A full week without posting– I’ve got a lot of updating to do!
Jason and I had such an amazing time in Monteverde. I’d even go so far to say that it was possibly my most favorite place we’ve stayed throughout our trip thus far. We hiked every single morning and must have logged 30+ kilometers of both hiking and walking to & from most of the reserves. The second-to-last day we spent in Monteverde we went to its namesake reserve. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was just as beautiful as its surrounding hiking parks, yet was a bit more crowded. We didn’t see much wildlife but definitely got a good workout in, saw some gorgeous views, and also walked across a suspension bridge that must have stretched about 200 meters.
Our last day in the green mountains of this cute town we took a much anticipated coffee tour. Jason had found this tour online through the Santa Elena Coffee Co-op. We were picked up at our B&B around 9AM and joined another couple for the 15 minute ride to the Life Monteverde sustainable farm where our Cafe Monteverde tour commenced. We first had a tour of the farm, which grows the coffee– as well as small amounts of sugar cane, yucca root, sweet potato, celery, bananas, and herbs– among many other produce crops that grow in between the coffee plants. The land where the farm is located is so beautiful with rolling hills and a wandering brown calf that’s so darn cute.
After viewing the gardens and coffee plants, learning about the ideal growing environment and the history of the well known Arabica bean, we toured through the area where the animals are held– goats, pigs, cows, chickens, and horses. We arrived just in time for time to feed the goats who were being fed by the pasture’s grass cut by a really cool bicycle-ran machete contraption. Being a sustainable farm, most everything, including waste, gets used in some way or another. Pig waste releases a large amount of methane gas, so a student who was interning a while back created a pocket that captured the methane and that gas is what is used to heat the small stove that sterilize the bottles used for nursing goats– awesome.
We were able to spend some time with Guillermo, one of the owners [out of his 12 brothers, 8 of them own the farm with him] who is an extremely passionate and intelligent man. He has a true love for sustainable, honest farming and his young daughters whom he mentioned quite a few times. One of the best parts of visiting the few farms or growing lands that we’ve seen in CR is speaking with the owners of the land because they are so knowledgeable and excited to share that with anyone interested to hear. There is a true respect for the land here, which is so wonderful to experience. Guillermo also made us super delicious pancakes with a guava jam that he made in the time we were walking around the farm with our guide, Joyce, to go along with some fresh coffee.
Afterwards, we hopped into the van again and drove down the hill to the cafe where Cafe Monteverde [the name of the co-op’s coffee] is roasted. We met with Mauricio [I think that’s his name!] who is another passionate person– except he’s all about the roasting of coffee. He regularly roasts the beans that come in from the Life farm and from other farms that are involved in the co-op. He took us through the art of sorting, roasting, brewing, and tasting coffee. He taught us much about the tasting, especially– something I’ve never really known too much about. It was overall a really fun experience and we ended up leaving with a heavy caffeine buzz, a head full of new coffee knowledge, and a bag of the best beans we tasted.
By the time Friday morning came around, we had packed our bags and were on a bus to Liberia to meet Jason’s mom that evening. After spending the morning on the bus and grabbing lunch in Liberia, we checked into the hotel near the Liberia airport where we’d spend the night, by about 2PM and spent the afternoon relaxing– watching a little TV and working out at the hotel gym. Jason’s mom, Cyndie, flew in around 8:30PM so we took the shuttle over to pick her up, followed by a dinner at the hotel, and bedtime a short time after that.
We woke yesterday morning and packed our things to head out for our next destination. Our rental car was dropped off by 8AM and we were on the road by 9, stopping at a cafe for breakfast where we had an amazing meal of a veggie omelet and egg sandwiches. We headed to the Borniquen Resort near the national park, Rincon de la Vieja, making our way through a heavy rain that [not surprisingly] flooded the bumpy, steep dirt road. The resort is host to thermal hot springs that are heated by a nearby volcano, and also has a sauna heated by the same source– basically a wooden structure built over a natural bubbling hot bath that creates enough steam to fill this small building. We only stayed one night at this resort, so Jason and I took advantage by waking early this morning to steam, soak, and bathe in mud– another fun [although messy!] amenity in the hot springs area.
The three of us took off again after breakfast at the resort, where we had fun with our sweet waiter, and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Lake Arenal, a humungous lake known for its wind surfing, boating, and the Arenal Volcano it sits below. We stopped in the small town of Nuevo Arenal to grab groceries for the next few days and lunch at a restaurant called La Tinaja, which has amazing views of the lake and food so delicious that would probably make our list of top ten lunch spots in CR. We eventually made it to the house where we’re staying for the next 3 nights that has incredible views of the gorgeous landscape. We can see both Lake and Volcano Arenal, and the property has a beautiful garden surrounding the house. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to see a [hopefully] clear view of the area!
We have some exciting things planned for tomorrow, so check back in the next day or two for an update of our [drum roll, please] zip lining — the one activity Jason & I have been sooo excited to try! Hopefully we’ll come back with some fun pictures. Wish us luck!