Hiking Through The Clouds

Trip Start Oct 07, 2013
Trip End Jul 01, 2015

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting to Monteverde is at least half of the adventure of Monteverde. A quirky legend has it that a number of Quaker families from Pennsylvania moved to the area (largely to avoid the Korean war draft since it violated religious principles) and worked with locals to ensure that this pristine environment wasn't overrun by tourists- done by preventing any improvements to any of the roads leading to Monteverde. Good story (and one to be somewhat respected even as we bashed our heads against the car roof) but apparently the truth is that the Quakers simply want to remain isolated, while the locals have been very insistent on securing road improvements, only to be let down by successive governments (promises made before the election are quickly forgotten after the election...is Obama the President down here too??). 

It was simply a coincidence that I hit a massive pothole every time DH and Deb P started in on their 'what's wrong with men' conversations (version 347), but we did arrive in the Cloud Forest town of Santa Elena suitably shaken and stirred. Having come from the land of colds and flues (and flying to Costa Rica while sealed in a tin can full of people with colds and flues), Deb P was looking very much worse for wear. And given that her noseblowing was currently indistinguishable from that of a badly tuned trumpet, we left her behind as we did our first night safari in Monteverde (the woman who owned our homesstay was already quite concerned that the many birds and animals that normally wandered the grounds seemed to have been frightened off). To be fair, Deb P claimed that she wasn't sick and it must be an allergy, but I'm not sure that being allergic to having a cold is much different to just having a cold?

On our way to the night safari we replaced Deb P with a hitchhiker going to the same safari who turned out to be an Israeli national who was living in Boston while getting his Doctorate in Japanese Military Strategy, and was now taking a break to travel Costa Rica- perhaps the only country in the world without a military. As you might expect, conversations with our replacement travel companion were quirky with a healthy side of funny. The safari itself turned out to be a smorgasbord of nocturnal critters but given the darkness, extended distance, and lack of a tripod, Tina B may want to avert her eyes as she goes through those pics. After dropping off our Israeli friend and his samurai sword, we returned to our room only to find Deb P in the fetal position on the bed mumbling something about a "stupid allergy" so we knew we'd be doing most of our Cloudforest adventure without her.

The Monteverde Cloudforest is a must-do stop on any eco-tour of Costa Rica. Only 1% of the global woodland consists of cloud forests and Monteverde is the posterchild of these types of forests which are characterized, not surprisingly, by a persistent cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Having come from the rainforests of Arenal (just a short distance away), it was almost erie (and certainly drier) to be wandering through the fog, mists, and clouds of Monteverde. And the primary object of our hunt in the ghostly forest? The not-particularly-scary Resplendent Quetzal. This flying critter is a big deal among birdwatchers everywhere, and since our chances of catching a glimpse of a jaguar were close to zero we decided this was going to be success measure for our day in the cloudforest. The Resplendent Quetzal has a Near-Threatened status but is often counted among the most beautiful birds in the world-  the birds are so revered that they are the symbol of Guatemala which also trades in currency known as the "quetzal." It wasn't looking good although we did see a sleeping sloth, snakes, tarantulas, spiders, coatis, capybaras, and a number of colourful birds (including humingbirds at a makeshift feeding station in the middle of the forest). But just as we were about to turn around, we spotted our target, and since he had just finished eating an entire avocado, he was compliantly sitting on a branch digesting before spitting out the seed. It would have been nice if he had sat a little closer to us but based on the fist pumps and chest bumping going on with the guides, it would seem that we were very lucky to get this kind of view. Still don't get the whole bird watching passion but we did feel fortunate to have a close encounter with this particular bundle of feathers. 
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CarolC on

Great photos but I had to rush through the spider ones! Enjoy Cuba, will be waiting to hear all about it.
Love to you both - CC xxxxx

Tina on

Now I've got internet, finally enjoying your blog again. A little up close and personal with that tarantula mmmm. As for that hamburger, did you finish it? Looks like an amazing place and what a wonderful collection of wildlife. x

reg.w on

Fantastic photos of the bug and animal world.

SA Cruisers on

How did you get so close to all those critters? Looks like an amazing place to see. Have fun in Cuba.

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