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Creativity and Expression

I love Guiones and the energy that keeps this place alive. The Harmony family received me with so much love and appreciation, and I give my love back… It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world.

A magical week, full of amazing flow in every unexpected way.

I did a lot of introspection, which led to this video and song.

Enjoy your creativity, be opened to receive and let go. Grasp those ideas in the air that make you feel alive and give them life. Share. Remind yourself every day of the infinite love you are made of. Define yourself, and declare your intent. Speak it and let it know you are there. It is an announcement to yourself as it is to the universe. Hearing this announcement your soul will mobilize accordingly.


MishCatt is a Costa Rican artist, musician, songwriter, photographer and creator.

An Evening of Exploration w/ Nosara’s Healers

 

On Friday March 17, The Harmony hosted a community gathering at the Juice Bar with yoga teachers, therapists and healers of different specialties to discuss “How we work”; an approach led by Harmony Writer in Residence, Jeff Warren. Jeff and his partner Sarah Barmak have spent a month in our unique community, and Jeff felt inspired to create this space for uniting all the outstanding healers that have fallen in love with this place.  Jeff’s written intro to the conversation is below (along with some pics from the evening taken by our friend Trevor Francis), with full audio of the community discussion available through the Soundcloud player. 

I’ve had the great privilege this past month of having access to the Harmony Hotel Healing Centre. That means that almost every day I’ve taken a yoga class, or a restorative class, or attended a meditation, or breathwork session, or a kirtan. There is a lot of diversity of what’s on offer, and the quality of the teaching is tremendous – so much wisdom and skill and expertise to have in one community, wow. Monica has done a superb job of putting together a genuinely healing curriculum for both visitors and locals.

One of the things I like to do when I’m attending these classes – as both a journalist and a meditation teacher (and a geek) – is listen carefully to how different teachers and healers talk about what they do. How do they orient people in their classes to ever-deeper experiences of healing and connection and wholeness? I always listen for the same things:

  • What is distinct to their particular expression and way of working, and what is shared by others?
  • What the heck is “healing” anyway?
  • And, finally, how do the things that happen here – which can seem very esoteric and specialist from the outside – how do they relate to our standard Western models of health and healing?

This latter is particularly important to consider because there are two very different cultures in the West. They used to talk about our big cultural division being the Humanities vs the Sciences. But there is a far deeper division between the secular and the spiritual. Spiritual methods and philosophies are often written off as self-indulgent woo-woo by the guardians of respectable conversation in our culture. You will never read a review of a spiritual book in The London Review of Books, or The New Yorker. The main reasons for this, I think, is they simply don’t know what to make of the language and the claims of people who operate in the great overlapping wellness and spirituality fields. What’s more, they are suspicious of its various expressions of existential or religious certainty. I think with good reason.

And that brings us to the subject of this evening’s conversation – for I hope it will be a conversation, an exploration of our collective wisdom here, and, perhaps, our collective humility.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about healing? Can we begin to talk together about the different ways in which we work, about how they are different, but also what principles they share? And what are some of the challenges in the work we do, where inevitably we become beholden to our tradition and our hidden assumptions and our way of working? Science at least has a process of debate and updating knowledge and a common working vocabulary. The same is definitely NOT true of different spiritual and healing traditions. One huge reason for this is they work with very different kinds of evidence: the first is all about objective facts, the second about subjective experience.

Before I open it up, I’ll offer up one fairly universal model of healing to get us started, one that’s has been around a long time in the west, as well as the east and the south: the idea of balance or homeostasis. That is, a state of equilibrium in the body / mind / spirit with respect to its various states and processes and functions. Western medicine accepts this is true of the body. Other traditions argue it is true of the mind and emotions and (most mystical and intriguing of all) of our entire existential predicaments. That we can learn, through healing and practice, to bring our bodies, our minds, and our worlds into a vibrantly healthy dynamic equilibrium.

So I will moderate from here on in, but I am curious to begin to hear from the people here: how do you think about the mystery of healing, and how do you work towards it in your personal and professional practices?


Jeff Warren is a writer and meditation instructor.  He is the author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and meditation that many critics enjoyed, although his mother thought it was too long.

Exploring the Forest Through Our Senses

Our meditation walk in Nosara’s green zone.  Image: Veronica Monge

An abridged audio recording of this walk is available at the end of the post. 

“They say that sounds give us the story of the forest,” says Jeff.

