We walked more hanging bridges today. Took some pictures looking down into the cloud forest. Foliage is so thick you cannot see the bottom. I can hear the water running in the rivers below, however. Crossing the longest and highest bridge, our group was entertained by a family of howler monkeys. We clustered together in the bridge’s center pointing fingers and cameras, pressing toward the center, sagging the bridge. As other groups came across, they stopped, too. I thought what a howl there would be when the monkeys witnessed our demise at the breaking of the bridge.
Walking through the forest we were introduced to the strangular tree. Its seed is planted in the upper branches of a tree by a bird’s droppings. To get nutrients, the new planting sends shoots down to the ground below. Over time these shoots grow thick like a tree trunk. Wrapping around its host tree, it eventually strangles it. The amount of time it takes to do’er in depends on the hardness of the wood. A soft wooded tree will die sooner than a hard one. When the host tree dies and decays, left is a lovely hollow pillar that lets the sun through and houses critters.
There is a small frog unique to this Monteverde cloud forest called the Golden Frog. It was plentiful and prized because it had chosen this place to live its life. As the earth has warmed, the clouds are lifting above the mountains. The forest is dryer with fewer puddles for the tadpoles to live its delicate life. The Golden Frog has not been seen for 12 years and is believed to be extinct.
The dance of the avacado tree and the quetzal: The avacado tree of Monteverde has a yummy berry that the quetzal is especially drawn to. She hovers the tree like a humming bird and plucks the berry, a much smaller fruit than that of the avacado we are used to in the grocery stores of the U.S. Immediately she swallows the berry whole and its stomach juices dissolve the flesh around the seed. Then she regurgitates it, spits the naked seed out to drop on the ground. Without this cleaning away of the avacado flesh, the seed would not germinate. Without the hungry indulgence of the quetzal, the tree would leave. Without the generosity of the avacado tree, the quetzal would fade from the earth like the golden frog.
Back at the hotel…I taught three women how to play “13” a card game that Bernie and I always play when we travel. It was great fun. They took copious notes so they could remember the game when they get back home to the children in their lives.