Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 4 – Trip to Monteverde

 Many of the rural hotels in Costa Rica have bird feeding stations near the breakfast rooms – the stations are stocked with overripe fruit, and every morning the birds come to feed, giving us tourists a thrill.  (The wildlife really is special in CR – for a tiny country, there is incredible biodiversity.)

This morning we watched blue-grey tanagers, scarlet tanagers (Richard described them as blackbirds wearing red jerseys, which was very apt), red-legged honeycreepers which are tiny sparrow-sized birds but are mostly deep cobalt blue and black, with bright red legs.  The personalities of the birds definitely reflect their colors – scarlet tanagers are very pushy and chase other birds away; the blue-grey tanagers are much more polite, and are rather social and friendly.  The honeycreepers were hanging out with another bird (a general brown bird, nothing distinct enough for amateur birdwatchers like me to identify) and they seemed to come and go as a pair.  The parrots were eating earlier yesterday, and we didn’t see them at all today.  But a young green helmeted iguana showed up for breakfast, and did a lot of posing for me.  (According to my animal book, they are more closely related to the basilisk – which of course sounds very Harry Potter-ish!)


The river was visibly higher due to all the rain from the previous evening and night – the crocodile bank was half underwater, and the river was moving quite swiftly and looked more like coffee with a bit of milk rather than a cappuccino, the way it usually looks.

And I had to take a few photos of the beautiful plants, plants which I’ve had as houseplants in the northern climates – and which grow outdoors in the tropics.

We had a slow drive around Lake Arenal, which is a rather long and winding road – with several stops to stretch our legs and have coffee.  At one place, with wonderful blended iced coffee and macadamia nut goodies, there was a poor yellow and black butterfly stuck inside, fluttering against the window, desperate to get out.  It took a few tries, but I was able to capture it in both my hands, and I carried it out and set it free.

Being on the road leads to various philosophic conversations – my amazement at the butterflies who were flying overhead mid-river as we drifted down the river yesterday; that butterflies seem to be so happy and friendly, and that having a short life span probably forces them to enjoy every moment to the fullest; that our retirement plan is going to get us living like butterflies, flitting here and there, just having fun and not worrying about anything.  And that traveling without a plan is very existential – that wherever we end up is where we are going.  As I said, philosophic.

At Tilaran, we turned off the road for Monteverde – and hit the dirt road.  Part washboard, part slidey gravel, with precipitous drops and gorgeous views – always an adventure when we get off the beaten path.  We climbed mountains in the trusty Suzuki, and eventually arrived in Monteverde – which was surprisingly familiar.  We found our hotel, the Montaña Monteverde, got our room, and we have an appointment for the hot tub at sunset.  We’re currently watching the fog come in and cover the hills – there’s a reason this is part of the Cloud Forest!  We also saw an agouti, the strange animal that looks like a dark brown rabbit with deer-like legs and round ears like a mongoose.

Tomorrow I plan to hike through the Cloud Forest, forcing myself across the hanging bridges and hoping to see some monkeys, sloths, more beautiful birds, and the Mayan bird of paradise, the resplendent quetzal!

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