Travels with Dick and Karen

Costa Rica, Part 3


costa rica
Travel from Cachí to Cartago wasn't too bad. Costa Rica

But getting around San Jose was thick. Six miles on the Hwy 39 ring road took an hour.

Costa Rica

And was fraught with motorcycles

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It was very slow and probably usually so: street vendors were casually walking between the cars and trucks. Costa Rica
After San Juan we took toll Highway 27, the one we'd seen from the airplane. We didn't use the Pan American Highway for this portion of our route, since it detoured inland and wove through many small towns. Hwy 27 was a much more direct route with much less traffic.
The low lands are dry at this time of year.
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There is lots of evidence of land slippage. Costa Rica

They insert pipes for drainage

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it seems an ongoing process. Loss of the lane was causing this short slow-down. Costa Rica

There are no rest areas as such on Hwy 27. But we took a detour to Orotina, one of the towns along the way, and found an enterprising grocery advertising the sought-after service. Relieved, we bought ham, OJ and Dulche de Leche rolls for a fine lunch in their parking lot.

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Hwy 27 hit the southern coast at the Bahia Caldera. Thus began a five-mile stretch that was our only close-up view of the ocean during this trip. Costa Rica
Between Caldera (a beach town) and Puntarenas, we went inland a bit and got on the Pan American Highway (Hwy 1) for 14 km. After Hwy 27's freeway style, Hwy 1's more laid-back nature took a bit of readjustment... Costa Rica
Enticing mountains awaited us, only 15 miles to our north. Costa Rica
We turned north off Hwy 1 to Route 606... the 30 kilometer-long main road to Santa Elena and Monteverde.
Dick wondered why there was so little (if any?) traffic on it...
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Well, it wasn't completely empty. We came around a curve to find an ox cart. Costa Rica
Half-way along 606, the pavement ended and turned to gravel. We had expected that. We followed this truck for miles. When life hands you a slow truck... Costa Rica
... enjoy the views. From the hilltops we could still see the ocean (or rather the Golfo de Nicoya: the mountains in the far distance are on the Nicoya Penninsula). Costa Rica
Up ahead we started seeing dust ... and what looked like a line of parked cars and busses?? Costa Rica
The road was blocked! Heavy construction! It turned out they had closed the road, with only occasional (scheduled) short openings for traffic to flow. Costa Rica
The notice our host had sent that we hadn't gotten. Luckily, we had arrived at the blockage (the red arrow) at about 2:30pm, so we only had a half-hour or so wait (and were in the shade). First they allowed the downhill traffic to pass, then our uphill line started off... Costa Rica
The passage through the construction zone was very rough-and-tumble. With the occasional downhill straggler. Costa Rica
The views off the (very) edge were spectacular... Costa Rica
... and to the other side (what the parked line of vehicles had as a view... without shade). Costa Rica
Eventually we crested a ridge and saw the promise of a town and pavement! Costa Rica
After wandering through Santa Elena (paved) and Monteverde (unpaved, to prevent speeding) finally we made it to the landmark community dumpster which marked our turn. Costa Rica
and the driveway on the right to Green Paradise Homes...
"What driveway?" you ask?
It's so steep, it's hidden by the nose of the car. Each time we drove into it, it required a (really) blind leap (lurch?) of faith...
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Cabina El Pizote (the Coatimundi)

... after 7+ hours of driving to go 180km (112 miles)
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The house had a nice front porch ... 

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... and big windows  Costa Rica
... a place to hang wet raingear  Costa Rica
..a well-equipped kitchen  Costa Rica
... laundry ... (we'd never before met a custom-fitted clothes washer cover)   Costa Rica
...needful facilities  Costa Rica
The only negative to the experience: Karen likes hot showers when she's cold and wet. This apparatus got the water to body temperature so it wasn't icy, but neither could you describe it as hot. Both Alajuela and here had this style of instant-hot-water-at-the-head, but somehow the Alajuela one managed the task. Dick looked this one's specs up on-line ... it consumes only 10% less power than Karen's glass kiln.

But the shower was a very minor quibble...
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... Since this was an overwhelmingly amazing place to be.

