Near Monteverde, we stayed in a small windy cottage with a garden of tiny orchids, infested with burrowing Motmots. Seriously, they live in holes.
Motmots look like someone has artistically brushed the silhouette of a bird in flight, right over their eye.
Some birds are teases, crying enticingly from the green jungle, never visible, but not the omnivorous Motmot. The Motmots has an iron digestion. It’s one of the few animals able to eat poisonous dart frogs.
They have long artfully tapered tails. And when they spot a predator, they wag them back and forth, telling the predator that it has been seen.
“Don’t even bother trying to catch me,” the Motmot is saying. “I can fly, so it will just be a waste of both our time.”
How do they know this? Researchers at the avian research institute, interviewed fifty jaguars, twelve ocelots, three leopards, and a margay.
“When I see a Motmot’s tail moving, I look for other prey;” roared ninety percent of the Jaguars and Leopards surveyed.
Fifty percent of the ocelots agreed, while ten percent said; “Motmots are tasteless, I wouldn’t eat one if it were wingless.”
The Margay denied all knowledge of Motmots and claimed he was a vegan. When questioned about all the blue feathers lining his den, he grew flustered, insisting they were flower petals, but Margays are notable liars.
Everybody thinks of the Monteverde as THE CLOUD forest, but it’s actually a very small part of a huge plot of mostly privately-owned wilderness. The biggest part is The Children’s Eternal Rainforest (El Bosque Eterno de los Niños), which was begun by Swedish children in 1987. (Why is it always the Nordic countries and New Zealanders that are “doing the right thing”?) Over the years, sister organizations, schools, and individuals – children and adults – from more 44 countries all over the world also raised money in numerous ways to expand the preserve. It now combines with several reserves to protect a total area of about 170,000 acres — that’s bigger than Chicago but much, much safer. It’s run by the Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) founded in 1986 by a group of local residents.
It’s all “cloud forest” but in a place where every tree is its own biome, that means that every part is completely different.
I think Santa Elena is my favorite. About 60% of the forest is mosses, ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. The trees are so thickly hung with epiphytes you can’t even see the bark. Each tree is its own tall, skinny, planet.
Stranger figs wrap around trees, forming hollow lattice rooms inside their trunks, like mini cathedrals.
I wonder if the wind is the voice of trees screaming for help as they feel the first embracing tendrils of a strangler fig encircling their circumference?
Trees scream very slowly, so most people never hear more than that first “H” of “Helppppp- I’m being strangled.”
Next time you are in a cloud forest, listen.
After Monteverde, we went toward the Rio Celeste. We stayed in a transitional forest, the place between tropical and cloud. It’s like the valley between fantasy and imagination, where biodiversity is greatest. It’s surprisingly un-humid in the dry season.
A young sloth slept in a tree outside my door.
This is not the sloth outside our door. “Our” sloth is older and less photogenic.
It hasn’t moved for two days. I can’t see his face,, only a patch of mossy back. It would not make an exciting picture.
Sloths can have over 1,000 beetles and moths living in their hair, no wonder they seldom get asked to parties. They leave the treetops one a week to poo on the ground so that the sloth moths can lay eggs on their excrement. Their larval eat it. Smelly mutualism at its best!
Rio Celeste means light blue river. Legend has it that after God was done painting the sky he washed his brushes in the river.
Oddly enough, a team of researchers disagreed. They are no fun.
The researchers claim that the blue color is not a chemical phenomenon, but an optical one. Aluminum, silicon and oxygen, suspended in the water, absorbs all the light rays except sky blue.
God disagrees. He favors the paintbrush theory.
There is so much to tell- Each day is a miracle of life.
At Arenal now, overlooking the lake.
Yesterday we saw flocks of great curassows a large, pheasant-like bird, with amazing plumage.
The male is black with a yellow clip- on beak.
The females have an almost naked head, like a vulture, but on top, she sports a wild tiara of black and white feathers. Her neck is fluffed out in a black and white feather boa and she wears what appears to be a leopard vest. She looks as if she went shopping for plumage during an “Out of the Closet’” Halloween sale.
