On Wednesday afternoon, Michael sent me a text that said “Hope you are up for Bird Watching at 6:00am tomorrow!” He should know that I am always up for an adventure so we met about 20 students at the Parque de la Vida, just a few blocks from our hotel.
Before we even got out onto a trail, they had their binoculars out and were scanning the trees searching for the very noisy bird….
As we walked across a bridge, this duck decided that he did not want any of us to pass, but he seemed to single out Michael and myself. After a few nips on the ankles, we decided that he just did not like Americans!!!
One of the students told me that that was the female plant but that this was the male……
We did see this one bird before we had to leave….
It was a deep iridescent blue and reminded me of the bird that I saw when I walked in the Parque a few days ago.
As we walked, three of the students (Fabian, Camilo & Mariana) asked what we were doing that afternoon. I said that since there was a break, we were probably just going to hang at the hotel. I inquired as to their plans and they said that they were going to a butterfly enclosure. I looked pleadingly at Michael and said “butterflies!!”. He sighed and said that it looked like we were going too!!!
We met at the University after lunch and walked to the main street to catch the bus. There was some discussion about which side of the street we needed to stand on. Fabian said that he was pretty sure that it was one side so we trooped over there. Then when a bus came by, Fabian asked and we were told that it was the other side….across the street we went again, laughing all the way.
Several busses had to pass before our bus showed up but I was impressed by the willingness of the driver’s to stop and to answer questions.
When we got on the bus, a young man jumped on at the last minute. He handed out candy bars to everyone on the bus and then stood at the front and did a spiel about them. Then he walked down the aisle again and either picked up the candy or money. He hopped off at the next stop.
The trip took about 30 minutes as the bus traveled out of Armenia and stopped just outside the Jardin Botanico del Quindio…..
We paid the entrance fee and were met by a tour guide who was at first concerned that the tour would be in Spanish. The students assured him that Michael could speak enough Spanish to understand and that they would interpret for me.
For the most part, I just let the tour go on ahead of me and I enjoyed lagging behind and taking photos.
We have seen these flowers in many cut arrangements but this is the first time that I have seen them growing…
The guide stopped in front of one huge plant and asked if it was a Palm or a Palmetto. The four Biologists immediately answered….fern!! This was the guide’s first indication that this might not be a normal tour!!
We came to a gate marked “Laberinte” and found a shrubbery maze just beyond. We all had fun traipsing thru the path.
I did notice that the guide didn’t join us on our trek but instead waited patiently from the outskirts of the maze!!
He did give a warning to watch for snakes. He told the other couple on the tour that it would be better if they weren’t in shorts and then looked at me with my skirt and Chaco sandals and said “Ay-yi-yi”!! Needless to say, I kept my eyes peeled.
We moved into a bamboo forest and it was interesting to see the bamboo as it was growing….
It was very soft and furry!!
I felt bad as the Guide and other couple kept having to wait as we all lagged behind taking photos and the Biologists discussing the flora.
At one point our Guide motioned for us to be quiet (not an easy task) as he pointed out a magnificent Hummingbird hiding in the brush….
This is a huge Strangler Fig….
Since I couldn’t understand what our guide was saying, here is what Wikipedia has to say about them…..
“This growth habit is an adaptation for growing in dark forests where the competition for light is intense. These plants begin life when their seeds, often bird-dispersed, germinate in crevices atop other trees. These seedlings grow their roots downward and envelop the host tree while also growing upward to reach into the sunlight zone above the canopy. An original support tree can sometimes die, so that the strangler fig becomes a "columnar tree" with a hollow central core.”
That is what has happened to this one…….
I did pick up on one thing that the guide would say. Apparently he kept using the term “what’s happening here” because I kept hearing "¿Qué pasa?" and that is one that I recognize from my teens!!!
There was a deep gorge spanned by a wonderful bridge…..
We entered a small building with glass windows and enjoyed several minutes of bird watching…..
I was trying to photograph this bright yellow bird on a bush when it flew off. The other couple in our group quickly said “Aqui, Aqui” and pointed to where it had landed….
As any new species of bird would fly in, the biologists would get so excited and the noise level would increase.
As usual, Michael and the other three quickly won the respect of our guide and he started spending more time showing us things around the sanctuary. We found out that his name was Andres and that he was a 3rd year student with Victor Hugo who is Michael’s host here.
From the top, we had the most wonderful view of the Butterfly garden that we were heading for….
Andres took this memorable photo of us with Camilo, Mariana and Fabian…some of our Colombian “kids”!!!
After walking thru a small display of insects, we entered the butterfly enclosure. It was filled with blooming flowers and superb winged creatures….
Marianna was so excited with the butterflies and every so often she would dance a little jig and say “BUTTERFLIES!!!!” in the BEST Southern US accent ever heard!!
These extra large “flutteries” were the most friendly…..
I think that our tour had been longer than normal as Andres spent a lot of extra time talking with Michael and the others about things biological. Finally he said that we HAD to leave so we regretfully exited the garden.
As we were leaving, we realized that the garden was actually closed when we left!! We started walking up the road to catch our bus and we saw it pull up on the road in front of us. Fortunately there was a guard standing at the end of our road and he yelled and asked if we were going to Armenia? We all yelled “YES” so the bus waited for us to RUN the last 100 yards!!
We enjoyed watching to see how many stops the bus made. He really went out of his way to help his riders. He waited for 2 or 3 minutes for one lady and little girl to get across a busy road so that they could board, and he made a U-turn to pick up someone else!
I loved watching him make change while he was driving, even though the street was in the middle of a small town and very narrow!! At one stop a dog tried to get on too but was shooed away.
All of the bus drivers honk at each other when they pass….it is cute!!
Fabian asked him to stop near our hotel and he stopped right in front….cant get any better than that!!!
We had a wonderful time with Fabian, Camilo and Mariana and will always be thankful for them allowing us to “CRASH” their outing!!!