On September 21 I was with a group of students on a trip to Monteverde, an interesting cloud forest ecosystem on the continental divide in Costa Rica. While on the way we stopped for a scenic shot which shows how close the continental divide is to the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica:
Also on the way we visited a hummingbird farm/reserve/tourist trap. I'm not sure what to call it, it was just a good place to see hummingbirds:
On Saturday we went to a butterfly farm, and visited a frog museum. Unfortunately none of the pictures I took in the frog museum came out very well since the lighting was dim (frogs don't like bright light) and I was shooting through glass. Central America has a variety of poisonous frogs, all or which are about the size of a man's fingernail and are very brightly colored to warn off predators. They look like beautiful pieces of jewelry. The blue jean frog I found in Tortuguero is one example, but there are many other varieties.
I do have pictures from the butterfly tour, where we were given a short lecture on the local ecology. Monte Verde is on the continental divide and contains cloud forests. It rarely rains there but the mountains are almost constantly shrouded in mist. An elaborate ecosystem has evolved dependent on plants that extract moisture directly from the mist. As part of the lecture we got to eat some small live bugs that had an interesting peppery flavor. The first picture is of the cloud forest as seen from the butterfly farm. The second picture if of a goliath beetle that was one of the props in the lecture. That isn't the bug we ate:
The following pictures were taken inside the butterfly farm. The close-up on the butterfly wing corner is to show an evolutionary adaptation (or intelligent design, take your pick) of a pattern that looks like the head of a snake. This is supposed to frighten and confuse potential predators.
On Sunday we did a nature hike at the Finca Biologica (Biological Farm). The critter in the first picture is a coatimundi, which seem more common in Costa Rica than raccoons in the U.S., and equally bold and opportunistic. The rest are scenic shots:
Here is a group photo of the Intercultura students I was with in Monteverde. The red haired woman kneeling up front is a French Canadian who's name I can't remember. Behind her in the green jacket is Julia, a very tall young lady from Germany. To the right of Julia in the blue jacket is Nadaa, a very petite young lady from Sri Lanka. Behind Julia and to her left is Lynn, behind Julia and to her right is Lori, behind and between Lynn and Lori is Merrill; Lynn, Lori and Merrill are all young women from the U.S. To the far left of the picture is Christopher, a young German, and to the far right of the picture the ugly guy is me. Julia, Nadaa, Lynn, Lori, Merrill, Christopher and I were the students who went on the Sky Trek:
Our final activity was the Sky Trek, where some of us, those not too afraid of heights, hiked up into the mountains and used zip lines to cross between ridges. The Sky Trek was fantastic. The first picture is of a suspension bridge we crossed about half-way up the hike, followed by a picture of the suspension bridge taken from the high point of the hike. I'm not sure how high up we were, but it seemed pretty high:
We did a few short rides while hiking up, but this was our first really big zip, and my favorite. I wish there were some way I could have taken pictures while on the line; all I could see all around me was mist and a cable disappearing into the mist a few yards ahead of me. It had a real Twilight Zone feel to it. The best I can offer is this going, going, gone sequence of Julia. Julia had the best assessment of the Sky Trek, which she described as "better than sex." It's probably a good thing Julia's boyfriend was in Germany and didn't hear that:
The following pictures are some of the better pictures I have of students on the lines. Some of the zips were down in the trees, literally. On one zip I could see the cable pass through a very small opening in the branches which I was heading for really fast. It looked like I was going to get smacked pretty good, but the opening was just big enough for a person to pass through. This wasn't apparent until the last moment; I was preparing to eat some leaves.
The physics of the situation dictated that heavy people moved quite fast and small people somewhat slower. The second picture is of Nadaa, definitely on the small side, who didn't get up enough speed to make it in to the end of the line. One of the trek guides had to go out and help her. I don't think he had any complaints, Nadaa is really cute. I was the heavy one in the group, I had to learn how to brake when approaching the end of the line to avoid doing a George of the Jungle face-plant into a tree.
<>I think this is Julia, I'm not sure:</>
More students zipping; Nadaa, Merrill, I'm not sure:
Finally, some pictures of me. Not exceptionally good pictures, but this is my webpage so I get to be in it. The last picture is near the end of the line:
This was the last run. The light colored spot in the middle is somebody zipping. Some of the runs were shorter than this one, some much longer, all were much higher. It really was a fun way to spend a few hours. If you go to Costa Rica you've got to go on the Sky Trek in Monteverde, it's a wasted trip otherwise: