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Animal Brigadoon

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It's a magical place, Costa Rica, so colorful and lush, popping with life and flowers, birds and insects. It brings the winter-dulled senses back to life. Going there in dreary February is like drinking an elixir that wakes you and makes you feel that everything is possible again.

We were headed back to Don Alvaro's finca in February 2015 to show it to some lucky travelers, and to bring him a gift. Your gift. 

The groovy anis waved hello, looking fine by some roadside cannas.

We took a narrow, muddy back road cut-through and almost knocked a white hawk off its eye-level perch. That bird hadn't gotten the memo that white hawks are always a dot in a scope in a distant tree, many hundreds of yards from eager birders. It was completely happy to let us ogle it, get out of the bus, and commit it to our many respective digital recording devices. It had lizards on its mind.

Our guide Mario Cordoba had first brought me (and some of the present crew, repeat offenders on my second trip to Costa Rica) to Don Alvaro's place in 2013, and what I saw and felt there left a deep impression on my psyche.
It was an animal Brigadoon, where there was nothing to fear and everything to trust.

Where a fierce-seeming water buffalo is gentle as a lamb. Yes, he has a ring in his nose, but he's a doll.

Where a donkey named Conejo begs for pineapple, and gets it. I've never met a full-sized donkey you could throw your arms around and smooch on the nose, but Conejo is a great big lovebunny. 

From this most unusual open-air kitchen, attended by creatures great and small, we enjoyed the most delicious meal of our trip, and that's saying a lot.

Fresh pineapple juice? Comida typical, perfectly prepared and seasoned? Yes, please, more more more. We were in Food Animal Heaven.

Of course, I had to share. 

Don Alvaro's is the kind of farm where a great curassow just walks up to you and gently pecks your hand, giving a little moaning call as you tickle its curly crest. 

I like it there, and I'm not alone. 

We were here to take it all in, and to give something back, too. 

And it wasn't going to be peanuts.

I am indebted to my friends Jenny Bowman, Bonnie Bowen, Jenny Minton and Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk for many of these photos. If I'm in 'em, I didn't take 'em. The mists of time have pulled a cover of forgetfulness over me and I was lax in recording whose photo was whose. They flooded in right after the trip and I was, uh, not paying attention. Please jump in and tell me!!


what a beautiful place and how wonderful to be up close and personal with these animals! thanks so much for sharing these photos with us!

I would be in heaven there, surrounded by all those animals an birds! Thank you for sharing that magical trip!

I think we were all taking similar photos, guess I didn't take the ones I am in. What a wonderful day that was. Oh the food, the flowers, the birds... And I have to say the trip was enhanced by the delight Julie shares with anyone lucky enough to be near her.

Your photos are so beautiful and captivating! I love animals and nature, I always have. I am not sure why but I seem to have a way with donkeys, because whenever I go to a nature park they come right up to me and greet me at the end of their enclosure, and their enclosure is quite large! I love them. :)

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