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2008 Biennial of the International Palm Society – Members Unite in Costa Rica

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Quebrada González Ranger Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Bus #4

- 3:20PM: We crowded back on board our bus and got comfortable, stowed gear, got beer, etc. and sat back as the bus pulled away from the ranger station and entered the highway. CRT Guide Jonny welcomed us back aboard and asked if we enjoyed our experience in the park. There was a resounding "Yes" that echoed back and forth through the bus.

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- 3:23PM: In the time it took to flood the bus with beverages we reached the bridge that crossed the Sucio River. This time, we were heading south so of course this photo shows the opposite side of the bridge that was shown earlier.

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- 3:41PM: We were making great time heading back towards the hotel. When we reached the top of the mountains a cloud bank had moved in and fogged most of our scenic views.

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- 3:44PM: Our CRT Guide Jonny had mentioned there was a photo opportunity coming up along the highway and asked if we should stop, and again there was a loud "Yes" from everywhere on the bus. We pulled over in an open area next to the highway, with the sheer face of the mountain on one side and a nice long drop on the other. When I got off the bus everyone was noticing the carpet-like covering of the mountain face by Gunnera plants. This is another one of those photos that would make a nice jigsaw puzzle for hard core people.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Quebrada González Ranger Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park -> [Overlook Stop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 3:45PM: When you let Biennial attendees off a bus, they tend to wander a little bit. Bus #4 attendees are no exception and they seem to scatter even faster. We noticed a few plants of interest when we looked over the precipice, nothing I could photograph real well. There were a few different Heliconia species that excited people and others looked for strange animals.

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- 3:47PM: With our remaining minutes we decided to put together a Bus #4 group photo, thanks to Andrea Searle who came up with the idea while we were all in one place. We began the process of herding everyone back to the area by the bus. Turns were taken by different people who all wanted a version of the group shot. When I finished shooting, I ended up with several versions.

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- 3:49PM: Here is one of the better shots that I turned into a panoramic perspective. This one photo includes everyone on Bus #4 minus a few attendees who decided to leave before I was done and got on the bus. [40 attendees] There was a great mood going through the group and I could have continued to shoot if we had more time. Out of the 40 attendees in the photo, 27 of them are Forum members:

Starting off on the far left side with Forum member and winner of the award for most dedicated attendee, Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo)...

Back Row [11] L-R: John Price, Anders Lindstrom, FM. Paul Craft (Licuala), FM. Larry Noblick (Noblick), FM. Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert), FM. Jerry Behan (Jerry@TreeZoo), FM. Jim Glock (jglock1), FM. Craig Morgan (el Gato Grande), Rod Gates, FM. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle), FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms)...

Middle Row [11] L-R: FM. Larry Davis (Lefty), FM. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti), FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson), FM. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) [those are his fingers], FM. Jeanne Price (jeanne374), Paul Richnow [orange], FM. JayAnne Crawley (La Lady) [hat], FM. Lyle Arnold (Lyle Arnold), Helen Arnold, FM. Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn), FM. Alan Brickey (avb) [red]...

Front Row [17] L-R: CRT Guide Jonny [kneeling], LeAnn Holmes, Judy Glock, Cindy Andersen, FM. Jerry Andersen (jdapalms), André Lundkvist, FM. Bo-Göran Lundkvist (bgl), Andrea Searle, Judy Kay [behind w/ white hat], FM. Judy Norris (Queen of Bling), FM. Jeff Searle, Lindsey Sayers [blocked by Jeff's hand], FM. Jack Sayers (elHoagie), FMod. Angela Blakely (putu enjula), FMod. Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean), Barry Lang, FM. Darold Petty (Darold Petty), FM. Dan Ashley (KONADANTOM), CRT Guide Jorge, CRT Guide Andres and CRT Guide Albert.

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- 3:51PM: We had a few seconds to look around a little longer and study photos on our cameras before we had to board the bus for home, again. Before I took my seat, I had a good angle in the aisle to surprise Paul Richnow heading to his seat. We did not use the monitors much except for a short nature video we saw on Thursday. This is a typical view aboard Bus #4, minus the depravity soon to follow.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Quebrada González Ranger Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 3:54PM: Three minutes after we pulled back onto the highway, our CRT Guide Jonny once again took the microphone to enlighten us to another tidbit of information. It turns out, today was our moderator Dean Ouer's (Dypsisdean) birthday. He is sitting three rows in front of me on the left and is just about to get mobbed. Let the ripping begin...

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- 3:55PM: If there was a camera on this bus it was now aimed at Dean. The aisle of the bus filled quickly by those who got up the fastest. All the age related comments and jokes began to fly out of the woodwork. FM. Bo-Göran Lundkvist (bgl) had front row with his camera and got the best shots of Dean trying to hide from everyone wishing him Happy Birthday in their own special ways. For future reference, if you don't like birthdays, keep it a secret if it falls on a Biennial day.

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- I had a split second after the shot above to sit and get a returning photo of the Zurqui Tunnel. This passage through the mountain marks the Continental Divide and separates the Atlantic Side of the country (which we were leaving) from the Pacific Side. When we came through the first time in the morning, the tunnel lights were off. That was a bit of fun. Luckily, now the lights are back on.

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- 4:11PM: When we passed through the tunnel, we traveled for a short while and then were back in the Central Valley. We entered some of the smaller streets in Heredia to bypass some of the traffic. During our travels, we drove past the largest church in the area, Iglesia de San Isidro de Heredia.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Quebrada González Ranger Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:11PM: The Iglesia de San Isidro de Heredia church is one of the few Gothic style churches in the country and was built in 1895. I didn't know what time was supposed to be showing on the clock, but it seemed a little off.

