The Cenizaro Tree

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

cenizaro tree in Costa RicaThere is this gigantic Cenizaro tree in my neighbors yard that borders alongside the front of my home.  It’s huge.  No picture I take does it justice.  It’s trunk is short (maybe 15-20 feet) but its many branches extend outwards in all directions and are each at least 30-50 feet long!  It is home to mossy branches in winter that are covered in bromeliads and wild orchids.  There are two black squirrels that run around looking for food and it’s a favorite place for white faced and squirrel monkeys to hang out, rest, and forage for lunch. Butterflies fight, making a clicking sound like hummingbirds, for their favorite places to rest and countless birds, including 2 beautiful toucans sing all throughout the day.  I also saw a huge green iguana with a bright red head seeking cover during a recent rainstorm.

cenizaro tree in Costa Rica 2

In January, as I noticed a few of the other local trees dropping their leaves, I began to imagine what this tree would look like without leaves and what color its flowers would be.  It wasn’t until mid-March when we got some high winds and all the leaves fell off the tree over the course of a 3 day period.  My poor housekeeper swept the terrace on one of her visits and noticed just before leaving that it was covered in leaves again.  She was going to sweep it up but I just shook my head and told her not to worry.

I was super excited at the thought of the flowers blooming but no kidding, 3 days after all the leaves disappeared, they all reappeared!  Fresh green sprouts popped out of the tree branches…and no flowers in sight.  It was about a week later that I noticed an influx of hummingbirds and then noticed the pretty pink flowers sitting on top of the leaves.

flowering cenizaro tree in Costa Rica

So that was the season for the Cenizaro tree…3 days of Fall, then summer with green leaves, then Springtime with flowers which lasted until just a week or so ago.  And now we’re back to summer (but technically, we’re in winter!).

Pura vida…Chrissy

More Wild, Magical Happenings in Tortuguero

It’s been difficult to come up with the words to describe this magical event that occurred while I was in Tortuguero a few weeks ago.  It started with my alarm going off at 4:15 a.m. for a 4:45 a.m. tour.  I’ve gone on 5:30 a.m. birdwatching tours but 4:45 is incredibly early.  The sun isn’t even awake yet!

But we all quickly downed some coffee and grabbed umbrellas.  Unlike where I live on the Pacific, it’s now the start of winter on the Caribbean side and from what I quickly learned, they have some wild weather over there!

We set off from Tortuga Lodge on the boat and crossed the channel to get to the beach side.  Walking about 100 meters east through the dark jungle and arriving at Tortuguero’s black sand beach…hoping to see one of nature’s most beautiful miracles…hatching baby turtles.

Baby turtles hatching in Tortuguero Costa Rica

The palm tree lined beach is 22 kilometers long but we would only walk a short stretch of it over the course of the next two hours.Our guide, Juan, began by checking the sand with his flashlight to find baby turtle tracks, of which he found many.  Which meant that we missed those hatchings.  As he was walking away from one of the nest sites however, his flashlight moved over a section of sand and I saw the sweetest little baby turtle crawling just inches from my feet.  It was too dark to take photos (remember, I don’t use flash – and neither should you) but I’ll never forget that moment as we watched this lone turtle make its way into the crashing waves.

We continued to walk north along the beach and saw more turtle tracks.  We also found a lot of turtle nests that looked like an animal had gotten to them (lots of broken eggs on the sand as well as paw prints that Juan told us were probably raccoons).

We came across one baby who was desperately trying to get to the water but kept flipping himself over.  It didn’t seem like he was going to make it.  And another turtle who died near its nest, which also had signs of being broken into by wildlife.

Walking further, we came across two women who had found a wet baby turtle high up on the shore.  Juan told us that he had probably gone into the ocean but then couldn’t breathe and made his way back to the beach.  We watched the little turtle and could see that he was still breathing but sitting there in the sand meant that one of the nearby hawks or vultures could potentially make him their next meal.  Juan told us however that he had a better chance of survival if we left him there and not put him back in the ocean.  There was obviously a reason why he came back to shore.  And disturbing the natural rhythms of nature is never a good thing.