We all close our eyes and open our ears. We’re standing at the threshold of a path leading into the Costa Rican jungle, listening attentively to the six directions around us. We don’t have to wait long for the forest to speak to us.

The throaty hoots of an animal pierce our meditative silence. We avoid the urge to open our eyes and look. It’s quite possibly Alouatta palliata, the Mantled Howler Monkey, which is common to Nosara. The males use an enlarged hollow bone near their vocal chords to amplify their howls, which are signals to other groups of monkeys to stay away from his group’s territory.

A local howler monkey.  Image: Jonathan Nimerfroh

“We’re exploring the sense of moving through a soundscape,” says Jeff as the hoots fill the air, “and, apparently, the territory of a bunch of monkeys. What stories are emerging in the sounds you’re hearing? What stories are getting triggered in the mind’s eye?”

We’re on the Green Zone Meditation Walk, offered every Tuesday by the Healing Centre. Though we’re walking through one of many deep, green thickets that span Nosara’s Green Zone – an area near its shoreline that is protected from development – it’s not your typical nature walk. It’s less about learning about bird calls and pizote tracks than it is about meditating your way through nature.

Our guide here is Jeff Warren, who is offering meditation workshops this month as Harmony Writer-in-Residence. A self-professed nature lover whose first book was a guide to the Canadian wilderness of Algonquin Park (and here I must betray my journalistic objectivity – I know all this because he is also my fiancé!), Jeff asks us to approach both the mind and the forest as curious explorers. He offers a quote from American 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs on the nature of paying attention:

Can you bring all your faculties to the front, like a house with many faces at the doors and windows; or do you live retired within yourself, shut up within your own meditations?”

Naturalist John Burroughs

As we’re digesting this, we’re asked to play a challenging game. We must split into pairs, and one of us must close her eyes; the other person guides their hands towards various textures.

“Your partner is your eyes and you are the hands,” says Jeff. “You really want to train your attention and see if you can create an image of what you’re feeling.”

I close my eyes, and my partner – the lovely Monica Ramos, Creative Director of Harmony’s Healing Centre – tells me to walk forward and crouch down. I trust her, nervously. My fingers brush rough, woody textures; a plump fan of leaves. I’m handed a pom-pom shape that exudes a faint perfume. My attention is rarely so awake, so primed to focus on every sensation.

“Careful with this one,” says my partner, gradually guiding my hand toward something. It’s spiky and sharp. It could cut me, but I investigate it further, brushing my fingers over its stiff points. Next, she hands me something cottony soft and fragile. How could a natural environment encourage two diametric opposites to evolve and coexist in the same few square metres?

Getting to know the pochote tree.  Image: Sarah Barmark

I open my eyes and see my spiky friend: Pachira quinata, the pochote tree, a common fixture in the Nosara jungle and all along the country’s west coast – but a sharp rebuke to sentimental North American treehuggers. Covered in grey spines up to an inch long that wouldn’t look out of place in the movie Hellraiser, the tree is outfitted to keep animals off. Yet one varietal of this forbidding tree is prized and cultivated here for its wood, excellent for furniture.

Yet I was in for a surprise: the fragrant, fresh, springy pom-pom I’d so enjoyed holding was none other than the flower of the exact same pochote. With a spray of white stamens exploding from a fleshy pod, it attracts birds and insects (and human noses) to the small store of honeyed nectar deep in its base in exchange for spreading its pollen in its flowering months, March and April. The ground beneath us was littered with dried versions of the flower, which had turned from white to burnt red.

The pochote flower

Meanwhile, the cottony softness I’d touched had been an open seed pod, which could have been produced by any one of the trees around us. The fan of long leaves had been a giant fern. So many textures!

Our final meditative cue was also our most mystical.

“We’re going to go into what’s called the participatory mode of perception,” says Jeff. He invites us to broaden our gaze, to make it passive, allowing sights and other sensations to come to us rather than us reaching outside ourselves for them. Then, he asks us to try to experience nature not as something “in an art gallery,” but as something we’re in relationship with right now.

“As you’re touching the ground, can you feel that the ground is touching you back?” “That your own feet are being touched by the earth, just as the air is sampling your skin? That slight breeze isn’t just you feeling the breeze, but the breeze is also feeling – tasting – you.”