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- 4:43PM: With a little alcohol-induced urging, FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) got up in the back of the bus and belt out some supreme opera singing. It was a preview of the no-Talent show coming up later in the week, but he did have talent. Simply put, he is very good and you should listen to him sing if you ever have the chance.

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- People were turned in their seats and standing in the aisle to listen to Bill sing.

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- 4:54PM: FM. and Biennial veteran Jim Glock (jglock1) shares a tender moment with Jeff Searle right as we arrived back at the hotel. Behind them, attendees gather their belongings and make their way off the bus and into the hotel lobby.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th: Conclusion

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

- 6:48PM: On certain evenings of the Biennial we were on our own to find dinner. When we got off the bus, eight of us gathered in the lobby and decided to eat down the street at an Italian Restaurant. We voted to meet back in the lobby after the usual run to our hotel rooms. When we gathered back in the lobby, we started to attract attention. Soon our original number of eight quickly grew to twenty-four. We were no longer a dinner party, but more like a dinner army. We marched down the street and invaded this small restaurant on a Monday evening. They weren't prepared. The waiters began to panic a little and soon after the owner showed up and began waiting tables after sending one of the waiters into the kitchen to cook. A second group of attendees came in right about the time we finished ordering, if we weren’t enough. All in all, the food was very good and we all had a great time reminiscing about the day.

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- 9:50PM: We enjoyed every minute of dinner and the conversations were golden. To the joy of attendees, sometime during the day the hot tub was repaired. Within a few minutes of returning to the hotel, attendees began to appear in or around the hot tub. This became the common nighttime activity during the remainder of the Biennial. The amount of people soaking in the hot water varied over the hours as attendees would show up as others retired for the night. Those familiar yellow beer cans were a common decoration around this facility. One by one, people surrendered to the night and brought the third day of the Biennial to a close.

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…tomorrow we will head for the Pacific coast to visit one of the gems of the national park system…

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th: Introduction

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

I awoke this morning with the expectation that today, the fourth day of the Biennial, could be the best day yet; but it would not be easy to top what we had already experienced. By now, attendees had become accustomed to their new surroundings. Everyone I greeted this morning seemed more relaxed and was eager to see what the day had to offer. You could see how well various people adapted to being in a different country. There were some that were having a tougher time being at their first Biennial on the first day, but by now any difficulty was long gone. When you cross by fellow attendees in the hallways of the hotel, even if you don't speak the same language, any small nod or positive gesture is so easily understood.

Today, for those of us in Group 2, Buses #3 and #4, we were bound for the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In one small area in the western edge of the country resides Carara National Park. This quaint park is over flowing with diverse plant and animal life and is the very definition of biodiversity. Its unique location places it at a meeting point between two very different ecosystems. We knew we had a great day ahead of us.

- 6:56AM: It is no secret that some people are more awake in the mornings than others. This fact was demonstrated time and time again as some attendees came sprinting to breakfast while others seemed to pour themselves into their chairs. Like in previous days, we were given an excellent breakfast buffet to begin our morning.

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- The fresh fruit selection was unparalleled. Just about any tropical fruit you could think of was there for the taking.

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- 7:21AM: Hopefully, if you were not late to breakfast you had plenty of time to get ready for the day and assemble in the lobby. The buses were all washed and placed in line ready for attendees. While those of us in Group 2 were heading to the Pacific coast, those attendees in Group 1 were going up into the nearby mountains to visit the Poás Volcano and the La Paz Waterfalls.

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- 7:23AM: Boarding call for Bus #4. It was time to head on out as our day included some long road trips. As I was in line climbing the stairs, I noticed that this storage compartment at the front of the bus had been converted into an additional cooler. It was getting filled with cans of Imperial beer as we were getting ready to leave. When CRT guides mentioned the length of the trip, a few Bus #4 attendees made another run to the nearby quickie-mart to "reinforce" the supplies. We knew Bus #4 was going to have a great day ahead, indeed.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Carara National Park

Group 2, Bus #4

- 8:11AM: Smiles were plentiful up and down Bus #4. After leaving the hotel, we headed west and the morning trip on the bus was quiet and uneventful. The smiles were the only noticeable feature on many of the attendees as some were napping, listening to their mp3 players or making jokes with the people around them. About forty minutes into the trip, we reached a series of hairpin turns and at the end of one turn was this massive Kapok Tree, Ceiba pentandra.

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- 8:31AM: The weather was unbelievably perfect and we were so lucky considering that this was the beginning of the wet season. Even our guides were amazed. This jaunt to the west coast presented some fantastic scenery. As we got closer to the ocean, we could see for miles.

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- 8:32AM: A minute later, we made a slight turn to the right and we could see in the far distance the Pacific Ocean. This might sound a bit corny for those of you who live near it, or have traveled a bit, but this was my first time laying eyes on the Pacific.

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- 8:57AM: At close to nine o'clock, we reached the town of San Mateo the midway break point in the trip. The buses pulled over in front of the Church of San Mateo and we were offered a few minutes to step off and stretch our legs.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Carara National Park

Group 2, Bus #4

- 9:18AM: We could sense the drop in altitude as we continued on our way to the park. There were only a few attendees who needed the break as most we eager to get to our next Biennial destination. During the entire route we saw an increasing amount of Oil Palms, Attalea butyracea growing along in open fields.

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- 9:19AM: The Tárcoles River was our first major landmark on the way to the park, and it was only about 5 km away from the main park entrance. As the country was coming out of the dry season, the river level was quite low.

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- Jump in, the water is fine. Our guides were looking forward to pointing out these American Crocodiles, Crocodylus acutus as we were crossing over the Tárcoles River. There were many more not in this photo, including some gigantic ones that were pointed out by attendees.

