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Published: March 18th 2016
Our second full day in Monteverde began with a walk on the hanging bridges, a set of five suspension bridges several hundred meters long through the canopy. It was a still, gorgeous, sunny day, and we enjoyed the views out over the top of the forest. It was surprising how few birds we saw up there, so we concentrated mostly on plants: the bromeliads and other epiphytes that cover the tree branches, the tree ferns, mosses and liverworts. We had lunch on our own in Santa Elena and had a hard time choosing a place, mostly because we've been eating so much. We finally settled on a Chinese/fast food place which had really bland Chinese food, although Wayne did well with a huge burger that looked like a double Whopper.
Anyway, after this fortification we boarded the bus again and went to a joint chocolate-and-bat display. Bob at the chocolate shop was an American expat who came to Costa Rica to study sea turtles but got into chocolate-making as a hobby. He was really into his craft. He emphasized the health benefits of eating non-alkalized chocolate (which you can't find in stores, probably!), and he gave us samples of the
beans, nibs, liqueur, and tempered chocolate, and it was true that we could taste the difference between bean batches. All agreed that any chocolate is better than none, however!
Then we went downstairs to the bat display where an equally enthusiastic Belgian guide delivered a sharp rebuke to bat-haters with a series of one-liners about the importance of bats, especially for insect control. I believe he said a bat can eat 100 mosquitoes per hour. Yay, bats! Speaking of mosquitoes, I haven't seen one here yet. At the end of both these tours we were rewarded with chocolate truffles and juice drinks. I was admiring some mangoes that I could see in the kitchen. They were about the size of cantaloupes. While we were enjoying our snack outside we had a lucky bird sighting: a blue-crowned motmot, metallic blue with long, ratcheted tail.
That night Wayne and I went off on a night walk led by the zip line guys from the hotel. To see many mammals you need to go out at night, so it was our hope that we would find some furred, as opposed to feathered, creatures here. Sure enough, our small group, which included
some extraordinarily well-behaved and patient children, saw a coati, kinkajou, olingo, and porcupine, as well as some crazy stick insects that looked more like moss than like anything animalian.
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