Making our way to the mountain

Published: August 4th 2009
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This is Kate.

We packed up the car on Saturday morning and were headed to San Isidro. The drive up was nice, and we stopped in Dominical to get some snacks and check out the beach/waves. Then we climbed the winding mountain roads for about an hour. Overall, it took us about 3 hours to get there with the stop. We arrived and found our hotel, a backpacker staple. It was called Hotel Chirripo and was right in the center of town, across from the big church. San Isidro looked like a bigger Quepos immediately. You could tell it was a tico town, with only one American staple in sight, McDonalds. We decided to go out to try and find some stuff that I needed and get lunch. We succeeded in finding one pair of pants and a pair of boots before grabbing lunch. We drove around looking for a place to eat and found a mall outside of town with a Pizza Hut and a Taco Bell! Unfortunately, the Taco Bell had a limited selection and the Pizza Hut was too expensive. However, the mall did have a movie theater and it only costs $4 and $2 on Wednesday! I am definitely heading down there one day for a movie. We found another pizza place owned by a very nice man who made us a gigantic pizza! It was a tuna and onion pizza, muy delicioso! Afterward, we were tired and wanted to lay around in the room and watch cable for awhile. There were many festivities outside, and it was hard to get to sleep. Eric saw a lot of people gathered outside the church watching a truck full of flowers drive away. He explained this to me later and we couldn’t figure out if it was a wedding or a funeral.

We went out to get something for dinner and ended up getting a McFlurry from McDonalds first. We are so American right? Good times. We found a small restaurant with a balcony and sat down. Eric ordered a ceasar salad, which apparently in Costa Rica means cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and chicken! It did have croutons and parmesan cheese, but it had Italian dressing! So… Eric wasn’t too happy. I had a gyro, which was actually quite tasty, and reminded me of the place in Scotland I used to go to called Best Kabob.

Afterward, we grabbed some snacks and a drink and settled into our room to watch a movie before bed. We checked to see what was on cable, but couldn’t find anything, so we just put something on that was in English and passed out.

The next day, while eating breakfast at the hotel we were staying at, we found out there were a lot of festivities because the people were celebrating the patron saint of Costa Rica, the mother Mary. That morning, which was Sunday morning, they were shooting off a cannon a lot and parading around the street singing. It was interesting, but I definitely got sick of that cannon! I kept thinking outloud, “Aren’t they about done with that dang thing?!”. We went in search again of another pair of pants and some long-sleeved shirts. Viola! I got a long-sleeve shirt and a hat from one place for like $3 and 2 long-sleeved shirts and a pair of pants from another place for $4! Yay! I was pretty much ready to go, except I never found an adapter for my computer, but I knew there was at least 1 at the reserve that I could use.

Around 11:30am we headed toward the Chirripo mountains. We had a small 4-door car, so the drive was a little different than if we had a 4X4 vehicle. We had to be a little bit more careful and go a little slower, but at least it hadn’t been raining and the road was dry. Otherwise, I don’t think we would’ve made it as far as we did. The hills were very steep, and some roads just rocks and gravel, but we made it. We finally arrived at Casa Mariposa! Even then, we weren’t sure if we wanted to stay there because if we wanted to go into town and come back it would be difficult to make that drive at night. Plus, it might rain! But, we decided to check it out. The owners were so nice and the hostel was so cozy and clean, we decided to stay. The building was made out of wood and built around rocks and little plants. It was so cool! There was also a trail out back that led to the river and a shower with a rainforest view!

We decided to eat lunch at the hotel restaurant next door and then we drove into town to buy a few things for dinner and some beer. Once we got back, we stuck the food in our room and headed out back to hike down to the river. It wasn’t a very far or hard hike, and we made it in no time with 2 beers to keep us company. The river was VERY cold, but there were some big rocks for us to sit on. After drinking his beer, Eric decided he was going in. I felt the water and thought it was cold, but after I saw how much fun he was having sliding down the rocks and riding the current, I got in too! We played around in the water for awhile, then sat on the rock in the sun for a few minutes. It was fun and I loved sharing that moment with him.

We made tuna and tomato sandwiches for dinner and drank some beers and bloody mary’s out at a little table they have set up. John and Jill, the owner’s of the Casa Mariposa, were out there as well and we chatted awhile about laws and landownership in Costa Rica, the differences between Costa Rica and Panama, along with other fun topics. We enjoyed talking to them, and then they went to make dinner so we had a little time by ourselves to chat. It was a really fun evening. It was cool outside and we were wrapped up in our long pants and long-sleeved shirts. I was so glad that Eric came with me. It made the trip a lot easier and I got to see him a couple extra nights.

