It is impossible to concentrate here. There are colorful things everywhere that distract me from what I’m supposed to be doing – butterflies and birds darting around, frogs singing from their perches high in the canopy, agouties foraging for food. Everything I see is new and fascinating, even the squirrels squeaking in the trees (they seem oddly large here).
I’m in Monteverde, Costa Rica, doing biology research in the cloud forest with Professor Stone and five other students. We arrived Thursday, driving from Alajuela along busy highways and then small rural roads, then finally taking the many steep, dusty switchbacks up and up and up to Monteverde. Even on the drive we saw trees and plants I’d never before seen and iguanas on the sides of the roads. For the next two weeks, we will be living in this high mountain paradise as we help with Professor Stone’s research on seed dispersal.
We have been getting to know the area during these first few days. Yesterday we visited one of our study sites in San Luis and today we went to a farmer’s market in Santa Elena and another study site in Monteverde. Wherever we go, we only seem to make it a short distance before something – be it a strange beetle, a giant fig tree, or an awesome view of the Nicoya Gulf – catches our interest. Even a walk on the road is interesting; today we watched a giant horde of leaf cutter ants busily carrying leaves like little green sails along the ditch.When we stop to learn about a tree, I can usually pay attention for about 0.3 seconds before I get distracted by something else. The wind is constantly blowing here, and in the forest with the birds and animals on the move, it seems like nothing is ever still.
I hope that by the time we leave Monteverde I will recognize more of the trees, plants, and animals that live here. Still, I think that even if I knew everything about the cloud forest the sense of wonder that I feel here would never fade.