Wow, Costa Rica, just wow. Honestly you are heaven on Earth for a biologist.
What can I say? The field course I taught in Costa Rica was like a fantastic dream come true. I have longed to go there since I was eight years old and read a National Geographic article on Monteverde’s cloud forests. And now I have gone, and I never wanted to leave.
I have so many new stories to share, too. I figured I could spread them out over time.
We spent our first few days in a cloud forest very close to Monteverde, but without all of the tourists. The Alberto Manuel estacion biologica or Rodolfo Ortiz Vargas estacion biologica (also known as the San Ramon biological station) was founded in 1975. The acronym is ReBAMB. (I don’t know why the station has so many names…probably because it is so awesome). The altitude at San Ramon was between 800 and 1600 m.
There are 22 families of mammiferos (mammals), 30 especies of anfibios (amphibians), 36 especies of reptiles, 233 especies of aves (birds), and 1,150 especies of plantas in the reserve, which is threatened by illegal dam building, hunting, and removal of plants to be sold as ornamentals worldwide. Many classes of international students are taught at la estacion. As we were leaving, a new class was coming from Kent State University.
There were a lot of beautiful (and slightly treacherous with slippery rounded boulders) rivers and streams around. We went for a swim in a waterfall, which I thought was rather pleasant, but my students complained was frigid.
A cloud forest, if you’ve never been in one, is a unique ecosystem. You are almost constantly in a cloud, which makes photography, among other things, a bit challenging. You are never dry, which is typical for a rainforest anyway.
Cloud forests have tons of mosses and epiphytes (plants living in the canopy) which survive only on the water provided by the clouds. You can see that the tree trunks in these photos are completely green with life. I really enjoyed sharing my passion for ecology with these students. I loved to see their wonder and appreciation.
We also went on a lot of night hikes while we were there, so we had a chance to enjoy the night life.
And, perhaps most thrillingly, we saw a margay (or caucel)!
The reserve is a real refuge for these cats, as well as jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, which we saw many tracks of, although we did not ‘spot’ the cats themselves.
And I loved the ticos (Costa Ricans) who worked at the reserve. I didn’t get great photos of them all, but they are all lovely people.
More stories to come!