Tag Archives: Monteverde

What kind of bird is this?

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When we first moved to CR I sent my inquisitive, science-loving nephew Nathan several nature questions to solve.  For example, we have a particular kind of ground cover whose leaves close up when touched.  I took some video of us touching it (this is NOT my video, btw.) and sent it to Nathan with the question, “what is this?”  Nathan and his mom researched it and came back with the answer, “Mimosa or Shy Plant”.  I bought myself a plant book after that.

My next question was concerning a very noisy and social yellow bird that woke me up every morning.  He was large, yellow and black, and not afraid of people.  I took pictures and sent them to Nathan.  He decided it was a “Social Flycatcher”.  I bought myself a bird book after that.

Once I took a picture of a butterfly that looked exactly like a leaf.  And another time I snapped a picture of a clear butterfly!  We have more species of butterflies here in CR than anywhere else in the world.  We actually export butterflies… well, the cocoons really.  I’ve posted pictures of strange fruits, trees, bugs, flowers, sloths, birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and sunsets.  This country never ceases to amaze me with the wonders of God’s creation!

Here's the butterfly that looks like a leaf.  Amazing Camo!

Here’s the butterfly that looks like a leaf. Amazing Camo!

My last question involved a volcano near our city.  The volcano has a lake in the crater, as many volcanoes do.  The lake changes color from lime green, to grey, to turquoise, to redish depending on the level of heat and acid coming from the volcano vent under the surface of the water.  Scientists monitor the color of the lake and the quality of the steam.  They watch what happens to the vegetation around the crater to give them an indication of when the vapors turn toxic or more sulfuric or dangerous.  So one day in the newspaper there was an article that claimed the the lake in Volcan Irazu had “mysteriously” disappeared.  So I sent Nathan the question, “What happened to the lake?”  Turns out it really is no mystery.  It’s something that happens on occasion.  We had had a particularly dry rainy season and then a crack had developed in the edge of the volcano crater which caused the water to drain down into the volcano for a time.  After some hard rains, the lake was back again, cooling off the volcano again like a natural wet blanket.

A young Taylor looking down into the crater lake at Volcan Irazu.  The lake is actually really far down below.

A young Taylor looking down into the crater lake at Volcan Irazu. The lake is actually really far down below.

So here’s my most recent nature question.  I’m going to ask all of you readers too to see if anyone can come up with the answer.  We saw this bird up in the cloud forest of Monteverde.  I think it might be a kind of toucan, but I can’t find it in my bird book.  What kind of bird is this?  There is no prize for the right answer.  Just the intrinsic satisfaction of being right.

What kind of bird is this?

What kind of bird is this?

Where I learned something about myself

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A few weeks ago my husband and I went away for the weekend, just by ourselves.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times that we have left our children and had a weekend getaway.  We have been in full time ministry for the last 20 years and we’ve been parents for more than 17 of those years.  Weekend getaways have been few and far between.  But this year we started the year with putting two dates on the calendar before any others.  We blocked out a week vacation for a “stay-cation” at the end of summer and we blocked out a weekend away just for us.

22 Kilometers (just under an hour) of winding, climbing dirt road.

22 Kilometers (just under an hour) of winding, climbing dirt road.

We chose a new location to explore on our getaway.  We took the very, VERY bumpy and long road up to Monteverde Cloud Forest.  As we climbed up and up the mountainous dirt road separating the coastal highway from the high-altitude forest preserve, I enjoyed the scenery and the ever changing flora without the bickering of siblings and the tired, whining demands of children behind me.  We played the music WE wanted to hear.  We stopped and took pictures where WE wanted to stop.  We bought and ate the gas station snacks that WE wanted to eat.  It was lovely.

Up, up in the clouds it was cool and damp.  It was the most Fall-like weather I’ve ever experienced in the tropics.  This Minnesota girls who was starting to miss the seasonal changes got her “fall fix” and was happy.  Our hotel was at the very end of the road, just before the entrance to the National Park.  It was quiet up there.  I liked that… a lot!

The little town of Santa Elena which services the tourists coming to the cloud forest was a kitschy little collection of souvenir shops, typical Costa Rican restaurants, and “Extreme” tourism offices.  If Wisconsin Dells were transported to the Swiss Alps, that would describe Santa Elena and Monteverde.  It was cute.  After all, who doesn’t love “Reptile World” and souvenir magnets?  We ate at an amazing restaurant built into a tree.  We pretended that the Swiss Family Robinson had opened a restaurant in Costa Rica.  The food was so tasty that we went back for dinner the next night too!

Eating at the Tree House Restaurant... the original Rainforest Cafe, I suppose.

Eating at the Tree House Restaurant… the original Rainforest Cafe, I suppose.

We decided to skip the zip lining adventure since we’ve done that a million times.  And we didn’t pay to go into the National Park.  It’s been our experience that animals pay no attention to the boundary lines of parks.  They go where the food is, hence, where the people are.  So we skipped that.  We took a very disappointing night hike with an Israeli family who talked incessantly and loudly, successfully warning any animals of our presence.  The best part about the night-hike was the gigantic tarantula we found in a dead tree stump.  Note to self:  if you’re ever lost in the jungle in the night, do NOT place your back against a dead tree unless you want to be instantly covered in prehistoric sized insects of all varieties.

After the successful ATV tour through the cloud forest.

After the successful ATV tour through the cloud forest.

But the absolute best part of the weekend was that I drove an ATV (4 wheeler) for the first time!  Josh had gone before a few times, but it was my first time.  I mainly agreed to do it for my husband’s sake.  I was the only girl in the group.  I was super nervous and cautious at first.  But once I got the hang of it, I could keep up with the men no problem.  And guess what.  It was a BLAST!  I was so proud of myself for learning to drive it and for being brave.  I really enjoyed it and will definitely be doing that again!

We also spent plenty of time just reading quietly, examining birds through binoculars while sitting in our front window, and just being together… without kids!  It was a wonderful weekend getaway.  We came home feeling refreshed and ready for the next challenges that life and ministry would bring our way.  We decided we need to do that more often.  It was lovely.