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Writing From the Heart – How a Letter Put Me Eye to Eye With a Mountain Gorilla and Changed My Life

Writing From the Heart – How a Letter Put Me Eye to Eye With a Mountain Gorilla and Changed My Life

Evelyn with a Mountain GorillaWatch the video here.

Picture a dead end job with the glass ceiling weighing heavy on my pride. I know I’m good at writing letters because I consistently get results from them for my firm. I wonder how I can turn this skill into a bullet train ride out of here. The book I’ve just read, Gorillas in the Mist, pops into my brain. I touch pen to paper and out flows, Dear Dian Fossey. She had a reputation for liking gorillas more than people and this is the longest shot I’ve ever taken. I don’t know it at the time but this letter is my bullet train. Even though this took place more than 25 years ago, the lessons learned are still relevant today.

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New Bridge Provides Better Access to Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio Park

New Bridge Provides Better Access to Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio Park

Originally published in the Costa Rica Star by Wendy Anders, Dec. 21, 2016

Yesterday, transportation authorities inaugurated a new bridge at the entrance to the Central Pacific port town of Quepos, the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park.

New Bridge in Quepos
New Bridge in Quepos

The cement structure replaces a bailey bridge that spanned the Boca Vieja estuary, said the National Highway Council (Conavi, in Spanish) in a press statement.

Carlos Villalta, Minister of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), said at the inauguration the infrastructure cost ¢1.560 million (about US$286,000).

The two-lane bridge provides safer access to and from Quepos for motorized vehicles and also pedestrians, with sidewalks in both directions, said Vice President of the Republic Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría.

Gorilla Etiquette Lessons with Dr. Dian Fossey

Gorilla Etiquette Lessons with Dr. Dian Fossey

Karisoke Research Center – Rwanda, Africa

Journal Entry August 5, 1985

Dian Fossey holds a baby gorilla
Dian Fossey holds a baby gorilla

Dian invited us to her cabin for dinner tonight to welcome us to Karisoke. A hundred burnt umber eyes stared down at us from a black and white photo gallery of gorillas past and present. She told us about a few of them over dinner. The ones she lost to poachers haunted her. She could hardly talk about her beloved Digit.

She also invited a student from the University of Oklahoma who had just arrived a few days before to work on his Ph.D. His topic is about the parenting role of a male gorilla and the effects on his offspring. He didn’t talk much beyond our introductions.

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Seasons and Best Times to Visit Costa Rica

Seasons and Best Times to Visit Costa Rica

By Evelyn Gallardo

Rio CelesteSeasonal terms can be confusing in tropical places like Costa Rica where online resources and guidebooks may describe them in different ways. To add to the confusion, some terms refer to the weather itself, while others refer to tourism.

Honestly, there are really only two seasons in Costa Rica, dry and rainy. There are no seasons with snow or drastic changes in temperature. The average temperature year round is between 71F and 81F degrees (21.7C-27C). One thing to keep in mind is elevation. The higher up you go, the cooler it gets. If you’re planning to visit Costa Rica you’ll want to optimize your experience by knowing what clothes to pack and what to expect weather-wise. No worries. The seasons in Costa Rica are about to become crystal clear.

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Heaven is…

Heaven is…

Nang and Evelyn
Nang and Evelyn

…a massage with Nang at Numngeru Thai Massage in Khao Suk. I walk in at noon expecting to make an appointment for later but Nang, the massage therapist, insists on doing it now. I’m not a fan of deep tissue massages because frankly, they frikkin’ hurt! I decide to surrender because everything hurts after 23 1/2 hours in the air.

After 90 minutes of it-hurts-so-good pain (and a brief nap!) I ask her to do a reflexology massage. Embarrassingly, I didn’t make time to learn a little Thai, so I have to resort to hand gestures.

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Hitching Cargo Boats up the Amazon

Hitching Cargo Boats up the Amazon

It was June 1976 and my husband David and I had spent 6 months trekking through South America. We were longhaired, backpacking, bell-bottom wearing hippies back then.

We were in Goiania, Brazil staying with friends we’d made along the way when we found ourselves deeply regretting we’d skipped seeing the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. We were on a tight budget and our hosts advised us that heading up the Amazon River was the least expensive way to get there and so it became our logical choice.

My daughter Dawn had joined us a month earlier after spending just enough time with her grandparents in Los Angeles to enroll in kindergarten and not be left behind a grade in school. I didn’t subscribe to people’s warnings that you couldn’t travel with kids. It was a state of mind. Dawn turned out to be a great little traveler.

Amazon sunset
Amazon sunset

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Tiger’s Nest, Paro, Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest, Paro, Bhutan

My daughter Dawn and I made the challenging climb to the most sacred monastery in Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest. This short video shows our ascent. We weren’t allowed to take in cameras or telephones, so stay tuned for Part 2 to read about what we saw and did inside. I highly recommend visiting this monastery built on a sheer cliff – it was an amazing experience!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enPwF4ZT6cs

Orangutans Losing Their Habitat Due to Deforestation

Orangutans Losing Their Habitat Due to Deforestation

Many of you already know about our volunteer work to help primates around the world. We love all animals but especially orangutans and mountain gorillas. Have a look at this short video to better understand what is happening. For more information on how you can help go to https://orangutan.org/.

