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Entries about monteverde

2017 FEB - COSTA RICA ALAJUELA TO MONTEVERDE

We travel by bus into the cloud forest.

semi-overcast 24 °C

DAY 30 TUESDAY 7TH MARCH

A very early morning this morning, we were up at 6am to have a quick breakfast, pack the last of our stuff and jump in a taxi to be at the bus stop on the main road in time to catch the bus passing by that left San Jose at 6.30am. Amazingly we were on the side of the road just after 6.30am determined not to miss our bus. I had purchased tickets online and was a little relieved to see other people were waiting for the same bus and I would not have to jump in front of it to stop it.

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The Monteverde bus turned up just minutes after its expected time of arrival of 30 minutes after departure time and soon we had our luggage loaded down below and were seated in the bus which was taking off down the highway. Must admit I had a bit of an on and off nap during the first 2 hours of the journey. We stopped for a 15 minute toilet break just before 9am, and I guess it was a breakfast break for the ones who did not eat before getting on the bus. The road had not been all that exciting thus far and did not get interesting until we turned off the main Interamerican highway and the road turned to dirt about 20 km out from our destination. This is were it did get interesting as we started to climb, the road ever winding and the drop off the side at killer heights. The bus although down to a low speed of between 35 - 40 km/h did not seem to strain too much, and the driver was obviously at ease with the dirt road, no railing, deadly drop off roadside cliff as he continued to answer calls and text messages on his mobile phone while navigating these, what I would call, difficult driving conditions. Good to know he was completely at ease. He smiled at me several times as I attempted to photograph the steep drop off, even pointing out a magnificent vista on the opposite side of the road to where I was looking. I guess he drive this big coach on this road often enough to know it like the back of his hand, or at least he portrayed this.

It was 10.15am when we pulled into the bus station in Monteverde, making better time than expected. We alighted from the coach to find the temperature a little cooler than what we had in Alajuela, and it was trying to sprinkle with rain but the wind was blowing it away. I had a mud map of where we needed to walk to our booked accommodation, but just needed to confirm the correct direction we needed to travel in. Thank goodness we were directed down the hill and only had a small hill to pull our luggage up to the hostel. The rain had since stopped so we did not get wet.

It was early, but lucky for us our room was empty and we were able to check in straight away.
PENSION SANTA ELENA 3 NIGHTS @ US$54 = US$162 TRIPLE ROOM

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After we had settled in the guy at the desk told us about the activities we can do here in the area. Lots to do here so we will have a think and a chat and decide later.

We headed out for a bit of a look around town, browsed in some souvenir shops, found couple of supermarkets for supplies. Decided to stop and have some lunch when we found a reasonable restaurant. Huge meal C3500 = A$8.21 - pork chop with rice, beans, salad, vegies & fried plantain, included free dessert of piece of banana cake. Overpriced beer C1800 = A$4.22, but overall a good meal for less than $13.

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Returning to the hostel after a lap of town, we did a bit of washing to keep on top of it and then sat around chatting after getting a few supplies for our afternoon drinkies.

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I booked a couple of the activities we are going to do over the next few days with the receptionist. Dinner was just a sandwich - after the large meal we had at lunch time.

Night time is a bit cooler than what we are used to, and the wind sounds like its making itself known outside as well. Hope the following days are going to be nice as we are booked in for some outside activities.

DAY 31 WEDNESDAY 8TH MARCH

Breakfast, which was included with our room rate, was a choice of 2 things from the Taco Taco place next door. 1. fruit with yoghurt and muesli with toast and home made marmalade & 2. fresh fruit with breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs. Tea and coffee are free all day at hostel.

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Busy day today, at 10.30 we were collected by mini bus that transferred us 30 minutes away to Selvatura Park where we did a hanging bridges walk.

The Selvatura Hanging Bridges are an excellent option for observing the beautiful flora and fauna of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The 3 kilometre journey will take you across bridges hanging in the tree canopy, at heights that range from 12 to 60 meters. In addition, the bridges have varying lengths from 50 to 150 meters.

We did not see a great deal of wild life but the trees and the flora was just amazing, beautiful. Some of the bridges were 30 meters high so we were almost in the canopy of the forest looking down on smaller trees and at eye level with the larger ones. Yep, it was very impressive.

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We finished the bridge walk just in time to get the 1pm bus back into town, where we returned to the hostel to have our lunch. After eating our tuna sandwiches we took the local bus (C600 = $A1.42) 5km to the entrance of the Monteverde Reserve. We did not actually enter the reserve we were here to see the humming birds at the Hummingbird Gallery. We had seen a few of these small very swift moving birds in the forest, but here there were feeders set up and the birds, many of them, came in to feed and we could see them up close. There were a variety of sizes and colours and they were just lovely.

Their little wings move so fast in some of the photos it looks like they have no wings at all. The videos on FB are much better than these photos.

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Just before we left one of these coatimundi just casually walked past us, these critters are obviously used to humans being around as it did not run off, just went about its business.

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We were going to walk the 5km back into town, but decided to catch the bus half way back as we were told about a happy hour at the Hotel Belmar. Managed to explain to the bus driver where we wanted to get off then had to walk up the hill on the dirt road to the hotel. It was pretty swish, but the staff were very nice to us. Dolly and I had a trio of locally brew beers with tapas and Lyn had some kind of tequila cocktail. The prices were outrageous, but we enjoyed a nice indulgent beverage while watching the sun go down.

