A Travellerspoint blog

Monteverde & Santa Elena

visiting the forests in the clouds

sunny 76 °F

OK, so it's been over a week since we've done a post (even that was just a beard post), so we're going for some serious updates here. Apologies for the delay. Enjoy!

After a day and a half in Arenal/La Fortuna, we were ready to move on to the next stop on the so-called "Gringo Trail" in Costa Rica: Monteverde and its world-famous cloud forests. One very cool perk of visiting Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde in succession is the popular "Jeep-Boat-Jeep" form of transportation between the two. A "Jeep" (read: tourism van) picked us up at our hostel and took us to the beatiful Laguna Arenal. It was cloudy and foggy, so you could say that added to the "mystique."

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We even saw a rainbow at the end of our journey!

After crossing the laguna on an hour-long boat ride, we hopped into another "Jeep"and were on our way to Santa Elena, a cozy town just outside of the Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves (two different ones, but in the same area). We were fortunate enough to spend the night at Pension Santa Elena. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Monteverde and Santa Elena, go there! With Pension as our home base, we were ready to tackle the jungle - at night! We took a hike up the winding access road to the entrance to the Monteverde Reserve and along the way we stopped into a Sloth Reserve and a Hummingbird Center. Finally, my (it's Kyle, by the way) life-long dream of holding a sloth...almost came true. We got to see but couldn't quite touch. But judging by some of the photos we captured, me thinks the sloths didn't need much holding or touching anyway.

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

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On our way up to the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

After buying a ticket for the jungle night walk, we retreated to the Pension for some much-needed food and relaxation (and headlamps). By the time the sun had fallen behind the mountains, we were back up at the forest and, to our surprise, were the only ones there for the tour! It was our own, private tour with our wonderful and colorful guide, Juan Carlos. Now, obviously no pictures will do much of the tour justice since the only natural light was moonlight. We saw a tarantula, a TON of bats, some colorful frogs, and plenty of walking stick bugs and exotic crickets. Sorry guys, no jaguars. Still, the visuals were only half of the fun. Several times we stopped to shut our lights off and simply take in the sounds of the forest. If I was even a good writer I wouldn't be able to do it justice, so you'll either have to find our for yourself someday or use every bit of your imagination (or an expensive ambient sound effects collection).

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Moonlight through the canopy

Finally, after a night in the jungle, we figured it was only appropriate to see it during the day. We headed up to Monteverde's little sister, Santa Elena Cloud Forest, for a quick jaunt with one of the most interesting men we've ever met (I'll let Hill take that one in another post). Here are some pics.

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Dwarfed by the jungle.

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Trees grow in the jungle; the moss and vines grow in/on the trees.

Until next time!

COMING SOON...Alajuela and the Butterfly Farm, Cahuita, Bocas del Toro

Posted by HillKyle 14:57 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged monteverde sloths Comments (0)

The Beard, Parte Cuatro

sunny 71 °F
View Hillary and Kyle's Latin American Adventure on kylefitz's travel map.

I decided to take some side angles as well just to get the full view. Really coming along nicely now. We're heading over to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, so stay tuned for some more posts shortly!

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- kyle

Posted by kylefitz 21:31 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beard Comments (0)

La Fortuna and Arenal

rain 67 °F

Just a heads up...I am in an internet cafe in La Fortuna, CR and the apostrophe button isn{t working!

We made it to La Fortuna two days ago after catching a ride into Puriscal, taking a bus to San Jose, and taking a four and a half hour bus ride to our destination. Traveling to the next stop is half the fun of this trip. I definitely feel accomplished knowing that we figured out how to get from A to B to C ourselves.

We{ve only been traveling for two and a half weeks and it continues to amaze me how many people we{ve must so far. Whether it{s at our hostel, a guided tour, or on a bus, we{ve already met and connected with at least a dozen travelers from all over the world - Germany, Canada, Finland, Italy, England, etc. It is way cool.

