Dave Looks for Plants

Journal of a plant explorer

Returning to Costa Rica with Karen


My next trip to Costa Rica I wanted to return to Rancho Mastatal a little later in the rainy season to see if the Costus there might be more in flower.  My wife, Karen, does not usually go with me on these trips as she would be bored to death, sitting around while I am out on the trails pursuing my silly hobby looking for one kind of plant.  But since I had already been to Rancho Mastatal and I knew there would be many interesting things for her to see and do there, I encouraged her to come along.  After the trip, Karen wrote up a nice journal with lots of photos of non-Costus stuff, so most of this will be from her story, but I will inject my Costus-related comments here and there.




(NOTE:  The following thumbnail images and text were prepared by Karen in 2006 shortly after we returned from that trip.  The page has been widened into the right menu sidebar to take advantage of that white space.

If you want to see a larger image on her pages, just click on the thumbnail then use your back button to get back to the page.)


Welcome to Costa Rica, land of Caribbean beaches, Pacific rim geotectonism, rainforests,  and Costus, the plant group Dave was there to study (Costus are subset of the Ginger family).  Costa Rica is two hours different from Eastern Daylight time, although the capitol city of San Jose is due south of Tallahassee.  The people are very friendly, but most are very very poor.  The ritzy places usually are owned by Gringos (North Americans).

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 Tally to Atlanta to San Jose International Airport.

Taxi to Puriscal, then buses to Mastatal.  The brakes went out on the first bus, so they finally brought us a school bus for the rest of the trip.

Karen only lightly mentioned this but we were stuck by the side of the road that evening for several hours waiting for a replacement bus and it was well after dark by the time we arrived.

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Mastatal abuts LaCangreja National Park, although is not large enough a town to show up on this map.

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Here There Everywhere. So is Mastatal down?

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Welcome to Rancho Mastatal. (Picture taken 180o from previous picture)

Rancho Mastatal is the home of Timo and Robin, two former Peace Corps workers with a grand vision, that unlike many, they are achieving.  They wished to expand the zone of land preserved from deforestation and species eradication, along with providing an anchor for education of Americans, and the community.  Long hours, with much hard work, and five years later, the Rancho provides housing, food and fun for a steady flow of paying visitors, of volunteers who earn their keep by working, and of students on scholarships. People come from all over the United States to study the local ecology, to take “immersion training” in Spanish by staying with local families. They also assist in community development projects, teaching English at the local school, and employ ten people, contributing to the income level of the small town.  They have a very nice website, with lots of info, but this is my little snapshot of the place.

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Inside the gate,
Pica and vegetables await.
(Pica is the dog — a healthy, well-fed one, which is rare in CR).


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