It took a bit till the first colorful impressions wore off and I realized the sorry state of the gardens and the unfortunate existence of the creatures trapped in there. It also took a bit to warm up with what later became my favorite memory of Monteverde: The girls of the Butterfly Garden.
Once the last tour ended and the entrance door's been closed, the volunteers and interns who were housed on the property took over, and turned this place into their own.
Like R, the night owl and instant bar legend of Santa Elena village who would go, in the blink of an eye, from cursing in vibrant slang that would leave the urban dictionary in awe, to well mannered and refined science talk. From gangster to professor in a sec. Whenever she gave a tour, the gardens were filled with laughter and even the most botton-up german would crack up eventually. And of course G, her partner in crime who brought science talk to yet another level, leaving me even more puzzled then after R's Drake impressions and who surprised me on a daily bases with her unshakable optimism and the ability to find the silver lining in even the darkest clouds. A true science lover who sometimes managed to put her reinforcements and encouragement in an academic metaphor which already demanded a PHD degree for a chance to comprehend. Needless to say I was clueless and speechless for most of the time hanging out with these two, but smiling all the way. Luckily J was around to fill me in on the references and insiders that I would never get. J, who stunned me out with a passion, for even the tiniest and most obscure creatures, that I’ve rarely seen before. Not a beetle or plant in the garden where she couldn’t come up with a fascinating fact and not an insect in the world that she wouldn’t learn to admire. And at last A who would remain a mystery throughout my stay as she wandered barefoot in fields of dirt, sorting out stones with patient hands, planting new trees in quiet grace. She would appear and disappear in the rhythm of the butterflies, beaming at them as bright as their wings every time they'd flatter by, because she was blessed with the same gift of living life at her own pace.
I knew I would thrive within the solitude of the cloud forests and that I would rejoice at the ever-present strolling of bugs, birds and mammals but I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed so quickly by the curiosity, wisdom and strength of four striking animal lovers with all their riddles and laughters. And if one of you four happens to read this, I want you to know:
Although neither my words nor pictures can do you justice, I hope you realize how much I've cherished these brief days between sunsets and rain. When you made me share dreams and embarrassing through-up stories, when you amazed me with your knowledge without making me feel stupid as you made science communication the coolest thing ever. When I knocked on your door you opened your worlds and views and let me glance at your zeals and sorrows, not for long of course, but long enough to leave me mesmerized and inspired by the wonders of nature, and the girls of the Butterfly Garden.