Thursday, July 19, 2012

We serve iguanas

I wanted to use photographs of either blistering hot sun or heavy rains to illustrate yesterday's post about the national drought and our need for water.

Searching my files, I discovered that I don't take photographs in the rain.  I could not find a single one.  Oh there were some gray skies, maybe a little haze, even the hint of drizzle, but no rain.   I guess I am a fair weather photographer.  I definitely need to fix that.

As far as images of blistering sun, I have many, many sunny day pictures.  Unfortunately, none of them, even the desert shots, conveyed the heaviness and heat I was looking for.  I finally settled on this image of an iguana taken in Costa Rica a couple years ago.  I chose it because the iguana seemed to be immobile in the heat of the day, a lizard leaden with lethargy.

Iguanas are common in Costa Rica, and it is not at all unusal to see a few while out on a hike.  It IS unusual to see hundreds of them at once, easily visible right of the road.  But that is exactly what we saw standing on a bridge over the Rio San Carlos in Muelle.   This particular iguana, and hundreds of his rather large best friends and relatives, live a rather public life even enjoying a bit of celebrity status.

Yes, this particular iguana  lives just outside the  Restaurante Las Iguanas located on the road between La Fortuna and Los Chiles, near the Nicaraguan border.  This restaurant  serves iguanas, but not as an entree to diners.  Instead, this restaurant serves the needs of the local iguana population. According to our tour guide, José,  thirty years ago, the owner  decided  to feed and protect iguanas after Nicaraguan immigrants hunted them to near extinction in this region.  He started feeding them on his private property and today he hosts literally hundreds of huge iguanas the trees along the river near the restaurant. 

The iguanas enjoy a safe, serene and, as far as I can tell, contented existence.  They really don't have to do much.  Eat.  Sleep. Sun themselves in view of the tourists. Pose for photographs.  Mate.

In return for this idyllic life, they provide a tourist attraction, enticing van loads of eco-tourists to stop at this out of the way Cafe.  They stop to see the iguanas but I imagine many stay for lunch, cervezas, and cortaditos.   Just like us.   

Everybody wins.

When we stopped to see the iguanas in Muelle, we were on our way to boat ride on the Caño Negro with a group of bird-watchers.  The real win for us that day was the amazing diversity and beauty of the wildlife we saw- lizards, monkeys, caiman, birds, birds and more birds!
Baselisk, locally known as the Jesus Christ Lizard

Howler Monkey. We saw capuchins too.


Aninhga-- how do they bend their necks like that?


Today I am grateful that my new glasses arrived a week early.  I have been squinting for months and it is wonderful to see clearly again!

The Caño Negro trip held many delightful surprises for us but perhaps the most unexpected was that we met an older couple on the trip who live in Flint (45 miles from us) and whose grandson is a student at SVSU.  This was in Costa Rica.  Near the Nicaraguan border.  On a tiny little boat that holds 12 people.

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