Monday, January 6, 2014

Our Honeymoon - Day 19 - Jeep Boat Jeep to Monteverde

Today we were transported via "Jeep-Boat-Jeep" from La Fortuna up into the mountains of Monteverde to Santa Elena where we would stay for the next couple nights while exploring the cloud forests there.  It was an interesting transport across Lake Arenal and bumpy steep ride up into the mountains but the views along the way were fantastic and we even got to see a parrot and pet duck along the way.  The Rainbow Valley Lodge where we stayed was amazing and we made a coati friend before our very interesting night tour of a nearby preserve.  Click the title to read on....

Today was our Jeep Boat Jeep transfer to the amazing Rainbow Valley Lodge just outside of Santa Elana near Monteverde.  The shuttle bus was a little bit late picking us which had us worried by Jessie and Jennifer (grew up in Oregon) at the front desk called around to made sure we were indeed on the list as Rolf (owner of the Rainbow Lodge) said we were.  The bus dropped us off at a boat launch and we headed across Arenal Lake on a pleasant 40 minute cruise.  On the other side were more buses with beefier tires and we were loaded into the appropriate one for our destination.  

The next 2 hours were spent chugging up an extremely steep gravel road past cow pastures with beautiful views down to the valley.  It was really incredible how much elevation we gained in  such a short time.  On top of the ridge were very slow turning wind mills, part of a wind farm that stretched for several miles.  Once we crested what seemed like the highest point on our ascent we pulled over so people could grab snacks and use the restrooms at a small restaurant (soda) on the side of the road.  There was a cute little duck there that was clearly tame and used to people as well as a parakeet above our heads on a rope, both birds anxious for any handouts.  

From there it was even more dirt road until we got close to Santa Elena where we finally hit pavement and were dropped off at the Rainbow Lodge.  Christian greeted us directly off the bus and showed us indoors to talk about all our options for tours over the next couple days.  We scheduled a night tour for later that evening and a tour of the Monteverde forest the following day in the morning.  Christian was one of the nicest people we have met on the trip and was super excited to introduce us to his wife Anna and newborn Nico who was adorable.  Also, his little dog which joined us for a quick ride into town where he showed us around before bringing us down to our lodge.  

If I had known how amazing this place was I would have spent 3 nights here instead of three nights in La Fortuna.  We had an entire lodge to ourselves with a front porch and great view into the jungle above Rainbow Valley.  The lodge had a full queen bedroom with bath and shower, a separate bath and shower off the kitchen and even a separate sink in the bedroom.  It also had a pull down queen bed in the main room and a double in the front room.  For $60 a night we could come back with 4 more of our friends and stay for a week on the cheap.  Nuff' said, we loved it.   

We had a few hours to kill before the night tour at 5:30pm and I decided to not walk to the Monteverde Butterfly farm and instead just relax on the porch and catch up on this travel journal.  As I was sitting there I heard a scuffle and out from around the corner popped a Coati, just like the ones we saw in Arenal.  He was super cute and very excited about the smell of the lemon cookies I was eating.  I called Emily out to check him out and we both got some photos and film of him trying his best to climb up on the bench I was on, and then even up my leg to get the cookies which I sadly denied him as it is always best for the animals in the long run to not feed them, no matter how friggin' cute they are.  After a bit he gave up on us and shuffled off so we headed into the supermarcado to buy some pasta and sauce for dinner the next two nights, as we had a fully stocked kitchen to use as well.

On the short walk back to the lodge we were followed by a local dog who then raced down the steep hillside towards our room barking, probably after the poor coati.  The dog then spent the next hour yipping and barking in the woods at the poor critter which really pissed me off.  I could hear dogs in the distance also doing the same and later on Christian said it upset him too but there was nothing to be done because Ticos love to own many dogs and don't ever keep them on leash.  Finally, the dog came up the path and I smashed a large stick in half in it's direction to frighten it off, which thankfully worked as it didn't return.  

I don't remember the name of our night tour guide at the wildlife refuge we went to outside of Santa Elena at Christian's suggestion but he was very nice.  Right from the start a couple in our group had to bail and be walked back because the wife got sick which slowed us down while the other groups went ahead.  We still didn't see a sloth up close as I had hoped but we did see a massive leaf-cutter ant hill, a tarantula, more snakes, a skunk, a fox, and a lot more spiders and bugs.  All through the walk we could hear very loud crickets in the woods and after some poking around I found one of the culprits making all the noise.  Oddly, our guide had not known were the noise came from but Christian did and called them "violin" bugs when we later told him about them.  

After the tour we returned to lodge to cook up the pasta and relax with a nice bottle of red wine that Christian had given us as a honeymoon gift.  When Emily went into the bedroom to change she called out to me to tell me there was a scorpion in the room... no way I thought... but sure enough, it was a Costa Rican brown scorpion.  I looked it up with the free wifi and found that it had very little poison and was more like a bee sting that would go away after 20 minutes, all which made Emily feel good after I put it in a cup and chucked it out the door.  What I didn't tell her, and what I fell asleep thinking about, was that they always come in PAIRS and like warm dark places like covers or clothes left on the ground....

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