And suddenly it was our last full day in Costa Rica. We had a van picking us up in Santa Elena at noon and transporting us to Liberia, where we would spend the night before hopping on a morning plane home. Many would spend their last few hours packing and generally getting themselves together. I had my eye on butterflies.
I mean, really. Why should I spend my last morning in paradise packing my suitcase neatly when I knew that once we returned to Liberia that afternoon we were staying at a very Americanized Holiday Inn. In the middle of nowhere. I figured I could pack there.
Monteverde has a butterfly garden. Jardin de Mariposas in Spanish. Which sounds so much nicer than “butterfly garden.” Hummingbirds and butterflies. Both set me all aflutter.
Remember that we were without car while in Santa Elena. I could have walked to Jardin de Mariposas. It wasn’t all that way. Except it was all up hill. And the hills in the Monteverde area? No joke. Puffers. Huffers. Sweaters. So, thanks, but no thanks, to the hilly walk. A taxi would work very nicely.
The evening before the husband announced that he preferred to hang at the room rather than escort me to Jardin de Mariposas. At first I was a little nonplussed. You don’t want to go see butterflies? How could you not want to see butterflies???
Remember the time spent at the Hummingbird Cafe the day before? Obviously, based upon the number of photos of hummers that appeared in that blog I took a plethora, right? Where was the husband during all that? Well, lucky for both of us the Butterfly Cafe had mocha and pastry. So, whilst I darted around the grounds taking photos, he kicked back and enjoyed a little cuppa (I did pause to suck down a Fanta and eat a pastry myself).
Therefore, my initial shock about him not going to the butterfly garden was quickly replaced by understanding. I mean, really, why did I want to go? To take photos. Lots of photos. A plethora of photos. He’s very tolerant of that. But, sometimes there are limits. He saw an opportunity for a low-key morning. I saw an opportunity for butterflies. Everyone was happy.
A taxi picked me up and dropped me off. I entered the lobby of the garden and was met by a nice young man with a distinctive American accent. He was joined by another young man, also American. And then my guide, Emily, presented herself. Also American.
In hindsight, I should have asked what the deal was. Every other place we visited on Costa Rica had Costa Rican guides. Yet, almost all of the employees I met at the Jardin were American. Interesting.
Emily was a super-sweet girl. I forget where she was from, but she recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Geology. She doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, so when she saw a job posting for the Jardin on-line she applied, was hired and…here she was! She had lived in Costa Rica for approximately two months and was loving it.
We talked about a myriad of topics as she led me through the garden. Pura vida. That elusive greeting/lifestyle that’s not quite definable, yet clearly present and more than just a greeting to the locals. Pure life. Simple life. More than just a phrase. A lifestyle.
Emily shared that she had arrived on Costa Rica thinking that Pura vida was just a tag line. Something to attract the tourists. To attach to glossy brochures. She discovered it was, in fact, a living, breathing thing. I can attest to that. We visited three different locations while in Costa Rica. In all three “pura vida” was a greeting, a farewell, a descriptor of the day.
Emily expressed uncertainty about her future, and if her decision to come to Costa Rica was the wisest. I shared the opinion of a 44-year-old, locked into a career and a life. Do it. If I knew then what I knew now I can only hope that I would have done something similar, before the responsibilities and career track take control. In truth, I don’t know that I ever would have been as brave as Emily. Perhaps the difference between a solid X-er and a Millennial. I’m happy with my life, but I envy her freedom. Go, Emily!
After the tour I was allowed to return to the four butterfly houses to photograph to my heart’s content. I had my eye on the blue morpho. You’ve heard of it…and seen it. A true beauty (NOT my photo):
And, one of the houses was full of blue morpho. Yet, I do not have one single photo of a blue morpho. Well, that’s not true. I actually do. Ready? Ready?
That’s a blue morpho. I’m not lying! Turns out they have dual personalities…blue on top, camouflage on the bottom. When they land they are pretty swift to fold their wings up…camouflage. Trying to get a photo in flight? Good luck. So, believe me when I assure you that the above butterfly is a blue morpho.
Another elusive butterfly was the glasswing butterfly. Yes. Glass wing. Which means? You can see through their wings. How cool is that? Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of glasswings in that particular display, so it was difficult to capture one. Though, this is pretty cool:
Oh, and did I mention that they have a whole bug display, too? An entire room filled with fish tanks of various sizes filled with bugs of various sizes.
First, a large scorpion. With babies. Did you know that scorpions carry their babies on their backs? Super creepy. And, if the babies get to be too much? She eats them. Well. that takes care of that.
How about a bright gold beetle? Chrysina aurigans, or gold scarab, is a dazzler. I’d like to spot one of these in the wild. And bring it home. And name in Shiny. Or Goldy.
Oh, oh! They had an entire colony of leaf cutter ants! Displayed in a way that you can see everything from leaf cutting to fungus creation. It was way cool.
Unfortunately, my time at Jardin de Mariposa flew by (big surprise) and in an instant I was in a cab headed back to Hotel Arco Iris. I met the husband with a wild look in my eye, hopped up on the beauty of butterflies. Pura vida.