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January 25, 2005

The Mysterious Resplendant Quetzal

After a few days relaxing on the beach we headed inland to the beautifully maintained rain forests of Costa Rica. We rented a car (Toyota RAV4) and drove to the Monteverde Reserve - an area originally settled by expatriot Quakers who intentionally preserved a third of their land to leave wild.

The drive itself was an adventure: I hadn't been behind the wheel in almost 5 months and here I was driving in Central America where no road is wider than your average driveway. Added to this was the fact that the roads leading up to the reserve are some of the roughest we've seen. I never thought anything could top those narrow mountain roads in Ecuador but these had 'em beat for sure. It turns out that the community of Monteverde intentionally does not request better roads in an effort to limit the amount - and hence the impact of - tourism in the region.

With only two days to explore we didn't waste any time. In the morning we went to the reserve to do a wildlife tour. We wisely made the decision to go with a guide - truly it made all the difference. The main prize that tourists are in search of in the Monteverde rainforest is the Resplendant Quetzal. This extremely beautiful and rare bird is also a vital link in maintaining the diversity and growth of the forest. The quetzal (the male of which has tail feathers of blue and green extended up to three feet) eats the tiny avacodo fruits of the trees whole, digests the fruit and regurgitates the seed later priming the earth for another tree.

Our guide explained that conservation efforts now are to not just maintain pockets of forest, but rather to have entire "corridors" so that the animals nad birds like the quetzal have room to migrate and roam allowing for more diversity. He pointed out the contrast between the dark, dense, multilayered "old growth forest" and the light colored, uniform "new growth" forest that is forming around it.

Sure enough about 10 minutes into our walk an excited group ahead of us flagged us over. A Quetzal sighting! Through the lense of our guide's telescope we were able to glimse this fantastic bird - green mowhawk and all! Later we were priveleged to see some howler monkeys and a two toed sloth, along with countelss birds and hummingbirds - many of whom only pollinate one specific plant.

Our guide explained that one of the mysterise of the rainforest is that "it is rare to see common and common to see rare" Simply because of the immense diversity of life here. Sure enough just before our three hour walk was over - another Quetzal sighting in the distance!

This was truly one of the best guided hikes we had been on.

Later that day we saw the rainforest from a different perspective: Gliding through the canopy on a zip line. Needless to say that we didn't see as much wildlife on this trip considering we were yelling the whole time! Actually it was a series of ziplines that connected tree to tree and we advances through the almost two hour route by snapping our harnesses to each new line and flying off. It was great fun. On the last line - a really long one - Lisa got stuck in the middle and had to be rescued.


Can you find the Quetzal in this picture?

The Zip Line - Don't get stuck Lisa!

Posted by Jim & Lisa on January 25, 2005 11:44 PM
Category: Costa Rica

Ah... the adventures never cease. Take a lot of pictures of Anne in Fiji and uplaod them to your website! :) Enjoy your wedding, and your many many blessed years ahead together. Have a Mango for me while you're out there too! :)

Posted by: Blewis on January 26, 2005 02:13 PM

Hey, Didn't you get married somwhere in here. Where is that news? alicia

Posted by: Alicia on January 26, 2005 04:47 PM

Hey, Didn't you get married somwhere in here. Where is that news? alicia

Posted by: Alicia on January 26, 2005 04:47 PM

Hey, Didn't you get married somwhere in here. Where is that news? alicia

Posted by: Alicia on January 26, 2005 04:47 PM
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