Rainbows almost every morning and evening.
Well, yes, that means there was a lot of moisture in the air. It's a cloud forest. That's why we bought the blue rain coats and boots. Although it turned out that after the first day we didn't need them(*). The weather turned windy enough to blow the weather offshore and the mountains blocked the clouds to the east.

(*) co-author's comment: yes, there was another day we should've had them with us...

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It was frequently very windy in our front yard...
Trees with massively thick trunks were swaying...
The next morning we took our really muddy car off to lunch
(This layer of mud was a souvenir of GPS adventures near Cachí)
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Being in Monteverde, we stopped at the CASEM (Cooperativa de Artesanas de Santa Elena y Monteverde) arts co-op. Here is a wall of embroidered pieces at prices comprable to those in the US: some were very well done for the price,
In the adjacent building we dropped into the "Coffee Center" coffee shop... where we discovered home-made Passionfruit Cake in their bakery. We returned a number of times for that treat.
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Dick (always the engineer) was quite bemused by the minimalist elevator on CASEM's second floor Costa Rica
Monteverde was established as a Quaker community, which is part of the reason that they've resisted having the road through the town paved. Santa Elena is the secular neighboring town. This is Santa Elena's new shopping mall, which we visited for its bank and grocery store. We'll explore their more traditional town center later... Costa Rica
Then it was back to Monteverde for lunch at Tramonti, a justifiably well-rated Italian-influenced restaurant. Karen enjoyed their Salmon Ravioli.
It was occasionally raining, so we ate indoors ...
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... and watched this Summer Tanager flitting about Costa Rica

Coming out of the restaurant, we discovered the road was full of cars ... waiting ... The town was re-grading some of the road. After 15 minutes we enjoyed a (mostly) pothole-free stretch of the main dirt road as we drove back home. Over the next few days more and more of the eastern portion of the road was improved. What we couldn't figure out was why the extremely pot-holed section directly in front of Tramonti was never addressed.

Returning home, we walked some of the Green Paradise local trails.

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Like most of the reserves, Green Paradise Homes is located on an ex-farm (Finca) that has been allowed to go back to being wild forest. There are nature trails weaving through the forests with guided night tours available. Folks (like us) who rent their cabins can wander the trails at will during the daytime.
There were a few areas of really big trees
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... with lots of epiphytes (plants growing on plants) Costa Rica
And interesting plants in bloom (hybiscus?) Costa Rica
Bromiliad Costa Rica
This is the entrance to a leaf-cutter ant colony. The cluster of little green leaves in the center of the photo are pieces being carried into the nest in an endless stream. Costa Rica
For a worm's-eye-view of what they're doing, play this:
(we'll leave it to you to hum Tchaikovsky's "March of the Tin Soldiers" or Verdi's "Triumphal March" from Aida to yourselves)
buttressed trunk Costa Rica
At the southern end of Green Paradise's forest reserve, they have an overlook ("mirador") for the valley containing San Luis and views on to the Nicoya Gulf. We were encountering the reason it's called a "cloud forest" region. Plus a bit of ... umm... "heavy mist". Costa Rica
... the clouds occasionally parted enough to give us an idea of the valley, but we couldn't see the waterfall we'd been told was there. Costa Rica
We climbed back up the hill along the road rather than taking another trail since sunset was rapidly approaching. Costa Rica find a double rainbow over the house (facing east) Costa Rica

and a lovely sunset (facing west).

We became almost spoiled by this spectacle almost every day, sometimes twice as the effects swapped sides between early morning and late afternoon.

