By: Marta Djalleta
It has been a little over two months since our group has been out in the wilderness and been able to really embrace nature like we could on our NOLS course. However, this weekend I finally got the opportunity to do just that.
On our trip to Monteverde, our group had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the National Park in Monteverde, also known as a cloud forest. This place was as cool as it sounds. Costa Rica holds 8% of the world’s biodiversity and I could easily believe that statistic while I was walking through this magical forest. Our tour guide that led our small group was so knowledgeable about everything there was to know about this forest and always included the random fascinating facts about these wild species that lived in this beautiful habitat. Two of my favorite trees that he mentioned were the prehistoric fern tree and the strangler fig tree. The prehistoric fern was awesome solely based on the fact that this species existed during the same time as dinosaurs and still exist today. Also, the foliage of this tree is intricately beautiful! Additionally, we learned about the strangler fig tree, which is a tree that can kill other trees. Not knowing anything like this even existed in the plant world, it was interesting to learn about how this fig tree suffocates its host tree by blocking sunlight on the top of the tree as well as hogging up nutrient soil on the ground. We saw some examples of this morbid nature in some hollow trees that have been killed by a strangler fig. It was really strange but simultaneously awesome! Also while on our tour, after crossing the continental divide, we got to be among the clouds in an open area in the forest. We felt strong mist while staring out into a completely white fog, it was an amazing moment to feel something while seeing hardly nothing. Lastly, we also encountered a quetzal bird which is beautifully colored with red, green, blue, and yellow feathers. It was considered a god during Aztec times and is the national bird and currency in Guatemala. It is a beautiful bird and through a device our tour guide had, we were able to see it close up!
Overall, this weekend was a great time to remember how much we can appreciate the natural world around us and essentially get back to nature.