Good Morning,

Two things I missed yesterday.  The main reason I posted that picture of the swan in my cappuccino was that coffee shop was on the second floor (actually  because the street was so steep, part of the coffee shop was street level and part was second floor) and while in there this VERY large white faced monkey came literally right up to the windows and was chased by a dog.  The other thing I forgot to mention is I had the best rice and beans for breakfast at El Sueno for breakfast.  They used pinto instead of the traditional black beans and their beans were mixed in with the rice (most places serve the rice and beans separate).  But that wasn’t what gave it the kick.  One of the  options on the menu was for Gallo Pinto.  I believe you saute onions, red peppers and cilantro and then cook the rice and beans together and then add the main flavoring ingredient Lizano Sauce.  Lizano is only made in Costa Rica in Limon, Costa Rica and it is a secret recipe.  I hope I can buy it and bring it back with me.  If not, I understand that you can buy it on the Internet and it is legal for them to send it to you.

Day 10.  Yesterday we went up to the Costa Rican National Monteverde Cloud Forest.  There is a difference between a cloud forest and a rain forest.  Most people (myself included) don’t think there’s a difference.  I never took the minute to think it through, but the names of the two different types makes it pretty obvious.  True to form, the entire time we were up IN the forest, it was shrouded in clouds:

Walk down a hundred meters and you’ll find sun.  This cloud forest straddles the continental divide and when you go up to the top, there is a mirador (view point) that on the rare clear day, you can see both the Caribbean and the Pacific (the zip line the day before was actually lower and we had views of the Pacific, it’s slightly west of the divide).

You get the straight dope from me, contrary to all the tour books we had, they open the park at 7 am, not 10 am as stated by most tour books, so you early risers can come in and get started early.  It’s always better to come in any of the forests early, not only is it cooler for walking the trails, the fauna are much more active in the morning and evening.  I guess they do siestas in the hot afternoons. 🙂  We arrived at nine and even then the animals were pretty quiet. There were a lot of small birds flitting around, but none of the large dramatic and famous ones.  Actually, I was a little disappointed in the lack of animals we got to see (not saying you should by pass this at all, I’m just warning you not to have too high of expectations).  The canopy is pretty high because they have these huge “tree of life” type trees throughout:

At one point, as we were walking along a trail there was this loud din above us with all these branches rustling, branches, twig and leaves falling to the ground and here comes this troupe of about 8 monkeys making one hell of a rack as they were racing across the top of the forest.  They were too high, too fast and there was too much vegetation between us to get a picture, but I believe a couple of them dropped out of the chase and entered what looked like their nest above us.  But again, the picture I took didn’t discern the nest, so I just deleted it.

We took a trail to a waterfall in the park:

While hanging out on the observation platform, this lizard seemed to want to hitchhike a ride:

He’s on the strap 🙂 .

Walking through the trails we came across a smiley face:

There wasn’t a lot of blooming orchids or bromeliads or even bird of paradise kind of flowers.  There were a couple of new ones like:

The reserve also has a number of hummingbird feeders at the entrance to the trails (when you buy your admission tickets, they ask how long you want to walk.  It can be as short as one hour up to I believe six hour paths).  Then the agent highlights the best trail for you.  There’s the normal little hummingbirds I’m used to and some hummingbirds that are as big as small birds:

Throughout this steep country, the Tico’s (what Costa Ricans call themselves) raise cattle (and horses).  Now when I say steep, I’m not kidding.  And you never see a cow with it’s hind legs down the slope and front legs above.  They don’t seem to be able to stand at angles.  You see these formations that run perpendicular to the slopes:

Cow steps.  🙂  This isn’t a great picture of them, if you squint at that wide gully kind of thing just to your left of the two trees you can see them.  Again, I hope to get a better picture for you and will post that in a future blog.  (Unfortunately I am running out of time.  Only one more full day, tomorrow and then we leave Saturday).  ):

And for cows not on the steps, sometimes they seem to just be walking around:

Speaking of rogue cows, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of laws about dogs and other pets.  You see dogs roaming all over the place (even in restaurants).  On occasion, the dogs seem to get a bit territorial, but generally seem to pretty much mind their own business (unless they are begging for food).

That’s it for today, have a great one and keep warm if you are up North,




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