Monteverde- it never rains but...

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Aug 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Friday, May 30, 2008

Having spent just one day in San Jose, during which we decided our plan of attack for Costa Rica and also took the opportunity to catch the new Indiana Jones film, we left the capital heading for the cloud forests of the north. Despite the pretty small distance from San Jose to our destination of Monteverde, our journey took nearly 5 hours, half of which was spent on a really bumpy, narrow track, which wove itīs way into the mountains. How our bus managed that route everyday, I have no idea. It certainly didnīt sound too happy about it!

Arriving in the rain, we chanced upon the owner of the hostel that we had hoped to stay in, the rather strangely named Sleepers Sleep Cheaper Hostal. It turned out to be a real find, the showers were hot, the owner was really friendly, as was his family, and best of all the free breakfast was awesome! Weīd definitely advise anyone headed for Monteverde to check it out, itīs new, so thatīs why itīs not in the guide books.

Our stay in Monteverde turned out to be a washout, even by cloud forest standards! We were to find out that a tropical storm had hit Nicaragua, and the tail end of it was travelling up through Costa Rica causing torrential rain.

Undeterred we spent our first day in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, where we spent a really enjoyable- if very wet- 2 hours traipsing through the woods. Unfortunately we werenīt able to see that much wildlife due to the rain, but our surroundings were so impressive that we couldnīt complain and we did manage to see a pretty tame looking boar at the entrance that amusingly tried to stampede an American girl who wanted a photo. The bird feeders at the entrance were also actively used by humming birds,  which were so beautiful.

The following day, as the rains got heavier, we set out on the tour that was our main reason for coming to Monteverde- zip lining above the forest canopy. We arrived, a little nervous, and were immediately geared up with waterproof jackets (desite these we were drenched in minutes!), harnesses, helmets and our own handles to be attached to each cable. The next 2 hours were such fun. Our first zip line was a tandem, and Ian and I were attached to the line together, with me just hanging on to the rope and Ian with his legs gripped round my waist. As we set off, I became hysterical with laughter, mainly because the wind and rain was causing my contact lens to flip out, so I spent much of the time squinting out of one eye. It was totally exhilarating, though admittedly we couldnīt see a great deal because of the heavy cloud. On the last zip line, which was the longest, being almost quarter of a mile in length, we could sense the urgency of the guides to get us back to the centre. They told us that the worst of the storm was soon to hit. As we stood waiting for our turn, the tower swayed in the winds and the rain (if it was possible) became more frenzied. Whistling along the zip line actually turned out to be quite painful as we were whipped by rain, and the wind was so strong that it would swing you at a right angle to the line. By the end, we left ready to head back to Monteverde, though it had been great fun.

Eating our homemade dinner that night, Donny, the landlord joined us to enquire as to how we were. As we chatted about the rain, he told us that it rains some 300 days of the year in Monteverde and that this was not unusual. He then proceeded to nonchalently tell us that when the rains became really bad, it was common for the local tarantula population to seek inside accommodation, and with amusement he mentioned one girl who had found one under her pillow. He obviously hadnīt seen our horrified faces. Heading back to our room, we immediately shut the windows and checked our sheets, bags and shoes for any unwanted visitors!
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