Baby turtles hatching in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

We were almost to the beach exit for the Lodge when it started to torrentially pour down rain.  Everyone quickly threw their cameras into their backpacks and opened up their umbrellas. And as we continued to walk north just meters from where we needed to cross, that’s when the magic happened.  The rain was letting up a bit, the sun peeked out from the dark clouds and that’s when Juan spotted turtles running into the water.  Just writing that now brings an uncontrollable smile to my face.  We quickly (but cautiously as there were turtles everywhere) ran over to see about 50 turtles making their way into the water.  And then more magic happened as Juan noticed, just a few meters away, the sand cracking open with dozens more turtles trying to dig their way out of another nest.  He said he had never seen two nests hatch simultaneously in the same location.

A moving experience to say the least.  So totally special.  To read more on this experience and the life lessons learned, check out next Tuesday’s post on my business site: Social {media} Wellness.  Enjoy the video…

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Swimming with Sharks and Other Snorkeling Tales of the Caribbean

DSC00889I love the gigantic redwoods and the monster waves at Mavericks, but the rich coral gardens located under the sea…I honestly don’t know if anything in the world can compare to their impressive beauty.  I think that Dr. Seuss must have been an avid snorkeler.  When I’m swimming around coral gardens, I always think of his stories and the wild, colorful characters he created and imagine that he took some of his inspiration from the coral reefs found in our planet’s tropical regions.

Like I mentioned in the last post, I was able to go snorkeling all 3 days that I was in Panama.  And fortunately, the weather held out for us and the sun even popped out a few times, making the water even that much more clear!

In the Bocas del Toro archipelago, there are 10 main islands and over 200 smaller islands.  There are also indigenous communities, one of which I visited on my first trip there.

We saw a vast array of fish swimming around us all three days, some small, some quite large…like the nursing shark that swam past me on our second day.  I was the only one in the water and I couldn’t decide if I should take the photo or get the heck out of the water.  But as you can see…I got the photo.  I would later find out that it’s rare for this type of shark to attack humans but of course, when you’re actually in the water and there’s no access to google, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution (so do as I say, not as I do!).

Nursing shark

The other guests were snorkeling pros and taught me about the types of coral and fish we were seeing. I loved the two types of parrot fish, the sea fan and the angel fish.  And I appreciated learning about the fire coral – not exactly a coral but if you touch it, it will sting and cause you great pain.  While I always try to avoid touching coral because it’s a living organism and touching can harm it, now I have even more of a reason to avoid it!

My favorite snorkeling spot in Bocas del Toro is Cayo Coral.  Stunning coral and fish exist there.  And because we’re in the low season, it was really only me and the two other guests for the most part!  We also went to a few other places that were interesting and different but really, I would have been happy if we had just stayed at Cayo Coral for all three days.  There was one location that we dropped in at that was much deeper than the other more shallow locations and it gave us a view of much larger fish and gigantic coral specimens.

There wasn’t much current in the Cay’s which is nice as you don’t really have to worry about being pushed into a reef and can instead just float/swim around at your leisure.  Since I don’t wear fins (or a snorkel for that matter), I was working extra hard to avoid scratching my feet along the reefs and was using my yoga breath to dive down a lot more than normal but it was worth it for the photos and videos I was able to get.  Visit my Facebook page to watch the video!

Snorkeling in the Caribbean is a truly awesome experience…highly recommend it for an underwater travel adventure!

Enjoy the slideshow…

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Pura vida…Chrissy

Chasing Mavericks

I grew up at the beach.  Every summer, playing in the water, building sand castles and boogieboarding.  I didn’t actually learn to surf until last year in Nosara but surfing has always fascinated me.  And really, waves and the ocean are what draw me in.  There is something so awesome about the ocean.  The waves, tides, sealife, everything.  It’s a remarkable phenomenon of our planet.

Living in the bay area before moving to Costa Rica, I had two opportunities to go out on a boat to some of the biggest waves known in the world…Mavericks.  Once on competition day in 2010 and once in 2012 when some of the largest waves of the season were hitting the area but the conditions weren’t good enough to call the competition.

Today, Chasing Mavericks is being released in theatres in the US.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie and live vicariously through you since I will have to wait for it to come out on Netflix.  Although, I did get to see them filming the movie the day we were on the boat in 2012.  The helicopter below has a camera in a plastic bag attached to the cable – they accidentally ran into one of the large waves and the camera was destroyed.  It was rumored that the camera cost over $100,000.

Here’s a short video from that day.  Warning: may cause sea sickness. : )  The Chasing Monsters movie trailer is below.

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