We also saw the lovely, but deadly, eyelash pit viper
and tapirs and….. a Resplendent Quetzal
There’s too much to write – and I want to go exploring!
Onto publishing news:
I sold a story, Hotel Quetzalcoatl, to Grumpy Gods II, which will be out next summer. What was the inspiration? I’m so glad you asked…
A few years ago, I was visiting Guanajuato with my niece/best friend, Gillian. We stayed in a hotel that consisted of four suites, each one an entire floor. We were the only occupants. Odd animal heads stared at us out of glassy eyes. A deer, a lion, a leopard, realistic, but obviously not real. The deer antlers were ridiculous – paper mache, and constructed by someone who’d never seen a deer. Nonetheless, they had a quality of life about them that made them unsettling, like a china doll, with eyes too knowing, and porcelain teeth too sharp.
The owner, Arturo, lived down the hill. He had a rakish charm and an easy smile. The weather was windy and rainy. Gillian, we asked when we would have better weather
He said, “I won’t have any control over the weather for another 10,000 years.” His grin concealed mysteries.
I checked the internet and discovered that Quetzalcoatl was due to return in 10,000 years!
When I next saw Arturo I said, “You’re Quetzalcoatl, aren’t you?”
He smiled knowingly and said, “I love tourists like you.” And the story was born.
On a side note, the Mormons believe that Quetzalcoatl was Jesus Christ. But neither they nor Jesus appears in my tale.
In Book News! As always, click for links- books here
My novel, “Blood Prism,” is now available in print, ebook and on Audible
Buy a copy or five…One of the best parts of being a writer is receiving and reading all these great anthologies- I want to write about each tale and every author – but better you should read these stories yourself. If I write about every story I’ll never finish my new book.
I’m going to put a list with links and a bit about each publication – I hope you check them out because the writing is amazing! You’ll discover new ideas and ways of seeing, which is almost like discovering a new color, tasting a new kind of chocolate or discovering ice-cream for the very first time.
I am truly honored to be included in these publications!
Marigolds & Monarchs – Artpost– 2018
ARTPOST magazine was created in 2018 with one simple goal in mind: to find and publish creative works of fiction, poetry, photography and artwork from independent authors and artists around the world and pay them fairly for their work.
Alluvian is a group of thinkers, science students, and writers examining the human condition in relation to the natural world. — anything intended to provoke thought on environmental science, global sustainability, and human engagement with nature, the environment, and climate change.
For Sale- Flame Tree, Cosy Crime Short Story Anthology, 201
Cosy Crime Short Stories is packed with armchair detectives, murders in the vicarage, family secrets unraveling in gossipy ears, and the ingredients of a genteel bloodbath in an otherwise delightful village. Contains a fabulous mix of classic and brand new writing, with contemporary authors from the US, Canada, and the UK.
This adorable cat has nothing to do with anything.
I’m Dreaming of a Red Xmas- the War against Xmas 2018
This won’t be out till next year, but Neil Gaiman is in here – So I get to be in two anthologies with Neil Gaiman this year!!! And as usual, the publishers are wonderful.
The Faithless Angel- Alternative Theologies
This book will remind you that no matter what you believe, we make this journey together. I love Bob and B cubed Press – they are our alternative to hate!
God’s Gifts- The Gathering Storm – 2018
For great, short, thoughtful modern fables check out The Storm.
Ghost Island- Clarksworld- 2018
Clarksworld is on every science fiction writer’s top 5 list – it’s a thrill- they did a fabulous podcast of my story too, read by the wonderful Kate Baker. Thank you, Kate!
Estevan of the Children- Eldritch roots and Cosmic Shores-
My day of the dead story, digitally illustration by Fran Eisemann in this lovely publication.
The Grammarian’s Grimoire – Re-Enchant –
Re-Enchant takes readers down twisted walkways to discover strange and magical places, people, and creatures. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Buy my books.