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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Up in the Monteverde Clouds - Day 564

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

We love going to places with a back story, and even more so when it is stunningly beautiful. Our day was spent in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, all thanks to some Quakers.

A group of Quakers left their Alabama home to avoid being drafted in the Korean war in the early 1950s. I don't know how they came to this area, did they happily discover it by accident? But when they arrived, they settled here for a simple life, making and selling dairy products.

Twenty years later, in 1972, scientists George Powell and his wife were visiting the area and discovered that it was being threatened by local farmers wanting to expand their land into this wilderness. They collaborated with some of the local Quakers, in particular, Wildford Guidon to establish the Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, the first private area for the conservation of wildlife founded in Costa Rica.

Luckily the Tropical Science Center, a non-governmental scientific and environmental organisation, got involved and accepted ownership responsibility and management of the protected areas, giving it stability and sustainability.

And in June 2019, two GrownUpTravellers paid their US$22 entrance fee each and spent five happy hours exploring Monteverde's fabulous cloud forest.

Our first trail was the Sendero Bosque Nuboso, with a good solid flat path so easy to walk with our heads turned up, searching for birds playing hide and seek. One bird, a three-wattled bellbird was a real teaser, calling an occassional sonic "bing" causing us to keep stopping and seeking for it. The birds were too elusive for us, apart from a few LBJs as our friend Sue would call them (Little brown jobs).

Oh well, no Queztals today (look them up, they are stunning), but plenty of flora; so much easier to photograph! Birds do have a habit of flying off just as I have them in focus.

The abundance of mosses, epiphytes, vines and weird shaped fungi, tiny delicate flowers and bright red stems of the bamboo palm fruit was like being in a sweet shop. So much to see helped by the light flickering through the canopy.

Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries, with 4% of the world's plants and animals in only 0.04% of the world’s land surface. In the Monteverde region alone there is 2.5% of the world's biodiversity!

We climbed up steep steps to the Mirador La Ventana, a viewpoint on a wooden deck where we were overlooking the continental divide. To the west, was the Pacific and far in the east was the Corn Islands we visited a few days previously in the Carribean sea. Often this area can be in thick cloud with no view, we were lucky that we had one, but not as far as these two great seas. The thick white clouds were laying over the treetops.

We carried on our walk, eventually reaching a suspension bridge 100m over the ground so amongst the tree canopies.

Just as we walked down back into the cloud forest, we spotted a black creature high in the tree. My first impression was that it's body looked like an otter, but that would be ridiculous. It must be some kind of cat. What on earth was it? Black with a sleek body and a long thick tail.

Later, as we returned to the entrance, a guide informed us that it was probably a Tayra, from the weasel family. Crikey, that was one large weasel!

We rested and ate our packed lunch before heading off for a shorter walk. The morning trek was a good three hours, longer than the map indicated. It is funny to see how some people explore here. One lady seemed as if she wanted to zoom around the paths as quickly as possible, with her three friends lagging. A group of young French ladies were having a great natter all along the trails. Neither could have spotted much. But we all experience life differently.

It's like we are all living on one planet having 7 billion unique experiences.

We strolled to a lovely waterfall and on our return heard a commotion heading our way. It was a troop of excitable Spider monkeys. One enjoyed showing off its acrobatic skills right above us, looping over the branch like a gymnast on parallel bars. I must confess that as they got nearer, I felt a bit nervous, remembering the young Italian guy we met in Japan's Yakashima Island, who relayed his story about being attacked by a group of monkeys. I took my hat off ready to defend myself. How Tim laughed.

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