These are my favourite posts to write. When I look back at cities that have touched my heart and make me long for them. Cities that are perhaps ordinary to some but have left me with so much happiness.
Everything from the people I met, the things I did, the place I stayed, the conversations I’ve had were just perfect and magical. These are the cities in which the maps adorn my walls and earn rave reviews. Monteverde is such a place for me.
The journey to Monteverde was no easy task. We took a bus from the Hostel in Arenal to the edge of the lake. And lo and behold, our French friend Julien was on there! I act surprised every time I saw him because we never made any concrete problems to travel together.
From the edge of the lake, we hopped down to a boat. The boat took us across the lake and gave us outstanding views of the countryside and the volcano. We saw houses that looked so remote, we wondered how they even got there. From the boat, we took another bus to head to Santa Elena and the hostel we had pre-booked.
The views from the bus were just as beautiful. I was so excited to see windmills! It seems like the countryside was populated by hundreds of them and it just warmed this environmentally-friendly gal.
From the bus station, we walked down the street to Casa Tranquilo.***** There are only three streets in the town so no worries about getting lost. But Casa Tranquilo? Stay there. It’s a must. We told so many travellers to go there. I’m still telling people they have to stay there. The owner was absolutely wonderful and helped us book a ziplining tour with one of the girls staying in our room. Think rustic rooms. Comfy bunk beds. The rooms were in separate sections of the house, looking they were stacked on. Our room led on to a balcony that overlooked the gardens and trees. A hammock was placed in front of the main entrance and often kept company by the hostel’s two dogs who were the most wonderful creatures. Every morning we got a huge breakfast and the most spectacular banana bread. OMG this bread good. The owner would bring his son by and he was just the cutest thing. The shared kitchen was cozy and I bought my postcards from the hostels to send home. I could literally spend this whole post about Monteverde on this one hostel. So much so, that I actually kept the PDF map he gave us of the city and had it framed when I got home.
Right. So Monteverde…
Our first activity was to book a zipling tour with 100% Aventura. What a great day! So this tour includes a walk across a hammock bridge, ziplining, rappel, a superman zipline and a tarzan swing. So what are these you say? A superman cable is just that- you fly through the jungle like Superman! There are two places where you are connected – middle of back and kinda-butt. Yes, those are medical terms. And then you let yourself go and you fly through over the jungle. What an incredible feeling. It’s the longest zipline in Latin America and I highly, highly, highly recommend it. The other really cool thing was a Tarzan Swing. Now, throughout the whole day, I was first in all the ziplining activities. I was voted unofficial captain. So on the Tarzan Swing, I went first. You are strapped in and told to jump off a ledge and you swing through the trees. It’s free-falling through the jungle. What a rush. I got down to the bottom and called out to my new friends that it was totally fine to jump! I loved watching everyone get to the edge and cheer them on from the bottom. It was amazing.
After this activity, we returned to the hostel and made plans to head out. Lucky for me, the girls in my room were awesome and we went to the Restaurant Tree House. I’m not even sure what we drank or what we discussed but it felt like an ordinary girls night out in an extraordinary place. I’ve learned over the years that these are my most treasured memories. It’s not seeing museums or cathedrals or mountains. It’s taking a few hours to sit and watch life goes by as you have these wonderful and insightful conservations with people you may never met.
Following our drinks, we went to the bar in Santa Elena and watched game 7 of Montreal versus Boston. Apparently, this is a big deal. And I was absolutely floored as to how many Quebecois were in this tiny town of Monteverde in this tiny bar at this exact moment. After watching Montreal win, the girls and I headed back to the hostel. We went up to the common area and met some new friends. This is the point of the story where I meet the boy. A was playing guitar and he was singing along. We chatted and sang and he told us that it was his birthday the next day! So the girls and I headed to the local bar that was playing reggae music and danced for hours. We left that and went back to the bar that had been showing the hockey game and kept dancing. At midnight, I asked the bartender to wish A happy birthday and we toasted with some very strong shots. He and I walked back to the hostel and ended up talking for hours and hours. About everything and anything and nothing in between. Swoon.
The next day, we had breakfast and planned a hike to visit all the wonderful places in Monteverde. First up, a visit to the fallen strangler fig tree. Second, a hike up Cerro Amigo, a gruelling 1820 metre hike that had the most incredible views. Since the sky was so clear, it was the perfect place to stop and enjoy this part of the world.
Finally, a climb to the Strangler Fig Trees. There are trees that are over 200 years old. They are essentially parasite trees. The seeds begin by germinating in crevices in other trees. These seedlings grow their roots downwards and envelop the tree they started on. They grow upwards as well. The supporting tree, now dead, gives away and becomes hollowed out. As A said, it’s basically the tree house of his dream.
A quick lunch at the Restaurant Tree House, and we headed back to the hostel for a quick nap. We hung out some more in the common area, getting to know the new guests and took them out dancing again. A and I went back to the hostel early to enjoy the evening as we were both suppose to leave the next day, I to Montezuma; he to Puerto Viejo. I’m not quite sure what else to write that is completely appropriate for here but mostly to say – in 36 hours, *warning – super corny sentiment ahead* I had found exactly what I needed at that exact moment: a smart, hilarious, sweet person to share this adventure with and the perfect small town in Costa Rica.
Hungover on this feeling, we separated at something insane like 5:30 a.m. and I headed to Montezuma. Monteverde permanently etched in my heart.
*** SCREAMING FAN GIRL ALERT: As soon as I finished writing this, I found it was listed on Buzzfeed’s list of amazing hostels. Woot Woot!