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In the morning we were treated to a squawk of jays ... and the blowing low clouds as evidenced by the haziness of the not-too-distant trees... Costa Rica
a motmot (notice the characteristic extra-long tail feather hanging on a naked shaft beneath him -- the feather tip on the other side is missing) Costa Rica
and a toucanette. Costa Rica
The road into town was muddy and the wind was still blowing quite hard. Costa Rica
We wondered if this was a casualty of a Bomba de Aqua: the uphill streambed had that look. Costa Rica
Our cabin is down on the little stubby road at the lower right of the map.
We're driving toward the main town area of Santa Elena (inset, and the white rectangle on the center left of the map).
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Downtown Santa Elena was a one-way-counterclockwise triangle.
We enter from Monteverde at the (21) on the right... 
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One our first morning, this awaited us at #21 on the above map ... Costa Rica
after shopping, Dick walked back to see if it was still there (it was gone by the next day).
This was actually the second tipped-over box truck we encounted on our trip ... the first had been on a winding road enroute to the Poás volcano. In both cases it wasn't really apparent what caused the flip.
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We found a very nice glass shop-- Angel Gómez makes torch-worked animals ( and also shows the work of artists in other media. We bought a sloth. Costa Rica
Further around the triangle was the "Treehouse" a restaurant with a tree up the center. The menu and venue was fancier than we felt like. Costa Rica
Instead we stopped at Pollolandia for roast chicken and a burger.
(in honor of our earlier trips to Argentina, Dick ordered a Milanesa (veal) burger)
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Across the shared porch the Heladería offered coffee ice cream. Costa Rica
... always leave room for dessert!  Costa Rica
There is a spot on the road from Santa Elena to Monteverde where they've added a broad sidewalk and a couple of benches ... when the weather is clear, the views to Nicoya Gulf and the Nicoya Peninsula are spectacular ... Costa Rica
.. but the driver had better keep their eyes on the road. These significant rocks mark where the sidewalk and half the lane come to an abrupt end due to a wash-out. How to make people give way to deal with the missing lane. Costa Rica
Back "home", we decided to take another walk on the Green Paradise trails. Moraceae is the fig family and annona is the genus including pawpaw and soursop. Costa Rica
This is a strangler fig with the host tree gone. Costa Rica
There was a small orchard near the 4 houses. Not quite as overgrown as the trees in Bill's orchard in Cachí. Costa Rica
More interesting flowers Costa Rica
familiar like this bromiliad Costa Rica
and epiphytic cactus Costa Rica
and less familiar like these avocados (when we appeared we startled an agouti who was feasting on them) Costa Rica
a "pacifier" fruit (Heisteria acuminata or "narajillo") Costa Rica
a blown down branch Karen placed in another tree so the orchids on it might survive. Costa Rica
When we first saw this we thought it was a flower...but it was moving. Costa Rica
another cluster was more obviously beetles. Costa Rica
... and they were very busy beetles....
With so much growth there is also decay. Lots of fungi. Costa Rica
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... many trees had ears...  Costa Rica
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But the real lure of this place is the figs with their buttressed roots Costa Rica
and soaring skeletal-looking trunks. Costa Rica
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they get really really large Costa Rica
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One has been outfitted with ropes for climbing Costa Rica
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Another is just very hollow Costa Rica
so much so that we wondered if original tree removal had been helped along by the tour operators.

