Quakers and Resplendent Quetzals in Monteverde, Costa Rica

September 13th, 2016

During the 1950s, a group of Quakers left the United States of America (from Alabama to be exact) for Costa Rica after feeling that this Central American country was a better match for their pacifist beliefs because it had recently abolished its military. After an arduous overland odyssey through Mexico and northern Central America, they made their way to the top of the Tilaran Mountains and set up shop.

The Quaker families established small dairy farms and even built a cheese factory but although Monteverde Cheese is a popular brand in Costa Rica, what they are most well known for is the creation of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. They decided to preserve the dripping wet, mossy cloud forests that cover the upper slopes of the Tilaran Mountains once they realized that this incredibly overgrown habitat protected local watersheds. They might have also been swayed by the impressive wildlife in the forest, the Resplendent Quetzal in particular.

This absurdly beautiful bird truly lives up to its name and looks so incredible that it was considered to be sacred by the Mayans (and still is by many modern day Guatemalans). Resplendent Quetzals are similar in size to a large pigeon, the males more extravagant than the females. Male birds sport a long, feathery tail with plumes twice the length of the bird, the upperparts and the chest are an iridescent bluish, golden-green color that changes depending on the angle of the light, and the belly looks like the plushest, deepest red velvet you have ever seen.

Yes, it’s quite a bird and the Monteverde Reserve is one of the best places to see them. While some lucky tourists find them on their own, most see them by taking a guided walk through the reserve. These can be booked right at the entrance and since guides keep track of where the sacred Mayan birds have been hanging out, participants have an excellent chance of seeing one of two. They will also have fun learning about the cloud forest and watching the dozens of wild, hyperactive, insect-like hummingbirds that visit several feeders in the Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery.

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Bears, Bald Eagles, and Smoked Salmon at the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge

September 12th, 2016

The place is mostly built with hand-milled drift wood. The owners are religious about recycling. The only grid they operate on comes in the form of a cold stream that rushes down the forested mountain behind the lodge and provides them with all of their electricity. Oh yeah, and they drink that water too and claim that it will probably be the cleanest and tastiest water guests have ever had.

This is the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge and it’s no wonder that this model for a sustainable business (and living) consistently makes it onto the list of the top ten eco-lodges in North America.

Situated in a remote, quiet cove surrounded by hills covered in old growth coniferous forests, the lodge also has some pretty stunning surroundings! In fact, the area looked so nice that it was declared a state park not long after the property was bought by the owner of Sadie Lodge, Keith Iverson. A former architectural consultant, he traded life in the fast lane for a more rugged, basic, and fulfilling existence in Alaska. Adapting to using whatever resources were on hand probably influenced the sustainable nature of Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge and sets a good example to follow for other hotels and homes.

In addition to relaxing on the porch of the lodge and watching Bald Eagles fish in the still waters of the cove, guests have the trails through fragrant evergreen forests all to themselves and can fish for halibut and salmon right from the lodge. Kayaks are also available as are spotting scopes that make it easier to see wildlife such as the bears that come to the far shore to fish for salmon.

Although the place might look rustic, it’s more like a comfortable, cozy vacation house than a hotel, especially since there is room for very few guests. Meals are also intimate with gourmet dishes serving wild caught seafood, salmon smoked right at the lodge, and produce from their organic garden.

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