The next morning, Sunday Aug. 2, we got up around 6:30am and had some coffee. We headed down to the little store next door to see if I could buy some eggs. Lucky me! They had them and I got a few other little extras. Then we hung around for a little bit, but Eric left by 7:30am. I hugged and kissed him and cried a little, and as soon as he drove away, Tom from the Cloudbridge Reserve came up. He saw me wiping away my tears, but he didn’t say anything about it. He just said, “You must be Kate”.

He helped me get my stuff into his truck, and we talked about Cloudbridge and the other volunteers on the way up. He is an older man, probably in his late 60s or early 70s, but in good shape. He looked like a woodsman immediately with his long gray beard and outdoor clothing. When we got there, we unloaded my stuff and he pointed me in the direction of my room. Moments later, Eric showed up, the manager of Cloudbridge. He is a younger man, maybe in his mid to late 30s, from Seattle. He has lived all over and has been at Cloudbridge for 7 years. He has some interesting stories tell and will tell them all to you in an afternoon if you let him! Quite the chatty fellow. :D

Eric helped me get my stuff to my room which was on the second floor up a very steep and narrow staircase. He showed me around and showed me how the lights work (a little different b/c they run on solar energy here). He made room on the shelves and counter for me to put my food, which consists of canned vegetables, fruit, and tuna plus a few produce items like yucca, carrots, onions, and some very green bananas and a few grain items like rice, noodles, and a loaf of bread. I also brought corn meal with me b/c Steve’s girlfriend Mariacruz taught me how to make tortillas Costa Rican style. I have some eggs as well and bought some tea bags for hot tea… all in all, I think it’ll be ok not having a fridge. I just have to make sure when I open something I’m not going to finish that day, that I finish it the next day.

After figuring out the computer adapter situation as well, their wall sockets look like the lighter in a car b/c of the solar power system, I went on a hike at the suggestion of Tom and Eric. I have to get acclimated to the altitude up here, and I have to get in hiking shape. Andrew, the guy I will assist, has been going on 4-hour hikes lately, so I’ve got to get up to speed. My hike today was only around 1.5 hours, maybe a little less.

So, I hiked up the main trail, the same way I hiked with Jenny, David, and Eric when we were here before, but instead of turning to take the path along the river, I kept going straight heading to Cloudbridge North. The path starting getting a little more primitive however I could tell a horse with a hungry appetite had been through there recently. It was a good hike and I saw a part of Cloudbridge I hadn’t seen last time. Went by some beautiful streams and scenery and some interesting bridges! I definitely felt energized but super hungry by the time I got back!

While making lunch, I got to meet Andrew, the guy I’m assisting who is from New Zealand, and Tina, another volunteer at Cloudbridge from Canada. Tina is studying spiders, and her boyfriend is here for a week, so they hiked to the remote research station about 45 minutes from here to catch specimens. There, they have no electricity although I think there is running water. Andrew is heading up there for a couple days, so I may be going with him. We’ll see.

Overall, the house and my room are very nice. I have a good sized private room with a double bed. I have a private balcony with a hammock with a view of the forest. I can hear the river running from my room and all the animals of the forest around me. There is a casita too, which Andrew lives in. It has a loft room and a living room but not much else. Also, there is a very pretty garden and a path down to the river in the backyard. I think I will like it here, although my first night was very hard. I was very sad and therefore did not hang out in the kitchen with everyone else. Hopefully it will get better and I’ll be able to make friends. The French girls will be leaving soon, I think a week from Wednesday. Also, there is someone named Nick coming in on Saturday and Tina will be coming back with her boyfriend on Sunday or Monday. I think Monday is the day Andrew is heading up to the remote research station, so I may be going with him. For now, I’m just trying to adjust.

Today is Tuesday, my first morning at Cloudbridge. The air is crisp and cool and it is a little wet outside b/c it rained last night. Breakfast is going to be home-made tortillas with eggs I think and then a nice cup of hot tea. Afterward, I am going to hike to town just to see how long it takes (I think it’s around 1.75 miles one way) and check out the pulperia, the nearest REAL store. Andrew said if I’m looking for produce to get there early in the week, so hopefully they’ll have something good. Anyways, I think I should stop rambling on. This is a very long blog and I should probably get down there to make breakfast. Hope to talk to everyone soon!

Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 29


The CasitaThe Casita
The Casita

This is where Andrew stays.
Knarly treeKnarly tree
Knarly tree

Saw this while hiking.

5th August 2009

keep em coming
Kate, Eric - thanks for keeping such a comprehensive travel log.. love reading it. You two are experiencing the adventure of a life time! Dont stop writing, photo'g ;-)

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