We got to the outskirts of Monteverde (actually Santa Elena) about six pm and had dinner at another nice soda. The woman working there knew about Centro Panamericano de Idiomas as CPI. She said it was just about a kilometer more up the road to Santa Elena, through town and about a kilometer on the other side. That sounded great so off we went.
About 45 minutes later, we stopped at hotel to ask. The boy, no older than 16, at the desk also knew of the school and this time he had a map -- laminated to the desk (I really want to buy a copy from him). The map clearly showed we were on the wrong road but that CPI was pretty close.
About 15 minutes later, we stopped at another restaurant to ask. Again, the waiter knew of the school. I misinterpreted his answer: I thought he said 500 kilometers down the road. He must have seen my expression of bewilderment because as I was leaving, he added "just 3 or 4 minutes" -- 500 meters, not kilometers.
We arrived about 7:30. We were expected and "Chico" helped carry the luggage to the apartment Jonle said she'd have waiting for us. It was really spectacular. I took some photos in case they need any for marketing. We had two bedrooms, but only used one, a kitchen and a dining room.
|Carlos, Jonle, Diego, Nicolas and Julian returned from a weekend at Flamingo the next day and Robert and Julian hit off. Robert (and his parents) really liked the enclosed courtyard where he and Julian could run around. He was less sure about the dog, Bautist, but he got used to him and even started to pretend he was Bautist after a day or two.|
|At this point, we were more flexible in our schedule. Jonle and Carlos offered us the apartment for as long as we needed it (and we can help you get in contact if you'd like to stay there) and Romy also had an apartment in Heredia we were invited to. We decided (after the driving experience) that we'd string out our stay in Monteverde as long as possible. We spent the 22nd walking around the school with me marveling at how much it had grown and Sarah marveling at how beautiful it was. We also explored Santa Elena.|
|The next day, the nice folks at CPI's activities office helped set us up with a trip to Selvatura for the hanging bridges through the cloud forest and an afternoon horseback trip. We all enjoyed walking through the clouds, looking at the otherworldly trees and the interesting view of looking down on the tops of trees.|
|We saw lots of green, some little birds (like the one at left, barely visible), and some big birds (like the one below).|
And we generally had fun pretending to be jungle explorers.|
OK, jungle explorers don't have the luxury of hanging bridges and well maintained trails, but you get the idea.
Robert had a bit of a nap in the car as we drove from Selvatura (I don't recommend the restaurant) to meet our horseback tour.
I don't know who enjoyed it more, Sarah, who spent a lot of time on horseback growing up, or Robert who loves the carousel on the mall and had fun on a pony ride at a fall festival. Robert rode with Elesa on Pinto. She took very good care of him and he was either smiling or looking like his mind was blown every time we glanced at him.
|I had a great time too. The riding was fun and the surroundings were spectacular. The rainbow stayed with us for a long time (not surprising being next to a cloud forest) and the sun was starting to set over the Gulf of Nicoya.|
|The water is the Gulf of Nicoya, behind the hills on the far side of the Gulf is Montezuma. Very close as the crow flies, very long as the Costa Rica road winds.|
|Since the frogs are more active in the evening and since we were driving by on our way back from the horse ride, we stopped at the Frog garden. It was interesting, but a little dark and Robert was a bit tired so we headed back to our "cloud forest apartment" and...|
|...Robert's first bath in days. We took showers in Montezuma, but the CPI apartment was the first bathtub we saw in Costa Rica. It was not as much fun as the pool or the ocean, but Robert enjoyed it.|
|The next day, we headed off to the Monteverde butterfly garden. Note the "railroad track" Robert was able to follow in the courtyard outside the apartment (you should really look at the photos on the CPI page).|
|I thought this butterfly garden was nicer than the one in Arenal -- though I liked that one as well. Maybe it was the time of day, but we seemed to be able to get a little closer to these guys and they were not quite so busy flying around. Robert enjoyed his role of guide, holding on to the chart of butterfly names.|
|Even the woods between the different butterfly environments was pretty.|
|We had two lovely dinners with Carlos, Jonle and their family and we really didn't want to leave. But the next day, Robert played with Julian while we packed up the car for our last trek of the trip, this time Monteverde to Heredia.|
|On the way out of town, I tried to capture the road conditions without much luck. Generally speaking, the roads around Montezuma (our first stop) and Monteverde are considered the worst in Costa Rica. They certainly make all the uproar over DC streets seem silly.|
|Once we got to the paved road, the trip to Heredia sped up. (There are a couple more photos from Monteverde.|