(the co-author kind'a doubts that...)
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This tree was still in the battle. We wondered if the roots splayed out like this due to the prevailing wind when they first touched ground. Apparently the stong winds blow for several months beginning in February. Costa Rica
And what explains this twisted cable of roots? Costa Rica
... it is possible the wind had something to do with it....
The next day's morning greeter was this motmot. Costa Rica
We headed to Santa Elena and arrived a bit too early at the Jardín de Orquídeas Costa Rica
So we had a chance to admire the banana just starting to bloom Costa Rica
And finally catch the very noisy great-tailed grackle. Costa Rica
The orchid garden fits a lot into a relatively small space. They have over 460 different species, and have a tally sheet on the wall saying that 121 were blooming the day we visited. Costa Rica
Our guide, Silvia, explained that many species are pollinated by mosquitoes (the flower mimics a female). Costa Rica
You're familiar with the large showy orchids you find in the flower shops.
The reality is that most of the orchid species are tiny. (which is understandable if they're trying to mimic a mosquito)
Many are very shy and hide under their leaf... 
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but they also has some showier species Costa Rica
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This mimics a similar non-orchid flower which has nectar (this orchid, like most orchids, supplies no nectar and relies on fooling pollinators). Costa Rica
This is called the spider orchid. Costa Rica
This is an absolutely huge wasp that stings, then lays its eggs inside the spider the previous plant mimics. The developing larvae eat the spider as they develop. Costa Rica
The foolery is apparently sucessful: note the nice fat seed pod. Most orchid pods are poisonous. Only a few species of vanilla orchid produce seeds which are not toxic to humans.
Orchid seeds are very small and scattered by the wind. As you would imagine, this would work well for an epiphyte which germinates in tree crotches and cracks in bark.
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The Jardín included a few non-orchids like this native passion flower Costa Rica
and this Indian clock vine (invasive) Thunbergia mysorensis Costa Rica
Dick waited patiently while Karen took flower photos (more here) Costa Rica
The Orchid Garden shares its parking lot... Costa Rica
... with Morpho's Costa Rica
We ate here 4 times. Karen recommends the Gorgonzola sauce (queso azul) on chicken. It's not specifically on their menu... the menu offers queso azul on steak, but they were happy to put it on chicken breasts for Karen. Dick tried a variety of their regular offerings, and quite liked their curried chicken (pictured disappearing) and the Karen specialty.
A number of guidebooks and travellers' websites recommend Morphos and consider it one of the best restaurants in the Monteverde area. We concur...
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The walk after lunch was in the Reseva Bajo del Tigre, part of the Bosque Eternal de los Niños (the Children's Eternal Rainforest). Children donated pennies to buy rainforest to keep the creatures alive. It is now one of the largest reserves in the country. This plot seems to be a newly donated parcel to allow the reserve to be more accesswible to casual tourists (the other parts of the reserve are very remote). It's located just off the road between Santa Elena and Monteverde.
The reserve had quite a lot of vertical travel along its paths...
(Dick takes photos of maps and handouts ... just in case they blow away during our walks)
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As you can see from the map, much of Costa Rica is reserved. The slashes denote protected areas, the green are biologic corridors. Costa Rica
Relatively new trails, in good shape. Costa Rica
much is recovering farm land. Costa Rica
But there are also tall trees Costa Rica
a section has questions geared towards children Costa Rica
and birds like this hummer. Costa Rica
Epiphytes Costa Rica
including a fine crop of primitive liverworts. Costa Rica
another gathering of beetles. Costa Rica
a few glimpses out into the valley Costa Rica
some of the tallest trees are on the ground. Costa Rica
this one is still growing-- the top turns up and it still has leaves Costa Rica
This video pans from the above tree's roots, along its horizontal trunk, and finally up to its crown in the sky
Some of the trees are on their way down (yes, it's still windy) Costa Rica
The ground can also give way to topple the trees. Costa Rica
here's a landslide in slow motion. Costa Rica
The highpoint of the walk was this dancing humming bird Costa Rica
...who kept at it enough to set the camera to "movie" and capture the act...
As we left we were given a good looking-at by the resident motmot. Costa Rica
Having learned from Morpho's that the local creamery has very good coffee ice cream we had to stop. Costa Rica
a fun active sculpture Costa Rica
this female great-tailed grackle gave us a scolding in the parking lot. Maybe she wanted the ice cream cone? Costa Rica
You may remember our comment about the leap-of-faith into Green Paradise's driveway. This is what it looks like once you're committed... It's quite steep with loose pieces of limestone) Costa Rica
... with motmot on the sign. You can see from the white trails this is a popular perch. Costa Rica
a bit of sunset closed the day. Costa Rica
The clouds were still streaming past in the morning Costa Rica
This was the morning that we noticed this broken branch thinking of leaving its tree.
The high-pitched chirp you're hearing is a noisy hummingbird... every day he'd spend quite a lot of time standing on his branch shouting down the wind.
In the final seconds of the video, he's framed by the sideways "Y"- shaped branch just to the right of center. ...
He stood still for a close-up.
We did wonder when he takes time to eat.
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But it was mostly clear overhead, with the 3rd quarter moon greeting us. Costa Rica
Another jay was looking to see if there was any food. Costa Rica
as was the pigeon Costa Rica
The next valley was still full of cloud. It never failed to impress, surprise and delight us that very little distance, like 4km, would bring us to totally different weather. Sunny at our cabin, rain on the 4km road to Santa Elena, sunny and dry in Santa Elena and for a couple of km north, then clouds and perhaps rain 4 km north of that... Costa Rica
Thus the prevalent fog as we started to walk some of the trails in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve (Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena). Costa Rica
They had a small museum in the entry building. The light brown things arrayed on the table are casts of animal foot prints. Costa Rica
This small portion of the Bosque is about 1 mile (1.5km) square.  Costa Rica
... but the trails can be longer.  Costa Rica

The Enchanted path started out in good repair.

