The Quest for the Quetzal

(Location: San Gerado del Doto, Costa Rica)

We’re not birders. Well, I’m definitely not a birder. Andy says he’s not a birder. In any event, we found ourselves driving halfway up the Pan American highway in search of the Resplendent Quetzal.

Neither of us are feeling that great at this point in the trip. Let’s just say that ten days of eating beans, and probably not being as obsessive about food safety as we should have, caught up with us. We both also had some nasty blisters from the hike from hell. We stopped at a farmacia in San Vito and after a bit of awkward pantomiming, we had some meds and were on our way.

The drive was pretty crazy – it was very narrow, with steep cliffs on one side, and people passing to get around pineapple truck traffic. We were above the clouds by the time we turned onto a steep, curvy, gravel road to San Gerardo del Doto. We had a junior suite, which had a fireplace (mountains = cooler temps) and no common walls with the neighbors.

Oh yeah – the place was crawling with twitchers. Imagine fifty khaki-clad people, wearing binoculars, and sporting fanny packs filled with checklists. The happy hour conversation was like nothing we’ve ever heard.

We inquired at the front desk about the various hikes they offered. I was really done with the hiking at this point, so I just asked if there was a “sure thing” place to see the resplendent quetzal. And there was. A nearby avocado farm. So we hired a guide to take us there the next morning.

He hiked for a short while before he spotted the first one. It was a male and I could see why the twitchers were so excited. It was BRIGHT greenish-turquoise, with a BRIGHT red chest, and it’s tail was over two feet long. After we got a few shots, we moved a little closer and spotted the female, who was less resplendent.

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I should have gone to the doctor right away when I got home. I had a few weeks of feeling a little better, then feeling quite poorly. I eventually wound up in the hospital for four days, and then on some super expensive meds (one was over $6k) for another three weeks. I was taking three different meds, one that was six times a day. I actually had to download an app to track and remind. Andy was lucky and only had amoebic dysentery. I had that AND cdiff (but because I’m half his size, it was much much worse). Cdiff is INSANELY unpleasant. Don’t let your guard down. Boil it, peel it, or forget it.

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