I’ll never forget the moment – it was just before lunch.
Actually, it’s a bit more involved than that. You see, my band of culinary adventure junkies and I were off on a waterfall trek, to skip along swinging bridges over a jungle canopy and marvel at Nature's cornucopia near Miravalles Volcano, Costa Rica. It was then, just as our trusty guide delivered us to our ‘Spicy Limo’ (sort of farm tractor/wagon and now our exclusive shuttle to the trailhead) that I first witnessed the object of my affection – a Keel-billed Toucan.
It wasn’t love at first sight, for either of us. In fact, we heard the toucan call softly – a lilting “tchook tchook” – before we actually saw him. He was quite shy, hiding in the canopy, observing us unseen as we arrived and parked. Yet, he was intrigued. It was obvious.
My amazing guide, Diego, knew the little feathered devil was inquisitive. He whistled a few times, called, and coaxed. Suddenly, leaves rustled in the canopy and a blur of color flashed over us as this feathered harlot hopped from branch to branch for a better view. Oh, how he flirted! Yet, he was playing hard to get and our luxury limo awaited, so we boarded our ride leaving him to his amorous tree-top games.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him though, with that circus-like painted bill just like Toucan Sam's from the Fruit Loops box of cereal. Later, even as we hiked the trail on a quest for yet another pristine waterfall, I wondered if I’d ever see that beautiful creature again.
Within minutes along the trail, natural wonders popped up at nearly every step. Undoubtedly Costa Rica’s wildlife is super sexy, a region home to so much natural diversity, yet surprisingly accessible. Giant morpho butterflies the size of your hand – iridescent when they take to the air, yet cleverly camouflaged in repose – along with dozens of other colorful ‘flutter-by’s’ caught our attention. Like kids in Nature's proverbial candy store we were mesmerized as we wandered deeper into the jungle. Cork-screw snails with fine porcelain-like shells, grasshoppers dressed for Halloween, and ants that will eat you alive in a matter of minutes were just a few of our trail companions.
If the visual treats that tempted us along this Costa Rican canopy hike weren't enough, our final destination was the topper! An unreal, minty fresh swimming pool at the base of an ever-perfect 60-foot waterfall, complete with a diving platform. Damn, I forgot my swimsuit.
Tempting as it was, more adventures lay ahead. But wait, lest I forget! My feathered paramour calls! So, back we trek for the next part of the tale, including a wet and very muddy rendezvous.
What happens next? Does she fall for the bird? Join me in Costa Rica, or snag the blog feed below for the latest Spicy Adventure...