... with Karen captivated by the sheer amount of varied greenery...

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lots of tree ferns, Costa Rica
tall trees, Costa Rica
stretching into the cloudy distance ...  Costa Rica

lots of epiphytes

(the sign is describing "Features of the cloud forest"

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... in very weather-worn faded bilingual text... Costa Rica
Some sort of bird(?) house ... we spotted a number of these along the trail. Costa Rica
lots of flowers Costa Rica
orchids Costa Rica

"kiss" flower, Psychotria Elata

(co-author's note: when reading Spanish or Latinate names and phrases, I first try simple cognating to Engish... so that's "makes you elated". This may explain some of the odd things that I get served at restaurants...)

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begonia Costa Rica
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Bromiliad just getting going Costa Rica
Cucumber relative? Costa Rica
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liverworts Costa Rica
Fern just unrolling Costa Rica
something is tunneling in these leaves Costa Rica
there are also lots of fungi on fallen trees Costa Rica

And lots of fallen trees due to a hurricane 6 months earlier

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This strangler fig made it through the hurricane. Costa Rica
and this monster Costa Rica
the path was still quite good Costa Rica
...but it started raining. Costa Rica
Fine buttressed roots and useful pocket-sized hiking equipment.
Where is the new raingear you ask? Back at the house -- the day had looked clear where we were. We dragged it along thereafter and didn't really need it. The mornings would be fine and then might mist a bit by lunch time but not much real rain till late afternoon.
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And then it got muddy... Costa Rica
... with stepping-trees
(one of the main trails was closed due to being excessively muddy) 
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But they did give bridges over the streams. Costa Rica
We had lunch at the cafe on the grounds (and Karen got sick) Costa Rica
This fun little beetle kept us company till the food came Costa Rica
Raining more as we left. Costa Rica
But rainbows in the home valley (yes, we stopped for ice cream) Costa Rica
The clouds and mist rolled in soon after we got home so we stayed in, read, and watched the weather. Costa Rica
The next day, the morning motmot stood in the road and seemed not to want us to leave. Costa Rica
Today, we turned right instead of left, and went just 2km up the way to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve Costa Rica

They are so popular that they assign you a path to limit overcrowding. When finished you can come back to the kiosk to get another path. Some of the guidebooks claim that there's a 450-person limit in the reserve at any time, so we tried to be early. Even though we were there on a weekend, there seemed to be far fewer than 450 visitors, so we did not see specific evidence of the policy.

Here in the reception area the guides had two telescopes set up... they were aimed at a sloth high in a distant tree. That was our one encounter with a sloth "in the wild", but we couldn't get a photo (sorry).

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The trail assignment keeps the traffic dispersed and the paths are well constructed. Costa Rica
Even for a non-botanist like Dick, the difference in vegetation between yesterday's lushness and this slightly drier climate was quite noticable.  Costa Rica
More tall trees Costa Rica
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with the fig takeover just starting Costa Rica
..the ubiquitous air roots dropping down. Once established in the ground they start bulking-up.  Costa Rica
Here's a fig growing up the side of its host rather than encasing it... yet. Costa Rica
And then there were full encasements Costa Rica
and trees with no host left ... all that's here is a fig. Costa Rica
This seemed to be a very large termite nest Costa Rica
Similar to yesterday's "bird houses", the Monteverde preserve had some sort of houses on metal poles and what appeared to be camera traps surrounding them. Costa Rica
views Costa Rica
very tall tree ferns Costa Rica
New foliage is often red colored, this set of leaves was spectacularly lit. Costa Rica
fallen fruit Costa Rica
lots of flowers Costa Rica
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some fun foliage Costa Rica
Even a bromiliad releasing its seeds on the wind Costa Rica
Here too were newly fallen trees Costa Rica
Trail clearing seems a never-ending task  Costa Rica
but it gave a chance to see the epiphytes up close Costa Rica
like these orchids Costa Rica
and these Costa Rica
amd this bromiliad Costa Rica
The other way to see the tops of the trees is on their hanging bridge. Take the Wilford Guindon path. Costa Rica
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you get nose to leaf with the things in the tops of trees. Costa Rica
tree ferns from the top Costa Rica
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orchids in situ Costa Rica
Then we took the path to the waterfalls. It looks like the falls are actually in the adjacent Bosque Eterno de los Niños. The Monteverde Reserve ajoins a different portion than the Boja del Tigre section we walked a few days earlier. Costa Rica
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Back at the reception area, we got to see a coatimundi walking through the paved area. Costa Rica
After the previous day's experience, we opted for lunch at known-safe (and delicious) Morpho's again Costa Rica
It was Election Day! We drove past the school where people were casting their ballots in the national primary election. Costa Rica
... and headed back out the same road that led to the Santa Elena Bosque Nuboso Reserve. We passed by Sky Tours, one of the commercial establishements, which has an aerial tram that we drove under. Costa Rica
... on the way to the gravel road that takes one 6km on a bumpy and narrow ride to Mirador San Gerardo... Costa Rica
... along the way, efforts are made to keep potential customers of the privately-owned Mirador from seeing the view off-leash.

