Trying to Dry Out in a Cloud Forest

The past few days have been eventful. Yesterday, we attempted to walk to a waterfall outside of La Fortuna, only be completely soaked by several downpours while we walked the 7 KM, uphill (occasionally against a 10% grade), only to discover that the waterfall was really only so-so. And we paid $14 to just get into the waterfall, only to take a couple of pictures and leave. It wasn’t worth the walk down to the pool to swim and then the steep walk back up. I think New Zealand last year really spoiled us concerning waterfalls. Anyway, despite the challenges of the walk, the scenery was beautiful and almost made the whole thing worth it. Almost.

Kath and truk at Lake Arenal

In the afternoon, after changing out of our wet clothes, we took the jeep-boat-jeep, well, actually, van-boat-van connection to go from La Fortuna to Santa Elena, just beside Monteverde. The trip was uneventful but very beautiful, including a spectacular sunset as we neared Santa Elena, the first one we had seen since leaving Memphis. Yes, it has been that cloudy. And wet.

Sunset when nearing Monteverde

Today started with a cup of extremely good coffee at the Treetop Cafe, which is a restaurant on the main street in Santa Elena built around a massive tropical tree, which covers the entire structure. It really feels like you are a kid in a tree house. I’ve been in several places like this, especially in Australia, but I’ve never seen it done this well before.

Next, we headed off to a Don Juan Coffee Plantation tour. Kath and I usually hit wineries when we are traveling, but there really isn’t anything like that here. What is here, however, and all over the place, are coffee plants. Our guide, Marcos, stepped us through the entire process, from how they germinate the plants, nurse them, fertilize them, and pick them. Then, we saw the coffee beans removed and left to dry, natural-style, in the sun, and then moved all of the way to the roasting process. We had no idea how involved the entire process is, nor did we understand that is traditionally done on a such a small scale, including only 1 or 2 hectares of coffee plants for one coffee company. It left us with the impression that much of the best coffee never leaves the area, much less the country.

Riding the oxen cart on the coffee tour

This afternoon, we went walking in what is called a “hanging bridges” tour, which takes place in a cloud forest outside of town. While suspension bridges are involved, this is really just a hike, albeit a very pretty one, through an area that stays permanently wet, at least for 200 days a year. It rained the entire time we were on the hike, so most of the animals we would normally have been able to see showed more sense than we did and stayed hidden away and at least partially dry. The walk was enjoyable, but after a while, the lack of sunshine just starts playing tricks on your mind. Our camera really had trouble with the lighting. I think it may have been one of the most difficult places to take a clear photo that I’ve ever seen. The foggy conditions played havok on the autofocus.

Tomorrow, we are going to take a taxi to a different cloud forest and walk our way back to Santa Elena, visiting various places along the way. While it should be a good time, we are both looking forward to heading to Montezuma and the sunny coast and away from the rain.

View more of our photos of Monteverde

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