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It must have been close to 6pm when we thought it must be time to start walking back to town, I estimated it was about 3km. About 100m down the road, before we even reached the main road again, we came across a taxi that had just dropped someone off and was obviously going to return back to town. Lyn asked out of curiosity how much back to town and the driver said US$3 and we all 3 jumped into the back seat. Not going to let a cheap fare like that slip past, as it was cold and drizzly and none of us felt like the walk anyway. We ended up paying the taxi C1500 = A$3.55 and he dropped us right in front of our accommodation. Got to be happy with that.

A quick visit to the supermarket for a couple of supplies and we sat and had a drink while waiting for a cooking space in the kitchen to clear. it's busy in the hostel again tonight, seems to be a very popular place. Lyn and Dolly cooked dinner tonight, pork chop & vegies, well done ladies.

After dinner we had showers and basically went to bed.

Great day today! It's very windy outside again tonight, and as I finish this by the sounds of it outside the rain is coming down heavier.

DAY 32 THURSDAY 9TH MARCH

This morning after breakfast from Taco Taco we were collected for a 3 in 1 Don Juan Coffee Tour US$35. 3 things being coffee, chocolate & sugar. Don Juan is just small coffee planation that does not produce enough coffee to export out of the country or not even enough to distribute within Costa Rica, all that is produced here is sold to tourists that visit Monteverde and they have a coffee shop in town that they obviously use their own coffee.

On arrival we were all treated to a ride on an wooden cart pulled by a couple of burley oxen. The ride was only for about 20 metres and back, but I could have easily have passed on the ride back. Not the most comfortable, even with all my padding aka fatty bum tissue.

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We were shown the different stages of the coffee plants growth and given lots of information that I have obviously already forgotten. One thing I do remember is that the guide told us Costa Rica used to be one of the worlds biggest coffee producers, but now produces only 1% of the worlds coffee. Not that this countries production has gone down, just that more bigger countries are now producing coffee as well. He told us they are happy here to produce smaller quantities of higher quality coffee, rather than bulk amounts of shit coffee.

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We were shown through the husking and drying procedures, then taken into the roasting area. Another fun fact, they only harvest coffee here 3 months of the year, November, December & January and nearly all of the coffee pickers are from Panama or Nicaragua. Costa Rican workers do not like to get jobs as coffee pickers as it is for only 3 months a year. Pickers are paid by the amount of coffee they pick and by the quality of the berries they select to pick. Good pickers may pick less in weight, but are more selective therefore get better pay for the better berries picked. Pickers from Panama & Nicaragua can make enough money in the 3 months to live the rest of the year in their much cheaper countries.

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Next part of the tour was about chocolate. The cacao plant is not grown in the area as the weather is not conducive, so they bring it in and make the chocolate here as an addition to their coffee trade. Actually more money is gained from the cacao butter which is separated from the cacao. The powdery cocoa is then made into chocolate using animal and other plant fats (much cheaper palm oil) and the cocoa butter is sold to be used for cosmetics. Ideally, chocolate should be made using the cacao powder and cacao butter, but the butter is just too lucrative to be used in eating chocolate production. Actually, eating chocolate is just a yummy bi-product of the collection of cacao butter. The chocolate story was quite interesting and we all got to have a taste after the little talk. We tasted their dark chocolate and their white chocolate (which of course is not actually chocolate at all as it contains no cacao) but they did use cacao butter and not animal/plant fat to make it. We were also given chocolate coated roasted coffee beans - I personal favourite of mine (correct Lisa Plant?)

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Third part of the tour was about sugar. Sugar cane which is also grown here in Costa Rica is used as natural drink by pressing the cane to extract the liquid. Sugar cane is 70% water so there was quite a bit of fluid to come out of the stick. We got to try this refreshing drink, and also with a little lemon juice added. Our guide advised this is available everywhere, but must admit we have not seen it and I guess not knowing the name of the drink in Spanish would not know anyway. And I guess it would be offered to the locals more than tourists.

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Like most tours it finished at the gift shop where we could all help ourselves to the 3 different blends of coffee to taste. Light, medium or dark. Fun fact: light roasted beans have the most caffeine, the more you roast the coffee beans the less caffeine it contains. Most people would think having a dark roast it would be stronger, but this is a fallacy. Learn something new everyday.

After about 3 coffees, we were driven back to our accommodation.

We just hung around the rest of the day, doing washing, reading etc.

Around 5.30pm we were again collected for another tour. This evening we are doing a Kinkajou Night Walk US$20. Hoping to see creatures in the night, we walked around the forest with a guide who had a flashlight to rival the ones used in X-Files, for about 2 hours. We did see a few animals: Motmot (bird), Armadillo, Humming Bird Nest (with bird inside), Possum, Crystal Wing Butterfly, Rainbow Beak Toucan, 2 toed Sloth, Stripped Pit Viper (snake) x 2, Bark Scorpion, Emerald Toucan & Kinkajou. Not able to take any night photos I posted Mr Google photos on my FB page so these animals could be identified. Our guide had the eyes of a hawk, how he saw some of these creatures that were camouflaged in the forest was amazing, but I guess that is his job. The birds we saw were of course sleeping or trying to sleep and Dolly is convinced they were stuffed props. Lol she does not believe they were real.

Too late to cook when we returned so we had take away chicken & chips from Pollo Asado!

Tomorrow we again move on to our next destination: La Fortuna.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 11:36 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged monteverde Comments (0)

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