The goal was ... 
Costa Rica take photos of Volcan Arenal. We think it was even steaming. Days this clear are rare. Costa Rica
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Without the zoom.

We never actually got to the Mirador San Gerardo ... this was the only break in the hedge that lined the north side of the road. Once satisfied, we Y-turned and headed back home, stopping en route for groceries, gasoline and another chunk of PassionFruit cake.
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Home for a typical one-bowl, one-dish evening dinner of cabbage, pork and noodles. Costa Rica
One of the morning jays posed for the camera the next day Costa Rica
while a male great-tailed grackle looked around on the ground Costa Rica
Today's adventure is to Selvatura, a commercial establishment which has zip-lining, several animal exhibits and several hanging bridges.
Selvatura, Sky Tours and the Santa Elena Bosque Nuboso are all on the same north road from Santa Elena, but each is in a separate side-of-mountain valley, with slightly different climate.
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Very popular... Costa Rica
They route the tours separately from the un-toured folks like us so the paths are relatively clear. Costa Rica
again there are very large tree ferns Costa Rica
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flowers Costa Rica
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tall trees Costa Rica
... but the real attraction for (otherwise acrophobic) Karen are the hanging bridges Costa Rica
Even though most folks obey the rules, it doesn't take much to set the bridge swinging and disrupt photo-taking Costa Rica
... "down there" is way down there....  Costa Rica
... the bridges ranged from 200 ...  Costa Rica
... to over 500 feet long. They'd span valleys.  Costa Rica
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The valleys usually had streams running through ...  Costa Rica
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A zip line customer in mid-flight Costa Rica
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Old zip-line platforms?

At Selvatura, all but one of their 13 zip-lines ran around the tops of the ridges that formed the edge of the main 850-acre valley. The nature and bridge trails were down in the valley. Except for the occasional "Whoop!" in the distance, they didn't really intrude on the foliage appreciation experience.
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Nose to high epiphyte  Costa Rica
Nose to fruit (soursop)  Costa Rica