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- 9:20AM: The floodplain at this point in the Tárcoles River was vast to say the least. The river had been reduced to several tributaries that criss-crossed each other. By looking at the floodplain it is possible to imagine how wide the river may get during the wet season.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:23AM: We have arrived at one of the best national parks in the country and as the bus pulled into the parking lot we could see that Bus #3 had already disembarked. We had to get used to the fact that they were often first to get somewhere, but I know our Bus #4 was the best. Even before reaching the halfway point in the Biennial, our bus already had a reputation and the best stocked coolers of the entire bus fleet.

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- 9:27AM: The ranger station is getting flocked with Group 2 attendees. We had some similar prep work to do before we could hit the trail. Everyone was divided into sub-groups of about twenty and each sub-group was assigned a guide to lead them through the park.

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- 9:28AM: We came to notice a National Geographic film crew in our midst. It was interesting to know we were at a location worthy of their focus. To bad they were not there to film us in action as I am sure it would have been a memorable show.

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- 9:35AM: The trail involved two possible choices when it came to exploring Carara National Park. Instead of taking the loop in the middle and then coming back, we were going to exit the trail at the point to the south. We were told our buses were going to be waiting for us there. To prevent a mass clogging of the trail, the different sub-groups were going to head out at different intervals.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:36AM: We did not have to wait long before we began the tour. As soon as there were enough attendees standing around in one place we were designated a sub-group and off we went. The trail became thick with vegetation as soon as we entered, you can still see part of Bus #3 in the distance. Those large leaves on the far left belong to a Marantaceae family member.

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- This member of the Marantaceae family had great foliage. I was unable to determine the genus, but if I am lucky, someone will message it to me. The blooms were a bit past their prime but you could tell the bracts were a dark red color with yellow flowers.

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- 9:37AM: We were led down the trail expertly by our CRT Guide Jorge. He had several identification books with him in addition to his knowledge of the park. The first plant of interest he educated us about was the Bull's Horn Acacia, Acacia collinsii. He was using the pen to keep his distance from the angry inhabitants.

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- 9:38AM: The common name "Bull's Horn" comes from the recognizable large and very sharp thorns that grow in pairs along the branches.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:38AM: The Bull's Horn Acacia, Acacia collinsii, is world famous for its mutualism in Costa Rica. It has a beneficial coexistence with a few species of red ants, namely Pseudomyrmex spinicola. The ants gain refuge and food from the tree by way of the thorns and nectar produced at the blooms. The ants will chew a small hole in the thorns seen here and build a tiny portion of the nest inside. The entire nest of the colony will span several trees. In exchange for the services given by the Acacia, the ants will protect it from herbivores by way of a powerful bite and clear the area around the tree's base of any seedlings that could become competitors for space. It’s good to have allies.

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- 9:39AM: The trail was marked by a series of informative signs and behind one of these signs was a massive ant hill belonging to a Leaf-Cutter Ant colony.

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- 9:41AM: There were several species of Heliconias native to this park and I knew hardly any of them. I am still learning this group of plants but I find many of them fascinating. I tried to identify this one through a few different means and came up empty. It had great color and the green rachis was unique.

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- 9:42AM: The trail was mostly flat with little or no changes in altitude. We moved through with a good pace and quickly became immersed in the sights and sounds of the rainforest.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:43AM: Visuals from our experiences during the Biennial only represent a partial view. It is unfortunate that I can not inflict impact on the other four senses at the same time because we were using all five to their limits. We could hear bird calls, animal noises (non-attendee related), hear a river in the distance, sense movement in the tree canopy, and feel the texture of strange plants. This went on and on throughout the tour.

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- We rounded a turn and came to one of many areas that were open to the sun. We took notice of how some species would greatly vary in appearance from shade to sun exposure. We were told that this national park was visited quite often and the worn trails seemed to verify this fact.

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- 9:46AM: The dominant understory palm of the Carara National Park was the highly variable Chamaedorea tepejilote. We found hundreds of plants and many grew with different habits.

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- 9:51AM: We were almost twenty minutes into the tour when the trail began to get narrower and the tree canopy became taller and taller. As a result it became quite darker as less light was making its way to the forest floor. The mood changed and attendees began to walk slower and take notice of smaller details.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:55AM: Eventually, as what happens during most tour-length Biennial excursions, our sub-group began to stretch out as some attendees slowed down while others went on ahead. Our CRT Guide Jorge went to the head of the group then waited for everyone to pass once while showing our intended route on this park map. He wanted to let everyone know where we were supposed to go since we were getting separated.

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- I noticed this leaf in the corner of my eye while looking over the map. It belonged to a leaning Chamaedorea tepejilote that was almost growing horizontally along the ground.

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- 9:56AM: Nature's photo studio at work. This behemoth Kapok Tree, Ceiba pentandra, was the first photo opportunity along the trail. Attendees in all combinations imaginable took their turn posing for photos in between its giant buttress roots.

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- 9:57AM: Just to the left of the Kapok Tree was this large juvenile Attalea butyracea.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:57AM: In between photographing groups at the "studio" I turned my attention upwards and stared up into the Kapok Tree's canopy. It seemed to keep going up and up. These trees have the ability to reach heights of 200 feet (60m) or more and can do it in good time as well.

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- 9:58AM: The rarest palm of the park was Cryosophila guagara and it was nice to see a healthy population of this attractive fan palm. Its range includes only this part of Costa Rica and northern Panama. The leaf blades have a deep apical notch and each group of segments is divided by a complete sinus, reaching all the way to the hastula. Palm anatomy is fun.

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- 10:00AM: Here is another example of the incredible variability and adaptability of Chamaedorea tepejilote. The stem has become decumbent, or leaning towards the ground and the aerial roots produced along the stem have since taken hold. They are almost like stilt roots, providing support for a palm that would otherwise just collapse.

