Costa Rica 2000


Monday, August 7, 2000  - Monteverde - Drive to La Fortuna

We all met for our 6 am bird walk.  Birds we saw were (at least somewhere in Monteverde):  Keel-billed Toucan, Banaquit, Band-tailed Pigeon, Swallow-tailed Kite, Slaty-backed Nightingale, Emerald Toucanet, White-eared Ground Sparrow, Great Kiskadee, Mountain Elaenia, Resplendent Quetzal, Blue-crowned Motmot, Mountain Robin, Red-eyed vireo, Gray-headed Chachalacha, Social Flycatcher, White-throated Robin.

I finally had to get some laundry done at this hotel.  The wet clothes from Tortuguero were beginning to stink.  I was worried that this would cost me a fortune (like $100), but it had to be done.  When the cleaning ladies came in, I asked them something like "Lava la ropa, por favor" which should translate something like "wash the clothes, please."  I think she just wanted to be sure, and she kept asking me something.  Finally, I understood.  She was saying "sucio o limpio?"  which meant "dirty or clean?"  I was so relieved when I got the bill to find that all those shorts, Tshirts, socks and underwear only cost me $11 to be cleaned - seemed like a bargin!

Before we left town, we stopped at the cheese factory in Monteverde.  I guess I didn't write this story down, so it comes from memory (might have errors).  In 1948 (or thereabouts), Costa Rica disolved all military in their country, putting the extra money into health care and education.  About 1950, the military draft was established in the United States.  A couple years later, a group of Quakers came to Costa Rica to escape the draft.  They selected the Monteverde region which was pretty much uninhabited at that time.  They needed to find a way to make a living, and they settled on making cheese.  They were farmers in the US, and cheese was easy to store without going bad.  They weren't able to travel often to sell the cheese.  The Quakers have helped with Costa Rican conservation by donating land they have purchased back to the government.  25% of Costa Rica is preserved in National Reserves or National Parks protected by the government.

After the cheese factory (where we bought some early morning ice cream), we went to the Women's Cooperative, CASEM, where they sold items crafted and sold by the women of the area.  I bought a couple of Tshirts there.

There is some controversy in the area about making better roads.  The trip to Monteverde from San José is about a 4 hour drive.  The drive to Arenal Volcano took us another 4-5 hours on rough gravel roads.  About 1/2 of the people would like a nice, new road to be built.  But the other 1/2 of the people don't want a new road to be built.  Now, most people who visit spend a day or more in Monteverde.  If good roads were available, people might make only day trips and not spend the night, thereby possibly hurting the hotel industry (industry?  big word for a small town).  Personally, I like it the way it is.  Once I got back to Kansas, I found that their roads resemble the back roads in the Flint Hills - gravel, winding, some low water bridges, or just plain water over the road in rainy weather....  It's helps make the experience more memorable than buzzing down the interstate highway at 70 mph.

Sunrise in MonteverdeBlue-crowned Motmot
Sunrise in Monteverde                                    Blue-crowned Motmot
White-eared Ground Sparrow Empty Milk Cans
White-eared Ground Sparrow                     Empty milk cans left in the driveway of Quakers.

After a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, rice and beans and fruit, we headed for Arenal.  Elston is always in touch with Costa Rica Expeditions, and he found out that on the route we were going to take, a bridge was out.  So we took a different route, around the other side of the mountain.  Near Monteverde, we could see the back of Arenal, yet there was no direct road to get there.  We had to take gravel roads on a drive that took nearly 4-5 hours to reach La Fortuna, near Arenal.  Some were windy roads, and Skyler began to feel car sick when we stopped at this town, Tilaran, with the leather workers and the school boys.

Drying ClothesLeather Repair Shop
Even though it rained every day but one on our 3-week vacation in the rainy season, it usually only rained at night.  People washed their laundry early (by machine, I understand) and hung it outside on fences, roofs, ground - anywhere.  It was a very common site.  Above is an open-air leather repair shop in Tilaran.

School BoysSchool Boy at a Sodita
School boys walking home after school (12:30 pm).  One school boy buys snacks at a Sodita.

Most of the public schools start early and end around noon.  Others may teach in the afternoon.  Private schools may go all day.  In public schools in Costa Rica, uniforms are worn by all students.  The older children wear light blue shirts with dark pants.  Younger children have a different color of uniform (dark blue?).


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This page was last updated 8-18-2005

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  Emporia State University

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