Buenas días famila y amigos. Yesterday we left Playa Grande and took a 5 hour shuttle ride up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We are staying in a small town located next to the reserve called Santa Elena. Our shuttle adventure began at 1:00pm when we were picked up at our hotel by Hugo, our designated shuttle driver. He was very nice, but none the less..a typical Costa Rican driver…hold on tight! Our next stop was a hotel in Tamarindo, where we picked up our traveling companions for the ride. They were a young couple from Belgium who are traveling through Costa Rica for 3 weeks. They too were headed to the reserve to explore the Cloud Forest for a few days. They were very friendly and spoke decent English.
The shuttle ride seemed like a peaceful drive until we took a sudden right off the main road to a dirt road leading to a small neighborhood. The one little detail the shuttle bus brochures neglected to mention was that the drivers were on “Tico Time”(where the locals and go and come as they please). With confusion on all of our faces, our Tico driver suddenly pulled over in front of a random house, where he got out and a young boy came running up to him with a big hug. Not to mention he picked up a random girl at a local bus stop five minutes before. What was going on here? After leaving us in the van clueless for 5 minutes, he came back and explained he was picking up his hijo(son) and ensured that we will be back on the road shortly. Once we were back on the road, now with two unexpected passengers, we were on our way to Monteverde. The young woman was dropped off along the way and the surprises seemed to come to an end. Now it was just a matter of making it up the “worst road in Costa Rica.”
As we were climbing up the mountain on a paved narrow road, our driver pulled over to let us get a picture of the view looking back at the coast. We were so high up that you could clearly see the entire Nicoya Peninsula. It’s amazing how small this country is even though it feels large when traveling through it. At this point, our driver indicated we had an hour more to go and that this was where the road started to get quite bumpy.
The road got a bit more curvy and had a steeper incline as we climbed. It was certainly a bumpy ride all the way into town. The roads were covered with small rocks the size of a fist and embedded in the hard packed mud that is now dry from the dry season climate. There were a few pot holes here and there but most of the rumble came from the rocks scattered along the road. It’s a wonder how anyone drives this in the rainy season, you would be fighting a rocky mudslide the whole way up…but the locals do it, simply amazing. As we were rocking around in the van, we suddenly got reminded of the Indiana Jones ride at Disney Land. We were just waiting for the boulder to come rolling around the corner.
We made it to Santa Elena right at sunset. We got safely dropped off at an awesome backpacker’s favorite called Pension Santa Elena. What a cool place! When we arrived, it was full of young and old travelers alike. It’s very mellow here, perfect for us. We are staying in a private room with our own bathroom for $30. The room was clean and had decent beds. It has a communal kitchen, where everyone was cooking up their inexpensive dinner when we arrived. So instead of letting the aromas of dinner cooking agitate our stomachs any longer, we hurried over to a great restaurant called Morpho’s. Everything is in walking distance within the town. The whole town has a 500 yard radius. We were even more excited to discover Morpho’s had dark beer…oh yes! Selection beyond Imperial and Pilsen was nice for once. We highly recommend the burgers at Morpho’s, a big burger packed with two patties and fixings, enough to last you well into the morning.
We awoke to a beautiful sunny day this morning and are looking forward to the canopy zipline tour and suspended bridge tour we signed up for last night. We get to go be monkeys for the rest of the afternoon…we’re excited to get back to our roots!