Dancing Horses

Nice profile, horsie!!
Nice profile, horsie!!

Dancing horses always give me warm fuzzies…they’re just so darned cute when they do it.  I can only recall seeing them here in CR so I have been excited for a couple of weeks when I found out my friend wanted to go to Santa Teresita to see them do what they do this past Sunday.  This gait they have comes naturally to some, as the other woman who was with us told me.  Others have to be taught by putting weights on their feet.  The horses were fairly small from what I’m used to seeing, which is also due to the particular breed.

So none of us had any idea what would actually happen at this event.  We arrived around 11:30 after being told it would start at noon.  HA!  Tico time sets in here and after 3 hours, nothing was really happening.  In the meantime we found a concrete bench looking over the soccer field and thought we were lucky to have it.  Horses were brought in on trailers and the soccer field went from sparse to almost completely full.

Totally Regal
Totally Regal

Riders were prancing around on their horses and that was fun to see.  Some weren’t so good, while others were VERY good.  This one in particular that was near us looked like some kind of Roman battle horse.  Strong chested and regal looking with its dark coat and long mane, always seemed to stand proud with its head pointing down.  They also had a white horse and the two together looked like something out of a fairy tale.

Fairy tale horses
Fairy tale horses

Another horse, which was probably my favorite, seemed to dance perfectly to the music that was playing.  It actually looked like it was enjoying itself and did such a nice job.  I wanted to hug it so hard!!  What a good horse!

My favorite horse
My favorite horse
Proud dancer!
Proud dancer!

There was one horse in particular that was tied up next to me and had been there a while.  I know NOTHING about horses but have always felt vulnerable around them due to their size and what they could do to me if they ever freaked out.  When I saw that this horse would turn its back to me, I’d get up and get out of kicking distance.  It had started to dig at the ground and I asked the lady with us why it was doing that.  She said it might be stressed and who could blame it?  I would have been too.

The kicking horse
The kicking horse

It started raining a little bit and it’s all sort of a blur now, but the horse started whining and struggling.  I immediately bolted from my seat and when I was about 10 feet from where I was, I turned around to see that it had run into the bench we were sitting on and had kicked or stepped on the woman’s foot (which was already swollen and she had it propped up).  They calmed the horse down and her foot was all muddy and looked like it was bruised.  She said it wasn’t broken but what a thing to happen to her!  She was a really good sport though and from there on out we were careful about getting too close to the horses.

After the incident, I almost got crushed!
After the incident. I almost got crushed!

They announced something over the speaker and the horses and riders started lining up to go down the street.  The place was packed by now and I had a bad feeling that it would be a while before we could get out of there.  And sure enough after a slow parade down the street, shared by horses we came to a stop for no apparent reason.  After quite a wait we inched along again only to come to another halt closer to where all of the horses and riders congregated.  P1020395 The narrow road turned into a parking lot/party.  People got out of their cars to get beers out of their trunks.  People came up to cars asking if they wanted anything to drink and at one point, a guy rode by with about 4 Imperials in his hand.

Problem: One mouth, 4 beers
Problem: One mouth, 4 beers

It was like that old saying, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  However, we sat and waited and I guess the police finally showed up and started directing traffic.

The street party
The street party

About two hours after we had left the soccer field we were on the way back home.  With the threat of rain looming and lightning in the distance, I could only imagine what the streets would be like with drunk riders/drivers and horses in tow.  Welcome to Costa Rica!!  It was certainly an event I’m glad I didn’t miss.  I spliced together a video of the footage I took there.  It’s about a 7 minute clip if you’re in the mood to view it, you can find it here.

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A Day in San Jose

Heck yes we're gonna have Fundado!
Heck yes we’re gonna have Fundado!

My friend took me to San Jose the other day which I was actually looking forward to because I haven’t really hung out there during any time I’ve come to Costa Rica.  Luckily, she took me to the shopping section!  Not that I NEED to shop, but hey, I’m a girl…it’s ingrained in us to shop whether we want to or not.

The bus ride (about 2 hours) took us through Cartago for one stop and then straight to the bus station in S.J.  Thank god she knew where to go, I would’ve been lost as usual.  So the first thing we came upon was this mercado.  I have no idea what ‘fundado’ means, but I was down with it.  P1020314 It was really a touristy type of mercado, with vendors on both sides trying to get you into their little spaces crammed with all kinds of goodies.  I sort of felt like I was back in San Antonio, Tx. and going downtown to that mercado.  I managed not to buy anything there although I wanted to.

