Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The "Cloud" Forest and coffee plantation visit

Monteverde, in the northern part of Costa Rica, is famous for its cloud forests, characteristically wet with low cloud cover.  But when we visited, there were no clouds to be found, only blue skies and dry weather.  While we were happily hiking in the sun, our guide thought it was worrisome and hoped that it's just a temporary El Nino effect and not permanent climate change that's affecting the cloud forest.  As its name implies, if there are no clouds, there won't be any cloud forests, as the critical weather conditions for its survival is missing.

This is also where people go ziplining so they can see the forest canopy in closeup.  I stuck to the hanging bridges, still a great way to see the forest canopy and I can take pictures!   Our guide pointed out lots of flora but the only wildlife I saw was a click beetle and the humming birds that were attracted to the feeders in the Humming Bird Garden near the entrance.

After a morning in the cloud forest park, we went to a coffee plantation for lunch.  The tour of the coffee plantation was very interesting and we had a lot of fun with the local guide - a standup comedian!   We learned a lot about the coffee plant and what it looked like, how it was processed and what constitutes the best coffee - light roast as opposed to dark roast. Best of all, we got to sample each kind of roasts at the end of the visit and also ate out of a fresh cut cocoa bean and sampled chocolate made from it.  It was a really enjoyable visit.

Humming birds in the Humming Bird Garden

Tree fern

One of many trees being strangled by vines, typical in the cloud forest

Seed of a wild avocado tree

The lush cloud forest canopy

The beautiful hanging bridge #4 and the posted sign on its capacity (only 50 persons? and no mention of weight!)

An orchid growing on a tree trunk

A rather unusual click beetle

The coffee berry on the tree and opened up.

Coffee beans! 

Cocoa beans

And finally, I love this image of a coffee plantation worker who seemed to be enjoying himself even though he was literally arm deep in coffee husks!  

Pura vida, as they say in Costa Rica...

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