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A Week in Monte Verde

Tons of stuff to do.

storm 70 °F
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I tried to get to Monte Verde from Samara a couple of months ago. The people at my hotel didn’t know how to do it by bus and I couldn’t reserve a shuttle because I was the only person in Samara trying to get to Monte Verde. To get to Monte Verde from Quepos you take the bus to Puntarenas and catch another bus to Monte Verde. That means I could have taken the bus from Samara to Puntarenas and then gone on to Monte Verde. Just thought I’d clear that up. The bus trip from Quepos to Monte Verde was pretty uneventful. I left at 7:30, had a three hour layover on a bench in Puntarenas and arrived in Monte Verde around 5:00. I didn’t really arrive in Monte Verde. I arrived in Santa Elena which is near Monte Verde and checked into Pension Santa Elena. Great place right in the middle of town. I’m staying in a single room ($20/nite) in a new addition to the pension that was recently completed. I have hot water! Blessed hot water. Good thing too ‘cause it gets chilly here. Not cold ... I still wear shorts ... but I sure wouldn’t want to take a cold shower.
Pension, Santa Elena

Pension, Santa Elena


I immediately booked a guided tour of the Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve for 7:30 the next morning and then walked around for awhile enjoying cool air and checking out the town. The town is spread out over green forested hills. I was too lazy to check out more than my immediate neighborhood and it was getting dark so right after I found the beer store I returned to Pension. Over a couple of beers I made a mental list of all the stuff I wanted to do while I was here. Cloud forest reserve hike, Serpentario (snake zoo), Ranario (frog zoo), canopy zip lines, coffee plantation tour, orchid exhibit, insect exhibit. There’s a ton of stuff to do in Monte Verde/Santa Elena. I spent the rest of the night chit chatting with other travellers, getting the local scoop, and sharing my knowledge with others who were going to where I had already been.
Foggy Trail, Cloud Forest

Foggy Trail, Cloud Forest


I woke up at 4:30 the next morning ... to a rooster alarm of course. Damn these things. I think when I went through customs back in January someone assigned a rooster to me. It doesn’t matter where I go, the rooster is always there. He’ll wait until 2:30, 4:30, 6:30 in the morning and then start doing his thing. Not from a distance either. In Quepos he’ll camp out right next to the window (screen) maybe four feet from my head, wait until I’m asleep, and then let it rip. He’s trying to kill me. I’ve decided it’s a test. In order to be truly happy and accepted in Costa Rica you have to kill your rooster. Maybe I would have a teaching job by now if I had only walked outside at 4:00 in the morning and turned that living, malfunctioning alarm clock into dinner. Sorry. Got a little off track. Pent up anger there. It was bound to come out at some point.

I woke up at 4:30 the next morning, had a nice hot shower and walked over to the bakery for breakfast. I caught the 6:30 bus over to the Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve. The place doesn’t open until 7:30 so I sat around for awhile checking out the birds and the hummingbird garden. I had planned to get a guide because they are really good at spotting and explaining stuff and carry high powered scopes with them. Well I couldn’t get a guide because I didn’t have enough cash and the phones where down so I couldn’t pay with a credit card. I gave the guy a sob story about travelling all the way from San Francisco to see the Resplendent Quetzal and how my whole trip was ruined because their phone line doesn’t work. He didn’t buy it. I think he called me an asshole under his breath but I wasn’t sure and it was 7:30 in the morning so I let it slide. I took off up the trail alone as soon as the gate opened. The cloud forest is very dense. It was pretty spooky at first. I jumped every time my camera lens retracted in my hand. I could hear all kinds of different bird calls. One bird sounded like bells. I couldn’t see any of them. Sure wish I had a guide ... I rounded one corner and saw a family of coati on the trail ahead. One adult with a mess of coatilets. I froze, too late, most of them saw me and hustled across the trail in to the jungle. Luckily some of the kids were not so bright and just stood there on the trail wondering what was going on while I snuck up in to camera range. I managed to get a couple of blurry pictures.
Creepy Tree, Cloud Forest

Creepy Tree, Cloud Forest


The trail wound up and down through the hills, in and out of the clouds. After an hour and a half or so I was hiking along the continental divide. Views are spectacular on a clear day but it was cloudy this day (cloud forest). I looked off the ridge into a cloud bank. I spent around two and a half hours hiking around the park, covered around three and a half miles and was completely exhausted. Weird. I decided to head back to the visitors center, rest up a bit, and then continue on some other trails. Things went downhill fast at the visitors center. My ear started throbbing, I got the chills. Shit. I was getting sick. I hung out at the hummingbird garden until the bus came around to take me back to Santa Elena. I spent the next two days in my room sweating out a fever and squirting drops into my ear.

