November 22, 2017

The first thing we did in Monteverde - aside from getting espresso - was to hit up the Monteverde Orchid Garden. We did a little tour with an orchid expert, which was fascinating!

orchid garden costa ricaglass butterfly

We learned all kinds of fun facts we hadn’t known before and the diversity of orchids was stunning! It was good to know what kind of orchids we should be looking for out in the wild.

monteverde cloud forest

The best part of being in Monteverde was walking deep into the cloud forest. We walked for hours in the rainforest. Everywhere you look are entire worlds, entire universes of life.

monteverde cloud forest

monteverde cloud forest

Just staring into a dew-dropped spider web stretched between bright-colored mosses and lichen is like gazing into a whole universe unto itself.

costa rica spider webscosta rica moss world

Tree trunks are lush with exploding bromeliads and orchids, some of which are are full bloom! We’d walk looking at the ground, taking care where we placed our feet and then looking up into the trees to see which orchids might be within our reach.

costa rica monteverde cloud forest

At one point a huge, loudly-whirring ruby hummingbird zoomed right in front of our noses, startling us, and brushing a flower off to our left that we’d have missed.

costa rica flower essence

Had it not been for the hummer, we’d have missed this flower, a flower so rare it has no common name, two Latin names and only grows in this one small reserve and a tiny square footage in the Colombian Amazon - in the entire world! Super rare! We made a flower essence of this flower - we couldn’t resist. Get a sense of what it feels/sounds like in the cloud forest with this sound bite below ...

santa elena cloud forestcosta rica hike

The next day we hiked up Cerro Amigos, a long trail that goes up to a lookout point, where you can see all the rolling clouds and tops of the rainforest. We didn’t make it all the way up to the top, because we were so enthralled by three wild orchids that we found to photograph + make flower essences of along the way.

costa rica photographycosta rica orchid flower essencecosta rica flower essence orchid

I was so thrilled to find my very first wild epiphytic orchid (growing on a tree) - the Spider Orchid. I stood at the jungle’s edge and debated whether or not to go in … I took a deep breath, lifted up a vine and entered. The jungle there was super quiet, heavy and cold. I was never sure what wildlife was watching us … snakes, big cats, wolves … once you’re really in the jungle the whole hunter/hunted phenomenon becomes apparent. On a few occasions I felt like prey, like I was being watched, though I couldn’t see what was watching me. Gulp.

costa rica flower essence fire star orchid

Ironically, it can be challenging to find good/clean food in Costa Rica, and we were over the moon when we found a restaurant called Celaje’s, which was part of a small boutique hotel called Belmar on the mountainside near the trail where we found the orchids. The food was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life!

costa rica bel marcosta rica bel mar

The highlights? Lavender Fizzes (I don’t even like lavender! And they were addictively divine), Real Hot Chocolate + Passionfruit Smoothies + flowerific salads!

costa rica bel mar salad

We stayed in a sweet AirBnb that looked like a treehouse with its glass walls. I slept with the sliding glass doors open at night, listening to all the sounds outside.

costa rica treehouse

Out of all the jungly places we visited, I felt the safest in the cloud forests in Monteverde. Even when we were hours deep into the rainforest - the two of us totally alone and out of earshot of any other human - it felt very friendly.

costa rica forest

We missed all the amazing touristy things to do there … like ziplining, walking on suspension bridges, visiting coffee + sugar cane plantations and seeing sloths and bright-colored snakes at night … but we were there for flower hunting and that we did. We found some incredible flowers that will benefit sooooo many people + we had unforgettable adventures.

costa rica sunset

When we left Monteverde, the sun was already going down. Generally it’s not recommended to drive at night in Costa Rica … probably because it’s so dark, there are often potholes and road drop off’s and GPS doesn’t really work. But … typically we work during the day, so we pretty much always find ourselves on the move at night.

costa rica sunset

We headed toward the volcano region Arenal and what we thought should be a two-hour trip took us over four hours. Then something freaky happened. More about that here ... 

Happy thoughts + flower petals, katie hess

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