Green Season in Playas del Coco

Iguana crossing sidewalk

Until I was without rain for a couple of months in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, I didn’t realize how much I would miss the it. I am from Seattle, where there is rarely a long stretch of time without even a bit of rain. Now that CR is entering the Green Season, I am really glad to see liquid sunshine again!

The Green Season in Coco isn’t like the Wet Season of other areas. This is a tropical dry forest. It doesn’t rain all the time like during a monsoon. From what I have seen so far, it’s sunny or slightly cloudy in the morning with a thunderstorm or two in the evening or overnight. It’s pretty easy to plan your day around that.

Cat on windowsill
Miss Betty White would like to come in for a quick nap on our bed. Nope! She is a sweety though.

One kitty in our apartment complex showed her young age during one of the first storms of the season. She had spent almost her entire life in dry sunshine. Five months with no rain. Then out of nowhere, rain! The more seasoned local cat was dry as a bone. Betty White was a sad, wet kitty. Luckily, one resident adopted her into a wonderful home. She just needs to learn to head there before the rain starts!

Let it rain!

The rain is absolutely gorgeous! I have seen everything from raining buckets to a lovely, warm drizzle. Some folks like to sit in the pool while it rains, watching the large drops make patterns on the water. I like to sit under an awning, staying relatively dry. Either way, it’s so wonderful to be warm while it rains.

The temperature has cooled a bit with the start of the Green Season, but humidity has increased. The humidity makes it feel hotter than it actually is. I really like it, especially with the windows open at night. There is nothing more relaxing than the sound of warm rain hitting palm fronds outside your window.

When I got here, all the hillsides were dry with barren trees. Now the trees are in full spring mode with bright new baby-green leaves. It’s really striking. The hills greened-up most spectacularly after just a couple rain showers. It’s so weird that this is the season that sees fewer tourists. The beaches are practically empty and there is hardly anyone to chat with by the pool. Odd.


I had this plan to get mosquito repellent when I got to Costa Rica because some places sell repellents that work best on the local mosquitos. Well, I got here and there just weren’t many mosquitos. Which was great! Now that I am getting into the Green Season, the mosquitos are coming out.

Baby gecko in the window
I employ house geckos to rid our apartment of mosquitos! Get the bugs!

However, I am stubborn and don’t want to buy something I might only use for a week. Repellents with DEET aren’t the best for oceans, so I avoid them, if possible. I found a good coconut-oil based concoction in Honduras, but I could only use it while in fresh air. I have asthma, so I’m sensitive to fragrances and scents of pretty much all types. For now, I am using towels, buffs, and some weird citronella infused bracelets to ward off the mozzies. I’m mostly itch free.

Luckily, in Costa Rica, they have a good reporting system for dengue. If anyone in the area gets it, they notify people so you can protect yourself. I haven’t heard of any recent infections near me. Plus, I am really not seeing the particular type of mosquito that carries dengue. Just these tiny ones that are crazy hard to squash. That’s why I like my house spiders and geckos! I will try to find some fragrance-free Picaridin-based repellent in Mexico (and maybe one of those cool handheld bug-zappers shaped like tennis rackets!).

Ants! So many ants!

There I was, walking along the beach in the morning and I noticed that there were hundreds of dead/dying large flying red ants in the sand. WTF! It looked like they all came down to the ocean and got caught up in the surf. No idea what was going on. I tried to avoid stepping on the poor buggers, but it was difficult. I had never seen that before.

Empty beach during the Green Season
There are fewer tourists on Coco Beach during the Green Season.

Back to the apartment and headed to the pool to cool off. FFS! There were hundreds of dead/dying flying red ants floating in the pool. And the pool person just cleaned it that morning! I worked with some friends to skim the surface of the pool again and went in. So weird. They were all over the place and it was like they just came out of nowhere.

I didn’t really see them flying around. They were just floating on the water or dying by the side of the pool. So how the crap where they getting in the water? A few days later, I noticed that the red ants, sans-wings, were carrying the winged ants to the edge of the pool and dumping their still twitching bodies into the drink. Sacrifice to the gods!?! Mating ritual? Immigration control? Who knows?

I do really like the critters

Besides the ants, there have been a few other critters coming out for the Green Season. After watching the sunset on the beach, I started heading home. Movement caught my eye on the paved road. What an adorable little crab! This tiny thing was about the size of a toenail. It was only the movement that allowed me to see it. The sun had set and there were no street lights, but there was still a bit of light left in the sky.

Crab with large claw
This little guy was trying to hide under a piece of leaf. I had to be careful where I stepped.

That’s when I noticed that there was movement all around me. And some of the movement was from creatures bigger than a toenail. The crabs surrounded me! So many! All over the road. Some had one giant claw and seemed to be more aggressive than the smaller ones. Not just aggressive to each other, either. Danger from a thousand pinchers! I delicately removed myself and my bare toes from the situation and headed home. No dying!

You may think you have big grasshoppers wherever you live, but the ones that appeared for the rain here were ginormous! I’ve seen nothing like it before. I’ve eaten grasshoppers for funsies. Just one of these could be a full meal! I’m exaggerating, but they really were enormous. They were also doing a number on the leaves they were sitting on. Poor plants!

Giant grasshopper
These grasshoppers are so massive! The plant is a bit worse for wear now.

I have also seen bats, skunks, opossums, muscovy ducks, countless iguanas, geckos (my favorite!), friendly dogs, huge butterflies, fireflies, and loads of different birds. Click here for more critter posts.

Constant battle against entropy

Coming from Seattle, I’m very used to mold. Leave a canvas bag in a closet over winter in Seattle and you’ll likely find it covered in a delicate dusting of mold. I wasn’t worried about much when I got to Costa Rica during the Dry Season. Now that the rains have started, I have to watch where I put stuff.

If you use air conditioning, it probably won’t be as humid in your domicile. I skip the AC. Instead, I have the fans running near constantly. Mold doesn’t like to grow in well-ventilated areas. I still inadvertently placed a reusable shopping bag in a corner with low circulation. It is now in need of a good washing!

In addition, the salty tropical air mixed with high humidity causes iron to rust real fast. Keeping metal items as dry as possible is your only option. I dry all our cooking knives immediately to prevent them from rusting. It’s a constant battle. All my metal chip-clips, a pair of cooking tongs, and a hair clip are the current victims of this fight against entropy. That’s living in the tropics!

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