Thai Culture & Language Class

Thai Culture & Language Class

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk6tbc2l88Ezzzz

Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Nov. 3-9, 2014

On our second night working as volunteers at ENP we attended a Thai Culture and Language class to help us assimilate into our unfamiliar surroundings. We learned basic Thai phrases and that Thais are uncomfortable with public displays of affection.

For fun we also learned the Banana Song, which was highly appropriate after having spent the day unloading, washing, peeling, mashing and squishing bananas mixed with grains into elephant balls. Some elephants at ENP are old and have trouble chewing their food.

After we got the Banana Song down, our coordinator “Bang” asked for a volunteer to do a dance interpretation.

Awkward silence.

Dawn takes one for the team and volunteers. I shot this video at ENP in Chiang Mai. It makes me laugh every time I see it.

Parasailing with the GoPro Hero3

Parasailing with the GoPro Hero3

As if the wildlife and spectacular beauty of Manuel Antonio aren’t enough to attract visitors from all over the world, our piece of paradise also has an amazing 24 of the 27 activities available in Costa Rica. 

One of the perks of owning the Discovery Beach House is getting to go on local tours for quality control. We want to make sure year after year that you get the very best of what Manuel Antonio has to offer. 

GoPro Hero 3
GoPro Hero3

I recently bought a GoPro Hero3 camera online with the idea of creating a virtual experience of several of our adventure tours. I used the GoPro Hero3 because it’s compact, very affordable, simple to use and it comes with a waterproof housing for watersports. I used the waterproof housing for this Agua Azules Parasail Tour for the water landing. This tour is available right outside the Discovery Beach House door. Just head to the beach, turn left and look for the Agua Azules tent just a 5-minute walk away. 

I did some things right and I made some mistakes my very first time using the GoPro hero3. I hope you learn from them. 

Headmount
Headmount

Here’s the Equipment I Used:

  • GoPro Hero3 ($199)
  • Waterproof Housing (included)
  • Head Strap + QuickClip ($19.99) 

All the above items are available at GoPro.com along with many other accessories. 

What I Did Right:

  • I moved my head slowly when panning from side to side or up and down.
  • I spoke loudly when I wanted to include narration because the waterproof housing muffles sound.

What I Did Wrong:

  • The water housing fogged up when I landed in the water. You can avoid this by using anti-fog spray. If you forget the spray take a tip from divers and spit on the inside of the housing.

Waterproof Housing
Waterproof Housing
I made this video on my MacPro using iMovie to edit and AudioJungle.net for royalty-free music.   

Overall, using the GoPro Hero3 was a great experience. I recommend it if you’d like to relive your Costa Rica adventures or if you’d like to share them with family and friends. 

Baby Boomers Lead Luxury Vacation Rental Travel Trend in Costa Rica

Baby Boomers Lead Luxury Vacation Rental Travel Trend in Costa Rica

Baby Boomer TravelBaby Boomers set the first travel trend in the 1960’s when they strapped on backpacks and began exploring the world. Their parents had postponed travel until retirement. Not so for Baby Boomers. Travel was an intoxicating, powerful drug. It was an ever-changing high from the Gringo Trail in South America to the beaches of Costa Rica. Boomers were hooked.

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Orangutan Research in Borneo 40 Years

Orangutan Research in Borneo 40 Years

I’m the author of Among the Orangutans – The Birute Galdikas Story. I was inspired to write my book after working as a volunteer with Dr. Galdikas on the Orangutan Project in Borneo. I made this video as a tribute to Dr. Galdikas on her 40th Anniversary of field research.

Little did Jane Goodall’s and Dian Fossey’s colleague, Birute Galdikas realize in 1971 after arriving in the Borneo rain forest that 40 years later she would still be conducting the longest term research about these illusive red apes Indonesians call “Person of the Forest.”

Among the Orangutans: Publishers Weekly Review

Among the Orangutans: Publishers Weekly Review

This review was originally posted on PublishersWeekly.com.

among the orangutansAs orangutans slip into further endangerment due to poaching (mothers are shot in order that babies may be taken as pets) and destruction of their habitat, books such as this may inspire a backdraft of conservation. Written by a primate photographer who has accompanied Galdikas through Borneo’s rainforests, this first entry in the Great Naturalists series introduces the famed primatologist and her passion. With Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall, Galdikas completes the primate research triangle whose participants were mentored by the late Louis Leakey. And like these contemporaries, Galdikas possesses remarkable determination. Orangutan research proves especially daunting: “unlike the highly social chimpanzees, great apes . . . who travel on the ground, orangutans live alone in the trees and travel by swinging.” Each day, Galdikas traveled far from camp, “drenched by rain, caked with mud, and bleeding from leech bites”; she endured “mysterious infections,” subsisted on canned sardines, and watched her scant belongings rot in the extreme humidity.

In brief, well organized chapters and highly readable prose, Gallardo interlaces intriguing observations of orangutans with the life of their patient observer and rehabilitator. The book will rouse readers of all ages not only to a curiosity for primates, but also to admiration for those who brave adversity to eke out a larger understanding of the natural environment. Ages 8-12.

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