Dropping Out of the Clouds

By Susan Mahr

We had a little taste of what it’s like most of the time in a cloud forest this morning, with heavy mist/light rain drifting over from the cloud-shrouded mountain. Usually the mountain top is enveloped in clouds, so we felt fortunate to have had a clear but windy day to explore the Preserve, instead of having to contend with both rain and wind as was happening today. The conditions of rain in one direction and bright sun in the other were perfect to create an intense rainbow that filled the sky for us as we departed Monteverde. We returned down the mountain on the same gravel road we’d traversed previously, seeing the same dry pastures, colorful flowering trees, and small ranch houses along the way.

Clouds on the mountain (L), farm gate (C), and golden hills with Gulf of Nicoya in the distance.

Clouds on the mountain (L), farm gate (C), and golden hills with Gulf of Nicoya in the distance.

Today we encountered more wildlife, however, seeing a black spiny iguana cross the road in front of us, a crested caracara up in tree, and two troops of howler monkeys lounging in tree tops.

Howler monkeys in a tree (L), a group of monkeys (LC), hanging out on a branch (RC), and mom and baby (R).

Howler monkeys in a tree (L), a group of monkeys (LC), hanging out on a branch (RC), and mom and baby (R).

Our next adventure was taking the ferry from Puntarenas across the Gulf of Nicoya. Once on board we watched the frigatebirds, terns, gulls and pelicans flying around, and the small fishing boats coming in to the dock.

Boarding the ferry (L), royal tern (C) and sandwich tern (R).

Boarding the ferry (L), royal tern (C) and sandwich tern (R).

Brown pelican (L), laughing gull (C), magnificent frigatebird (R).

Brown pelican (L), laughing gull (C), magnificent frigatebird (R).

We pulled away from the land, leaving the cloud-topped mountains behind us for an uneventful 70 minute journey across the calm ocean to the Nicoya Peninsula.

Looking back at the cloud-topped Tilaran Mountain Range where Monteverde is located

Looking back at the cloud-topped Tilaran Mountain Range where Monteverde is located.

Kari, Ann, Jim, Cindy and Dan on the ferry (L), small islands in the Gulf (C), exiting the ferry (R).

Kari, Ann, Jim, Cindy and Dan on the ferry (L), small islands in the Gulf (C), exiting the ferry (R).

After lunch in the little town near the ferry landing, we drove through dry forest and pasturelands to our resort on the ocean. Broad Guanacaste trees formed a lacy dome above the canopy in places, with dense forests of leafy trees and palms. Then the fences were made of just-sprouting jocote (Spondias purpurea), with little halos of green backlit in the sun on top. Many of the trees had furry, brown-looking Tillandsias or small orchids (not blooming) or fat cactus growing in them. We drove past little towns, patches of palms, grassy fields with a few large trees shading them, open areas, pink-flowered Cassia grandis, fields with white cattle and their attendant cattle egrets, and hills covered with dry tropical forest.

Pastures and dry tropical forest (L), jocote as living fence (C), Guanacaste tree in field (R).

Pastures and dry tropical forest (L), jocote as living fence (C), Guanacaste tree in field (R).

Scarlet macaw.

Scarlet macaw.

Close to the town of Tambor a pair of scarlet macaws flew across the road ahead of us and went up into a tall tree. We pulled off to the side of the road and everyone hopped out to look at the big red birds. Gustavo set up his spotting scope for better views, although we could just pick out the two large, colorful birds up there with the naked eye (but a bit of a challenge looking right into the sun at that point.

We arrived at our accommodations for the next two nights, Tango Mar Resort, right on the ocean in mid-afternoon. The rest of the afternoon was at leisure, with people walking along the beach, floating in the pool and enjoying drinks at the swim-up bar, or resting in the hot air.

The pool at Tango Mar, with the ocean beyond (L), Maureen, Anne, Susan, Kari, and Linda cool off at the swim-up bar (C), late afternoon on the beach (R).

The pool at Tango Mar, with the ocean beyond (L), Maureen, Anne, Susan, Kari, and Linda cool off at the swim-up bar (C), late afternoon on the beach (R).

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