We last left off in the scenic volcano town of Arenal, and after a lovely two days and two nights exploring hanging bridges, spotting wild frogs, and hanging in a waterfall hot tub, we headed to Monteverde. I knew I wanted to see Monteverde because it’s a cloud forest, and these rare ecosystems are only 1% of planet earth. The drive to Monteverde started with a beautiful drive around Lake Arenal. For about 20 miles, we kept seeing funny, hand-painted signs with sayings like “Face it, you’re stopping at Toad Hall” or “World’s best pit stop – Toad Hall”. We decided after seeing the Michigan J. Frog painted on a sign that we would stop to check out this clever little place. We pulled up to Toad Hall and were greeted by the very friendly owner, who invited us to take a look at all of the hotel rooms.
This hotel was nestled on the edge of the mountain, overlooking an incredibly lush jungle. My father in law was admiring the view when he noticed a toucan perched in the tree. I ran up towards him and started snapping photos, feeling so lucky to catch this beauty of a bird mid-flight.
We got back on the road feeling excited about the awesome toucan sighting we’d had, just in time for that adrenaline to get us through the very bumpy car ride up to Monteverde. Quakers created Monteverde and they opted not to pave the roads to maintain the simpicity and purity of the environment. The roads are still unpaved today, and up steep, winding roads etched into mountains. As you get closer to Monteverde, the air becomes dense and wet as you essentially enter the clouds. On our way up we stopped to view a magnificient rainbow that was so close to us, we could touch it. (I looked for a pot of gold, but saw nothing!) We arrived at our hotel and immediately enjoyed the constant chatter of jungle birds and gasped at the cold, wet mist that was constantly on our faces.
We walked around downtown Monteverde, where we had a drink in the treehouse bar, followed by an awesome dinner at Morphos. Then, it was back into our cozy beds, listening to the clouds hug the building, leaving behind only misty, wet kisses against the glass.
The next day, we checked out the El Traipiche Coffee, Sugar Cane, and Cocoa tour. We learned about the life cycle of the coffee plant, from sprout to roasted bean, as well as how to make sugar cane candy and cocoa. The highlight of the tour for me was grinding fermented cocoa beans to see how it is transformed from cocoa into actual chocolate (the trick? sugar and milk.) Real cocoa has such a rich, luxurious taste.
Raw Cocoa before adding sugar
When our bellies were full of coffee and cocoa, we got back on the road to head towards our next destination — Manuel Antonio, the coast of Costa Rica. Departing Monteverde was full of breath-taking views like the one below… and breathtaking adventures, like having a tractor re-build you a small piece of road so you can pass. Imagine looking down at the side of the moving car to a ten foot trench right below you. Whew! Adventure all abounds in Costa Rica! Stay tuned for part 3 🙂