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- Forum member Bill Olson (Bill Olson) was first to spot this individuals growing nature and brought it to our attention.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:02AM: "Hey Bill, could you climb up and sit on that vine?" "Sure, no problem." "Just don't find any snakes." This was a common interaction between FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) and myself throughout the park and during the Biennial for that matter. He was eager to climb anything for a photo and he never found a reptile he did not like. It did not take him long to perch himself on that Bauhinia sp. liana stem.

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- While standing in the same location where the above photo was taken, I looked upwards again to capture this view of the remarkable canopy.

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- 10:04AM: A few steps down the trail, we discovered another giant Kapok Tree awaiting to encircle attendees for photos. This time, FM. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti) decided to search for snakes in amongst the buttresses, before proceeding further. Our guide Jorge told us they are perfect hiding places for snakes not wanting to be found.

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- 10:08AM: I had to stop every now and then to let the rain forest experience soak in. I know I was lucky to have been able to attend the Biennial so I had to get everything out of it. After the last giant Kapok Tree, the trail began to descend slightly as we were approaching a river. Jorge, our CRT Guide, is with a gathering up ahead and from the body language I could tell he had found something.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:09AM: Darting back and forth through the brush was this Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura similis or 'Tinosaur' as the guides were referring to it. It was keeping an eye on us while munching on the fallen flowers. It is more aggressive than the common Green Iguana and therefore does not do well as a pet.

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- 10:11AM: Jorge was explaining how big the iguana could get to Bus #4 attendees Barry Lang and FM. Dan Ashley (KONADANTOM).

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- 10:15AM: We had our fill of iguana then we continued onwards and made it to the river, or what was left of it. FM. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti) and myself were actually standing in the middle of the river bed.

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- 10:16AM: This river, which was probably a force to be reckoned with throughout the wet season, had been reduced to a creek during the dry season.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:17AM: The creek had a soothing sound to it and time seemed to stop still while we were there listening to it. This was a perfect moment in the Biennial and those in the immediate vicinity seemed to be content with this moment lasting a while.

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- 10:18AM: Across the river bed from the creek, FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) spotted a tree he knew had to be familiar. He said the leaves of this tree were so recognizable, yet he could not place it. He pondered for a little while until another guide, Andres came along and told him it was a native, dwarf Avocado, Persea sp. relative. He almost smacked himself in the head, since back home in Florida, Bill owns an Avocado grove.

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- 10:21AM: We had spent so much time here on the river bed, that another sub-group had caught up to us. They had similar reactions to the surroundings while those of us in my separated group decided to press on.

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- 10:25AM: The trail held botanical surprises at almost every turn so we were always on the lookout. This strange vine that adheres to the trunks of trees was found everywhere in the park, but no one seemed to know what family it is in. Our CRT Guide Jorge was describing how the plant grows but even he was not sure on its name.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:27AM: The enormity and size of some of these rain forest canopy trees were awe inspiring. I can not wrap my brain around the fact on how large they are. They had branches that had huge diameters far up in the canopy. I began to hear the sounds of monkeys calling in the distance and could see a large gathering of attendees up ahead on the trail.

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- 10:32AM: I managed to get ahead of the group of gathering primates while they had stopped to watch a different group of primates in action. A troop of Spider Monkeys had moved within range and were checking us out as well.

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- On the left, Bus #4 attendees Helen & FM. Lyle Arnold (Lyle Arnold) were sharing binoculars to try and spot the noisy upstairs neighbors. Behind them, CRT Guide Andres helps FMs. Jerry Andersen (jdapalms) and Paul Craft (Licuala) spot the elusive monkeys.

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- 10:34AM: These are the true acrobats of the animal kingdom. Spider Monkeys, Ateles geoffroyi, have proportionally longer arms, legs and tails compared to other monkeys. They use their endowment to swing, jump and fly through the forest.

2008-05-06_10-34-27.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:34AM: Fly monkey, fly. We were unable to determine how many Spider Monkeys were in the troop but there were more than enough to watch. They glided through the tree tops like birds through air. We continued slowly along the trail and the troop of monkeys was following along on a parallel course. At times it seemed we were following them.

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- The trail continued along side the river we stopped at earlier. As everyone had their necks bent backwards while walking, much of the plant life we were moving past became secondary. The monkeys were a show not to be missed. We needed a little agility as we moved to avoid getting peed on, or worse.

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- 10:41AM: We spent the next few minutes watching the monkeys and following the trail along the river. We reached the point in the trail where it crossed the river via a bridge. The bridge was already full of attendees and other park patrons by the time we got there.

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- 10:42AM: Up river from the bridge, this massive tree quickly became the midday home for the troop of spider monkeys. It was not too far away so it served as a great place to view the monkeys in action.

2008-05-06_10-42-40.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:45AM: My mixed group of attendees and I pushed and weaved our way across the bridge. When we got across, the monkeys were in high gear and everyone couldn't resist but to keep on shooting. On the far left, Forum member Alan Brickey (avb) views upward along with Nikon-equipped FM. Lyle Arnold (Lyle Arnold). FMs. Jack Sayers (elHoagie) and Jerry Behan (Jerry@TreeZoo) [rear] observe the spectacle now taking place on the bridge.

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- I turned around to find attendees and patrons following the pointing gesture made by FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) as he was locating the spider monkeys in the giant tree.

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- 10:49AM: I stepped to the side a little ways to let a passing group of park patrons cross the bridge. When I did, I captured this shot of the traffic jam as it happened.

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- Immediately near the end of the bridge, this pavilion served as a midway rest stop in the trail. Attendees and park patrons each took turns resting their feet. Some were happy this was the halfway point, while others were not.

