Episode Forty, huh? Well, well, well. Celebrations would be in order, only I don’t really have anything to celebrate with.
How about you all celebrate by leaving me a warm and friendly message to tell me you stopped by? That would really make my day.
Remember when I said that I was writing from the clouds of Monteverde and you should stay tuned for news on our adventures there? Well, that’s what I have in store for you today. Just when the heat of La Fortuna was getting to be oppressive and a little too much to bear, we high-tailed it out of there and hopped on a minibus to the cloud forest. Ahhhhhhh, refreshingísimo.
Cabinas Vista Al Golfo was by quite a long way our favourite hostel yet. Our room was a comfortable size, had plenty of storage, and didn’t even need air conditioning because of the wonderfully cool and floaty climate. Despite the assiness of the bathroom smell and the ‘shower’ – really just a pipe which couped water unceremoniously and sometimes painfully from the ceiling – even now Grant and I are agreed that it was the best hostel we stayed in; and it was also the cheapest! Win win.
We had incredible views of the mountains through the three walls of continuous windows, and we watched intense violet thunderstorms and cool, breezy clouds floating through the green heights. I remarked that it was as though we were looking at the edge of the world when the white fog came so close. At times we could only see a few feet out of the window before everything seemed to drop into oblivion; at others, tendrils wafted in through the sliding windows and we basked in the ghostly reach of the clouds.
The communal areas of our hostel were all very friendly and relaxed. There were hammocks and beanbags scattered around the place, and plenty of tables and chairs made it easy to hang out there, rather than in our room as we’d tended to do in other places. The other travelers, too, just seemed more like ‘our type’ of people. We met a lovely Canadian girl called Elora (sp?), and exchanged contact details with Derek, who had just quit his job as a construction supervisor so he could travel for a while, and who was bowled over by my revelation that in the U.K. we traditionally carve turnips for Hallowe’en, instead of pumpkins.
Grant being Grant, his favourite feature of the hostel was the kitchen. It was perpetually clean, well stocked and offered breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs and coffee every morning, all for free. They had new Teflon pans, too – the maid told us that she’d bought them the day before we arrived – although I now understand why, elsewhere, nobody had bothered to replace the pans. By the time we left, these ones were already showing silvery scratch marks on the non-stick surface, and they were less than a week old.
We were only in Monteverde for three nights, so we talked to a few of our roomies to try and suss out what was the best way to spend our time and money. We ended up on an early-morning canopy tour with the company 100% Aventura, which included 12 zip-lines, a ‘superman’ where you are strapped by your back to the line and fly flat on your belly over the trees; and a Tarzan swing, which was basically a slightly elasticated cord which you grab while you jump off a bridge. Both the superman and the Tarzan swing were pretty frightening; I didn’t chicken out as I’d worried I might, but I was grateful for the extra little push from the guide all the same. I freefell for I guess about 15 feet (it’s kind of hard to judge when you’re moving so fast and your lungs are too paralysed to scream), and then swung gracefully, or at least I like to think so, over the trees until I reached the ground. From there, I had an excellent vantage point to watch as Grant took his turn, and while no yelling or curse words reached my ears, it was fun to watch his grasshopper legs flailing around in panic.
Unfortunately, we didn’t really have time to do much else in Monteverde, and I was still a little concerned about my money situation, so we didn’t do the night trek or the sugar cane and coffee tour. We had a good time just hanging out at the hostel, chatting to our new acquaintances, cooking pasta and not sweating. Once more, we had booked a private shuttle onwards because the three-leg public bus journey, although a third of the price at $15 each, seemed like such a hassle. If only we’d known…
The man at reception said that the public bus option involved walking to the main town of Santa Elena and catching a bus which would take us to the Pan American Highway. There we would hop off, collect our bags and wait at the side of the motorway for the bus coming past from San José to Liberia. Once there, we would have a couple of hours’ wait before catching our last bus to Tamarindo, arriving 7 hours after our 6am start. With the shuttle, they would pick us up right at the door of our hostel at 8 am and drop us off at our next place, La Oveja Negra, 3½ hours later. Despite everything that happened on that particular journey, I’m still not sure the public route would have been a better option. Who knows if we would have managed to flag down that bus on the highway?
The journey did not, in fact, take 3½ hours. We were about 2½ hours in when we took a break in Liberia, where we would have been waiting for our next bus, if not already on it, had we gone for the public bus (providing we had managed the tricky roadside transfer). Two 30-minute detours later to some other people’s hotels, we finally made it to Tamarindo, six hours after our start and a couple of hours later than we would have been if we’d taken the public bus.
The next day, we would realise that Grant had left behind his camera on the front seat of the minibus, and the saga would begin to retrieve it; that’s for another day, though, so I will bid you all goodnight and hope that damn barking dog doesn’t keep me awake all night.
Wish me luck!