Costa Rica

Walking Through Monteverde – A Tale of Many Animals

It’s an incredibly pleasant feeling to not know, or need to know, what day of the week it is. When you happen to find out, by accident, that it’s Saturday…well, that’s a perfect excuse to do absolutely nothing for a whole day.

It’s the the weekend!

Saturday was dedicated to sitting on the porch, alternating between my book and watching the rain rush down. John has been doing some extra-curricular writing outside of the blog (which is smashing, I must say) and the sounds of the keyboard, mixed with the rain hitting the vegetation surrounding us, was very pleasant indeed. I rested down deeper into my rocking chair, and there I sat for about 4 hours.

Thanks to the three hours of rain that occurs daily during the “green” season, I have managed to plow through a fair number of books. Some have been absolutely awful, falling under the remarkably low bar of The Da Vinci Code and some have been wonderful. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is incredible and I believe our recent tour of Europe lent an additional layer to my enjoyment of the book. Surprisingly, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, a book which I decided to hate before laying my eyes on the first page, left me in tears more than once. John has been working through one of my favorites, The Stand, by Stephen King and I have been ‘reading’ it again vicariously through him…”what’s happening now? Have they reached Boulder?”

There have also been several amusing bug incidents, which have deepened my adoration for John even more. Fortunately, these monster bugs have avoided me and make a bee-line directly into John’s lap. The first of these behemoths was a large, heavily armored black beetle that catapulted itself onto the keyboard as John was working on a blog entry. This thing was the size of a large strawberry. The first I knew of this incident was a series of sounds, uttered loudly and in rapid succession. “Yeeah, ugh…whaaa WOAH yiy!” Retreat first, then a sneak back to inspect the beast. We got as close as we dared, until the beetle decided to fly around for a spell, which was when I made a quick exit and barricaded myself in the house. I’m not scared of bugs…I just don’t want them landing on my face…oh, God…not my face!. John regained his composure and captured this beastie in a glass and deposited him far, far away.

Saturday night, I had decided to cap off my day of reading with some more reading, only this time I was reading inside on the bed. A familiar set of sounds came through the window: the heavy scrape of a chair, some muffled expletives…

I cautiously opened the door and found John pressed against the railing of the balcony, eyes wide, hands clamped over his mouth. He silently pointed to a 4 inch long grasshopper, who moments before, had landed on his shoulder and was now perched on the door frame. The hand was removed. “I’m coming inside now.” Technology was gathered with caution and he skirted around the grasshopper and firmly shut the door. I imagine he will deny all of this over beers…but I am only documenting the truth. It’s revenge for his behavior during the many acts of animal terrorism committed against me in Europe, in which he watched me flap and squawk at goats and gulls, through mirthful tears and a great amount of belly laughter.

That night, trapped in our cabin, we dined on oreos and tap water.

Sunday morning, the grasshoppper had left his perch, so we were able to leave the house and actually accomplish something. We were down to our last clean shirt, so we arranged for laundry service through our lovely host family. Dropping off our clothes, we encountered the first of many friendly animals for the day.IMG_1581.JPGThis handsome fellas name is Peligro, but his was an absolute sweetheart. He reminded us of cousin Clint, who is faithfully guarding our house while we are away.

Our goal today was to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the larger of the two in the region. Our bellies, empty of fuel, prompted us to find breakfast first, which brought us back to the taco stand for some eggy tortilla action. John made a new friend.IMG_1584.JPGWe had mistimed our schedule with the bus to the reserve, so we decided to hoof it for the first 2km to the Bat Jungle where we would kill an hour waiting for the next bus. Along the way, we were joined by another dog who stayed by our side, allowing his ears to be scratched every so often. The ear scratching stopped after we watch him roll around in ox-shit, but he remained our constant companion until we reached our first destination. The views, as per usual, were wonderful.IMG_1586.JPG
First stop of the day was The Bat Jungle, which promised viewing opportunities for 85+ of the little critters. Being that it was Sunday, we were a little concerned that the Bat Jungle would be closed, but we were delighted to find the following posted information:IMG_1588.JPG
We learned an amazing amount of bat facts, which I sure we will remember to bore you all with in person, but here are some to wet your palette. Bats make up 1/4 of all mammals on earth. The insect eating variety eat many tons of insects each night…for comparison, John would have to eat 600 bananas, 63 buckets of mosquitoes or 300 liters of nectar a night to keep up with the fruit, insect-eater and nectar bats.

The exhibit also provided a photo-op with huge bat ears, which amplified the smallest sounds in the room.IMG_1579.JPGFinally, we were brought into the bat cave, armed with flashlights, and got to see these adorable critters feast upon fruit, merrily flap about and hang out with their bat buds.IMG_1577.JPGIMG_1575.JPG

IMG_1576.JPGOur bat diversion had aligned us up with the next bus to the reserve, so we hung around outside the Bat Jungle, waiting for the modified school bus to take us to the Cloud Forest. A German couple joined us and informed us that there was no bus running to the reserve today…the Germans, always with the good news. John and I looked at each other, both of us reaching the same conclusion independently, at the same time. We would most certainly not be hiking the additional 4km uphill to get to the reserve. 4km in Costa Rican terms could be anywhere from 3km-7km, and it was starting to rain.

We settled on the next attraction up the road, which was the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Along the way, we took shelter at a cafe and were graciously allowed to snuggle with the resident cat for a little while.IMG_1583.JPGCats are awesome. Also, they have big moths here…this one just happened to be big and dead (Sir Pounce denied everything with a flick of his tail).IMG_1578.JPG
The Cheese Factory was closed for tours, but not for cheese purchasing! As we stared at their bounty, we were struck by an idea far more exciting than the Cloud Forest. It was time for a feast! We purchased a huge chunk of locally produced Edam cheese and a tub of onion dip. A bakery on the walk back provided us with fresh croissants and peanut butter oatmeal cookies. Locally grown starfruit and mango had been provided by our hosts and was waiting for us at home. The only thing between us and our Costa Rican feast was a laundry pickup and a long walk home. Here’s what we saw along the way:IMG_1580.JPGThese cows sure do have a great view…all the way to the Pacific in the distance.

IMG_1585.JPG

IMG_1587.JPGIt was not clear which of the Sloth’s items were for sale, but I am assuming nail files and hugs

IMG_1582.JPGA small carnival has been going on all week, in honor of the Quaker and Catholic Church coming together. Looks totally safe!

Today we must leave our forest hideaway and make the journey back to San Jose. I will be very sad to leave our cabin in the trees and our hosts, Beth and Manolo. We have a 4.5 hour bus ride back to the big city and we will, once again, be on bag-theft patrol out the window for most of the afternoon.

Monteverde, you have been enchanting. We hope to see you again someday.

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