2008-05-06_10-49-44.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:50AM: It was time for my original sub-group to head on out as we were burning daylight in a hurry. Many people could have stayed and watched the monkeys all day long. It was a great spot by all means. I took this one last shot of the packed bridge before getting yelled at from behind that someone found something.

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- 10:51AM: I jogged on down the trail and found FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) volunteering his hand to display an unusual creature. Our faithful CRT Guide Jorge was just to the right informing us all about it.

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- This is a curled-up Cyanide Millipede, Harpaphe haydeniana and he is in defensive mode. This multi-legged forest dweller has the ability to combine base elements into hydrogen cyanide and then propel the compound up to 12 inches (30cm) away in defense. Not your typical bug.

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- 10:53AM: Of all the palms that were possible for attendees to see during the Biennial, one stood out among the others because of its very slow growth rate and rarity in cultivation. I was hoping to see Neonicholsonia watsonii but I was originally not optimistic. When I was finished photographing the millipede, I was walking down the trail when FM. and Bus #4 attendee Jim Glock (jglock1) came and found me and led the way to this palm. When I was researching this species, it mentioned a stable population. I was shocked to find only three specimens in one group. Other attendees reported seeing a few other groups, but they were also small.

2008-05-06_10-53-03.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:54AM: The Neonicholsonia watsonii was difficult to photograph entirely, so I had to get snapshots of each section of the palm. This older inflorescence had just finished flowering not long ago and was quickly being replaced with the one next to it. This species is easily identified by its dark purple spathe that extends beyond the length of the leaves.

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- A close-up shot of the leaflets and rachis.

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- 10:55AM: This was as much of the crown as I could get in the shot, without another plant getting in the way. I was glad to have seen this palm in the wild; I wish there were more of them though.

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- 10:57AM: The majority of the mature Chamaedorea tepejilote that we witnessed were all in one stage or another of setting seed. There were thousands of seed throughout the park that were going to be ripe in the near future.

2008-05-06_10-57-01.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:57AM: The inflorescences above belonged to this prolific individual. The wide range and attractiveness of Chamaedorea tepejilote has lent it to become a common sight in cultivation around the world. It does very well as an indoor palm and I have seen it excelling in many collections.

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- 10:58AM: The juvenile stages of Chamaedorea tepejilote make it a perfect potted specimen. Those entire terminal leaflets stay persistent for a few years.

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- 10:59AM: Close to eleven in the morning, we began to see a rapid change in topography along the trail. Our guide Jorge warned us that we had a few steep inclines and sections of stairs up ahead to overcome. It all began with our crossing of this shallow, dry creek bed via a makeshift concrete bridge.

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- 11:01AM: My photographic pursuit of juvenile palm species continues. While ascending a flight of stairs, this small Cryosophila guagara was just a few feet away. Those intensely while leaf undersides were hard to miss.

2008-05-06_11-01-39.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:08AM: I am not sure who surprised who first. We were making our way along the inclining trail when this Four-striped Whiptail Lizard, Ameiva quadrilineata jumped through the leaf litter to get away from us. He is mature and has since lost the bright blue tail. His pale yellow stripes seem to be very dull which one attendee couldn't help but comment on.

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- 11:10AM: The reason for our rapid ascent became apparent when we noticed this hanging bridge being suspended across a series of culverts.

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- It quickly became a joy for attendees to now walk over part of the rain forest that they were walking through only moments before. The bridge was made up of a few sections separated by metal supports. It was fascinating to see moderate-sized mature palms and other trees at eye level.

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- 11:11AM: When it was my turn to cross the first part of the bridge, I noticed a glint of red and yellow partially hidden down in part of a culvert. I said to myself, "I know that Heliconia." I couldn't get a better shot, short of climbing down and clearing the green debris. This is Heliconia wagneriana, a popular and rare species among Heliconia collectors in South Florida.

2008-05-06_11-11-25.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:11AM: These bridges had quite a bit to offer for the plant and palm enthusiast. There were flowers and seed pods that were now within reach of the average attendee. This was another great moment along the trail as there was always something new to see every few feet. Attendees would be running back and forth along the bridge as someone else called out they found something interesting.

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- 11:13AM: A colony of large ants were using this Chamaedorea tepejilote leaf to make their way to the bridge railing. No one among the CRT staff seemed to know this particular ant. They said it was familiar but the markings were different.

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- 11:14AM: This large-leafed tree is one of the most popular and well used hardwoods in the world, even though it is very soft. It was making a home out of one of the culverts not far from the bridges while at the same time stumping people trying to identify it. Usually, when you see the wood of this tree it is packaged in hobby stores where it waits to be carved into model planes, cars, etc. Give up? This is Balsa, or Balsa Wood, Ochroma pyramidale.

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- 11:16AM: I wish I could take credit for this photo, but that would be of course impossible. This self portrait was the handy work of FM. Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo) who was kind enough to borrow my camera for a moment to capture me in this great environment. I was trying my best not to laugh at Jon's great humor.

2008-05-06_11-16-05.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:16AM: FM. Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo) handed my camera back to me and I returned the photographic gesture by getting this shot of him crossing the bridges.

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- 11:17AM: Near the end of the bridge system, I noticed this very tall tree that had buttress roots and a colorful smooth trunk. Our CRT Guide Jorge produced a book and ID'd the tree as Sura, or Terminalia oblonga.

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- 11:28AM: The trail beckoned and we all continued at our own pace. Like usual, we became scattered all up and down the trail. We knew we had about forty minutes left to enjoy the park so no one was in a real hurry. There was originally nothing else planned for the day according the itinerary, but like any Biennial day, things can change. We were hearing the call of the chestnut-mandible Toucan, so we tried to track down the bird in question.