They had landscaped the area around the restaurant/reception

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The food in the cafe was good Costa Rica
and had an interesting check out screen Costa Rica
Santa Elena runs a free shuttle bus both out here and to the Monteverde Reserve. Costa Rica
Selvatura offers a hummingbird garden, a reptile house, a butterfly building and the "Jewels of the Forest" exhibit... which was our choice. Costa Rica
Our guide Hector emphasized it was an arthropod exhibit (includes spiders, crustaceans etc. not just insects). yes, lots of spiders (but only 1 crustacean). Costa Rica
Due to the nature of the exhibit, a guide is required. Therefore they batch ticket-holders on an hourly basis. There were only two other people in our tour, one of which was Christina, a biologist from the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon. Our "group" was not a typical dash-through-in-15-minutes crowd. We had to be peeled away at the end of our alloted time.  Costa Rica
"Glass" winged butterflies -- their wings are transparent Costa Rica
Elephant beetles  Costa Rica
Scarabs and other dung-rollers  Costa Rica
The Jewels presented as art...  Costa Rica
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After the Jewels, we walked upstairs to the gallery/studio of an on-site artist. Costa Rica
Artists Ferlander and his wife Lin Luna Arguedas  Costa Rica
Among the popular items are their paintings on found Macaw feathers.  Costa Rica
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Back home, Dick went out to see if he could spot what was so noisy up on the roof -- possibly the loop of cable blowing around? Costa Rica
In the twilight we caught sight of an agouti coming to eat our extra cabbage leaves. We had been told to put organic things like vegetable peelings outside rather than in the garbage. Costa Rica
he noticed us and ambled away Costa Rica
The wind in the morning was strong again: it nearly blew the squirrel off the branch near the house. Costa Rica
The next day it was back up that northern (did we mention unpaved?) road. Today we checked out the bridges at Sky Adventures. Despite their pervasive advertising, they didn't seem very busy. Costa Rica
Six bridges in a "salesman's puzzle" ... we had to walk some parts of the trail twice to take them all.  Costa Rica
nice trails Costa Rica
storm damage seems repaired Costa Rica
the day was a bit too hazy to see the ocean well Costa Rica
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well, mostly repaired the storm damage. We enjoyed botanizing this trunk as we walked under it. Costa Rica
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These new leaves were white rather than red Costa Rica

The bridges here were also fine.

Tour groups would come out on the bridge, spend about 5 minutes as the guide discussed a few things, and then troop onward to the next...
We, on the other hand, would spend about 5+ minutes per tree, and the bridges each had many trees...

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Sky's bridges ranged in length from 216 to 774 feet long...  Costa Rica
Each bridge had something to see pointed out Costa Rica
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This patch of moss/bark is only holding on by the epiphyte roots. It was swaying beguilingly in the wind.
Here it's presenting face-on
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... and here the face has swung far to the right  Costa Rica
Countless epiphytes and orchids...
(did we say 5+ minutes per tree? Those were the boring ones...) 
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Avocado? (the food most sought by quetzals. No, we didn't see any quetzals in the wild) Costa Rica
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At Sky Adventures, the nature trails were in and around one valley, and the zip lines were over in another. The large structure was on the other side of the road (we'd driven under it days before) and served as final destination for the zippers. They also had an aerial tram that served both as a sight-seeing ride and a way to get the zippers up to the beginning of their 7-cable ride. Costa Rica
a zip customer comes in to land, er, bridge. Costa Rica
Javi, Costa Rica's mascot red-eyed tree frog, greets us as we leave Sky Adventures. Costa Rica
We got one more glimpse of the ocean as we drove back to town Costa Rica
Lunch again at Morpho's and another stop at the orchid garden. Your first admission and tour gives you self-guided re-entry privleges. Costa Rica
Dick took photos of the birds while Karen "burned film" on orchids, some of which is here. Costa Rica
The motmot greeted us as we arrived home Costa Rica
The bushes nearby were occupied by a group of chicken-sized chachalacas Costa Rica
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The next morning brought more pigeons Costa Rica
and jays Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
We had lunch with Anibal Torres, the friend of one of our Seattle neighbors. At Morpho's (again) at his suggestion. His family owns a farm and rents out cabins for people to stay, Cabinas Capulin. He's busy setting things up so that soon kids staying there can milk cows, collect eggs, etc. I got to do this sort of thing while growing up but today it isn't something most kids get to experience. It really helps connect with your food to know where it came from. I hope it works out for them. Costa Rica
Karen couldn't stand it any longer... she washed the car.
(it had been muddying her clothes when she'd enter or exit)
Costa Rica
We finally photographed our elusive local coatimundi on his rounds Costa Rica
and explored the last couple of Green Paradise paths we hadn't taken Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Yes, they have dandilions Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
We were lucky to get some really clear leaf-cutter ant images. Their trails would stretch for hundreds of feet. Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
As a last stop we checked out the fruit growing near one of the other cabins Costa Rica
  Costa Rica
Dick closed the curtains on our last night here. We leave for Guayabo in the morning Costa Rica




(3a-Extra Orchids)

Next: 4-Guayabo

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