**Half, if not more, of the photos in this post were taken by Ryan! So I wanted to give him photo credit 🙂 **
After spending a night at a hostel in San Jose, Kyle and I hopped on a bus headed to the airport. There, after a bit of searching and avoiding extremely pushy cab drivers we found Ryan! We said our hello’s and headed back to the bus. From the bus station in San Jose we took a 30 minute walk to the rental car place, where Ryan had made reservations to rent a car. Within 30 minutes we were in the 4-wheel drive, white Daihatsu headed West.
Driving in Costa Rica is known to be rather difficult and treacherous, particularly for someone who is not used to driving on non-paved roads. Fortunately both Kyle and Ryan grew up in rural Wisconsin and have plenty of practice driving on dirt trails and in not-ideal conditions. The first few hours after leaving the rental car place we drove on the highway, which eventually led us to Puntarenas, where we took a ferry to get across Nicoya Bay (driving around would have taken 6 hours longer). Being a 70 minute ferry, we all got out of the car and walked around the ferry during the transit. Nicoya Bay is scattered with small islands, one of which was covered in a mossy grass with steep cliffs reaching down to black beaches. Watching the waves crash on the rock face and observing the vivid green covering on the top of the island was pretty magnificent. Being that we were close to the Pacific coast there were lots of mountains lining Nicoya Bay, with clouds drifting past their tips. By the time we got off the ferry it was getting dark, and the roads were no longer paved. The dirt roads had lots of pot holes and large rocks to avoid, but Ryan did such a great job driving I never found myself nervous or worried in the back seat. It was an enjoyable drive, passing through tiny villages along the way. We arrived at our Hostel around 8:30pm and could hear waves crashing on the shore just below the hostel. Dropping our stuff in our room we walked into town to get some food and wander the small streets.
The following morning we awoke to the most spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Just below the grass yard of the hostel rocks scattered the shoreline, creating tidal pools that we could sit in. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and shooting up towards the sky filled my ears as I sipped on hot coffee in the hammock on the porch. Our morning was rather relaxing, just all of us fully appreciating the beauty of the hostel we chose. Later that morning we headed to a waterfall and had an awesome time swimming and jumping off a small cliff into the crashing falling water.
The rest of our time in Montezuma was spent walking around the small downtown, checking out some stores, making delicious meals at the hostel, and really just relaxing and enjoying the slow and calm pace of life the people of Montezuma seem to have.
On Monday afternoon after checking out a beach called Playa Grande, we hopped back into the car and took a 5 hour road trip to Monteverde, a town Northeast of Montezuma. Monteverde is known for its luscious rainforests, which is what we wanted to check out. It was an enjoyable drive as Costa Rica has the most amazing views- rolling hills and mountains of green just seem to expand forever. Taking our time we stopped along the way to eat lunch, check out some views, and even found this little “rest stop” with a walkway that led to the most spectacular view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The morning after arriving in Monteverde we enjoyed some free breakfast included with our hostel stay, before heading to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest. The name of the forest is pretty spot on, because when we were getting close we quite literally drove into a cloud. Mist and white fog encapsulated us as we ascended up the mountain leading to the Cloud Forest entrance. Paying a small entrance fee we grabbed a map and opted for the 4 hour hike around most of the park. I don’t say this lightly, but I am pretty sure that this hike was the highlight of our entire trip in Costa Rica for me. Walking through pure jungle and rainforest- just the three of us- was like nothing I have ever done before. The depth of green and fullness of the trees was something special. Where we hiked was a first growth forest, so the trees were just massive and they were covered in a vivid green moss that was soft to the touch and covered the tree all the way up into the sky. Every once in a while we would come to an opening in the trees and if we waited a few minutes for the clouds to pass, a view would open up and take our breath away. Another highlight of the hike was when we would be walking in this dense forest and suddenly the sun would shine through a thin layer of clouds and all of us would just stop and look up- observing the sun glistening and dancing on the leaves. We would close our eyes and let our face soak up the sun for just a few minutes before it would be gone again. Towards the end of our hike we saw some monkeys playing in the trees that we took some time observe. As we made our way back to the parking lot it began to rain, and Ryan drove us back down the mountain to our hostel. Feeling comfy and relaxed in the rain I made a colorful veggie stir fry over rice for dinner which we enjoyed in the open air porch near the kitchen.
The following morning we decided to do the “touristy” thing for a couple hours and took a shuttle bus up to a park near the Cloud Forest. Here we paid to walk across 8 bridges that hung above the trees in the canopy. It was totally worth the money, because being level or even above the tall trees was a totally different perspective than the hike we took the day before. When we were hiking the day before I kept looking up, trying to find the top of the trees but finding them too tall to really see. Whereas this time we were at the top of the trees, and I found myself looking down, trying to find their roots. Since we booked the tour through our hostel they gave us entrance to a hummingbird garden. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it ended up being another highlight. The three of us walked into this veranda that had 8-10 hummingbird feeders hanging up, almost all of which were full. And hummingbirds were just everywhere! They could have cared less that people were around, they just buzzed right by our faces, allowing us to feel the wind generated from their fluttering wings. One of them landed on my finger for a second before heading to another feeder. Ryan and Kyle got some pretty cool photos, but their wings move so fast and they are such quick little creatures that they are hard to capture. I had never been so close and intimate with a hummingbird before, their variety of colors and small size amazed me. That afternoon we hopped back in the rental car for our last visit of the trip: La Fortuna.