Madcap Misadventures in Costa Rica

The horror!! What is a birder’s worst nightmare?? Forgetting the SD Card? Forgetting to charge the camera battery?

Low sun on a spring day?? Rain on a spring day? Running out of gas in the middle of nowhere?

Top contenders for sure.

But the ABSOLUTE WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO A BIRDER–happened to me this week.

I got all the way to the birding capital of Central America: Costa Rica, only to find out that my camera was damaged and would not produce a charge for the battery.

Costa Rica:

Well i chose to treat my friend Sandi, a 72 year old retired academic success counselor to a trip to Costa Rica. I had not been out of the country since the pandemic and since my son’s passing. I figured a trip with a friend who knew my son was good for me. Christmas is a hard holiday for me, so I chose that day for us to leave.

Sandi is disabled, her condition is not a “visible” one, she has fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia, making her unable to walk for long periods as well as making it hard for her to carry difficult weights. I made sure to accommodate this. This means that the wild areas of Costa Rica were off limits. I did not want to leave my friend. So I settled on a hotel that had a verdant garden which would naturally attract birds. I figured trips to Monteverde would be better served on another trip.

The camera fouled on me though. I could not take ONE PICTURE. I was devastated. But the truth of the matter is that dropping camera too many times will cause problems and sadly the deterioration manifested during this trip.

Getting good images of birds in Costa Rica means leaving the city centers. Like any landscape, the presence of birds is increased by a water source and diversity of vegetation. Costa Rica has many beautiful birds. Find some here:

When it comes to viewing wildlife in any region, the larger the expanse of pristine wilderness means having to hike a great deal to view said wildlife.

Because these birds have large expanses to feed and live, they don’t have to be concentrated in one area like a zoo. So this means the person looking to photo wildlife needs to have some hours on their hands or perhaps have very good luck. Most birders who get pics in Costa Rica have hiked for hours in a day or have spend the money to stay in exclusive places like Rancho Naturalista where the property is cultivated to attract many birds. Feeder stations are input on the property to ensure bird viewing.

But still even in town, one can see neotropical birds at botanical gardens. This is what I was going to to attempt. I knew my friend could not manage the long hikes. I figured I would get some photos at the botanical gardens. But my camera fouled!

Getting around in Costa Rica is not difficult for tourists. I used ubers. Some opt for a rental car, but driving in different countries is not easy. The rules of the road are a bit more flexible seeming, lots of people walking in the road, lots of people on scooters, many trucks seemingly coming out of nowhere. I would rather leave that to the locals.

The locals are very kind. Every person we dealt with including airport security was kind to us. As African American women who are brown-skinned we were happy that everyone welcomed us.

We will go back to Costa Rica next winter and next time???


I did have a grief bomb on departure. I thought of my Ricky and how I would have loved to have him with me on the trip. I wept in the boarding line, prayed to God, wrote my mentor, Matt Cohen on the plane, and the grace washed over me.


Always with hope.

Published by Christy Hyman, PhD (spatialhuman6)

Historical Geographer, digital humanist, mother, griefworker, activist, advocate

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