Pollard Family Sabbatical Costa Rica 2008 travel blog

Another day on the rode – we are heading to Monteverde. Just a short distance across Lake Arenal as the crow flies but we must unfortunately backtrack two thirds of the distance around the lake. We stopped to get some coffee about half way and were impressed that they had to go cups. But what were we thinking? Even on the paved roads to Tiliran, there is no way you can drink hot coffee on these curvy roads. Jack told us “I need some coffee so I can be a better Dad to one and two” (one and two are his precious stuffed animal bunny rabbits)

Just past Tiliran, the roads become unpaved again. You often hear people talking about the Roads in Costa Rica. I didn’t really understand until we hit the roads to Monteverde. Bumpty, bumpty, bump up the dirt, rutted mountainous roads we went. Just past Tiliran we didn’t know which way to go – there were no signs. After a minute of confusion, an hombre showed up and showed us a map, with highlighted names of “towns” to get to Monteverde. We offered him 1,000 colones and he told us it was 2,000 colones (about 4 dollars). A very enterprising man! After the one wrong turn (we believe they took down the sign) it was easy navigating there. The total drive time from Arenal to Monteverde was 3 hours and 15 minutes with the coffee stop and the gas stop. (note to John/J.C. and the AbuHaidars who are planning to visit us in April).

We checked into the Monteverde Lodge where the kids were excited to learn that we would all be sleeping in the same room together and that there would be a “girls” bed (la cama) and a “boys” bed. Emi was really excited to get to sleep with me as that is a novelty in our house.

We left G & G in the jarden for some peace and quite while we went to the Ranario www.ranario.com (the frog pod). Monteverde has lots of special animal/insect places – you can choose from frogs, butterflies, hummingbirds, snakes, insects, etc. We learned that frogs are best viewed after 6pm so we had a butterfly tour. We went from one building to another where we saw all the stages of the butterfly – egg, papus, caterpillar, and butterfly. Sort of like the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in real life. It wasn’t high adventure but I did learn that monkeys will find citronella plants in the forest and rub against them to keep away the mosquitoes.

Brodie and I enjoyed a tiny bit of peace in the garden while Emi and Jack ran all around the paths before the four of us headed out to dinner at Johnnies which was very lovely. Emi was excited to have pizza which we hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Monday March 10

I know my writing style isn’t very interesting to read – I am writing quickly trying to play catch up. Some brief snippets from today.

~ We call Jack our “little accident waiting to happen”. No matter what we do or where we go, he takes the road less traveled. I learned today from my mom that she saw Jack putting his hand down a hole in the hanging bridges walk in Arenal. Jack is just curious – he didn’t know that tarantulas live in the wholes. Instead of walking on the path, he walks in the plants and bushes. He doesn’t walk on the sidewalk in town but in the rain butter. At the house in Potrero, he loves walking past the plants on the infinity pool where he could fall down 15 feet. (Lucky for us Grandpa Allen brought suture material for stitches – but the will go home on Friday).

~ The people in Costa Rica are so incredibly friendly. At restaurants, a 10% tip is included with your bill – there is not a spot to leave an additional tip. However, the waiters go out of their way to be kind and helpful. Everyone is so willing to let us practice the little Spanish we know. The people really make the country special.

~ Very few Costa Rican’s own cars. A few have motorcycles – most of those have many scars on their bodies from crashes. I learned today that in Monteverde the roads destroy a car’s suspension and the tires in 4 months – making owning a car there super caro (expensive).

We wanted to try to zip lines through the canopy (the tops of the trees). We signed up for their bridge/canopy package in the morning and then a guided tour of the Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (The Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve) www.cct.or.cr The van picked us up at 7:30am and took us a short distance to Aventura, the tour company that will take young kids on zip lines. You quickly learn to go with the flow in Costa Rica. We waited awhile to learn that first we would do the bridge tour (which we had already done in Arenal) and that we would not do the zip line until 11:30am – which meant we would not make it to our scheduled time at the Cloudforest Reserve at 1:30pm. So a few phone calls later, we rescheduled the zip line until 8am the next day. The bridges were a nice stroll in the rainforest but the kids were anxious for so excitement. At one point on the hike I stopped to give Emi a hug and tell her how much I love her. For me, it was one of those special moments when the world stops for a second and you feel filled with love. Her response was “do you love me more than Jack?”

Lunch was actually quite eventful because Emi ordered a fish sandwich. Doesn’t sound eventful, huh? Well, Emi has been a vegetarian for a little over a year – eating no fish or chicken. The problem was that she also didn’t eat many vegetables (venduras) or much protein other than cheese and beans. Grandpa Allen had a long discussion with her yesterday about children’s developing brains and the need for protein. Here in Costa Rica she found herself either ordering a cheese quesadilla or pasta with butter and cheese. She didn’t like it but she ate it – along with a few tears.

In Costa Rica, they frequently say “pura vida” – which has several meanings such as the good life, it is all good. But for a few minutes it wasn’t pura vida as Grandpa had temporarily perdido (lost) the keys to our rental car. Once they were found, there was a little discussion about the size of Grandma Karen’s bag – and then we were off to the Cloudforest where a naturalist took us on a nice stroll through the reserve. While the best time of day to spot animals is early morning, we were very lucky. We say a hummingbird nest, a sloth (they sleep 18-22 hours a day!), and a solo alpha male howler monkey (howler monkeys are the second loudest animals in the world), right near a waterfall. He was huge. Brodie wants to be reincarnated as a howler monkey because they live in groups of 20-25 monos (monkeys) and the alpha male mates with all the females. We also put our camera at the entrance of a hole where we got a nice photo of a tarantula (female tarantula’s are nocturnal and male tarantula’s are diurnal – so how do they make baby tarantula’s?).

We stopped at the heladeria for a quick ice cream cone on the way back to the hotel. I was walking back to the car when I heard someone saying “Heather”. Surprisingly, it was a friend of mine, Shayfu, from Park City. What a small world.

FYI – a Cloudforest is pretty much the same thing as a rainforest. Monteverde is located on the Continental divide – so some water runs east to the Atlantic and some west to the Pacific. Above 4,000 feet it is considered Cloudforest. However, we didn’t see any clouds the entire time we were in Monteverde. It is cooler in the dense vegetation of the rainforest – and in the evening the temperature drops some so we actually wore pants and long sleeves.

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