It's been so long since I last wrote I kind of feel like sticking my head in the sand--it feels overwhelming to try and catch up and fill you in on all that's happened. I'll write about Monteverde this time and the beach and San Jose next time.
We were in Monteverde for a week. It was supposed to be 4 or 5 days, but we loved it so much we could barely make ourselves leave.
Monteverde is a community in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, started by a few Quakers who moved there in 1951 after being jailed for refusing to sign up for the draft during the Korean war. They chose Costa Rica because it is the only nation without a military and because the area of Monteverde was a good place to move their dairy farming. They started the Monteverde Cheese Factory, the Quaker Meeting and the Friend's School in the first few years and later started the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This picture is of the Meetinghouse and Friend's School.
This is the home of Joe and Jean Stuckey, who have lived in Monteverde for about 30 years. They are dairy farmers and Jean runs the icecream parlor in town. Joe took us on a great hike on their land, most of which is saved as forest. Rolene stayed with Jean and Joe and I stayed with other friends, Veronica and her son, Stuart. The roads are not paved in Monteverde and many people walk wherever they need to go. It has become a tourist destination because of the Reserve and the cute town, but it still has a small community feel.
From just outside the entrance to the Cloud forest reserve.
It was hard to get good photos of the Reserve because it was so big and beautiful. This was taken from a hanging bridge so it was easier to get some perspective, but I want to stress how much more beautiful it was than the photos show.
A carnivorous snail...run for your lives! Their only prey is other snails because they can't catch anything else.
This is the endangered Quetzal, taken with Rolene's camera through a telescope. The last time they were counted, about 15 years ago, there were only about 300 Quetzals left. We also saw monkeys, lots of insects and many kinds of birds. 20% of the worlds species are found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Just outside the Reserve is a hummingbird garden. I've never seen so many kinds of hummingbirds! I read that there's 45 kinds of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. Big ones, small ones, purple ones, green ones...
In this one, I'm standing inside a strangler tree, looking up. It's not actually a tree. Where I was standing was once a tree that was slowly covered by these roots and vines and the tree inside died and rotted away. Now there is a shell, that appears to be a tree. Neat, huh?
This was taken from the edge of Jean and Joe's land of the San Luis Valley. The clouds are where the Reserve is and they basically stop right there. As they move west, they evaporate and the land to the west is markedly drier just a few kilometers away.
Cremita, the baby sloth! Benito, the son of one of original families to move to Monteverde, is nursing it back to health and will release it to the wild once it's well. It's mom was killed by something and it was injured quite badly. I never imagined how soft a sloth's fur was. She goes most everywhere with Benito, and is a hit around town in Monteverde.
This is Stuart. I stayed with him and Veronica for the week. He is the most open, loving person I've ever met. One day we were drawing and he asked if I wanted to sit on the floor. I said I'd like to sit at the table. He said, "Then I want to sit at the table too because I want what you want because I love you so much." He is a playful kid, but can follow grown-up talk too. We had a really good talk about spirituality. I'm going to keep an eye on this kid because he is a teacher in every sense of the word. Do I need to say that I love him, or is that obvious? Veronica, his mama, is also amazing and loving and insightful. She helped me figure out a lot of emotional stuff in just a few days. Sometimes (or always) people come into our lives for a reason and at just the right time.
Rolene, me, Joe, Jean, Veronica, Stuart at my birthday party. My birthday was great! There was morning worship at the Meeting/Friend´s School and all the students and Meeting members sang to me. Then I went to Jean and Joe´s house and prepared lunch for my birthday party. I made pita bread by hand and a veggie stir-fry kind of thing, and Jean made hummus and soy meat something-er-other to put in the pita bread. Sounds like a strange lunch, but it was delicious. Veronica and Stuart brought fruit salad and Rolene made a lemony cake. And they gave me presents. In the afternoon, I read a little then checked email and went to Veronica´s for a little salad for dinner. Then Rolene and I went to the Monteverde Choir´s final rehearsal for their concert on Saturday, followed by a great concert put on by Annie and Jordan and their visiting friend, Emmy. The last song of the night (a band with guitar, banjo, fiddle--kind of flolky, sometimes bluegrassy, sometimes soft and beautiful music) was a birthday song for me that one of them wrote for another friend, but she adapted for me! It was such a special day.
Monteverde is definitely a place where I could live long term (don't worry, no plans yet!). The sense of community and care for the earth are very strong. If you ever have a chance, GO! But be prepared, because you won't want to leave.