The Cloud Forest

Trip Start Nov 02, 2005
Trip End Apr 23, 2006

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Where I stayed
Camino Verde Hotel

Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Left Montezuma on the "8 a.m." Bus that actually left closer to 9 a.m. We got to the Ferry in plenty of time so IŽll call it a successful ride. The roads in Costa Rica leave a bit to be desired; dodging potholes seems to be a national sport.

Another beautiful Ferry ride back to Puntarenas complete with flying fish and small Islands inhabited only by birds. They fly around the peaks in such numbers that it looks like a cloud from a distance. Total cost for this trip including Ferry is about $4 U.S. The direct shuttle costs $40. American kids with short vacations like to take the shuttle.

The ride up to Santa Elena is both scenic and painful. Climbing into the moutains, it switches over to dirt roads and potholes. A very bumpy ride in a full Bus. I dreamt of taking a shower as the ride progressed. Unbelievable landscape and I was staring out the window the whole time I think.

Finally into Santa Elena and walked straight to Pension Santa Elena. Nice hostel but I got bedbug bites so I only stayed one night. Found a bed for the same price at a Hotel called Camino Verde that was also a (small) private room. Perfect for me and no bugs.

Santa Elena itself is very small and seems to live off the tourist traffic coming through the City, of which there seems to be plenty. Costa Rica is a different experience than the other Central American countries because of the amount and type of tourism that's going on here. It suddenly became common to meet people who are traveling only within Costa Rica on vacation and nowhere else.

Taking Tours is the big thing in Santa Elena (and Monteverde) since this is where they do the Zipline tours through the Cloud Forest amoung other things. All of this is very expensive so this is NOT the kind of place budget travelers would want to hang around too long. I took the regular Bus out to the Monteverde Cloud Forest and paid $13 admission to walk around on my own. You can hire a guide for $15 but I decided to explore on my own and spent 3 hours hiking the trails. It was a good day for weather and not crowded, so I got my moneys worth.

A link to one site. Google monteverde and search out more.

DidnŽt really meet anyone while I was staying in Santa Elena and that's mainly because everyone is always off on both daytime and nighttime activites. Even I went on a night tour through the Forest. Met a couple young women that go to Arizona State University who were the typical beautiful American girls. Not the knockout type but very cute and afraid of everything and everyone. They're on vacation for 2 weeks in Costa Rica and they end up with me on a night tour (along with many other people).

It was a fun time, mainly because I flirted with Amanda, the dark haired Arizona Girl and she took shelter behind me at key times; there was a tarantula Spider at one part of the tour and she tucked in behind me while still keeping an eye on things. It reminded me so much of taking a girl to the rides at an amusement park. I was my usual goofy self and got them laughing a few times. They referred to me as "that guy from the tour" when I saw them later in the internet cafe. "Hey, it's that guy from the tour! How'ya doin?" Then they'd giggle some more.

I also went to a Butterfly Garden that was the hightlight of my time in Santa Elena. For the $8 admission they give a "free" tour of the living bug museum and then the Butterfly greenhouse enclosures. All very interesting and the weather was perfect as we chased the Blue Morp butterflies with our cameras.

3 nights is enough for me so IŽm heading south tomorrow. Not sure WHERE yet, but IŽll decide that as I go along.
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