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The birds were her travel guide

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"Aventuras repletas de adrenalina."

This was the boldly printed heading of a tourist brochure in our hotel room. We had just arrived in Costa Rica. And although I know very little Spanish, the enticing words were easily comprehensible: "adventures replete with excitement."

I loved that word "adrenalina" and could just imagine adrenalin coursing through one's veins while experiencing the adventures of zip-lining (zipping along cables between treetops in the forest canopy), white-water rafting, volcano hiking, scuba diving, and more.

But I had come with a small group of bird-watching devotees who fully intended to spend their entire time in Costa Rica behind binoculars, in search of neotropical avians. The farthest we would be getting off the ground was a suspended bridge in the rain forest.

Although appreciating the beauty of birds, I had never understood how someone could stand for hours waiting for a small feathered creature to come into view, then erupt euphorically when able to match it to the picture in a book.

Yet there must be more than meets the eye, I thought, and so I agreed to join "the birders" while absorbing Costa Rica's splendor.

With binoculars and scopes, we made our way through rain forests, volcanoes, and cloud forests and along the Pacific coastline. Monkeys swung from trees, coatis emerged from dense foliage, and shimmering electric-blue morpho butterflies, the size of dinner plates, flitted among the tropical lushness.

The fantastic forests in which we stood begged to be explored – huge palm trees laden with fruit, luminous flowers of unimaginable shapes and design, and umbrella-size leaves (indeed, called "poor man's umbrella").

But the birders were focused on only one thing: "There, look there, on that narrow twig next to the crooked branch from the second tree on the right."


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