Monteverde: the first 2 weeks

Costa Rica has been such an adventure so far and I’ve only been here for 11 days. I’ve been giving tours of the butterfly gardens during the day, reading a lot, hiking and have even gone out dancing a couple times. On a scale of one to terrible, I’m pretty much the worst at dancing but I’ve managed to get by, mostly by finding guys who are half decent at leading and then just smiling and laughing a lot when I screw up.

Climbing on a big fig tree I found on a hike near the butterfly gardens

Climbing on a big fig tree I found on a hike near the butterfly gardens

The tours at the butterfly garden are so much fun, I basically take groups through an arthropod room tell them all about tarantulas, scorpions, beetles, cockroaches and a few other neat things then we go through 4 butterfly gardens. People come in from all different backgrounds so sometimes it’s a little difficult to communicate and I end up doing a lot of weird interpretive dances mimicking scorpion mating…but I think I get the message across! We try to kind of make it funny, but the language barrier kind of annihilates some of my jokes. That and there are definitely some major cultural differences when it comes to humor. So far, I’ve found that German people either think I’m the funniest thing ever, or they just stare at me like an idiot whenever I try to be funny. There is no middle ground.

Some Owl butterflies at the bar. They eat fermented fruit all day, they are the alcoholics of the butterfly world.

Some Owl butterflies at the bar. They eat fermented fruit all day, they are the alcoholics of the butterfly world. And they suffer the consequences, only living for a few weeks!

I had my first day off on Friday, hiked for a solid 8 hours, got kind of lost on a trail, which ended up being really nice because I found a big fig tree! Then I hiked Cerro Amigos, which is this pretty big elevation gain, but it’s worth it because the view is supposed to be aaamazing, except for when it’s cloudy, which it was. So I got a wonderful photo of the inside of a cloud…

Check out that view! Top of Cerro Amigo. I wasn't willing to wait around long enough for the weather to clear up. It was a great hike though, 1842m up!

Check out that view! Top of Cerro Amigo. I wasn’t willing to wait around long enough for the weather to clear up. It was a great hike though, 1842m!

I then went to the bat jungle. It was amazing, I learned so much and am pretty much going to be the hugest entomology/bat nerd after this trip! It was great because one of the guys who works there let me and the other volunteer join him mist netting the night before, so I’d seen a few bats in the wild and learned a bit before actually going for a tour. The mist netting was so much fun! We went out two nights in a row, set up very fine nylon nets along trails and then checked them for bats every 15 minutes or so for a couple hours. We saw a striped palm viper, which I walked right past in shorts so thankfully it didn’t bite me! An orange kneed tarantula, an orange mouthed arboreal tarantula, and 3 silky short-tailed bats. The animals in this country are amazing!

Check out how cute this bat is!

Check out how cute this bat is!

So in summary, everything is amazing and here are a bunch of photos:

The beautiful Julia butterfly

The beautiful Julia butterfly.

Some owl butterflies getting it on.

Some owl butterflies getting it on.

The Asthma beetle. Thought to cure asthma when eaten it turns out they actually cause it by chewing stuff up and making dust!

The Asthma beetle. Thought to cure asthma when eaten it turns out they actually cause asthma by chewing detritus up and making fine dust!

When a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it makes a crysalis out of it's exoskeleton and turns into goo inside, then completely reforms into a butterfly.

When a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it makes a chrysalis out of it’s exoskeleton and turns into goo inside, then completely reforms into a butterfly and emerges!

You can read all about how inside the chrysalis it is just a pile of goo, but there was one that wasn't hatching, sooo we cut it open to see for ourselves! Yup. Pile of goopy wet brown stuff.

You can read all about how inside the chrysalis it is just a pile of goo, but we had one that wasn’t emerging, so we cut it open to see for ourselves! Yup. Pile of goopy wet brown stuff.

Coffee and a sunset before bat research assistance time!

Coffee and a sunset before bat research assistanting time!

Striped palm viper that we walked right past!

The striped palm viper that we walked right past!

"Fishing" for an orange mouthed arboreal tarantula with a katydid on a leash

“Fishing” for an orange mouthed arboreal tarantula with a katydid on a leash

Hello beautiful day! Cerro Amigos.

Hello beautiful day! Cerro Amigos.

No hike would be complete without some impromptu yoga!

No hike would be complete without some impromptu trail yoga!

Totally biffed it on the way down, then I had to walk through town with a questionable looking brown mud stain on my shorts/legs. Good times!

Totally biffed it on the way down Cerro Amigos (super steep), then I had to walk through town with a questionable looking brown mud stain on my shorts/legs. Good times!

Congratulations on making it all the way through my hiking/arthropod photos, here is a cute little mammal. It's a Coati!

Congratulations on making it all the way through my hiking/arthropod photos, here is a cute little mammal as a reward. It’s a Coati!

So, Costa Rica is great. Public education is a blast. Seriously considering doing a masters in science education (apparently Laurentian University has a good program). I’m hoping to organize an event for the young naturalist club here in the next couple months. They are a group aged 6-13 and I’m thinking I’ll probably go for an ethnobotany lesson or something, but I’m not entirely sure yet. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

With love from Costa Rica, see you all back in Canada (or wherever) soon!
Christina

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