BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2005

Costa Rica 21 -- October 20, 2005
Packed and ready to go travel; getting ready to go

By Bob Corbett

Folks, I have an incredibly cozy set up here, so Iíll give you a bit of a picture of it. Iím in Pension Sinai in St. Elena, in the central north mountains of Costa Rica. This is a famous cloud forest here and I plan to first walk in it tomorrow.

The place where I am staying is just magnificent and a backpackerís paradise. It has only four or five rooms, I not sure which. One only is a private toilet and bathroom room and I took that. It is expensive for the backpacker world, $15.00, however, it is turning out to be CHEAPER than any room I have so for three reasons

  1. I get free e-mail and I had been spending $4.00 to $5.00 a day on e-mail.

  2. There is s full kitchen with refrigerator, stove and all at our disposal, so I will eat many meals here, again saying money.

  3. After I do my walking each day, I just want to sit and read. But where to do that. In my really cheap places, even at my lovely Cabinas Hellen in Quepos, I didnít have a decent place to sit, especially in the day, and so I would go to a cafe or bar and have a coffee or two or beer or two, often which I didnít want, and always a few more dollars.

I ate at home last night, and doing my daily budget as I do, discovered that including my $15.00 for the room, yesterday was my least expensive day yet since I ate one simple meal out and nothing else. So yesterday cost me just UNDER $20.00. Not bad.

Monteverde and St. Elena are really not quite villages. Monteverde, the more famous of the two since it is older and the cloud forest is named that, is 3 kilometers from here. St. Elena is more like a tiny village. It is one block long and that one block is paved, the only paved road in this area. Monteverde is sort of a string of semi-fancy hotels and very upscale restaurants along a stretch of road, with no real center. However, at a crossroads there is 1/2 block of paved road.

Otherwise the roads are simply HORRIBLE. Muddy, rutted, pot-holed, no sidewalks (the one block of St. Elena does have sidewalks, but none in Monteverde). Thus you have to walk in the slime of the road, this gooey, running disgusting mustard colored mud, and try to avoid being splashed by cars. Most locals wear large Wellington boots like people in Ireland. Many also wear rubber and leather pants. This looks a lot like an old west town.

Monteverde was founded in the 1960 by a group of U.S. Quakers, fleeing the U.S. rather than register for the draft. There was nothing here but rain forest and a few mud oxen paths. They set the village high in the mountains, and spread out about in farms. They decided to keep this area ecologically pure and thatís why there are no roads. They donít want them. Also, it is a good 15 miles from town to the national park they helped found, and thatís on purpose to allow nothing commercial anywhere near the rain forest/cloud forest. You can see pictures of the place and read about it on line.

It is supposed to be 3 kilometers from here to Monteverde and I walked it this morning in the pouring rain, but my odometer says I only walked 3.6 miles, so that would be 1.8 miles in each direction. Oh yes, thatís exactly right. 3 km x .6 = exactly 1.8 miles. So it is that far.

But it seems a heck of a lot farther. At home I walk to several 2 mile destinations on my daily walks and most of them take exactly 40 minutes. My walk to and from Monteverde too almost 3 hours. There is one long very steep hill, a full 1/2 mile up, and that is brutal, plus walking on that road really keeps one walking slowing, watching your step, trying not to get splashed with that mud and so on.

Right now the sun is shinning for the very first time since I arrived and I want to go out and walk a bit again, so Iíll get back to this note later.

I sort of plan to take off tomorrow on the 6:30 AM bus and go to the Monteverde cloud forest to walk trails there tomorrow, but Iíll see. Iím in no rush at all. I love it where I am and donít care if I ďwasteĒ a few days as long as I get my walking in somehow.

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Iím the only guest at the pension at the moment. Juan, the owner, has reservations for today and is waiting for the bus to come in. The rain had let up so I dressed again in dry clothes and decided to walk a bit more, but didnít get 30 steps down the muddy hill and it started again, so I retreated and got my rain coat. Now Iím back and with information, bus schedules, location of where the bus leaves from and such. I may well aim at heading for the St. Elena Cloud Forest tomorrow morning on the 6:30 AM bus.

Soon now Iím going down the street for my one meal out -- the lovely restaurant where I ate yesterday had ďwhole fishĒ on the menu, just that. Iím going to order than today.

Bob Corbett

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