Monteverde, Costa Rica

Trip Start Apr 26, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2006

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Saturday, May 6, 2006

We left Puerto Viejo at 5:30am to catch to 7am bus to San Jose. After doing some Lonely Planet research on San Jose on the bus, we decided to skip the city and go straight to Monteverde. We met another couple, Sue and Jason who had already seen San Jose and agreed it would be better to head straight to Monteverde so we all headed out together. It was another 4 hour bus ride, the last 2 hours of which was along a dirt and stone road, one lane, with sheer drop offs on either side, sharp corners, at dusk (then dark), in the fog. I thought more than once that we wouldn't make it as the old school bus rounded corner after corner blindly and I could just see the deep valley below! The four of us bunked in the same guesthouse just off the main cobblestone strip. The town is small and quaint and surrounded by trees and beautiful cloud forest. There are plenty of adventure options for the traveller in Monteverde and we had a hard time deciding what to do while we were there! First we went for a horseback ride into the woods, complete with a visit to a small, hidden waterfall. Neither Shane nor I are expert riders so it took a little getting used to but we found that it was much easier (and more fun) when the horse was galloping than when she was trotting. Our rear ends felt the pain following this adventure, let me tell you!
One morning we got up very early and took the bus to Santa Elena Cloud Forest. We hiked two trails right into the forest and saw a hummingbird and a snake crossed our path. We craned and contorted and watched and waited for sloths and quetzals in the trees but unfortunately had no luck with either. The cloud forest feels like something familiar (I'm thinking of the northern Ontario wilderness or the BC mountain ranges), but is so completely different you feel as if you're in a different world. The canopy rises above your head and allows only slivers of sunlight through to the lush, green forest floor. The sweet smell of the bright, tropical flowers and fruits hangs in the air, trapped by moisture and heat. Brightly coloured birds flutter and hide in the trees, only announcing their presence by their loud and melodical voices ringing out across the treetops. It's truly magical. The forest opened up at one point and we climbed up a look out tower to gaze upon Volcan Arenal off in the distance, flanked by her sister volcanoes in an impressive line snaking off in the distance. On our way out of the forest we caught sight of two families of spider monkeys farting around above our heads. We watched them teaching their small babies how to jump from one tree to another for so long I thought my neck would give out from cramps and my head would fall off.
From the forest we took the bus back to town where we met our ride out for our canopy tour. The zip line canopy tour was a fast, furious and fun way to see the top part of the forest canopy. Our guides were happy and helpful, pointing out strangler trees and keeping their eyes out for sloths (didn't see any unfortunately) as we zipped along on cables, some as high as 100 meters up and 600 meters long!
Our last night in Monteverde began with beers and animated discussions about the state of American politics (which of course led to the topic of how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the awe-inspiring size of the universe and beyond). While debating the financial waste and benefits of the NASA space program the guy sitting across from me jumped up and pointed to my feet and yelled "SCORPION"! We all jumped up to find the little bugger hanging out, tail raised under my chair. So we blinded him with digital flashes and admired him from a safe distance before Shane bravely scooped him up on a piece of paper and put him outside.
After torturing ourselves with guilt and fear of getting caught, we successfully scammed a load of laundry. (Of course no scamming could be complete without Shane shimmying under a fence, getting up at 5am to get the clothes out of the dryer and a security guard - who we were convinced was standing outside the living room window watching and listening to our conversation.) We ended up with some slightly wet clothes and a not so happy chambermaid the next morning. At least Sue and Jay were up for it with us!

The next day Shane, Sue, Jason and I left Monteverde for La Fortuna via the "Jeep, Boat, Jeep" travel method...
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