We had an amazing New Year’s Eve present at the Estación Biologica Monteverde on our night walk in the form of multiple species of frog and even a tree scorpion. Everyone was very excited by the wildlife sightings, especially those of us who had also gone on a hike the previous night and struck out with finding any “herps,” or reptiles and amphibians. We did, however, catch a glimpse of a Mexican mouse opossum (Marmosa mexicana), which was a wonderful surprise. It was peering out at us from a thick patch of shrubs with its prehensile tail wrapped around a branch, looking much like a bandit wearing a black eye mask. At one point we turned off all of our flashlights and headlamps while standing in a streambed. The darkness was so absolute as to take on an almost velveteen feel, as though it were a physical presence in and of itself. To be honest, I felt rather vulnerable standing there completely blind to my surroundings. It was a stark reminder that I am just a visitor in this environment that many species call home. Monteverde in particular feels otherworldly, as though we’re on a mountaintop island surrounded by a sea of dense clouds. It is equal parts eerie and exhilarating. There is so much more to explore in this beautiful country and I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover next!
-Jessica Joganic, University of Missouri-St. Louis