This hints at a subtle but significant transformation. We were never here to explore nature, to observe it and peer at it. It’s not about us and it. We are a part of nature and it is a part of us. This truism is something many naturalists, farmers, conservationists and other nature-lovers know without needing to meditate – but it is certainly a realization that meditation (rather paradoxically for a process that is ostensibly about going inward) can apparently speed up.

Jeff quotes our friend, the deep ecologist David Abram (only a truly hopeless nerd quotes books on a nature walk):

The human body is not an enclosed or static object, but an open, unfinished entity utterly entwined with the soils, waters, and winds that move through it – a wild creature whose life is contingent upon the multiple other lives that surround it, and the shifting flows that surge through it.”

And so we stagger onward through the Green Zone, a short walk in space, but long in perspective.

Editor’s note: You can listen to the audio of the walk on the player below, or download the mp3 file to your computer by right clicking HERE and then choosing “download linked file” from the menu.  While it’s impossible to portray the full experience of this walk solely through audio, it’s our hope that it gives a sense of the beautiful natural sounds of our local forest, and that Jeff’s meditation cues can be inspiration for mindfulness that you can listen to and practice wherever you are.

 


Sarah Barmak is a journalist and author. Her first book, Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality, was published last year by Coach House Books to much acclaim.

Jeff Warren is a writer and meditation instructor.  He is the author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and meditation that many critics enjoyed, although his mother thought it was too long.

A Nosara State of Mind

Playa Guiones at dawn – Sarah Barmak

I love noticing the subtle effects on my consciousness when I arrive in Nosara. Sometimes they’re not the ones I expect.

This is the Nicoya Peninsula, after all, one of the world’s five Blue Zones, where life expectancy is longer than anywhere else on earth. Freshly arrived from congestion-filled cities, we want the sea and air to begin cleansing away our stress and toxins, pronto. Maybe we’ve got a week here, maybe 10 days – we need each moment to yield a tangible payload of relaxation and healing.

Of, course, the body has its own ideas. It always does – that’s part of the lesson taught by this peaceful corner of the world. Although this is my third time in Nosara, I always need a day or three to adjust to the warm temperatures, to the new compliment of microbes — even to walking around without socks. (My pink city toes recoil every time they touch a stray leaf. Thanks, Canadian winter.)

I remember the morning I realized something had finally shifted. I woke and looked at the clock: 5:23 am. Normally, I need to be dragged from my bed in Toronto at 9:00am, but on this day I was preternaturally awake. I sat outside and watched the opalescent dawn creep into our yard. I had no earthly idea what to do with myself.

Meanwhile, my partner Jeff, a man who has trouble sleeping at the best of times, had for the past three days been sweetly slumbering 9-12 hours a night, oblivious to my early stirrings. What was going on?

Part of what we learn in a special place like Nosara is to listen more closely to the body’s quiet voice. The one we’ve spent years drowning out with coffee, screens, social media, and socks. Bit by bit, we re-align the mind’s frantic excursions with the body’s felt experience. And the body, in turn, attunes more to nature’s external rhythms of light and temperature. So the chirping chorus of birds and earlier sunrise was telling me it was time to get up. Meanwhile, Jeff’s body was telling him he was sleep-deprived, and his mind had the space to finally listen.

This is one of the underlying draws of this special place. It’s not just the sun and surf – it’s the way our bifurcated selves feel more whole. Since the Ancient Greeks, Western culture has prided itself on dominating body and emotions with the mind. That is part of what is making us chronically sick.

Here, my mind seems to listen to my body rather than the other way around. Ignoring my body’s need for restful sleep in favour of yet another late night of answering email seems obviously perverse. As I relax, the whole body-mind system entrains to the rhythms of nature all around, the tides and moon and sun, my inside in harmony with outside, not insulated from it.

My name is Sarah Barmak. I’m one of two writers-in-residence here at The Harmony Hotel, happily here for a few weeks in late Feb through March. The other is my fiancé, Jeff Warren, the aforementioned slumberer and, as an author of a book on consciousness and also a meditation teacher, may have a few common-sense things to say about the mind and body.

JEFF: I like what you wrote, although I think I was asleep when you did.

SARAH: You twitch and grunt in your sleep like a beach dog.

JEFF: It’s funny, if you spoke to a neuroscientist about this, you would get mostly bemusement at any notion of a separation between mind and body. Cartesian dualism is seen as an outdated and pernicious fiction that needs to be overcome. And yet, there are few things truer in our direct experience. Although the separation of mind and body may be a kind of folk construct, only someone who is hopelessly lost in their head would actually not notice that there are at least two different but interconnected systems operating in our experience. The Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman argued something like this in his mega-bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow.