La Fortuna is a sleepy town in the shadow of the volcano, Arenal. It is an extremely touristy place with not much to do but, well, go on a tour...but that{s a little bit hard if you{re a traveler on a budget that has to last you four months. Luckily, we trusted in Lonely Planet{s recommendation of a great budget hostel here, called Gringo Pete{s ($6 a night for a private room with a shower!), and through the hostel we were able to get a cheap guided tour to the free hot springs and up close views of the volcano. Unfortunately, the volcano hasn{t errupted in four months so we didn{t get to see any lava, but nonetheless, it was really amazing to see this gargantuan volcano. This afternoon, we are headed to Monteverde to see the famous cloud forest of Costa Rica. We will be crossing over a body of water to get there and I{m psyched to get on a boat.

One thing that really upsets me about Costa Rica (and I can{t help but to assume it is like this all over Central America) is all of the stray dogs running about. I{ve seen them EVERYWHERE here and it really breaks my heart to see dogs without a home and starving on the street. This is obviously very different from how dogs are treated in the States. Dogs do not get neutered and spade here so I can only assume that they breed like crazy and their puppies aren{t sold to proper owners. While living on the farm, I learned that there is a culture of poisoning dogs in Costa Rica...strays are looked at more as pests and if they are caught in the yard of someone who doesn{t want them there, they do not think twice about poisoning them. How horrible! But, every culture, viewpoint, and place in the world is different, so what can you do?

That{s all for now...til next time!

Hillary

Posted by HillKyle 07:31 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (3)

Barking Horse Farm

gettin down and dirty in rural Puriscal

overcast 73 °F

Following our taxi/bus adventure leaving Manuel Antonio and Quepos, we arrived at our next (and quite possibly longest) chapter of our trip: two weeks of working on a farm in the rural Costa Rican region of Puriscal. From the main town of Puriscal, we caught a bumpy cab ride for San Rafael Abajo (about 15 to 20 minutes away). Incrementally, the road conditions went from a paved grid to some winding but smooth pavement, which gave way to a skinnier and bumpier series of S-turns turning into a one-and-a-half lane dirt road which finally led to a one-laned half-rock, half-dirt bump fest. Until finally...we´ve arrived!

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The main farm is a beautiful piece of property filled with horses (and a ring), chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, goats and plenty of insects to fill the rest of the space.

Our basic job description was to take care of two billy goats (Mr. Darcy and Fenway), two dogs (Nellie and Osa), and a cat (Solomon) while living in a small house tucked into the jungle, about a 15-20 minute walk over a river and through the woods (literally). It seemed like we arrived just at the right time, because within a day, the never-ending rain stopped and the sun came out to dry the mud and brighten everyone´s spirits! Here are some pics of our time:

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Door to our bedroom - ¡Pura vida!

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Hillary with our lovely cat, Solomon, in the hammock

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Fenway, one of our two billy goats (Mr. Darcy can be seen laying in the back, facing away)

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Nellie hangin in the hammock!

Some of the highlights and funny parts of our stay included:

Visitng a sugar cane plantation nearby to sample some of their dulce, sugar cane juice, and watch them make a little candy.
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- Kyle riding a horse for the first time!
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- Hiking the beautiful countryside to a nearby town of Guayabo to grab a local meal.
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- Hangin out in the hammocks surrounded by horses, geese, ducks, chickens, six dogs, cats, and a couple of pigs
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- Visiting the annual (and famous) Fiesta de Chicharrones. A chicharon is basically a grilled or stewed chunk of pork, typically served on a skewer or with toothpicks and with a side of local veggies - yucca, banano, or other starchy veggie.
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- Finally, Mr. Darcy going number-one on his face and rubbing up against our legs affectionately, as only a billy goat can.

After two weeks of gettin gritty, we were headed north to hit up the more touristy spots of La Fortuna/Arenal and Monteverde. Very exciting to be back on the road again!!! Also, if you want to check out a bit more about the farm, you can find them at barkinghorsefarm.com.

Until next time!

Posted by HillKyle 10:28 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged farm puriscal barking_horse_farm Comments (0)

The Beard, Parte Tres

...some quality scruff

semi-overcast 70 °F
View Hillary and Kyle's Latin American Adventure on kylefitz's travel map.

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This was taken on the farm, and as you can see it's already developing pretty well. I'd give it another week or two before I can actually call this a real-deal beard.

Post about the farm to come soon. Tomorrow we're on our way to the town of La Fortuna to see Volcano Arenal. Stay tuned!

- K

Posted by kylefitz 09:06 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beard Comments (4)

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