After that there was another Ropa Americano store which I absolutely love…second hand clothing from the good old U.S.A.  haha!  The only place you can buy Ann Taylor Loft tops for $2.  I did buy one and another nice black short sleeve breathable shirt.  A couple streets later we came to this sort of shopping district with no cars, just a big open area like an outdoor mall.  Restaurants, clothing, shoe shops abound!  P1020315 Large fresh cut flower vendors (why didn’t I take a picture of that!?) and yet another indoor mercado which was awesome.

The museum and national theater were also nearby, but the museum wanted $12 to get in.  Honestly, I’m not that interested even for free so I passed on that.  We came across this lady statue which I had to get a picture next to.  Not sure what it was all about exactly…just a typical CR abuela (grandmother) I assume.

Wanna look skinny?
Wanna look skinny?

I passed by one shop that had this preggo mannequin in the window which was sort of disturbing.  Can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.

Ummmm...yeah...
Ummmm…yeah…

Most of the pictures I took that day were in the mercado and apparently, I was hungry.  There were a lot of little cafes in there with people sitting on stools around a main U shaped table with the kitchen at the far end eating their lunch.  There were a bunch of fish and meat and fruit/veggie vendors.  I picked up a pack of fresh corn tortillas for $1 and that was all I bought in there.

Spices and such
Spices and such

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Big 'ol gourds
Big ‘ol gourds

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We stopped in at a pizza place that had these HUGE slices of pizza and a drink for about $2.50.  It wasn’t bad, wasn’t great…my jaws hurt from the chewy crust but hey, I got some pizza in me at least.

On the way back and only about 3km from the car, a wreck had just happened in the middle of the road.  It was nothing serious but the truck was blocking the center lane of this two lane road.  Most people could get around it, but our bus wouldn’t leave until it was cleared.  I could hardly believe it only took about 30 minutes and we were on our way back.  Oh, the round trip only cost about $7.  The collectivo bus is cheaper but it also takes another 30 minutes to get there because of all the stops.

Ok, so I have to add a couple of creatures that have no other place to go.  I was hanging by the pond one day and a lot of dragonflies were buzzing around.  The most beautiful one was this crazy green and blue color and it stayed still long enough for me to get a picture, but it wasn’t great.  So I went inside and the front door was open.  I was in the kitchen making something and heard this SUPER loud noise…like a buzz in the dining room.  I went in to see what it was and sure enough, it was THAT dragonfly!!  What luck!  He was stuck trying to get out of the front window.  He rested long enough for me to get a couple of shots.  Then I caught him in a cup and let him out.  Weird.  Anyway, this is the coolest dragonfly I’ve ever seen.  And check out those skeleton bone looking things on the tail!  WILD!!! P1020235 P1020234

I was making dinner tonight and heard a bird hit the window so of course I drop everything and take a look.  Yep, little hummer on the ground.  Ughhhhhhh…I run out and pick it up.  It seemed to be ok and it sure was a beauty so I had to grab the camera.  It only took a few minutes for him to get un-dizzy and fly off, but what a cutie.  Check out those awesome colored feathers!!

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Wonderfully Weird Stuff

Small lake at entrance. Egrets roost in the trees and caiman live in the swamp behind this.
Small lake at entrance. Egrets roost in the trees and caiman live in the swamp behind this.

My friend took me to CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) in Turri today.  We visited the botanical garden and had it all to ourselves!  What a great place.  I could have easily spent more time there looking a little closer at things so maybe I’ll go back sometime.  I’ll just caption these pictures with what I know about them.

Sorry for the foot shot but I had to get scale next to this GRAPEFRUIT.
Sorry for the foot shot but I had to get scale next to this GRAPEFRUIT.

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Columbian rose.
Colombian rose.
Somehow I don't think he's just helping her cross the street.
Somehow I don’t think he’s just helping her cross the street.

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Mangosteen we got to eat!  Man, it was good.
Mangosteen we got to eat! Man, it was good.
Some kind of ginger, I think.
Some kind of ginger, I think.
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The canonball tree has a TON of medicinal uses to it.
Flower of canonball tree
Flower of canonball tree
Looked like a stack of bowling balls and I held one; easily 8 pounds.
Looked like a stack of bowling balls and I held one; easily 8 pounds.
Canonball tree. Crazy heavy, watch out below! Originated in India.
Canonball tree. Crazy heavy, watch out below! Originated in India.

