Arte de Plumas – Turrialba, Costa Rica

Pura Vida, or Pure Life is an apt slogan for beautiful, laid back Costa Rica and our first day in Turrialba lived up to the hype.


It’s the little things that make a weary traveler feel welcome.

After a leaving the house at 5:00 AM, catching two flights, renting a car in which Bob drove a grueling three hours over impossibly narrow, steep roads, we arrived at Arte de Plumas in Turrialba, Costa Rica and were greeted by this special touch, an artfully-folded toilet paper welcome.

Bob, by the way, has earned a new nickname: Bob nerves-of-steel Armantrout to go with his other well-earned nickname: Tripadvisor Bob. Not only did he plan every aspect of the trip, from flights to lodging, to meals, for all four of us—Lyle, Carrie, and we Trouts—he printed our boarding passes, shuttled us from counter to gate, and chauffeured.


We came here to see birds, so that is the first thing we did after a refreshing night’s sleep. Guide Andre kept us busy with our camera, binoculars, and bird lists. Turned out, we didn’t have to hike far because of several strategically-placed feeding stations that make many birds call Arte de Plumas their home. Andre said that they once identified 110 different species in one day.

Poro Trees in bloom

Poro Trees (Erythrina Costaricensis) sparked orange color upon the landscape on this beautiful, blue-sky day.
We took a break from birdwatching to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Daisy and her helper, Carol, sure know how to make good use of fresh, local produce.


Oropendola Nests hang from a palm tree right outside the veranda.
Can you spot three Montezuma Oropendolas?

The air burbles with the call of the Montezuma Oropendolas who nest in trees surrounding the lodge. The males court the females by hanging upside down, then swinging back upright. Their nests look like damp socks with a rock in the bottom. We learned that the birds enter their nests from the top and that they are always working on their pendulous homes, which explains why we saw so many birds flying around with dried grass in their beaks.

We’d seen a few of these fascinating birds when we visited Tikal in Guatemala in 1998 and thought them rare and exotic. After our first day here, we see them fly by and think, “Oh, that’s just another Oropendola.”


After breakfast, Carrie, Beth, and I went for a little hike. Since we are in the mountains, our calves got a good workout.
This is the stream where we hope to find a Sunbittern. Stay tuned.

One of the tables at Daisy’s beach.

Our original destination was Daisy’s beach, down the hill about half a mile. Yes, the same Daisy who made our breakfast and last night’s dinner. Because of our language barrier, we have not asked who had the creative idea of filling tires with concrete to make tables and chairs. We found her working in her yard. Siempre trabajando.

Typical of Turrialba, a tidy home and vibrant garden

But we didn’t stop there. We walked further and saw a beautiful old woman with white, white hair, wearing purple and working in her yard. I wasn’t bold enough to take a photo of her, but did snap one of her home. Carrie, Beth, and I agree that the locals have a wonderful sense of ownership and pride.


Cute couple
The heifer, scratching her head on a rock
The bull, resting on his laurels

I like birds, but I love quadrupeds. Look at that beautiful cow with her pink ears. How about that handsome guy with the dark hump?


A tree laden with verdant growth.

We passed a tree that held an entire ecosystem in its boughs.
A Miniature Pinscher followed us down the road until it reached its owner’s property line. My Nana had two or three Miniature Pinschers when I was a little girl, and although they made me nervous with their yappy, snappy teeth, I thought they were handsome dogs.

I cannot believe we squeezed all of this before lunch on our first day in Turrialba. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Pura Vida.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

6 replies on “Arte de Plumas – Turrialba, Costa Rica”

Thanks, all! We are settling into a good rhythm here, touring in the morning, down-time after lunch, dinner, then bed.

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