Monteverde: the town beneath the clouds

Today I woke up early and ran down the mountain to the little town of Monteverde. It was a lovely run down, except for the nagging thought that every step I took downhill would have to be repeated far more slowly and painfully on the way back up if I wanted breakfast. But I wanted to run to town to see what a Monteverde looked like to the average visitor.

I passed cattle farms, a bakery, several Italian restaurants, and the Monte Verde Friends School (deserted on account of it being Saturday. I would like to take a moment to petition for a “no work on Saturday on the Bio FSP”. Not a chance—science takes no vacations, we have papers to write!)

The Friends School reminded me of the one task I was given by my grandparents before I left home for Costa Rica. My grandparents are both Quakers and nature lovers—Monteverde, they told me, was their dream vacation spot. While our program was there for the incredible biodiversity, apparently a group of Quakers from Alabama was drawn to the same spot in the 1970’s by its cool climate (ideal for dairy farming) and its non-violent, army-free constitution. My grandparents spent a week here sometime in the 80’s, and apparently had made several good friends who they were sure I’d be able to locate and pay my regards to. They gave me a name and an address, which I sadly forgot to bring with me.

As I ran through town, I imagined my grandparents walking the same sidewalk, marveling at the birds and flowers and making new friends with every step. I didn’t pass anyone over the age of 50, so I figured their friend must not be up and about yet. I headed back up the mountain, hoping my grandparents wouldn’t be too disappointed with my failure to complete my mission. I figured I could make it up to them: when I get home, I’ll explain for them the biology of orchid dispersal, demonstrate the water shedding mechanisms of understory plants, and show them my pictures of the Resplendent Quetzal I took in the Cloud Forest Reserve. That’s been my Monteverde experience, and it’s been a dream spot for me as well, although not much of a vacation.

-Claire

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