What a jam packed day! Breakfast was at 6:45 and “Buns on the bus” (as our wonderful Monteverde Institute guide, Amy, likes to put it…) was at 7:30. We started our day at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. The photo kids may get to make pictures of gorgeous landscapes, but I’m pretty sure the rest of us are just fine making memories. Cheezy? Deal with it.
We had a talented tour guide, Rafael Elizondo, who showed us the ins and outs of one of the most famous cloud forests in the world. Over 400 species of birds, more than 100 species of mammals and as many as 2,500 species of plants live in the forest according to yesterday‘s lecturer, Noé Vargas. After a mile-and-a-half walk through several trails, a walking stick insect revelation, and a two-toed sloth sighting later, we found ourselves in a lecture room at the reserve.
After the lecture from a Centro Científico Tropical (Tropical Scientific Center) representative about the reserve’s history, it was off for lunch graciously prepared for us by MVI. We used the hour to eat and rest sitting in the sun on the Institute’s front lawn after such a long and draining morning — not to mention a late night. We also had the pleasure of hearing two more lectures at MVI. Biologist Patricia Ortiz gave our first lecture, providing more background information about Monteverde, focusing on the services nature provides and the effects climate change has on the area. Next was Patricia Jimenez, who offered a first-hand view of the changes the community has gone through since her arrival in 1978. Expansion of education, the construction of better roads and the increased role women have in the community were among the topics covered.
Next we headed to the Bat Jungle where a local expert, Vino, first ran us through the most common misconceptions about bats in the world. Bats are endangered in the United States and Europe, and are feared to be doomed to extinction. Vino ran us through several bat classifications and some more facts. Did you know some bats can eat nearly 1,000 insects in one night? I think our group had the most fun with the supersonic hearing simulator, where we all took turns sitting with pipes attached to huge metallic bat ears pressed to our own. We all got some laughs at each other’s expense. Check back soon for a video of our bat experience.
Our night ended upstairs from the Bat Jungle at the Café Caburé Argentine Café and Chocolate Shop. The food was delicious, and the chocolate was delectable, but our sweetest surprise may have been our dinner guest. Owner Bob Carlson joined us for the second part of our meal. Before owning the café, Carlson worked for four years at the Tico Times in the early 90’s. The Tico Times is an English language newspaper in Costa Rica. Carlson was a columnist focusing on environmental issues before resigning in 1994 to become the director of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. He seemed happy to answer any questions we had for him.
What a day, and on behalf of all of us, I don’t think anyone has earned some sleep more than we have.