SARAH: I write about the same thing in my book, Closer: Notes From the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality. Only the context is slightly different, since that book’s subject is sex. When comes to female sexuality, women’s bodies and minds often get two different signals.

JEFF: Evolutionary psychologists, with their modular view of the brain, argue we have dozens of competing systems, some with clashing agendas.

But anyway, my point is, if you never notice that the mind can have a different agenda in the body, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble. As a meditation teacher, I work with a lot of poor souls who can’t actually stop their looping and compulsive thought tracks. Their bodies are crying out for peace, for connection, but the mind is so desperately trying to secure itself that it no longer knows how to let go.

SARAH: I know how they feel. It’s always hard to know what to do when yoga teachers say, “Let your thoughts go.”

JEFF: What they mean is “Let your thoughts come and go.” You don’t want to stop them – you just don’t want to be owned by them. You want the ability to get perspective around your greatest neurotic hits.

SARAH: Well, I see the bigger part of health as no longer fighting with yourself. In your words, bringing as many of these systems as possible into alignment.

JEFF: Yes me too. Mind-body-world all flowing together, part of a seamless whole. That’s the contemplative ideal, anyway. It can happen this way, but it takes time. There is a curious delay between mind and body. The mind gets an idea – a new habit it wants to form – but the body is slow to follow. And, once the body does get into a habit, it is slow to change.

SARAH: This is a very egg-heady start to our blog. Everyone, the point is: chilling on a beach and listening to your heart is good for you. Time to take a yoga class, my love.

JEFF: Or surf.


Sarah Barmak is a journalist and author. Her first book, Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality, was published last year by Coach House Books to much acclaim.

Jeff Warren is a writer and meditation instructor.  He is the author of The Head Trip, a travel guide to sleeping, dreaming and meditation that many critics enjoyed, although his mother thought it was too long. Jeff is teaching his acclaimed 7-part meditation course, The Way of the Consciousness Explorer, at Harmony Healing Centre in March, Wednesdays from 3:00pm-5:00pm and Saturdays from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

A Retreat for Creativity and Craft

ikebanaday4

I’ve admired the Harmony Hotel’s commitment to sustainability and tranquility, and their love affair with this sleepy town since I started coming to Nosara in 2011. One of the things I love so much about Nosara is the way this town provides for the people in it – how the heat forces a balance between work and relaxation; how the sweet smells add calm to a surfing lesson. A couple years ago, I was brainstorming retreat ideas at the Harmony Juice Bar and realized that despite the plethora of retreats  in and around Nosara, none offered the right creative component.  I was curious how different crafts and disciplines could play off each other in a workshop environment: would a yoga class in the morning influence flower arranging in the afternoon?

When the Harmony Hotel stepped in to host Peartree’s inaugural workshop, it all came together. Last November, the first Pura Vida Peartree workshop was launched, combining creativity, physical activity, ocean marveling, and human connection. We turned the yoga/surf retreat paradigm on its side, injecting flower arranging classes, macrame lessons, and shibori tie dying into the week’s curriculum alongside jungle vinyasa and Guiones surfing, of course.

flowerdisplay

Our students were able to experiment with locally-sourced Costa Rican product including mokara orchids, anthiriums and local fruits like passion fruit and papaya to create tropical pieces with a loose, whimsical flair.

liza:taylor demo

We had fun styling each student’s arrangement, collaborating and taking photos so that each student could go home with a portfolio of his or her own work.

final dinner

Our week culminated with a beautiful styled Tico dinner at the Harmony’s Restaurant that brought together the creative courses of the entire week. We divided the group into teams to work on portions of the evening’s decor. Some people worked on the macrame installation (lead by macrame wizard Emily Katz). Others began work on the table’s flowers. We rotated throughout the day so everyone could touch all parts of the design. Teachers stepped out of their disciplines to work in new spaces; even our yoga teacher (the incomparable Emily Shapiro, a Nosara fixture) had a hand in the creative makings of the evening.