After I started feeling better I checked out some of the attractions close by ... stuff that wouldn’t take too much energy to see. One day I went over to Serpentario to see the local snakes, another day Ranario to see the local frogs. I went to Ranario twice because some frogs are daytime frogs and other frogs are night time frogs. There was a lot more frog action at night. I had a couple of naps a day over those two days but I was starting to feel healthy again. I did a lot of Skype-ing and Facebook-ing. I found out from my friends in Quepos that the day after I left town a monster storm hit the area. Trees were knocked down, the road to Manuel Antonio was closed, fishing boats were lost, power outages, flooded houses, the whole nine yards. I love a good storm. I’m sorry I missed it. Quepos has been getting a lot of action lately. There was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake centered there a few weeks ago (I didn’t miss it). I managed to Skype my Mom and Sister one afternoon ... with video. Miraculous. Mom says I’m not as tan as she thought I would be. She said a lot of other stuff too but that’s all I can remember right now.
Zip Liner, Selvatura

Zip Liner, Selvatura


Saturday I headed to Selvatura for a day of zip-lining, Tarzan swing, butterfly garden, and insect exhibit. I got fitted for my zip-lining equipment and was placed into a group of nineteen other zip-liners. The other nineteen in the group were the choir from Denver Christian High School. Odd man out. They were doing a week long singing tour of Costa Rica. They actually started singing while we were waiting at one of the towers. They were all full of high school energy and were hilarious to watch and listen too. After a brief orientation/demonstration we hiked a short way up to the first tower, clipped onto the line and took off. On the first couple of lines I didn’t really look around ... I just waited for something to go wrong and mentally practiced my tuck and roll. I relaxed after that and for the rest of the morning enjoyed the scenery and zipping. The zip lines wind through primary growth forest so the scenery is spectacular. The last line is a doozy. It’s really long and really fast and really high. You do this one with a partner so if you scream like a little girl there is a witness. After all the zip lines is the Tarzan swing. Basically you grab onto a rope (assisted by a crap load of harnesses), jump off a tower and swing out. Major league involuntary blood curdling scream on this one. No pre-planned yee-haws. Holy crap. Awesome.
Insect Display, Selvatura

Insect Display, Selvatura


After getting my adrenaline fix for the day I signed up for the butterfly tour and the insect tour, still at Selvatura. Both good although overpriced at $10 each for a guided forty-five minute tour. It might be worth the price if you could hang out there after the guided tour ... but you can’t. The insects, from the Whitten Entomological Collection, were all dead but outrageous and displayed nicely with lots of information. The butterfly ... house? is the largest in Central America and holds twenty-five or so different species. Butterflies like it warm. Most are not native to the Monte Verde area (because it’s not very warm). The butterfly ... house ... is climate controlled but even so a lot of the butterflies headed for the ceiling where it is a little warmer. There were still enough hanging out down low where I could see them though. The guide was very knowledgeable for both the butterfly and insect tours. Good day.

I headed back to Santa Elena around 2:00, grabbed some pretty tasty pasta for lunch, caught up on email and whatnot, and then fell asleep in my room. I woke up at 9:00 PM, freaked out because I thought it was 9:00 AM and I had missed something (I had nothing planned) and then went back to sleep after I figured out who I was, where I was, and what time it was. Maybe I wasn’t entirely over my little sickness.
Orchid

Orchid


Sunday I had nothing to do but get organized and plan my getaway. After fourteen hours of sleep I was ready for a day of planning. I decided to take the bus through Liberia to La Cruz, just short of the Nicaraguan border. I bought a ticket to the Pan American highway where I’m supposed to flag down one of the busses going to Liberia. I tried to get dollars from the ATM. No luck. Got my laundry done. Gotta remember to pick that up. Worked on the blog ... actually ... working on the blog right now. Uh-oh. The blog is in real time again. Sorry. This doesn’t happen often. I’ll have to go do something now so I’m ahead of the blog. Heading North in the morning.

Posted by dfilipia 17:55 Archived in Costa Rica

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