This beautiful butterfly is most commonly encountered near human habitations, where it is a familiar sight to see individuals perched head down on buildings. Its association with human habitation is most likely due to the fact the host plant is a common secondary-succession tree species with a very wide distribution in Costa Rica. Although the butterfly is widespread and common in Costa Rica, away from human habitations it is found as solitary individuals and never with the great abundance seen in other species. Both sexes feed on the juices of rotting fruits and sewage, and the males visit water seepage and wet laundry. Its closely related cousin Callicore pitheas or “pura vida” butterfly is often seen here at Mariposario Montezuma Gardens.
At the butterfly garden in Montezuma we have to remove all predators to keep our Mariposas safe. The 5 most commanly found lizards in the garden are the Black Iguana, Green Iguana, Anole, Skink and the Whiptail Lizard.
The whiptail lizard, or Ameiva festiva, can be found from Southern Mexico to Columbia. The ameiva genus contains about 30 different species. Certain species of whiptail lizards reproduce by parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction. Whiptail lizards and many other lizards carry the bacteria Salmonella so be sure to wash your hands if you happen to handle one of these guys.
Summer and I went to watch the soccer games on Saturday and I noticed Pedro was selling Lobsters. We couldn’t resist and bought ourselves 4 giant lobsters. This particular Lobster that you see here on the Nicoya Peninsula is called the Spiny Lobster. They have a couple of obvious differences from your true lobster. Spiny lobsters have no claws and have much longer antennae. They mainly live in warm tropical waters on rocky coastlines. So while here in Montezuma you can surf, snorkel, Scuba Dive, fish and eat lobsters! Buen Provecho!
Its been a long time since my last entry and today seemed like a good day to stop and reflect because today was my first Hare Krishna meal! As many roads cross here at the Mariposario it always seems to bring together an eclectic mix of people and energy. Although it wasn’t much different than any other meal I have had, we did pay homage to Hare by sacrificing the first portion of each food for him to eat on his little made altar. Hare received a portion of Rice, Dahl, curried cauliflower, broccoli and Pumpkin Soup(made by yours truly). Then after he received his fill, we were able to all sit down and eat. After this ritual the monks considered the sacrificed hare food to be very blessed and will often fight over that portion. We didn’t have any monks present so we didn’t see any fighting. I liked the food so much I had two helpings! Thank you to Roger for bringing us all together on this Sunday afternoon here at the butterfly garden.
It is my second day here at the Mariposario in Montezuma, Costa Rica, and so far I have had quite the introduction to the place by the wildlife. In Chicago, it is easy to forget all about nature, as we live in sanitized, insulated boxes with piped in air and greenish artificial lighting. We have lights lining our streets, and what actual ground isn’t paved is manicured, weeded, and sprayed into submission.
Here in Montezuma, it is all but impossible to forget about nature. The first night I was here, I was greeted by purple and neon orange crabs in the bathroom and geckos that hang out on the ceiling and laugh intermittently with timing that is remarkably comedic. I have also been hazed by hooting Howler Monkeys and hand-sized tarantulas, both of which I have never encountered outside of a zoo or otherwise without the protection of thick glass and/or bars. Here is some footage of me and some garden workers ‘talking’ to the Howler Monkeys: Apparently, the Howler Monkeys will not only howl at you, but will also throw things at you if you rile them up enough. I have not attempted this yet, but I have three months to go. Hopefully, they will throw a mango at me, as they can reach them and I can’t. I’d love a fresh picked mango!
To give you a better idea of what it is like here, I will describe the office in which I work:
Obviously, there is no air conditioning; only a fan to help move the air. The weather is not bad, however; it rains a lot, and though the humidity has turned my hair into a crazy tangle of gravity-defying curls, I find it loads more pleasant than the obnoxious cold I have to deal with anywhere indoors during Chicago’s sweltering summers. Something about the drastic change from intense outdoor heat to meat-locker frigidity indoors seems unhealthy. The body adjusts to the temperature outside, and I haven’t had any discomfort.
In the room with me is a gecko, a blue wasp, some kind of moth, three yellow flying ants/termites (not sure exactly what they are), and a little purple and orange crab that just scuttled out the door. I also saw a black and orange baby tarantula the size of a quarter hanging out in the corner.
Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, I can see a plantain tree, a noni bush, a mango tree, a papaya tree, and this strange tree that has large pods that is supposedly related to cacao. There are also palm trees, and other tropical plants and flowers. The magnificent Costa Rican morphos is an iridescent blue butterfly, and can be seen flitting in loopy patterns outside from time to time.
