Santa Elena, Costa Rica 5:01 PM
I woke up at around 8am this morning with absolutely no idea what to do. I went to the front desk of my hostel and asked for the list of activities. I wanted to hike at one of the town’s biological reserves but apparently missed the lone guided tour at 7am. I guess I missed the boat on that one. I decided to make the trek to the Butterfly Garden which was about a 2-mile walk. I wasn’t lonely though as I was accompanied by a stray dog the entire way. If there’s one thing Costa Rica has plenty of it’s friendly stray dogs, not to be confused with The Stray Cats, who released the popular album Rant and Rave with The Stray Cats featuring the guitar slinging talents of Brian Setzer as well as such classics as “Sexy &17”.
Un Stray Perro
I arrived to find the Butterfly Garden completely empty of tourists at around 11am. I tentatively opened the door as it seemed too quiet and saw a girl who could have been either Costa Rican or American, so I said “Hola” then slowly realized she was American, so I started the English conversation. The girl, whose name escapes me, brought me to a room and showed me a short film on butterflies, most of which consisted of their mating habits. It seemed to be an oddly perverse film. One line in the film was “the butterfly kama sutra is somewhat limited” but the visuals they showed were quite animated and might make a parent with their child somewhat uncomfortable. Three words: Flying anal sex. Or at least that’s how it appeared to me.
Once the film had ended, the girl who greeted me when I first walked in showed me all kinds of insects including Walking Sticks, Praying Mantises, huge beetles who were trying to kill each other as we spoke, Scorpions, and even tarantulas. Okay, so tarantulas are arachnids but you get the point. She also showed me a Costa Rican bug that could kill you over a 30 year time span. They suck blood from you and poop on the cut they make. The second you rub it in after scratching it, it starts a process whereby your heart will eventually explode in 30 years. SWEET! Next she showed me the life cycle of the butterfly in a diagram and showed me all of those cycles in actual specimens in cases. Afterwards, she gave me a container and said, “this butterfly is ready to be released into the gardens. When you get to garden 4, you can release him and name him.” Awesome.
I was soon met by a lovely Canadian lass by the name of Christine who led me through the gardens and pointed out all of the different species to me. It was probably my favorite tour of the entire trip. It was really pleasant with butterflies flying all around. There was good back and forth conversation with my guide. When I got to the 4th garden I readied to release my buttefly into pseudo-freedom within the confines of the butterfly garden and had Christine take a picture right before and during it’s release. The right before shot worked, but the during one didn’t. Anyway, I named the Butterfly “Bill,” for Jaime Weisfelner and Jessica Iselin. They like to name everything “Bill,” so I did it for them to know that somewhere in a butterfly garden in Costa Rica there is a butterfly named “Bill” flying around. I’m not sure exactly what species it was, but it was an Opsis something. I decided to walk around the gardens one more time to see if I could get some good pictures, specifically of “Bill,” but got some of other species instead. “Bill” was too hard to find. As I was walked in between the gardens, some weird animal that I have not yet identified crossed my path. It could’ve just been another stray dog, but I swear it was rounder.
Releasing Bill Into The Wild
This One Looks Like An Owl
This is an orange butterfly at the Butterfly Garden. Wow, right. Wow.
After my swell butterfly experience, I headed to the Monteverde Cheese Factory. They’re supposed to have good ice cream. It was quite a long haul there and I came upon two Canadian girls named Christine and Michelle, en route to the factory who were headed the same direction but instead hiking up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve. When we finally reached the cheese factory, I decided | wasn’t that excited about the cheese factory and that I’d walk with them to the Cloud forest. It was a long walk, I think it was about 6 kilometers from where we met. It wasn’t too exhausting and the weather was nice.
When we got there we signed up for a guided tour to start around 2pm and get us back by 4pm since that’s when the last bus back to town left and we weren’t going to walk seven kilometers back to Santa Elena. Unfortunately, our tour guide began late and it started to rain. I bought a poncho at the gift shop, and we were off.
When we got into the forest I realized I was stupid for buying a poncho because you really can’t get too wet in these forests when it’s raining on account of the shelter created by the massive amounts of trees. Within the first minute of our hike we saw one of the rarest birds, the Resplendent Quetzal. It almost sounds like a fake name but it was rather astonishing. The guide wanted to stake it out and watch it for 20 minutes, but we wanted to see more of the forest. One of the girls suggested we move and the guide did, though he kept looking for the Quetzal to reemerge.
Soon after we came upon some howler monkeys traveling in a pack of about 15 through the trees above. Thankfully for us, they weren’t masturbating furiously or throwing crap. The guide decided to move us to a shorter trail since we had to leave soon. On that trail we saw a few robins, caterpillars, some larvae, and a bunch of millipedes. The guide picked up a millipede and it went to the bathroom all over itself.
I split off the tour at around 3:45 to make it back in time for the bus, but the girls stayed. I had to go back to town to book a bus to La Playa Tamarindo for tomorrow morning. I met a couple from St. Louis as I waited for the bus and as it turned out we ended up not having to wait for the bus, since one of the guides said he would drop us in town for the same price. A dollar is only a dollar no matter who’s driving you and he drove about ten times faster than most of the drivers around here, so it all worked out.
This is me, and two girls I met (Christine & Michelle) as I was walking towards the cloud forest.
We took a tour of the Cloud forest together.
I thought I’d arrived back at the hostel too late to book the bus to Tamarindo but I was just in time to snag one of the last spots. I leave 9:10am for La Playa Tamarindo where I’ll be staying til the afternoon of the 23rd when I head back to San Jose in time to make my flight the next morning. Look at me planning and stuff. PURA VIDA!!!