Clear-winged Butterflies are common in the Cloud Forests at Monteverde and Santa Elena. When they fly, they look like fluttering fog - a strange sensation, and a very pleasant one! Andrew especially liked these guys, and he was always good at spotting the small, beautiful things on this trip. Everywhere we went in Costa Rica there were spectacular butterflies - Morphos, Heliconids, Giant Pierids, and Papilionids that look like Heliconids and Pierids that look like Papilionids, and Danaiids that looked like... you get the picture. It's always "Look at THAT!", in Costa Rica!
The path leading to the entrance at Santa Elena Cloud Forest Preserve sets the tone for the whole experience. Soft, green, luscious beauty. Every step through this, my most favorite preserve, is like walking through a wonderland of plants and flowers and trees and butterflies and birds. I could spend hours getting down the path 20 feet if left to my own devices! The visual impact of the dense wet forest shrouded in fog coupled with the sounds of a thousand birds punctuating the mist is almost more than a mere mortal should be allowed. Go there. Do not miss Santa Elena.
There's only one beer to drink in Costa Rica - Imperial! And there's no reason to look for another - it's tasty and cold, and exactly right with Gallo Pinto at night. While we're on the subject of vice (is drinking beer a proper vice?) both prostitution and gambling are legal in Costa Rica, but neither seemed to be a problem for the public. We never saw a prison, and saw very few police other than the traffic cops on Highway 1, who were mainly looking for stolen vehicles.
The Montezuma Oropendola is a magnificent, crow-sized relative of the Oriole that builds communal nesting sites like this one in a large fig(?) tree near La Fortuna. These nests were full of noisy young birds when I was there in June - you can hear them talking to their parents in the sound sample. The hanging basket-nests are a common sight throughout Costa Rica and the unearthly crackling, squeaking, crying call is something you won't soon forget!