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Big bamboo.
Big bamboo.
I said these looked like rattlesnake tails and the name is similar to that we found out later!
I said these looked like rattlesnake tails and the name is similar to that we found out later!
I swear I see a new butterfly everyday here.
I swear I see a new butterfly everyday here.  This one is called Malachite
Anyone tried durian? Post a comment about it!
Anyone tried durian? Post a comment about it!

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Oropendula nests in the palms.
Oropendola nests in the palms.
I'm a sucker for lily pads!
I’m a sucker for lily pads!

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Rapidly multiplying algae
Rapidly multiplying algae

Ooooooo Snaaaakes!

In my element
In my element

My friend took me to Viborana Serpentarium which made me very happy.  The gentleman there has been working with reptiles for 45 years and is researching the effect of climate change on snakes in the area.  He gave a nice presentation beforehand where he talked about how the lack of rainfall is affecting the lives and reproduction of certain snakes.  Also how burning of the sugar cane fields ruins the livelihoods of boa constrictors because they live in armadillo tunnels.  When they burn the fields, they either kill the ‘dillos or they move out so now the snakes have no food because the mice and rats are also gone. He is trying to educate people about the benefits that snakes can bring.

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Slug eater

For example, this sweet little slug eating snake was being killed in a field where people were growing lettuce.  The slugs were destroying the crops but little did the people know that this is a slug eating snake!   So instead of using pesticides, they needed to stop killing the snakes.  I had the opportunity to hang on to this little one most of the time.  What’s interesting about it was its head looked as if it were a viper because of the typical diamond shape to it, but it wasn’t.  It was so sweet…he said it never bites or is aggressive. Then he brought out an adorable cat eye snake.  Check out those peepers!

Cat eye snake
Cat eye snake

They’re nocturnal and hunt sleeping lizards and insects.  They’re very long and thin, often resembling a small branch so they sneak up on their prey (albeit easy to do when they’re asleep!).  This one also had a bit of a triangle shape to its head but not as prominent as the slug eater.  They are slightly venomous but have rear fangs and probably not do any harm to a person. These two got along just fine and as is the norm with me, calmed down on my shoulders after a while.  I wanted to cuddle with them ALL DAY!! Ha!

Everyone getting along
Everyone getting along
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Jumping viper
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Plump little kid!

I also got to take a closeup picture of a fairly large bushmaster in its enclosure although the pictures didn’t come out well due to the light.  I did take a video of it though!

He brought out quite a few venomous snakes including this little jumping viper which is almost extinct due to habitat loss and climate change.  He said this one was super skinny and he’s nursed it back to health.  The good thing about this place is that he will release most of these back into the wild.  He’s also hoping to breed some of the rare ones and put them out there too.  That was good to know.  You can watch a quick video of it here.

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See the lashes?

He also brought out the cute eyelash viper, named that because of the little scales above the eyes which resemble eyelashes.  The mottled design on its skin was unbelievable.  You’d never see this one in the wild!

Eyelash viper
Eyelash viper

We also got to see a baby Fer de lance which is one of the most deadly snakes around.  It was sitting on top of a dead cecropia leaf and I didn’t even SEE it!  He said they like high humidity so when these leaves die and fall to the ground, they curl up inside of them.  So be very careful when in the jungle or wherever these trees may be as you could have a surprise if you kicked or stepped on one (if you didn’t kill it by doing that).

Baby fer de lance
Baby fer de lance

He showed me a fang of a bushmaster which can get up to 2 inches long.  Yikes.

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Bushmaster fang

Oh, I also did a video on the two cuties around my neck for anyone interested located here.  I mistakenly called it a cat eye viper…not sure where I was on that one…it is not a viper.  Also, the slugs were in a patch of lettuce, not on the macadamia farm. The last creature to make an appearance was the cute red eyed tree frog!  These guys seem to be the symbol of Costa Rica.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen one in the wild so it was really cool to be able to take pictures and watch it for a while.  They need high humidity and he said they would turn dark green when they were lacking that.  So since we didn’t have much time with it,  I took as many pictures as I could.  You can see a video of it here walking on the leaf.

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