My favorite part of the evening was when everyone began eating the papayas straight from the table after dinner. It eliminated the museum-like quality some styled events portray and instead got to the core of the workshop’s motivation.

workshop1

Nosara holds a balance of personal and community space unlike any I’ve ever encountered. The people that connect with Nosara forge that connection from different beginnings, and with different ends in mind.  But if they do fall in love with being here, as I have, there’s a unifying sense of place, of collaboration and kindness, where each person’s passion can support and elevate another’s.  The students at last year’s  Pura Vida Peartree were each creating for their own sakes, for their own enrichment and enjoyment.  But the collaborations are what elevated each of us, myself included, and the results were beyond my expectations.  I’m so thrilled for the next round of Pura Vida Peartree which will be held at the Harmony November 11-17, and over the next few weeks I will be writing more here about the different workshops we’ll be featuring this time. For more information, please email me at: info@peartreeflowers.com


Liza Lubell is the owner/founder of Peartree Flowers in New York City.

Life Lessons Learned in Nosara

Harmony Blog Ash

I always remind my students to be clear in their intentions, and even more so in Nosara. I have seen it time and time again here: intentions, desires and future hopes spoken at the sunset gatherings, over the beachside fires, or after Yoga class at the juice bar are first actions in setting the wheels of manifestation into motion.

It happened to me. It wasn’t my plan to actually move to Costa Rica. I returned to Nosara in 2009, like I had so many times before, for a couple of weeks of decompression. I was preparing to close my Yoga studio in North Carolina and needed a moment to pause and renew my energy.

At the end of my personal retreat time, I accumulated a nice tan, new adventures to hidden beaches, renewed energy, and a job offer from a new retreat center seeking someone who did exactly what I did. I expressed my intentions of teaching Yoga Teacher Trainings and retreats, and the next doors opened.

I returned to NC, and within the following 3 months, I handed the Yoga studio keys back to the landlord, sold my house, and returned again to Nosara to lead my first Yoga teacher training immersion.

In 2010, Costa Rica became my home and in the six years since, Nosara became my teacher. It took some time to unwind my old ways of operating and adopt a new relationship to a different, more sustainable way of living. Through the journey of it all, I feel much younger, wiser, healthier and grateful.

These are just a few threads of the lessons I have learned while living in Nosara:

1) Slow down. Slow way down. When we drop our pace, we drop into the earth element a little deeper. It is slower in vibration, and brings our awareness to the aspects of life that are at our foundation: support, resources, trust, safety and security.

2) Enjoy. Around here, the phrase, “Pura Vida” is a constant reminder to enjoy life in its essence. It’s not just about enjoying the good life, but rather, all of the threads of our experiences are meant to be honored.

3) Honor the elements. Here, so close to the equator and far from concrete and too many approaching headlights, we can sensitize our awareness to feel the effects of the elements. The ocean’s capacity to purify coupled with the sun’s ability to recharge and renew our energy can do wonders for resetting the system and discharging stagnancy.

4) Don’t take anything too seriously.  In Costa Rica, importance of family and quality time far outweigh the need to get ahead on the corporate ladder. And, I don’t think it is a coincidence that Nicoya, CR is one of the 5 Blue Zones of the world, where inhabitants live the longest, with a lower percentage of chronic disease and higher level of happiness.

5) If it can’t get done today, there is always mañana. I have learned to be patient. I can’t easily jump in a car and head to the corner megastore to easily obtain the items that make life easier. I have learned to need less and simplify more. I have felt the difference in my body and nervous system as a result of this patience, simplicity and acceptance.

6) Love what you do and never work a day in your life. Pura vida…

And, here I am, 6 years later, still learning from the land, elements and culture of Costa Rica. I am ready to share more of the life lessons of my practices of Yoga, breathwork, meditation and sustainability and longevity principles in our upcoming Yoga Immersion. This never feels like work, because it is what I love doing!


Ashley Ludman will facilitate The Harmony Healing Centre’s inaugural Yoga Teacher Training, May 12-June 4, 2016.  For more information, visit www.ashleyludman.com.

The Remarkable Trees of Nosara

Cecropia

Cecropia

I recently wrote a short post about the great bird-watching day we recently had in Nosara—while on a hike with the deeply knowledgeable Felipe, a conservation biologist studying biodiversity in Nosara’s tropical dry forest. But birds weren’t the only fascinating part of our day: we also learned a lot about the plant species, especially trees, that thrive in this unique and challenging ecosystem. With its long dry season, the trees here have some remarkable adaptations.