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- 11:29AM: We followed the calls and came to a tall, columnar tree dropping these fruit and seeds all over the forest floor. Our intrepid guide Jorge volunteered to eat some of the fruit and was able to identify it as Wild Nutmeg, Virola koschnyi. Over time I think the taste test might have had an effect on Jorge, as his speech started to slur a bit and he admitted to feeling very well. He also mentioned the toucans find the wild nutmeg edible and could be the ones dropping them on our heads.

2008-05-06_11-29-11.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:31AM: We looked high up into the crown of the Wild Nutmeg, Virola koschnyi, but could not see any of the birds as the fruit continued to fall. We grew tired of getting pelted so we moved on.

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- 11:36AM: We wandered into a very large colony of Astrocaryum alatum, one of the better looking armed palms of Costa Rica. There were many mature adults and they were all in different stages of flowering and fruiting.

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- The glaucous leaf undersides combined with the large black spines created a wonderful contrast. I was hoping more people would become interested in the genus during the Biennial. Some attendees couldn't get past the spines. They seemed to scare more then most.

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- The forest floor was littered with hundreds of healthy Astrocaryum alatum seedlings and small plants. They seemed to be popping up everywhere.

2008-05-06_11-36-43.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:38AM: It was amazing to know, that none of the palms and plants we were seeing were planted by anyone. A mutual feeling of respect for the people of Costa Rica for preserving this national park was felt by all. Forum members Bill Olson (Bill Olson) and Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti) were having a wonderful time and I was as well.

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- 11:39AM: Road construction at work. Linda and Bill had to stop for a detour, as a path of leaf-cutter ants were crossing the trail.

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- There was no end to them. We could look both ways and the line of ants and cut leaves seemed to stretch on into infinity.

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- 11:40AM: We managed to catch up to another batch of attendees as they were slowed down by this mysterious plant. They had been pondering as to what it could be. This plant, and others like it, only seemed to grow in this one spot where full sun reached the forest floor. We figured it was in the Aroid family, but as for genus, no one has a clue.

2008-05-06_11-40-30.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:42AM: The mystery plant has a simple inflorescence with small, red-aril covered seeds stored around a central spadix. FM. Jeff Searle had no problem getting it open.

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- He poses next to the plant for scale, and shows how the developing inflorescence quickly gains a bright orange color.

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- 11:45AM: When you get a large grouping of attendees from Bus #4 in one spot, the interaction is a sight to behold. The jokes and level of humor that flies back and forth between people can be indiscriminate, but at least its spread around evenly. Someone opens with a joke, followed by a laugh and a request, "Hey, look at this, someone take a photo with me in it."

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- 11:46AM: This unknown Bactris sp. was the only representative of the genus we witnessed during the park tour. The leaves had multi-ranked and grouped leaflets while the stems were very thin.

2008-05-06_11-46-11.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:50AM: The elevation of the trail leveled off for a short while and the height of the forest canopy began to shorten, allowing more sunlight in. We got the sense we were getting close to the end of the trail. Many of the Oil Palms, Attalea butyracea, that we saw in the park were small to moderate juveniles. I did not see any large specimens with any amount of trunk.

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- The "Ooh's" and "Ahh's" were plentiful as we all laid eyes on this gigantic Astrocaryum alatum. It took up a great deal of real estate. On the right side, Bus #4 familiars Jim Glock (jglock1) and Barry Lang stare up into the crown with quiet awe. Further behind them on the right, FMs. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) and Jeff Searle seemed to be smiling about something. I learned at times, it was better not to ask for details.

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- 11:51AM: This Cryosophila guagara was the best looking specimen I had seen on the trail. It seemed to enjoy the added space and sunlight, and filled out an impressive crown. There were not many specimens to be found. I photographed and posted the ones I did see.

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- 11:52AM: "What was that?" FM. Jeff Searle turns around listening to one of Jim Glock's exquisite jokes. Jim has an avid collection, and you must ask him to tell you one the next time you see him.

2008-05-06_11-52-35.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:54AM: The trail began a series of quick descents and short climbs, as we clambered over large roots and stumps. In some areas of the trail, stone steps were carved right into the rock. Out of nowhere, a large thrashing sound could be heard directly above us in the canopy...

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- I turned around to find Bus #4 alumni Judy Glock and Barry Lang looking up trying to find the source of the noise. CRT Guide Jorge was flipping through pages of an guide book trying to figure out what it could be. These moments in the park were part of the fun, since they reminded us on how much life there was in the rain forest.

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- 11:56AM: After we got used to descents we were confronted with one large ascent. This run of turf-block steps seemed daunting to some, but we knew it was one of the last sections of the trail left in the park. Forum member Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) was first to climb followed by FM. Jim Glock (jglock1).

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- 11:57AM: I wanted to be one of the last people up the stairs so I could capture everyone as they began to climb. This was before we were attacked...

2008-05-06_11-57-58.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:57AM: I was taking photos, minding my own business when we were attacked by some strange crea... well Jeff Searle. Some attendees had to be revived from the shock.

2008-05-06_11-57-11.jpg

- 11:58AM: Jeff and Judy Glock wave back from the top of the stairs as I was halfway up them myself. This was another point in the day where I was reminded how lucky we were that it was not pouring down rain.

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- 12:07PM: Our batch of attendees cleared the stairs and made a move for the trail's finish line. We could see clear daylight ahead and heard the sounds of the nearby highway. Just before leaving the trail, we came across the largest leaf-cutter ant hill we saw all day long. It was gigantic and would not fit in the frame. I asked Jeff Searle to get in the shot, as I knew people would not believe the proportions.

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- 12:14PM: We made it! FMs. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti), Bill Olson (Bill Olson), Jeff Searle and myself were some of the last attendees to finish the trail and we all had a great time. It was my second time in a rain forest in as many days and I was speechless. We were glad we could see our bus, but you could not help but feel a little sad for leaving the park behind.

