“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.”
Pasión Costa Rica
At our simplest level of global appreciation, we walk thru nature. We admire a looming canopy, listening to the symphonies of wildlife conversation and the love songs of birds. We respect the most obvious views before our eyes such as a deer grazing in the meadow or the palette of a setting sun. We feel the path beneath our feet and relish the air as it passes thru our lungs and refreshes our soul. But we often pass up those chance moments that would take us deeper. We walk passed much of the life of the forest without a second thought, completely missing the opportunity to discover the very core of a life sustaining earth. We pass quietly beyond the mosses of the floor, we miss the breathing of the leaves, and we fail to notice the hard working ants as they perform a predestined duty or the snake sleeping in his fortress of shade.
When you meet someone like Marcos, of Pasión Costa Rica, you are given the gift of education and natural revelation. Marcos is so much more than a guide, his passion and knowledge an experience in itself, leaving you with a feeling of having shared the secrets of a deeper world that needs our attention and protection. A charming and friendly Monteverde local, a plethora of information and history, and a whistler of the tunes of the forest, he is a natural born storyteller. Five minutes in the presence of Marcos, his wife, Susu, and their adorable daughters makes you wish for more time together. They are some of the kindest, most welcoming people we met in Costa Rica, and it is this type of connection that changes your perceptions and allows a country to capture a piece of your heart.
Pasión Costa Rica offers catered tours to suit your needs. With a variety of options, reserves and bridges to experience, Marcos and Susu take the time to fully understand what you have come to Monteverde to witness. Do you wish to catch a glimpse of the elusive and mystical Quetzal? Perhaps you dream of crossing the hanging bridges above the forest, peeringing down into the canopies and clouds. Maybe your adventurous side has you stepping into the dark of a Monteverde evening to view the nocturnal world coming to life. Marcos will not only ensure the best possible experience, you will leave with a deeper appreciation for nature than you ever knew possible.
We started our 3.5 hour, half day tour, at the Hummingbird Gallery, a quiet area just before the gates of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We were fortunate enough to view 8 of the 14 different species as they hovered around the feeders. Marcos knows these colorful residents like family, describing them in detail, his eyes lighting up as he introduced us to such varieties as the ‘violet sabre wing’, the ‘purple throated mountain gem’ and the endemic ‘coppery headed emerald.’
MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE
The main portion of our guided tour was spent at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, a magical slice of our earth that houses 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity including over 3000 known species of plants, 755 types of trees, 920 types of birds, and so much more. Founded in 1972 by George Powell, a Biologist of the Tropical Science Centre in San Jose, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is considered one of our globe’s best examples of sustainable tourism. 100% of income collected is designated for education, preservation and research programs. Here you can step onto the Continental Divide, cross the Wilford F. Guindon Hanging Bridge and spend a lifetime discovering the secrets of this 3500 hectare forest.
A single note. That is all it took Marcos to name the bird initiating a conversation or serenade, his eyes darting to a specific tree in the distance, setting up his scope for a closer look. He revealed the secrets and names of plants, testing the girls periodically, in which they enthusiastically called out answer such as “hot lips”, “elephant ear” and “sleeping hibiscus”. Finding bugs became an exciting task that led to a patient explanation of their discovery. Entwined roots and layers of moss took center stage, becoming intriguing in their co-relationships with eachother. Quite simply, Marcos turned the ordinary elements of a nature walk into extraordinary pieces of Mother Nature’s brilliant puzzle.
IN SEARCH OF THE RESPLENDANT QUETZAL
That elusive, vibrantly colorful mystery of which serious bird watchers cross miles of oceans and mountains to catch a glimpse. Considered to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world, the iridescent green and brilliant red feathers have been noted throughout history as sacred, worn by royalty and priests of the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples. Males can grow tail trains as long as one meter, growing twin feathers during mating season. Living in rain forests from Southern Mexico to Panama, the protection and paths of the Monteverde Rain Forest makes this dreamy bird easier to spot, especially during late February to July, and when wild avocados are in abundance.
So did we see one? Due to the time of year, unfortunately not. BUT, thanks to the trained ears and eyes of Marcos, we were able to fully view the splendor of the quetzal’s near cousin, the Orange Bellied Trogan. Thanks to the high powered spotting scope, we were able to catch an up close and private glimpse, the photo below taken through the lens. Another perk of traveling with an informed and observant guide!
Our most heartfelt gratitude goes out to Marcos and Susu for turning our Monteverde education into an exceptional experience. Marcos embodies those key elements that set a true guide apart. He is passionate about his home and his surroundings, knowledgeable about not only the flora and fauna, but the history of Monteverde, and he makes you feel a part of something so much larger than yourself. Walking with him provides a sense of wonder, a deep rooted desire to do more, and care more, about the earth. In a world where we are so focused on the bigger and better of the future, it is refreshing to be in the presence of someone who brings forth an appreciation for the moment, a new respect for the ancient and a love for the interconnected.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
Susu; For patiently answering each of my questions with the care of a dear friend. For your suggestions, your attention to detail, and for your warmth and welcome. Thank you.
Marcos; You turned a cloud forest into possibility, a dirt trail into a revelation, a millipede into a wonderous being and a single flower into a beautiful element worthy of attention. You made two little girls marvel at the canopy above and carefully search for the tiny details below, inspiring us all to care and protect. Thank you.