When you’re in the tropical dry forest, the first tree you’ll probably notice is the Kapok (Ceiba pentandra), sometimes called by it’s genus name, Ceiba. Kapoks are among the largest trees in this area and they have a very important role in the ecosystem. To survive the long dry season, kapok, like many others, drop their leaves to conserve moisture. But the kapok has an extra trick: its brilliant green bark allows it to continue to photosynthesize without leaves. Mature kapoks also store water in their trunks, and you’ll often see individuals with handsome bulging trunks. Kapok fiber, from the tree’s large hanging pods, is used by humans for a variety of things, including meditation zafus—and was previously the main filling used for life vests until replaced by synthetics. I have also noticed that parakeets seem to love the kapok’s seeds, and it’s a treat to see them hanging from a pod, picking out seeds and tossing the fluff to the wind!

Balsa

Balsa

We also saw balsa trees (Ochroma pyramidale), which any of you who have ever built models are probably familiar with. My father, brother and I would make fins for the model rockets we built when I was a kid from the extremely lightweight wood. Felipe suggested that these fast growing trees, which are an important early colonizer species, could be grown to make high quality natural wood surf boards!

Early colonizing and fast growing species are especially important here, when one is thinking about how to ‘rewild’ land that has been previously cleared for development or cattle. Of course, it’s even better when these species also support wildlife with shade, leaves or fruit. Other important early colonizers Felipe pointed out to us include the Capulin (Prunus salicifolia), a close relative of common northern cherry species, which produces cherry-like fruits that animals (human and non-human!) can eat—and the Guacimo (Guazuma ulmifolia), which has seeds that behave somewhat like Chia, the popular ‘superfood.’

Cecropia trees are also very fast growing, and have huge leaves that howler monkeys absolutely love! Apparently, they just slurp them down like a leafy tortilla. Finally, we learned more about the Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), the large, beautiful tree which gives this province of Costa Rica its name. We learned that ‘guanacaste,’ is derived from the word ‘ear,’ in the language of this region’s indigenous people, the Chorotega. Guanacaste seeds, from their eponymous ear-shaped pods, also have natural saponins (soap-like compounds), so since we all want to be kinder to Mother Earth and the fragile watershed here in the dry region, we’d like to propose that we start making a local, effective guanacaste soap! We are grateful for the inspiring day we spent with Felipe, who left us with so many good ideas about how humans can be better stewards of our natural environment—remembering that we too are animals and are inextricably part of the fabric of the natural world.


Posted by Jenny Kendler

Jenny Kendler is an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist, social entrepreneur & wild forager who lives in Chicago and elsewhere. She is currently the first Artist-in-Residence with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Good “Bird Karma” in the Nosara Forest

Elegant Trogon

Elegant Trogon

While here in Nosara for three weeks, researching for an interactive, environmentally-engaged art project, we were lucky enough to get to hike though a nearby forest with an extremely knowledgeable conservation biologist.  Felipe López, who’s doing a biodiversity study of the area, took us through the various zones of the diverse tropical dry forest biome, pointing out all sorts of amazing things. Though I somtimes lead nature hikes and foraging walks back home, I am still learning about the amazing and very different ecosystem here in Nosara…and tried to absorb Felipe’s every word. Luckily, he is just as big of a nature nerd as I am, and we both got really excited about the amazing “bird karma” we had during our hike. We were very lucky—not just to spot—but to get quite some time to watch two of the area’s rarest, most beautiful, and most interesting bird species: The Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) and the Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis).

The Elegant Trogon is a relative of the better known Quetzal group, and is the rarest and showiest of the three trogon species here in the tropical dry forest. Its beautiful green plumage glowed in the sunlight as it flew from branch to branch ahead of us for almost 20 minutes.

Long-tailed Manakin

Long-tailed Manakin

The tiny, yet beautiful Manakin, with it’s red and blue head markings and long tail feathers, is known to be notoriously difficult to spot—and it’s elaborate and thrilling mating display tops many hard-core birder’s “must see” lists. The male we spotted hopped around in a single tree…and if that wasn’t cool enough, several minutes later his beta male showed up! Because these birds’ song and dance courtship strategies are so complex, younger males tend to “apprentice” with alpha males, both leaning the tricks of the trade, while helping the alpha stay in top shape and defend his territory as well. We had a wonderful time watching (and photographing) these and many other bird species, and I left truly impressed by Felipe and the stunning biodiversity of Nosara’s tropical dry forest.

 


Posted by Jenny Kendler

Jenny Kendler is an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist, social entrepreneur & wild forager who lives in Chicago and elsewhere. She is currently the first Artist-in-Residence with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).