Days 90-92: Monteverde, Costa Rica

We had a few extra days so we jetted inland to Monteverde, home of Costa Rica’s famous cloud forest.

The area has an interesting history: In the 1950’s, Quakers from Alabama, seeking to avoid the Korean War draft (as it directly contradicted their pacifist values) settled high on the mountain in Costa Rica, a country that had just abolished its army three years previously. It wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists began to notice that it was an area rich in species biodiversity, thanks to its unique geographic location and climate. 

There’s a reason it’s called ‘Green Mountain’: It rains! A lot. We arrived at our campsite in a torrential downpour. I jumped out to ask about nightly fees and was instantly soaked. But in the morning we woke up to clear(ish) skies, singing birds, and gorgeous scenery.

Ben has never met a trout pond that he didn’t like. 

Bright pink bananas!!! No idea if they’re edible but I want this plant for our house simply because it’s so darn cheery. 

Visitors to Seattle usually can’t get over how green it is in the “Emerald City”. They’d go bananas upon spying Monteverde. It’s a whole new level of greeness.

This was a roaring river when we arrived at night; by the next morning it had dropped a foot and was slightly more sedate. I had a professor once tell me that the greatest cause of death to scientists in Costa Rica was due to flash flood conditions or when they try to ford a suddenly swollen river on their way home from their research site. 

On the recommendation of a friend we visited the Monteverde Butterfly house, which was excellent. Although the first species of animal we saw was this pile o’ scorpions, not butterflies. I had a close call 15 years ago with a scorpion on my bath towel (that I was wrapping around my body); I will admit to being slightly leery when it comes to these guys.

Is it just me or does this owl butterfly look like it has a ’30’ written on its wing in pink marker?

Millipede love. 

Leaf katydid, master of disguise. 

Isn’t this an exotic flag-footed bug?!

The blue morpho instar looks like it woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I’m partial to those fancy pink feathers on the head (or is it tail?) end.

Window pane butterfly – always gorgeous. My camera had a hard time focusing on the ‘window’, wanting instead to focus through to the other side. 

The kids got to release their own wee insect into the world.

The kids loved the butterflies – but the frog pond at the end was the icing on the cake.

We did a walk in the Santa Elena Natural Reserve. These are always the sorts of places where you should go with a local guide – they’ll be able to spot many more animals and give you the history of the area. We’ve had a bit of sticker shock when it comes to activities here in Costa Rica; they are US equivalent (or pricier) so we consequently didn’t hire a guide.

Which is too bad; despite having a nice walk through the jungle, we really didn’t see a whole lot besides green foliage and rain. Rookie mistake. 

We did happen upon these black guans upon leaving the parking lot, however. 

Ben was having a rough day. It’s hard being an almost seven year-old sometimes. 

Emma decided to cheer him up. Smiling didn’t work. 

Hugs didn’t work.

But tickling always works. 

Love these two goofballs.

This was about 0.25 seconds after Chris yelled: “Watch out, there’s a bushmaster (snake) behind you!!”

Got you. No snake, but lots of laughter.

 

While we enjoyed Monteverde, it was a long way to travel for two days of exploring. The roads are crazy steep and bumpy; we did the trip in torrential rain storms which made for treacherous driving. The highlight of our time was visiting with our new buddies that we met in Samara; they lived in New York but are spending a year living in Monteverde with their children. Their company was exceptional and it was hands down the best meal of the trip so far: roast chicken with crackling skin, baby potatoes, and a kale salad. It made me miss home like crazy.


Resources

Campsite: $8/adult. $4/kid. Gorgeous farm with attached restaurant and fish ponds. Expensive (for camping).

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. $15usd/adult. $5/kid. Excellent. Tour included with admission. We liked our tour guide; she wasn’t used to talking to kids, however. Fortunately we were the only ones on the tour so we were able to tactfully request she cut short the speeches when the kids started going bonkers.

Taco Taco. Yum!

Santa Elena Preserve. $16usd/adult. Guides run an additional $40-60.

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