Our second day in Costa Rica was when my explorations began. My mom and I began our day at about 5:00 a.m. The chirping birds were our natural alarm clock to start each new day. The balcony of our room overlooked the rain forest and the sounds of a nearby waterfall could be heard. It truly was a tropical paradise.
|The community has planted a variety of ornamental and food plants to reforest land destroyed for cattle raising.|
The jungle community we were staying with was VerdEnergia http://verdenergia.org/. Their community has an Adopt a Tree program where they are replanting a diversity of rain forests plants. They are working on the reforestation of land that has been cleared for cattle raising. They purchase most of the plants from local schools. The students plant the seeds and then sell them to the jungle community. The money then goes toward the education of children in the schools. You can learn more about the program at http://verdenergia.org/adoptatree.html .
The first plant I inspected in the community garden was a vine that is commonly called a Butterfly Pea. Its beautiful purple flowers soon attracted a couple of Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) butterflies. I found a couple of eggs laid underneath the tender leaves. The flowers of the Butterfly Pea not only serve as food for the Long-tailed skipper butterflies, but are also used to decorate salads! I was very surprised to learn that the purple flowers are edible and tasty too!
The first eggs I found were laid by a Scarce Silver-spotted Flambeau (Dione juno). The butterfly sat under a Passiflora leaf for several minutes while she carefully released each tiny yellow egg. The eggs were laid in huge clusters.
When the butterfly finally finished its work, it flew off. Underneath the leaf I was honored to observe the eggs she had so diligently labored to lay.
On the same vine was a group of caterpillars that had already hatched. They worked together to consume massive amounts of food! I believe that the passiflora plant they were feeding on was Passiflora edulis. The huge vine has to grow fast to keep up with the gregarious caterpillars. The vine receives colorful flowers that are attractive to insects and humans. The flowers could inspire any painter or photographer to capture its beauty.
I soon discovered that the Dione juno caterpillars were not alone. A hungry spider was armed and ready to attack any stray caterpillar that may walk by.
For breakfast I experienced a new food called Passion fruit. The outside skin was orange and the inside it was filled with slim coated seeds. I personally think they look more like frog eggs than seeds! Not the most appetizing meal for breakfast. Crunching the slimy seeds and swallowing them was quite an accomplishment.
After breakfast, my mom and I gave soccer shoes to Carlos who has never had the pleasure of owning a pair. The sparkle in his eyes and the smile on his face gave me an indescribable joy. It is amazing how much joy a simple gift can bring to Costa Ricans. We also had the opportunity to give away six soccer balls and soccer shoes to five different families. Ticos don’t have the privilege to own sport shoes or balls. The community owned one old ball and played barefooted. There is a 100% tax on all imported goods.
Next, I learned where the community starts their new plants. The seedlings have to be started in small pots and kept under a protective structure before being planted in the garden. Surviving in the jungle is tough for a tiny seedling. The hot sun and plant eating insects would quickly kill a young plant. They need to have a strong root system before being transplanted.
Growing up the screened greenhouse was a vine with large yellow flowers. It has a special purpose for the community. The pods are collected after they are dry and can be used as sponges! You have to be very resourceful when you live up in the jungles.
This striped butterfly I saw resting on wood and absorbing the sun’s heat. Its patterns are an amazing master piece!
In the morning we heard the familiar sounds of the Scarlet Macaw. To see two Macaws flying free in the wild was exciting! It breaks my heart when I see them behind bars in pet shops. I was happy to witness two flying high above my head and screeching happily.
This long posting is just what I experienced the first couple hours of the day. It will take several more postings just to finish this one day! I look forward to sharing my adventures and discoveries I made during my Costa Rica tour.
Elizabeth’s Travel Tips: Bring plenty of sun screen, a hat, and sun glasses to protect your self during the dry season of Costa Rica.