2008-05-06_12-14-17.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Park Office, Lunch] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 12:16PM: Emerging from the trail and spotting Bus #4 waiting for us was a welcome sight for attendees. When we were all on board, a subtle sigh of relaxation over took most everyone as alcoholic beverages combined with air conditioning. Our next stop was lunch and it was going to take place down the road at a park office. Hunger was a mutual feeling felt by everyone, tired, enthusiastic or otherwise.

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- 12:23PM: We barely had time to put our gear away, as we arrived at the park office with our lunch waiting for us. We had our choice of sandwich with assorted picnic fare and beverages. We each took turns grabbing a white box and finding a place in the shade to eat. FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) was walking towards me with his eyes staring at a new found interest, a vehicle he could not keep his attention away from.

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- 12:24PM: This was the first time during the Biennial that all members of Group 2 were able to sit and be together all in one location. As a result, we all had tons to talk about in between stuffing sandwiches in ourselves. Attendees took the time to relax and eat, myself included, while others decided to explore the grounds around the park office.

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- 12:48PM: Gotcha! Bus #3 attendee Larry "The Plant Guy" Aronson acts surprised as I took his photo. Lunch time at the park office was coming to an end so people finished eating and began to walk back to their bus.

2008-05-06_12-48-53.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Park Office, Lunch] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 12:55PM: "The creature's mouth was this big and almost bit my head off." Inspired by the vehicle behind him, FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) entertains the CRT Staff with a safari survival story.

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- 12:56PM: Bill became enamored with this Land Rover, which he estimated to have been made in 1972. It was still in great condition and was used by the Park Service. He was trying to figure out how he could get it home to California. Technically, he could buy it and drive it home if he wanted to give up his seat on Bus #4 behind it. We had to tear Bill away from it, as it was time to go.

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- 12:58PM: One last photo at the park office. As we were eating lunch, a 'Tinosaur' or Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura similis, seemed to fall out of nowhere and land just feet from us. He was in the process of molting and seemed very confused about all of us. He would not run off, but stood his ground, hissed a few times and whipped his tail if you got too close. I ran back to the bus after this photo, as I was again one of the last to board.

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- 1:10PM: The CRT Staff did a quick head check and off we went again. A few minutes went by and we were crossing the Tárcoles River, this time heading northeast. We were informed at this point that we had an additional stop planned for us. We will be stopping at a gift shop along the highway so we could have the opportunity to buy souvenirs. I smell a trap, a tourist trap that is.

2008-05-06_13-10-00.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Tourist Trap/Gift Shop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:02PM: "It's a trap!" The previous fifty minutes or so on Bus #4 just flew by, as it often does. People passed the time in all sorts of ways, some you would know, others you didn't want to. The bus ride was smooth as could be, due to the abilities of our great driver Don Juan. We reached a small village about halfway between the park and our hotel and began to slow down. Bus #3 could be seen parked up ahead, so we passed it and parked in front of this elaborate gift and coffee shop. Someone, who shall remain nameless, on my bus said "How convenient to find a gift shop here". I knew our stop was a little bit more predestined that people let on. I am a native South Floridian so I know a tourist trap when I see one.

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- 2:04PM: I can understand the importance of having a chance to find locally made items for trade. I felt almost as if we were 'ambushed' with this stop. The prices seemed to reflect this as well. IPS Director, Bus #3 Palm Botanist, and Forum member Dr. Scott Zona (scottzona) inspects a Queen's-Wreath Vine, Petrea volubilis that was growing over the gift shop's entrance.

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- 2:08PM: Inside the store, there were millions of items for sale. The store seemed to have no end and had more and more room in the back. A Bus #3 attendee and FM. Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo) look over the vast selection of wood carvings.

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- 2:09PM: Cigar anyone? This display case, which was well locked, had a selection of Cuban cigars. They ranged in price from cheap to "Oh’ damn…”

2008-05-06_14-09-51.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Tourist Trap/Gift Shop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:11PM: The gift shop was getting a bit crowded with Group 2 attendees, so I walked across the street to a small grocery store/restaurant to look around. An employee was making old-fashioned tamales. Notice the Licuala grandis growing in a pot just outside the store on the right.

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- 2:12PM: Bus #4 attendee Ron Gates buys a few items at the grocery store. They had a nice selection of groceries to choose from and they were all made and packaged on the premises. The display case had a few palm related items I needed a closer look at.

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- 2:13PM: They had large jars of Hearts of Palm and Peach Palm fruit, Pejiballe in jars of syrup. I was tempted to get a jar, but I couldn't see it surviving the trip home on the plane.

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- 2:14PM: Looking back across the street, Bus #3 and Bus #4 were ready to go, but there was a lot more shopping for attendees to do. The traffic was flying past and we had to be careful not to become a hood ornament while crossing the street.

2008-05-06_14-14-30.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Tourist Trap/Gift Shop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:15PM: Ignoring the dangers of the road behind me, I backed up to get a photo of FMs. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) and Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) standing in front of the grocery store/restaurant. I thought I was nicked by a rear-view mirror at one point.

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- 2:19PM: Back inside the gift store, the registers were cranking away as attendees were getting in line to pay. Some were taking advantage of the stores complimentary coffee and well-stocked selection of beer.

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- 2:20PM: At the rear of the store, a native Indian was busy sewing and stitching crafts. She was making them at a high rate of speed.

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- The rear of the store was packed full of items, including wood carvings, pottery, inscribed novelties, clothing, etc.

2008-05-06_14-20-59.jpg

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Tourist Trap/Gift Shop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:21PM: In one particular display case, the store had a supply of Tagua, or Ivory Nut carvings. The vegetable ivory is a product of the Ivory Nut Palm, Phytelephas seemannii. They had a few carvings of generic palm trees, animals and birds.

