The Forest at Night

Monteverde, Costa Rica
Jan 14, 2020

Perched in the northwestern Costa Rica is Monteverde, a small town which has morphed into a mecca for the typical holiday-makers to Costa Rica. With its string of souvenir shops, eateries and travel agencies offering bungee jumps, Tarzan swings and ziplining, it smacks of Disneyland. But among the many offered activities, one caught my fancy. A night walk in the forest to see nocturnal creatures sounded intriguing enough for me to brave a tour. Armed with flashlights, our motely group collected from their various lodgings, trailed after the guide.

We stopped now and then while Andres expounded on our fantastic good fortune to be seeing this or that creature. Curiously though, the creatures we saw were the very same ones displayed prominently on their flyers and posters. Our guide’s excited surprise at each encounter was just a shade over-acted. The actual area that we covered was small and we re-traced our path often, bumping into other groups frequently. This would be a far harder sell by day, when most of us have a better sense of the terrain! I’ve a sneaking feeling these exotic creatures are more or less permanent denizens, their roosts well known, and the same drama re-enacted several times each night for the benefit of goggle-eyed tourists. And all of it at a hefty fee.

Oh well. I can if I wish, think of it as an open-air zoo; the creatures we see, are still new to me. A tarantula’s hole is the first stop as we peer inside to take a look at it nestled inside. A scorpion glows with cuticular fluorescence, something I had never seen before. Roosting tucans and the bellies of several other roosting birds vie for attention with one lone female sloth and her young.

An olingo or a kind of wild cat runs around on a tree branch far up. The same green pit viper shown in the catalogue is seen wrapped in a pretzel on a tree branch, as is another snake with beautiful markings.

The red-eyed frog poses patiently on a leaf fished out of a rivulet while another frog sits on its haunches and stares impassively back.


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