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Our first stop on our trip to Costa Rica is Savegre Mountain Lodge in San Gerardo de Dota, a little valley among the mountains and forest. As you drive through the winding roads from San Jose, you go higher and higher until you reach the clouds. Literally. All of a sudden the clouds are passing by the car and you know you have arrived in the cloud forest. The cloud forest is different from the rain forest in the sense that clouds hang between the trees at the mountain tops almost all day every day.

Clouds coming in over the San Gerardo mountains  The clouds of the cloud forest, San Gerardo de Dota

It’s cooler here up at this elevation, 2200 metres (6400 ft) almost feels like the mountains in a temperate climate. This makes for an interesting forest because there are pine and oak trees, among moss covered rubber trees, vines, bamboo, lichens, bromeliads and millions of other plants.

Jim looking at the tree Usha walking by the big tree

This morning we (our guests Usha and James, and I) woke up early and went for a birdwatching tour through the forest with Melvin, our funny and knowledgeable guide. At one point he heard 6 different birdsongs and could identify them all simultaneously and he can spot something in an instant. He would set up his spotting scope (looks like a telescope to find birds that are hidden from the human eye below the treetops) within seconds of a bird flying by so that when it landed we could get a close-up look.

James, Usha and me in San Gerardo de Dota Savegre lodge outdoor patio

This area of the country is one of the best places to see the Resplendant Quetzal. It is one of the most spectacular birds I have ever seen, and judging by the amount of people with their expert cameras with massive telescopic lenses out on the search with different guides, it is a popular bird to add to your list.  We were lucky enough to see no less than six today!  We saw two couples along the road and then another couple inside the forest on the trail. First the female arrived, so we knew the male would be close by (It’s mating season). While the females are beautiful, the males are spectacular, with green spiky soft feathers on their heads, red bodies, and teal green backs with long plumage that is whispy in the wind.

Quetzal back of quetzal plumage

In the afternoon, we decided to take part, at least in observation, of the procession along the road to the church for the easter celebration of the “stations of the cross.”  Usha, being from Africa is very interested in all of the cultural differences between where she grew up, where she lives now (the US), and Latin America. So we walked along as people from the small community here in this forested valley sang and prayed on this the most important day of the year for Catholics.

Tomorrow we are off to see the whole process of coffee, from bean to cup.  This region is famous for its coffee, as the best coffee grows at high elevations. It should be another beautiful day in this special part of the country.