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on an overhang off Route 34

Provincia de Puntarenas, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
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Unexpected Scarlet Macaws: North of Hermosa Playa Hermosa  Costa Rica

Unexpected Scarlet Macaws: North of Hermosa

Some experiences in life immediately have that once-in-a-lifetime quality. For years, my birdwatching boyfriend spoke of the elusive Scarlet Macaws. How desperately he wanted to see them in the wild (they're quite limited in their range). Last year, we got married in Dominical, Costa Rica. After making a last minute decision (at the San Jose airport!) to forgo a honeymoon in Honduras, we drove south without a destination in mind ('winging it' would be too apt). South of Jaco, off a stretch of Route 34 where mountains meet ocean, a pair of macaws streaked the sky. I screamed for my husband to stop. He didn't believe me. In Costa Rica, he said, most macaws lived in Osa, 150 miles to our south.

But then he saw them too: dozens of birds in the trees, making their rounds from jungle to ocean like they owned the air. If I wasn't yet a birdwatcher, I was quickly converted while the macaws squawked and soared above us.

Evening neared but the macaws still hadn't tired of their life as birds. Sun setting, we returned, begrudgingly, to our car and drove on, stopping for 'casado' at a roadside 'soda' (a family-run restaurant) before meandering up the hills of Uvita to our ultimate honeymoon: Rancho Pacifico, a boutique eco-hotel nestled in jungle overlooking Playa Ballena.

We didn't see the macaws again, but their presence lingered, reminding us, like the lessons of love, of the importance of spontaneity and perhaps, dumb luck. The irony: they're the national bird of Honduras.