Kicking Back, Costa Rica

High up in the mountains with views of the Pacific coast, the weather in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest is surprisingly cool for a Central American locale. A perpetual dampness creates a slick layer of moss that covers the branches and trunks of trees. Thick vines drop down from towering ficus trees and clay-covered trails are laden with fallen passionfruit. We follow an impassioned naturalist named Mauricio Ramirez who truly loves his job. He gives us cilantro and cinnamon to smell, tells us what part of the palm tree to cut to find the meaty heart of palm, sticks a flashlight into a hole to see an orange and brown-colored tarantula, and has us swing from one of the vines a la Tarzan.

"This is impressive," Mauricio says as he sets up his telescope quickly. I peer in and my jaw instantly drops as I make out the bushy white eyebrows and wide eyes of a crested owl staring right back at me. "Holy cow!" I blurt out as Mauricio chimes in with "Beautiful, yes beautiful."
To find my entire story on Costa Rica, please see the latest issue of Global Traveler Magazine