28 June 2013

Sloth Hunt!

Dear Ean....

I went to dinner at Mi Ranchito with Heather and Ron (s/v Sundancer) and Jill and Matthew (s/v Rock and Roll Star).  Back to the scene of the crime, so to speak.... But I'm proud to tell you that - this time - when Heather suggested a second bottle of wine, I Just. Said. No.  And having said no to Bottle #2, the question of Bottle #3 never came up.  Phew!  We had the kind of conversation that I know you would have enjoyed, so it made me miss you: we talked about trash and plastic and human impact and evolution, and many other Topics of Great Importance.

When we walked back from el restaurante, it was black dark.  A beautiful night.  We were walking towards the Smithsonian gate, just about to take a left into the marina's parking lot.  (Here's what it looks like during the day: did you ever notice those cables overhead?)

This is the cable that the "night sloths" were hanging on.
 When Jill pointed up, I couldn't process what I was seeing at first.  Big indistinct blobs hanging from what I knew to be the overhead cable.

But then the "blobs" became "sloth blobs."  I didn't have the camera - to my great regret. We continued walking to the dinghy dock, slid down the ramp (supermoon low)....  Then I dinghied back to the boat, grabbed the camera, dinghied back to shore, hiked back up the dinghy dock ramp, walked across the parking lot - and there they were, of course.  "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.  But I'm not coming down, so use the zoom, 'kay?"  

Lesson learned: I don't think this will work with OTHER types of wildlife - but with sloths, if you forget your camera, don't worry - they'll still be there when you get back.  Note to self: Carry camera constantly.

This Night Sloth Sighting, of course, reactivated my sloth obsession.  Remember the sloth in Shelter Bay Marina?

Bradypus variegates, or, a three-toed sloth

I've been poring over and completely engrossed by the website of the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica... when you get home, let's start planning our little "overland" trip to Boquete and Costa Rica, shall we?  

Anyway, remember the mysterious markings on the Shelter Bay Sloth's back?  I read about it on the website: it is, indeed a Mystery.  They call it the "Male Patch Mystery."  While I was engaged with Sloth Sleuthing, I also discovered that the video of the baby sloth and the flower - remember that one? - was actually taken at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica.  Can I just point out, that the woman who took the video must have been on the "Insider" tour, because I don't think you get to go in to the nursery and the "Slothpital" if you just take the plain old boring (cheap) "Buttercup" tour?  I'm just sayin'.

The next day, about an hour before sunset, I decided to go on a Sloth Hunt.  Excellent timing, as it turned out - superhigh!  So I piled all the trash into the dinghy and took advantage of the auspicious ramp sitch.  Sloth Hunt AND Trash Run - see how I'm multi-tasking?  I even brought in the two gallons of waste oil that had been sitting around in the cockpit for a month.  

In the big tree just behind and to the right of the dumpster (can you picture it?), I found this guy.  (And you know when I say "guy" I don't mean that it was actually a male sloth; I'm using "guy" in that generic, ungendered way.  Two-toed sloths don't have "male patches," so no clues there.)

Choloepus hoffmani, or, two-toed sloth
Dude's got an itch.  So he stretches his leg out, and - ahhhh, those claws are good for scratching those itches.  On the Sloth Sanctuary website, they actually call them "fingers," not toes.  Both types of sloths have three "toes" on their back legs, but the two types differ in how many "fingers" they have on their front legs (arms?).  Yep, that's me: a fount of knowledge.  Seriously, check out the website.  More than you would EVER want to know about sloths, written by people who LOVE LOVE LOVE sloths.

Still itchy, can't quite reach... yeah, that's the ticket.  Life is good.

After a bit more scratching and stretching, he's apparently ready to get on with his evening.  Off he goes; back to the trunk, where he will catch onto another, higher branch and make his way further up into the tree.  The picture's a bit blurry, because he was moving so fast.  Just kidding.  The lighting was challenging for our little point-and-shoot.

I walked across the parking lot, half-way hoping to find those same sloths still hanging from the overhead cables... but at some point in the intervening 18 hours, they had made off to greener pastures (that would be TREES, presumably).

I found this "guy" just 8 feet off the ground, nestled into a comfortable hammock of intersecting tree branches.

Close to sunset, now, and and I was pointing the camera into the depths of the tree, so the flash went off.  He showed his dismay by blinking, slowly, in my direction.  "Dude. [blink] Not. [blink] Cool."  So I apologized and left him to it.

There it is: all the news that's fit to be digitized.  Reporting live from Slothsville.

XXOO, Jane

P.S. I know you think I'm a little crazy, about the whole Sloth Love thing.  But you don't know nothin'.  Watch this video, which is a clip of Kristen Bell (she's an actess - you don't know her - never mind) talking with Ellen DeGeneres about her Sloth Meltdown.  Kristen Bell's Sloth Meltdown.  She is crazier than I am.  Be relieved.  (Rebecca from s/v Summertime Rolls sent me this video.  Isn't facebook fabulous??!!!)

P.P.S. It hasn't escaped me, of course, that this is our 200th blog post.  I thought you'd be jumping all over it, the chance to do #200, since you were so gung-ho about writing #100.  But, sorry!  You were TOOOOOOO SSSLLLOOOOOOOWWWWW.  Sort of like a sloth, come to think about it.


  1. I am so jealous of all your sloth encounters as I too am obsessed! When I was in Costa I made it a point to stop at the sanctuary. I even got to see them feeding some of the babies! We didn't even pay for the tour, just kind of tagged along on someone else's until they noticed (which happened to be just long enough to see the babies!). Is it sad that I will consider this trip a failure if we don't see any sloths?

    1. Ya gotta see some sloths. I recommend you make your travel choices based on sloth availability. Go where they are - and it's not like they're ELUSIVE or anything! :) :) And you WILL see sloths. It's all about priorities...

      So envious of your sanctuary visit. I have GOT to get there.