In the distance, I hear the throaty call of the Howler Monkeys from time to time. Right outside the window, two different types of hummingbirds have visited a hibiscus plant.
Over all, being this close to nature is simultaneously awe-inspiring, exhilarating and terrifying. I remember being a kid, playing out in the woods of Tennessee with toads and snakes and daddy-long legs, and thinking nothing of it. I am reminded of that when I see four year old little girls playing with tarantulas with no reservations. I am also reminded of my self at that age, and how living in Chicago for 15 years has made me extremely squeamish and…well, different. I like that I am getting accustomed to living side by side with nature again, as terrifying as that can be (in the case of seeing four hand-sized tarantulas in my living quarters…ack!).
Whatever ends up happening, I know I’m in for an adventure!
Next up, I will be posting a virtual tour of the butterfly garden (also known as Mariposario) here at Montezuma Gardens. Stay tuned!Talking to Howler Monkeys
We are pleased to be a part of a ever expanding family here at the Mariposario Montezuma Gardens, and are happy to announce that we will now be featuring blog posts from participants in our internship, and our sustainable garden development programs! Be looking from posts from the people who get the chance to see our ongoing project from the outside and inside, and their impressions of life in this wonderful corner of the world.
Montezuma and the Southern Nicoya Peninsula is teaming with waterfalls. One of the least known, but truly amazing waterfall hikes, is Rio Lajas. Located just 5 km from Mariposario Montezuma Gardens on the road to Cabuya is where you will find this amazing river. There is no designated trail to walk on so you have to trek through the water. Although it is not a difficult hike you do need a good pair of water shoes. The river is not deep but has many “pockets” or pools of water that can be up to 5 feet deep and ranges from deep blues to aqua green in color.Perfect for taking a dip as you meander up the river. Rio Lajas is full of wildlife! You almost always see howler monkeys, white face monkeys, Egret birds, blue herons and tiger herons. If you are lucky you may see one of three different species of fresh water shrimp or maybe even a Jesus Christ lizard. The hike takes about 1.5 hours each way so make sure to take a small snack and plenty of water. Since I own and operate a butterfly garden I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of blue morphos flying up the river. I started paying attention to the vegetation and noticed that there are numerous host plants for this butterfly. These being the Almendro de Montana and Sangrillo trees. Both excellent hardwoods and protected in Costa Rica, they are also a favorite food for the howler monkeys. Eventually you will come to a fork in the river. You will want to take the right in the fork and about 20 minutes later you will come to the first waterfall. The swimming hole is beautiful and deep. Swim across and climb up the waterfall and about 15 minutes later you will reach the 100 ft waterfall. This waterfall is more of a giant slide than a vertical fall but is truly amazing. Here you will find a couple of different pools that you can swim in. So come visit us while on your Costa Rica vacation at the butterfly garden in Montezuma and take advantage of one of the most amazing rivers in the world!
Welcome to Mariposario Montezuma Gardens, your Costa Rican Bed and Breakfast. Although Halloween is primarily a North American tradition it is catching on here in Costa Rica due to the high numbers of ex-pats and foreigners who have relocated to this amazing country. So in tradition, we always carve jack-o-lanterns here at the butterfly garden. Pumpkins, calabaza in Spanish, are very expensive($14 for one) so we carve watermelons! It makes for a juicy sweet sticky process but they turn out rather nice. And on the plus side, it naturally attracts butterfly’s to feed off of them during the day. Thats right butterfly’s feed off of fermenting fruit! Please come by the butterfly garden any time between 8 am to 4 pm. We are open everyday of the year except christmas. Tours are $8 for adults, $6 for students and $4 for children. All kids under 6 years of age are free!
Every year on the 14th and 15th of September everyone at the butterfly garden takes the pleasure in participating in Costa Ricas independance from Spain. In 1821 Guatemala won the battle against spain and all of Central America gained independance. They needed to spread the news as fast as possible so the locals lit torches and walked from town to town spreading the news until they finally reached Costa Rica about one month later.
On the night of the 14th everyone makes little lanterns that look like houses and walk in the streets remembering how they spread word from town to town that they were now free from Spain. Little kids dress in typical Costa Rican outfits from the time period. Then on the morning of the 15th there is a large parade with floats and marching bands and music. It is a time of family and remembrance of home.