Cloud forests, hummingbird gallery, Melvin Rockwell
Monteverde Travel Blog› entry 10 of 16 › view all entries
June 19th, 2006 – by: smhirsch
When we got to Monteverde, it was beautiful weather, which Liza said was not normal at all. She said that, due to the geography with all the high mountains and the moisture being blown inland off the water, it usually rains in Monteverde.
The hotel we were staying in is called El Establo, and reminds me a lot (by its looks) of a ski resort. It had that same kind of style...except, of course, there was no snow, although it was considerable cooler than anywhere else we'd been so far in Costa Rica. El Establo is situated on a hill and looks out over a valley with great views of the sunset. There is a pool outside, about halfway up the hill, but it was a bit too chilly for any of us to even consider going for a swim. The inside of the hotel is beautiful, all wood, very natural looking. You can tell they paid very close attention to details...even in the artistically carved lamps and wall decorations.
After settling in, we were off to take a hike in the cloud forest. On the way, we stopped at Stella's Bakery for lunch. It's a pretty cool little place to eat. When you walk in, there are "menus" that are laminated and everyone gets a dry erase marker. You pick what type of bread, deli meats, condiments, etc. that you want on your sandwich by just putting a mark next to it on the menu. It's a pretty efficient way to work a bakery/deli. They had free tea, water and coffee and the food wasn't bad either. (A lot of their baked goods are very good.)
Across the street from Stella's is a co-op and a market with a lot of snacks, fruits and vegetables (I of course, found a Costa Rican guave.
When we got to the cloud forest, we were split into groups of 6-8 people and paired with guides that would walk us around, pointing things out to us. The hike wasn't the type of hike I had been expecting, but was more like a nature walk on pathways laid out throughout the forest. It was still a great experience. Our guide was very strange...haha. He even left us at one point so he could go show another group the Quetzal we had found earlier.
Our guide explained to us that at one point in time, Monteverde had been a forest overrun with golden toads. Visitors to the cloud forest would have to watch where they stepped not to land on the gold amphibians, but the toads began to disappear, and by 1989, the species was labeled extinct. It's really a shame that something so terrible would happen to such a beautiful creature...but that's the world we live in, where so few care that the environmental changes humans are inducing, even if they're small, are destroying others who share this planet with us.
After wandering around the cloud forest a bit more, playing Tarzan, and getting stuck in a cavity left by a tree that was surrounded and smothered by vines, we headed out to look at the hummingbird garden just outside the cloud forest entrance. Even though I had seen many hummingbirds at Kekoldi (that would fly into our mist nets), this was amazing. There were so many, all of different sizes and colors. You could just sit there and listen to them hum by on their way to get some sugar water from the many feeders around the courtyard.
When everyone was out of the cloud forest, and done looking at the hummingbirds, we went back to the hotel. After a quick rest, it was time for the guest speaker, one of the men who founded Monteverde.
Melvin told us a very cute story about a group of children in Sweden who decided to raise money to help preserve the cloud forests. They got their money matched and donated everything to buying more cloud forest and named the area "The Swedish Children Forest" or something like that. Soon, children all around the world were collecting money to help the cloud forest preservation. Acres and acres of land was bought for preservation and named "Eternal Forest of the Children" which I think is wonderful.
I must admit, that I wasn't looking forward to an educational talk (which was the same for just about everyone in the group), but it turned out to be very interesting...besides the fact that the man who talked to us was probably one of the cutest and most interesting old men I have ever met. After the speaker, some of us went out to dinner, others stayed in and watched movies on TV. It was a pretty early night because the next day, we were going horseback riding and ziplining...
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