Tropical Cancer—Two National Parks Nearby


A couple months before moving here, I rubbed my hands together with anticipatory glee and searched google maps to see which National Parks are near Cortes.

Bingo. Marina Bellini. (Wait, that’s champagne and peach schnapps with brunch at the yacht club.)

Parque Nacional Marina Ballena is roughly twenty miles north. Google promises it takes exactly twenty-eight minutes to get there under any conditions. I can live with that. So let’s check out the Official website.

Oh wow. Beautiful cross-fading slideshow of stunning coastline. Whales in the water. There’s no copy on the Home page except the links on top, so I picked one that’s currently inactive.

Oh wow. What does this all mean? It’s en Español, naturally.

La Costanera Sur
(Dominical – Palmar Norte) 

Never fear! At the top of the page there’s a Translation link. How wondrous is this new tool the Ape has got hold of—the browser? Translation:

The Costanera Sur
(Sunday – Palmar Norte)

Below are excerpts of the translation, which turned out to be a tour of the southern beaches:

Sunday is the starting point for this route, we can now do so
without shattering the vehicle…

That’s reassuring. Followed by some non-sequiturs, such as:

Upon leaving we left Sunday, forested hills under the Fila called Sunday.

They got this thing about Sunday, apparently. And sentences requiring critical thinking before they make much sense, such as:

Its height and proximity are factors that cause in the winters which streams flow from becoming violent and drag the bridges, as water has
no place to rest during the floods.

I had to rub my temples after reading that. Then, a shocker:

Hovering there, called my attention to a foreign body in the sea.

No one I knew, hopefully.

I took out the binoculars and I was lucky to witness
something that in my life seen two whales…

Whew. Followed by some solid info:

Do not know much about whales but, ask other people… Anyway…

And another non-sequitur:

I had the opportunity to enter, but since the road is very attractive.

Describes an interesting bit of architecture:

It can be seen across the river on the island of Punta Mala,
which in this room has beautiful mangroves…

Must be either a big room or small mangroves—or a room under water, obviously, because “water has no place to rest during the floods.” It wraps up with a bit of local news:

Many people speak the transfer of Cortez to another place, because of the threat of flooding of the terrace. However, it is considered by its
inhabitants as a crazy who are not willing to allow.

Those whacky Cortesians! And finally, it admits:

Here ends this route, which, in the short term, it has become the preferred way of heavy traffic that flows from border to border, to prevent the ascent of Cerro de la Muerte and the entrance to Central Valley.

So after all that, don’t bother to go there because the traffic sucks anyhow. Not exactly what I was googling for, but a fun read nonetheless. Now that I’ve been to the park I can tell you that it is quite beautiful and worth the experience—and the traffic’s not that bad.

The next website I went to was in English and showed some of the fauna in Marino Ballena National Park.

Check out the photo of a bananaquit. How cute is that little guy? Makes me think of corn flakes, for some reason. I haven’t met a critter in Costa Rica yet who isn’t at least slightly lovable, for one reason or another. Simply being utilitarian is enough for me to appreciate an animal who may look like it’s from outer space. It wasn’t their fault (indeed, it was their strength) the black-ctenosaur looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

“Oh yeah? Google insects and snakes in Costa Rica,” Babe asked, as long as I was googling. “If there’s a lot of snakes I’m gonna be freaked—”

“Nah,” I cut her off. “Snakes are cool, for one thing. Besides, one doesn’t have a snake problem, they have a mongoose deficiency.”

“You want a mongoose now? Do they even have mongooses in Costa Rica?”

I confessed to not knowing whether one should say “mongeese” and asked Jeeves: Are there mongoose in Costa Rica?

Yes. The small Indian mongoose is now found in Costa Rica, Hawaii, Fiji, the islands of the Caribbean, and other places around the world.

There you go. Got a problem? Nature provides a solution. On a roll, I asked Jeeves if there were any insects in Costa Rica.

Yes. Costa Rica Insects and Insect Repellents.

No hay problema!

Moving along, now we head approximately twenty miles south to Parque Nacional Corcovado, where we find OMG A GIANT (insert your preferred expletive) SNAKE! Oh (insert favorite deity or prophet), it’s probably got the half-digested remains of Detroit in there!

Some words from the website for

…an international attraction for eco-tourists.
…[contains] 4% of the world’s biodiversity…
…paradise for eco-tourism…
…best place to glimpse the diversity of flora and fauna that exists in Costa Rica…
…Biologists estimate that the area contains approximately 10,000 species of insects, at least 2,418 species of plants, 700 species of trees, 140 species of mammals, 367 types of birds, 117 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 40 species of freshwater fish. An estimated 49 species of trees in the area are in danger of extinction, at least 12 of which are endemic to Costa Rica.
…the home of an endemic species of bird and 17 endemic subspecies of birds…
…also contains the most significant populations of large endangered mammals such as jaguars, pumas, ocelots, white-lipped peccaries, and tapirs on the Pacific coast of Central America…
…relatively large populations of endangered birds in Corcovado including scarlet macaws and the great curassow…

Curassow? Isn’t that an orange liqueur from a small Caribbean island? (Whatever it is, don’t let it get near your peccary.)

Corcovado National Park is, in a word, happenin’. One website says there’s approximately 600 species of insects in the park, while the quote above says there’s more like 10,000 (neither site was dated). Excuse me, but in my mind that’s a big-ass discrepancy. Birds are one thing, but bugs are quite another. They may be small, sure, but stack 9400 of them in a black helmet and give it a cape and you’ve got Darth Vadar.

“But I am your father!”


Whether I ever make it to Corcovado remains to be seen.


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