Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Snapshots of Costa Rica (2)

Costa Rica and its rich natural resources
Day 1 of LAPT San José was a filming trip with Siktilt. We got up at 6am, piled into a mini-bus and headed up-country. Costa Rica is famed for its nature; it treasures it. It has more National Parks than anywhere else (pretty much) and a vast range of indigenous species.

Siktilt's mission was to capture the essence of Costa Rica so that had to mean wildlife - in all its resplendent and endangered glory.

Stop 1 on the tour was a bridge where, many metres below, we could see some large logs nestling on the river bank. "Those are crocodiles" said our guide. We peered at the logs, Siktilt filmed them for a while and then we toured the gift shop looking for hand bags.

Next stop was the Aerial Tram. In the car park, Rury spotted an iguana and filmed it. Then we watched a video which told us lots about all the animals that dwell in the rainforest and a little bit about how erecting giant pylons up the mountain-side hadn't affected the eco-system one little bit.

We piled into the tram and set off, eagerly scanning the trees and undergrowth for wildlife. "Look, there's a spider" said our guide, pointing out a web spun across the struts of a pylon. "Look, there's a bird" said Rury, pointing out a sparrow.

We marvelled at the sparrow for a bit, then continued upwards. Not a dicky bird. Nada. Wildlife-free, in our opinion. As we descended back down the mountain-side, Carles had a mini-tantrum about the lack of animals and Rury said he'd seen more bio-diversity up his bum.

We headed for the beach and saw some storks. Then we headed to a marina and spotted a Komodo dragon scampering across the lawn of a gated community. Rury filmed it out of the window.

On Day 2, we insisted our guide do better on the animal front. "We need guaranteed parrots", said Hass. "I have a plan" said the guide, and took us to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Here they have plonked wildlife inside giant cages so you can have a good look and capture the essence of Costa Rica on film. That said, La Paz was truly amazing. Heaving with stunning birds and other animals. Wonderful.

Rury filmed a marmoset which is native to Brazil. "I know Conrad is going to spot that", he said. "Hey Rury, nice work trying to squeeze in a Brazilian monkey in a film about Costa Rica". We discussed slotting in subliminal shots of other animals not native to Costa Rica, such as pandas, polar bears and penguins. "We'll just put in the happy feet", said Hass.

Next was the butterfly farm. Uh oh. Problem. I have a lifelong moth phobia and so, it turns out, does Rury. Our phobia includes butterflies. We stood outside the insectivorium and quaked with fear as the others strutted around inside.

The air was thick with giant and very beautiful blue butterflies. They looked like fairies. "This is like heaven" said Carles. ""I'm not going in there" said me and Rury. "You have to", said the guide. "It's the only way out".

Rury and I then did the bravest thing we have ever done in our lives (and that includes eating from the player buffet in Dublin) and went in to the insect tent. We hid behind each other (which doesn't work) and then tried to hide behind the guide, screaming like banshees if a butterfly came within ten metres. So much for aversion therapy. With our backs to the walls, we inched our way towards the exit sign.

Next stop were the waterfalls. Totally stunning. Reminded us of Indiana Jones. "Actually it was Jurassic Park" said our guide.

Back at the ranch (the Ramada Plaza Herradura Motel), Rury and Hass then created a truly wonderful promo video for Costa Rica which was brimming with stunning shots of beautiful birds and other wildlife. "Nice library shots" said Con.