two mating “thoas swallowtail” butterflies.

Thursday was our last full day in Monteverde, and we set off for the Monteverde Butterfly Garden. (We considered heading to a fancy new facility outside town, which offered a bigger butterfly garden as well as ziplines and suspension bridges among the forest canopy, and other attractions, but it was outlandishly expensive.) With no transportation readily available, we walked the dirt road toward town and down a long side-road to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden – the original, I believe, which came strongly recommended by the locals.

Mara examines a Julia butterfly

There we met with a young intern from Denmark who had taken a six-week internship as a volunteer tour guide in return for room and board. She said she was studying toward a biology degree, and her love of insects and arthropods was infectious. She first gave us a tour of the spiders and beetles and stick bugs and other fascinating creatures inhabiting the indoor terraria, before leading us through a series of four butterfly gardens. Each represents a different Costa Rican biome, with a range of different butterflies. I pulled out my big lens and tried to capture some images of these beautiful creatures.  The tour wrapped up with an exhibit of a functioning colony of leaf-cutter ants. Cool! the kids loved that. For more photos, check out the nature gallery and start on page 4.

We walked into town in search of lunch and groceries. The town of Santa Elena is small – perhaps four or five blocks in the commercial district. Riddled with touristy shops, we stopped into the colorfully painted Morphos restaurant for lunch. The blue morpho is perhaps the most famous of Costa Rica butterflies, with an electric blue color tantalizing all photographers; its image was painted on every wall. The food was pricy and yet unremarkable, as one might expect in a touristy town :-(.

The day was capped by another beautiful sunset and a wonderful dinner of beans & rice for 11 back at Casa Hooke.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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