in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and another at the Selvatura forest. Very exciting to see them deep in high forest, moving through the canopy. Impossible to photograph so I didn't try. Just enjoyed them. When backlit, I could see the colors of their coat which distinguish them from the howler monkeys in Belize (Alouatta pigra) which are a uniform black.

But the most dramatic sighting was at a restaurant in Coco a few days previously. I was eating at Coconutz Sports Bar when I heard the familiar growling from above. A group were in the large guancaste tree above the open-air restaurant. I watched. A subadult male was on the fringe of a family group. The adult male seemed to be putting on a display to warn the subadult male from approaching. It was successful, with no direct violence, but very dramatic for me and every other patron.

As this account suggests, I was using my time in the cab that dark morning to reflect on the trip. One of the best of many trips I have ever taken. I felt like I did good and important work and made contact with many people who care about sustainability in Central America. I know I learned a lot, and hope I helped others learn, too. Most of all, I want to come back soon--but this time with my wife.

We arrived at the airport in Liberia early, before all but a few people. A porter helped me with my bags and brought me to the window where passengers must pay their departure tax (US$26, if I remember correctly). I used my credit card. I then went to check my bag. No line at this hour! The security checkpoint was not yet open so I walked around. This terminal building is new, having opened in January, 2012, to accommodate the increased flights directly to this Northwest corner of Costa Rica.

Shuttle buses from the all-inclusive resorts began arriving and I was glad I got here before them. The security checkpoint arrived and I was in the first few through. I went up the escalator and to my gate. The shops aren't open yet so I sit down by my gate:
DSCN0873 That white thing on the chair next to my green backpack is the hammock for my wife.

I doze as more people arrive. The shops open but I am too tired to even get one last cup of Costa Rican coffee in Costa Rica. Soon we board and the flight departs on time. I sleep most of the way to Houston. Immigration and customs is not problem as I have nothing to declare. Recheck bag to Tulsa. Get some Texas BBQ for lunch. That is sort of a tradition my wife and I have for our return to the U.S. from Belize.

Flight to Tulsa takes off on time and goes smoothly. Land in Tulsa. Collect my bag, look for wife. No luck. Go outside. Wait. Soon she strolls up from the other terminal, looking fabulous in a new outfit. Big hug, long kiss.

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