Mandy and Jon's Journey 2005 travel blog

A little tricky to grasp the beauty of these hills, especially from...

Inside the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.

Giant snail on the right, there, and we don´t know what that...

A picture of a couple of goofy folks we met on our...

I don´t know, Mandy, how do most insects see?

It is difficult to get to the lush mountains of Monteverde from La Fortuna, not because of the distance, which in essence is quite short, but because Lake Arenal separates the two towns, and the roads on either side are quite treacherous. Reluctantly we fork over a bit more cash than we would normally pay for travel expenses, and take the jeep-boat-jeep tour, along with six or seven other travelers. The rain had been relentless over the past few days, and this day was no different. We were awakened in the night by just the most thunderous pounding of rain on the tin roof of our hostel, and thought we might float away. Unfortunately the rain prevented us from seeing much of the landscape on our jeep-boat-jeep adventure, and it was too bad because our surroundings we assumed, were quite beautiful. For the first time in our travels we felt a bit too ¨cush.¨ This very organized tour company had only the best of vans and boats, our luggage stayed dry and out of the rain, and we had not a worry about where to find a trustworthy taxi driver, or wait for overdue buses that may never come. It was strange. But, as we said, there really wasn´t another way to get to Monteverde, so we just sat back and enjoyed our $15 ride.

Monteverde translates to ¨green mountain,¨and it consists of unbelievably lush rolling hills, and of course the gorgeous cloud forests. It was colder here in the mountains, and there was an incessant mist that blew (quite forcefully) into the town from the rainforests. A bit less developed than Fortuna, but touristy all the same, the town of Santa Elena/Monteverde had not much to offer, but served mainly as the base for all the adventures to be had in the rainforest. We stayed at a cozy little hostal called Pension Tucan, where we stayed three nights, and which offered us a nice kitchen to cook in, a HOT shower (if you can believe it) and information on all the tours and activities to do in the rainforests. Monteverde and Santa Elena cloud forests are famous for their Canopy Tours, which were number one on our list of things to do. There were several tour companies to choose from, but we opted for the one that would allow us easy access to hike later that day in Santa Elena.

The Canopy, or ¨zip line¨tour was fantastic. The tour company has quite the operation, and we were processed quickly along with all the other hordes of tourists, ready with our rain gear, harness, gloves and helmets. We zipped right through those forests in about two hours, feeling the magical rush one gets while traveling at 20 MPH over the gorgeous canopy of the rainforest! Quite a rush, and we were all smiles throughout the morning as we realized exactly what we were doing.

The zip ended too quickly for our liking, but we were also anxious to do some hiking, and Mandy quite anxious to see the sloth she has been waiting patiently to see throughout the entire trip. To no avail, however. We hiked a wet and muddy 4 miles through the forest of Santa Elena. The rain apparently was keeping most other hikers home in bed, for we saw not a soul on the trails with us- very peaceful. Rainforests are just such magical places, and to have the opportunity to walk in such unspoiled lands, so rich with life is truly a gift. Apparently all the sloths and monkeys were home in bed as well, for we saw no wildlife save for another friendly little pizote (those cute little racoon-like creatures). We shouldn´t belittle the pizote, however. It was a treat to see him too.

Back at the ranger station we did see quite an enormous snail, which we added to our list of wildlife spottings as well.

Having zip lined and hiked through the rainforest, we both felt quite accomplished and unbelievably fortunate, and felt ready to leave the wet lands and beautiful green hills of Monteverde.

The sun shone brightly for the first time in days, the morning of our departure. The bus ride out (towards San Jose)allowed us gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys and small little villages.

The bustling, dirty and diesel fuel smelling city of San Jose was quite a shock to the system. We both instantly realized how different we felt, back in San Jose, it having been the first stop on our journey. Only five weeks in, and we felt quite comfortable with our travel skills. No need for a cab, as we knew our way around this place, so we shuffled our now quite dirty packs onto our backs and walked with ease through the streets of San Jose and found ourselves a hostal.

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