Where’d You Go?

by Brad on January 11, 2011

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After this much silence on this blog you might have wondered if we weren’t having anymore cool adventures down here. Our bad, cuz the adventures don’t stop when you’re living in a third-world country where few things work like they’re supposed to but the gorgeous scenery is endless.

To catch us up, I’m thinking we may need to divide this up into two posts so we don’t overburden the sensitive eyes of our more, hmmm, “experienced” readers.

First off, Christmas. But for the few strands of lights strung around a couple of palm trees, we would have wondered if they even know about Christmas here. It really was hard to tell that anyone was excited about it or looking forward to it. At church we were lucky to get one Christmas hymn in a 3-hour block of meetings. Finally, the Sunday before Christmas, someone actually mentioned it in a talk. It was really quite surprising how mellow it was.

Since we’ve been married we’ve always gone on a fun trip around Christmas time. So, we debated where we should travel to this year. Hmmm, how about somewhere in, say, Costa Rica? Done.

We learned of a little mountain settlement called Monteverde. This town was settled by Quakers who left the US during the Vietnam war because of their pacifist ideals. In the last half century they’ve worked really hard to preserve the natural rain forest that surrounds them. Now it’s a huge tourist stop, referred to as the “cloud forest” where you’re supposed to see amazing trees and tons of crazy animals, sloths and the world famous quetzal bird being the main draws. So a little logistical preparation (meaning, figuring out how to get there by bus) and we were off.

First surprise: it was cold!! Seriously, we had to put our jackets on and Kelli even wore pants. At night the wind blew so hard it made the trees howl, and it never stopped. It was so cold that Brad actually slept with socks on, which he dreads.

Another change was that most buildings in that town are finished with wood. After two months of seeing only plaster and cement, it was fantastic to feel the coziness of wood walls and floors. It was our little Christmas miracle. It actually felt like Christmas for a minute, kind of…almost.

Right at Home

Our first full day there started with an early morning walk around town with a guide, hoping to spot some cool birds and a real live sloth. Tons of birds, no sloths. But the guy actually knew so much about the birds, and the birds were so pretty, that it was actually a lot of fun. I never really understood the whole bird watching thing, but after that little walk about I have an appreciation for it now. Here are a few of the birds we saw, pictures taken through the guide’s telescope.

Toucanette

Blue crowned mat mat - Nicaragua's national bird

After that stroll we did a bit of a thigh burner trek up to the town’s mountain top radio towers, hoping for a cool view of the area and the neighboring volcanoes. Because of the clouds the coolest thing we saw were the radio towers.

People live in that house. One dude likes pink, the other guy likes yellow. I wonder if they're friends.

Later that evening we meandered through town and found out that the place is really pretty cool. It’s has a mini, and I mean mini, Park City feel to it. Fun little shops in a mountain setting.

Monteverde internet cafe

Taking the bus to school would've been cool if it was like this.

We ate dinner at a tapas (mini-plates) restaurant which turned out to be one of our favorite meals we’ve had here…also the first time either of us have had non-fish meat in Costa Rica. It’s amazing how good meat can be when it’s not deep fried in grease.

For our second day we went into the actual rain forest reserve. Within a matter of minutes it changes from sunny and dry to cloudy and wet. I’m not sure if it ever stops raining there. It’s literally a forest in the clouds, and they are always dropping something, thus the borrowed umbrella:

Real men wear pink

Look up

Quick! Can you spot Kelli?!

Jungle deer

Finished off by the best rice and beans plate we’ve had:

Best lookin' rice and beans we ever saw

The pinnacle of the trip was supposed to be the night tour. Everyone hyped it up as the best part of Monteverde, with the best chances of seeing sloths, huge snakes, colorful frogs, crazy jungle cats, and other stuff. Maybe the animals knew it was Christmas cause the took they week off. But we did see a gorgeous sunset and a couple of critters.

We saw tons of these guys. Yuck.

Mini frog

We came home from that trip the day before Christmas Eve. We learned that the big tradition here is for everyone to get together Christmas Eve night for a big dinner. (We did hear a few Christmas hogs meeting their end…that’s not a fun sound to hear. Kelli has sworn off pork.) Then on Christmas day they hang out at the house, go to the beach, lounge around wherever, and eat tamales all day long.

There you go. Christmas Costa Rica style.

Second round of catching up to come….

{ 2 comments }

nate January 12, 2011 at 1:04 am

Um, it was -2 this morning when I got in to drive to work. I thought, “no way, that can’t be correct” and I was right, because when I looked down again it was -3 F.

Brad January 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I don’t like that at all. That sounds sick. I don’t think our little visit to Utah will last very long at all if things are like that.

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