Costa Rica’s Local Color

It was only two weeks. But in that time we witnessed a transformation. Arriving in the west coast town of Las Catalinas, the weather patterns still clung to the winter norm. Clear blue skies, hot baking sun, a calm bay and dry brown earth prevailed. We were in the “dry forest” and the midst of the winter-long absence of rain.

The climate was most apparent on the mountain bike trails. Even just looking up into the hills surrounding town, everything was brown. Following the dirt paths up into those hills, the ground was rock hard and vegetation was dormant. But all that soon changed, almost overnight.

Clouds moved in, and so did the rain. Evenings invariably brought flashing skies as lightning pulsed through the darkness. We had front row seats sitting out on out deck watching the sky. Most evenings thunderstorms followed. Rain was often intense and short. But it had the courtesy to come only at night, which we appreciated. The increased humidity, however, clogged the air. Stepping outside any time of day, we were immediately cloaked in hot heavy air. It was hot before, now it was cloyingly sticky. The wind picked up too. The timid waves lapping the shore turned into veritable crashing breakers.

On the trails, just a few days of rain worked magic. Buds popped out everywhere. Tiny clover-like plants poked up through the soil and began to carpet the trail. The brown landscape was instantaneously green. I was glad I had taken some early pictures as I might otherwise have thought I imagined the stark change.

Before and after rain

Flowering plants also flourished. Those already blooming increased one hundred fold. New colors and blossoms appeared. It was a feast for the eyes.  Some mornings, we would find the trails littered with brilliant flowers, brought down by the hard rain.

Costa Rica flowers

The gathering storms did scuttle a number of sunsets. By late in the day, clouds often hovered over the horizon, preventing the sun’s late rays from reaching the sky overhead with its red glow. That didn’t stop us from watching, however, ever hopeful for a display. Yes, glass of Chardonnay in hand. And on our final night, we were rewarded one last time. It was a fitting parting gift, this local color in Costa Rica.

Final Costa Rica sunset

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