As I walked to work this morning the thermometer at the bank said 12 degrees F. There was a hard wind blowing and my toes hurt by the time I got there. So to warm up a little, I’m finishing the long-overdue story of our trip to Costa Rica one year ago.
Rainbow House, west of Santa Elena
Our second week was spent in a rented house near Santa Elena and Monteverde Reserve. Monteverde is where several Quaker families who left the United States in 1951 settled after some had been jailed for resisting the draft for the Korean War. Two of these settlers were Wolf and Lucky Guindon, one of whose children (Helena) we know from Upper Susquehanna Quaker gatherings. There is still an active Quaker meeting and school in Monteverde, and we were interested in seeing it. Wolf Guindon and other Quakers were part of the formation of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which has become an important protected area with incredible biodiversity – and, as these things happen, a major tourist attraction.
View from Rainbow House
First impressions of the house were of the views, west over the mountains to the Gulf of Nicoya, and the wind, which comes in waves like the pounding of the surf in Manzanillo. It sounds worse than being out in it; temperatures are in the 60s or 70s, so the wind is not bitter. These are the vientos alisios, or trade winds, which blow this time of year.
What there is to see in Santa Elena and Monteverde
Even though there is lots of tourist infrastructure, it is really enjoyable to walk dusty country roads outside of town, and our place offered plenty opportunity to do so. We also had a lovely and sometimes comical walk up Cerro Amigos, which has great views when not shrouded in fog. At the bottom it was sunny, with some misty showers, but as we neared the top the wind sounded more and more like a dragon hidden in fog. I don’t know that I have ever hiked a road so slippery that getting through seemed in doubt, so this was a first.
The incredibly slippery road up Cerro Amigos
Foggy and blustery (and still muddy and slippery) atop Cerro Amigos
Also, rain. But also, sun.
Listening with bat ears at Bat Jungle
Highlights were Quaker meeting on Sunday
Anna and Zeke with friends made during a long meeting for business.
and a day in Monteverde Reserve, including a 3.5-hour tour with naturalist Ricardo Guindon, a son of Wolf and Lucky. Ricardo a) knows his stuff b) grew up in the reserve and c) is part of one of those original families of Quaker settlers, so he was a perfect guide for us.
At Monteverde Reserve with Ricardo Guindon (and some folks from Minnesota).
In Monteverde Reserve. This trail is named for Wolf Guindon, a Quaker who settled nearby in 1951 and was instrumental in the creation of the reserve.
In Monteverde Reserve.
Pizotes (coatis) in Monteverde Reserve.
At the continental divide.
Same sun, near Monteverde.
Same light, looking southwest.
Just up the lane from Rainbow House.
One last highlight was supper with Francisco, Renee, Jamila, and Sofia, who we met at Friends General Conference in summer 2014. The Quaker world can be a small world.
We bussed back to San Jose assaulted by a melange of smells – the putrefying fish eaten by others on the bus and a few trucks carrying pigs that we kept pace with for a long time. The more common smells of diesel exhaust and burning trash were a welcome respite.
Ultimately, Costa Rica was the most gringoed country we’ve been to in Latin America – an incredibly high percentage of coastal land is owned by foreigners, for instance, and we saw many more folks who looked like they just got off the bus from Disneyworld than we did in, say, Potosi, Bolivia – but it was a good trip, and a great two weeks spend with Leon and Louisa.