Tuesday we moved on to Monteverde! The landscape changed drastically as soon as we drove higher up in the mountains. Clouds constantly pass through the town which causes a mist/light rain. It is much cooler with a strong breeze that keeps the bugs down. The house we stayed in was on the outskirts of town and had some huge trees around it. The house itself was small and basic, but it reminded me of a cozy Rocky Mountain home with lots of windows.
The owner of the house, Melvin, showed us around the region the next day. First we went to a huge, massive ficus tree. Ficus trees are unique because they find a large suitable host tree and grow up and around it. They don't feed on it in any way, but rather use it for support. Eventually the host tree dies because the ficus canopy becomes so large it blocks all the sunlight. Slowly, the host tree rots away leaving a large, empty space and also provides lots of nutrients in the ground for the ficus. The ficus tree that we visited was special because the tunnel in the middle, where the host tree used to be, was so large that almost anybody could climb up in it. Mom, Dad and I climbed all the way to the top, which is over 50 meters according to Melvin! At the top of the tree we had a view of the whole town too!
After the ficus tree we drove down into a neighboring valley to Melvin's family's farm. It used to be a dairy farm, but now it is an ecological farm with sugar cane, banana and plantain trees and a lot of hiking trails. Before the hike Melvin's sister made us pizza and we watched birds fly to and fro around a homemade bird feeder. The bird feeder was neat because it was a small dead tree with banana pieces all over it. We counted over 18 species of birds, including an emerald toucanet which is really hard to find because they blend in with the forest so well. We then went hiking for several hours and found several fresh puma tracks from the night before! Even though we choose not to go into the Monteverde Reserve with all the tourists, we had more fun doing what we did!