Alajuela Tropical Hostel , High Above San Jose!

Trip Start Jan 21, 2013
Trip End Feb 21, 2013

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Flag of Costa Rica  , San José,
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 We woke up in our beautiful room high above San Jose and the Central  Valley and took a wonderful shower, glancing out the bathroom window at the gorgeous view!  Yes, last night was not a dream, the view was still there.

Alonso had moved his hostel from near the airport in Alajuela to way up high above the Central Valley to the upscale San Antonio de Escazu, and also near a small town called, all things,  El Llano. This was interesting to us in that our camp house in is in Llano, TX.

Also very Interesting to us that we had actually stayed at a B & B in San Antonio de Escazu the last night on our first trip to Costa Rica back in the 80's !  So here we were, back in a little visited but beautiful part of Costa Rica!

Hiking with Alonso

After a nice night of  rest, Alonso was very interested in getting us out walking to show off the area.  We were a little foggy and not as excited about it as he but we knew the hike would do us good and help work out some of the kinks from the long day flight day.

Note to self -- sooner or later on this trip, I will get my act totally together before we set out for a walk.  Did not carry any kind of snack which of course is something I should never do but oh well.

Alonso told us we were going to hike part of the way up to the Cerros de Cedral Escazu preserve along the Agres River.  There is a large nature preserve there and this was where we set out for but Alonso kept us along the cleared area along its lower perimeter.

As you leave the hostel the road drops VERY steeply down the hill.  Alonso said on weekends this is a very popular place to mountain bike.  We did see two people actually biking UP the road and we were impressed.  The road went up and down until we left the road onto a gravel street and then finally headed into what appeared to be semi forested farm land.

Santa Fe's elevation is higher than San Antonio de Escazu but we have not been very active for the last month since we were traveling the long drive down from New Mexico, with more driving and visiting around in TX, etc .

We were winded pretty quickly and had to stop and rest far more often than Alonso would have.  Fortunately, it was in the 60's and at an elevation of about 5500
 ft. mas y menos.

Cerro Rabo de Mico

He pointed out the metal   cross and said that Costa Ricans often say they are hiking to the Cross.  The peak is also called  Cerro Rabo de Mico or 'tail of the monkey.'

If you use your imagination you  can get to a point where it actually does look like the head, back and tail of the monkey.    Alonso says that the area is montaine cloud forest, and It looks very lush up on the sides of the peaks.   There are also some cliff looking areas that almost look like there had been fortifications there at one time.

We could hear the beautiful Montezuma Orependulas, saw them flying overhead, but never got a clear shot of them like we have on previous trip to Costa Rica.  Alonso pointed out  native wild orchids that  had not ever been grafted or hybridized  and as a result were very prized by international collectors.

The hike began with a very steep walk downhill on the street from his new location.  We crossed the little rio (more like a creek).   We got to an open area with the river tumbling down the hill and large trees and rocks dotted farmland.  Although there is a prohibition to future development this area is still being farmed. At several point we had to get down on our hands and knees to crawl under the barbed wire. 

Alonso had brought his bathing suit and wanted us to take some pics for him to show potential customers activities available in the neighborhood.  While he climbed down into a manmade pool in the creek we took a break and birdwatch.  Laura had hear spotting scope and was sitting under one of the big  trees while Robert took photos.  We  were rewarded with a rare sighting of one of the biggest hummingbirds in the world, the  violet sabre wing hummingbird stopping to enjoy one of the flowers in the tree above where Laura was sitting..  What a treat.  Robert was able to get a few shots which  is difficult to do with hummingbirds !!

We also saw some very nice butterflies but were not quite as successful in identifying them.    Alonso had a reference book back a the house so of course we gave it a try. 

There was an interesting footbridge across the creek and a horse came up to eat some of the same fruits that many birds seemed interested in.

Alonso saw that we were tiring so he took us a more flat return route past some houses in his neighborhood   that allowed us to miss some of the steepest part of the street in front of his

This was good, as we had been traveling for 12 hours to get to Costa Rica, stayed up drinking wine and visiting with Alonso/enjoying the view,  and we needed to avoid overdoing on our first day.

As we walked along enjoying the beautiful tropical plant landscaping in the neighborhood
Alonso said we should have planned to stay  with him a couple of more days  and attempted hike on up to the Cerro Rabo de Mico.   The trail through the preserve to the summit is steep and takes  takes about 2 and 1/2 hours. Alonso says  is a very popular hike for many Costa Ricans who come up from San Jose every weekend.  Maybe at the end of our trip.....


Cerro Rabo de MicoElevation2,428 m (7,966 ft)[1]LocationLocationCosta RicaRangeCerros de Escaz˙Coordinates9░51′N 84░08′WCoordinates: 9░51′N 84░08′W[2]ClimbingEasiest routeHike
The Cerro Rabo de Mico is the highest mountain of the Cerros de Escaz˙, Costa Rica with 2,428 m (7,966 ft).[1] Rabo de mico means literally 'monkey tail' although this denomination probably comes from a tree fern that is locally called like that.


Locally, this mountain is known as "La Cruz," because of the large
cross that has been built at the very peak. There are three crosses in
total. The first one is made from concrete; the second one is a steel
cross set atop a concrete pyramid. The third, which is at the peak, is
the tallest of the three and is made of steel. From the top vantage, it
is possible to see almost the entire Central Valley including the city
of San JosÚ.

Alonso kept us on a fairly level trail.  We stayed low since it was our
first day in the country and we were pretty tired.

A Nap and an Earthquake !

  After Alonso took us to a mall to try and find camping gas for our stove, an upscale grocery store to get some food to fix for dinner,  and get our cell phone working, we came back to the hostel and were in serious need of a nap.  After  eating a small   lunch of tasty meat filled pastries , decided to take a short rest.  I was awakened by what I thought was someone slamming the door that shook the house. I told that to Robert and he laughed and said that it was an earthquake.  I thought he was wrong, but Alonso was on the computer when we got down stairs and said that it  was actually a 4.1 earthquake.  There were no aftershocks that we felt.

This was only our second earthquake, the first being in Japan with David Butts some years ago.

Dinner Above the Clouds

Robert had found out more info on the internet about the station where the bus left  to Montezuma and Alonso called and confirmed the time and location for us. He suggested that we get up at 4:30, drink coffee.  He loaded our bags after dinner into the back of his antique Land Rover .

We combined dinner fixings with Alonso and went to bed early. 

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