Indeed, you only live twice: your second life starts when you bird Costa Rica for the first time. And, yee-haw, this would be my second attempt at a second life: three weeks ago I was invited to bird Costa Rica! And that is how this mess I am in, started.

Do you ever manage to get ready for a birding trip in a calm and orderly fashion? And find enough time to study the field guide to your destination?

I know of international bird guides who can get ready in ten minutes. Their secret: they keep one suitcase packed all the time. The only thing left to recheck is if there’s enough tooth paste left after the previous tour.

And I? I am a mere mortal: in total chaos, ergo sum.

The first choice was: what optics to take? Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 or larger but much stronger NL Pure 12×42? With smaller magnification comes a larger field of view, which I felt would be a better choice for the lush rainforests of Tortuguero. (Actually, NL 8×42 would have been the very best choice, but that one wasn’t available.)

How about a scope? On my last trip, I used mine only twice (and my guide’s scope several more times); hence the heaviest part of equipment stays at home. Yes, I know, whatever I decide, I’ll be sorry, so I’d rather be sorry and comfortable.

Being fully inoculated with AstraZeneca, I understood that with a digital vaccination certificate, I do not need any further tests to enter Costa Rica – something to recheck again!! [Update: true. Check.]

Also, at the website of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I could find the requirements to enter Costa Rica (basically, a digital form to fill in and international health insurance), but not a word about whether I need any advance testing when returning to Serbia? After almost two years of pandemic, I really cannot take any more stress of that kind! [Update: with the vaccination certificate, I need no testing. Check.]

What I missed the last time was an electrical socket adapter, to be able to charge my European gadgets in the American world. I planned to buy it at some airport, but that didn’t happen. Yesterday I got it. Check.

Medicines? Check. Dentist? After a year and a half long pause (!!), finally checked today!

A reminder for tomorrow: To buy travel health insurance. While I never travel without it anyway, because of the Covid nowadays you cannot get into many countries without it.

Another reminder for tomorrow: To buy a set of face masks. And to find a much smaller bottle for hand sanitiser, normal size bottles are apparently not allowed inside planes.

And yet another reminder for tomorrow: I should somewhere buy one of those button-type batteries for a Bluetooth remote shutter, to give it a shot at digiscoping birds at fruit feeders of Selva Verde with a smartphone photo adapter.

Something to do before the trip: To fully recharge the head lamp. Also, to smear some skin moisturizer cream over my leather binocular strap. It’s a rather narrow and very comfortable strap, but it comes from a pair of bins I bought 45 years ago!

There are some other things to finish, but I am highly unlikely to make it before the trip, so it’ll have to wait for my return.

A field guide I’ll have to study on a long flight from Europe to San Jose. There will be no chance to do it earlier!

Also, I shouldn’t forget a rain poncho, it’s the rainy season at the Caribbean side, where I am heading. And to bring a lot of insect repellent, those mosquitoes haven’t seen a tourist in a year and a half, are really hungry and will be happy to wish me a warm welcome.

UPDATE: Just ahead of the trip, I started developing symptoms like sneezing, fever, runny nose and cough – either a common cold or Covid-19 Delta variant. At the time I didn’t know what is was, yet, whatever the case, I had to cancel my participation in the tour. Luckily, it wasn’t Covid, but I was not fit for travelling. Still, it’s Costa Rica I am talking about: I’ll be back.

The final update: And yes, I did make it back, read about my Costa Rican birding exploits here

Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Latin America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66