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- 2:28PM: Bus #4 Biennial veteran and FM. Jim Glock (jglock1) looks over the selection of hardwood bowls and boxes.

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- 2:38PM: The registers were busy right up to the time we left, close to three o'clock. They had more than enough store staff to handle the crowd.

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- 2:39PM: Outside, attendees that were finished shopping gathered in the shade near the buses. We always had lots to talk about as the subjects changed as often as the wind changed direction. In the center, Forum Moderator Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean) gives an enthusiastic smile as FMs. Jack Sayers (elHoagie) and Jeff Searle carry on a conversation in front of him.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Carara National Park -> [Tourist Trap/Gift Shop] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:42PM: Nikons at the ready, Fire! FM. Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert) and I trade photos of each other while waiting to board the bus.

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- 2:46PM: We slowly started to make our way to boarding the bus, one step at a time. It was easier to wait outside, since it meant less time sitting. FMod. Angela Blakely (putu enjula) and FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) listen to FM. Larry Davis (Lefty) describe the ingredients in his recently purchased, ultra-spicy hot sauce. That stuff could probably remove paint.

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- 3:12PM: When the signal was given by the CRT Staff, both buses loaded up on attendees. Many were now carrying heavier loads than before the stop. Both buses had about a thirty minute ride to the hotel. Ten minutes into this section of the trip, we drove past a palm-rich piece of property. We were informed by CRT guides that this was once the winter home of Elizabeth Taylor.

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We arrived back at the hotel at the end of a long and rewarding day of palm seeking and exploration. As soon as we were off the bus we scattered in all directions heading to our hotel rooms. Before I even had a chance to put my backpack on the floor, a loud knock was heard at my door. No rhyme intended. Bill Olson had come to my room to find out if I was interested in visiting the famous National Theater in downtown San Jose. He and Linda Talbott were leaving in a few moments and I had to give him an immediate answer. I figured this would be my only chance to see the city, so I said yes. I met Bill and Linda in the hotels lobby after a few minutes and we quickly grabbed a taxi and headed to downtown San Jose. This would mean of course, skipping the second Biennial presentation in a row, but oh well. I knew Biennials were full of these little tangents.

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> [National Theater, San Jose]

Part of Bus #4, Bill Olson, Linda Talbott and myself

- 4:14PM: Beep! The traffic in downtown San Jose reminded me of the traffic back home, just a lot more disorganized. This was the late afternoon rush as seen through the windshield of our taxi. It did not take long to get to the city, getting through it was a different story.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 04: Tuesday, May 6th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> [National Theater, San Jose]

Part of Bus #4, Bill Olson, Linda Talbott and myself

- 4:17PM: "There it is, I can almost see it." Our taxi driver showed his skills getting us through the San Jose traffic. Every beep and honk sounded like an impending fender bender. As we got closer, we began to figure out amongst ourselves when and where the taxi should come back for us. We decided two hours should be good enough, so we told the driver to come back at 6:30 right where he dropped us off.

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- 4:19PM: The National Theater of Costa Rica, Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica. The House of Drama that coffee built. Bill was explaining during the taxi ride how his father, William Olson, had traveled to Costa Rica and visited the theater in years prior. Ever since then, Bill has listened to his father's vivid descriptions of splendor and decadence and has always wanted to see the theater in person. This was a dream coming to fruition and that made this excursion oh so much better. I am always up for anything historical, like a moth to a light. It had been over 100 years since the first brick was laid and you could feel the history just by walking through the front gate.

In 1888, the only theater in San Jose at the time was razed due to heavy damage caused by an earthquake. This municipal building had fulfilled the local needs for a theater, but in the time after its deconstruction, principal theater companies and performers would no longer include Costa Rica on their schedules. Avid theater goers didn't like this very well. A short time after, world famous performer and 'prima donna' Adelina Patti refused to perform anywhere in Costa Rica because there was no suitable establishment. This caused uproar among the aristocracy of Costa Rica including the coffee barons. At this time in the country's history, coffee was becoming a world-wide demand. To help fund the need for a new, world-class theater, an export tax on coffee was proposed, but not totally agreed upon. Construction and planning of the new National Theater began in November of 1890, without having a payment plan in effect. After years of debate in Congress, it wasn't until 1893 that an actual tax on coffee was put into effect by President José Juaquín Rodriguez and the theater was then paid for.

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- Costa Ricans were enthusiastic about their new Renaissance influenced theater, but this did not keep problems from arising. The entire early construction phase hit problem after problem. This continued until in 1895, world famous theater expert and Italian architect Ruy Cristóforo Molinari was hired to take over the project. During construction, no expense was spared. The interiors were lavishly decorated with pink marble from Italy, the best French furnishings including 22-karat gold embossed hardwood fixtures, classical English furniture and the list goes on. From just peering in the lobby, it looked as if I just stepped aboard the Titanic. The ceiling of the 1,040 seat theater included a Costa Rican inspired mural painting featuring aspects of life in the country. At 7:45PM, October 21st, 1897 the curtain rose for the first time for the French Opera Company's inaugural performance of Faust, and the rest is history. The National Theater is a beloved symbol of the nineteenth century and still is well loved by all Costa Ricans. During our visit, we were not allowed inside on this day, including access to the second floor foyer which is a history lesson all onto itself. Linda and Bill peer through the antique glass doors to try and get a look inside.

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- 4:20PM: The lobby of the theater included elaborate life-sized statues depicting the different genres of theater life, Comedy, Tragedy, Drama, etc. I was not sure which was which, as the marble inscriptions were hard to read in the dim light. Flash photography was not allowed, so I did my best as a human tripod. I think she might have represented Drama, because of her expression, but I am far from having an art degree.

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Ryan

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