Jan. 14-16: Santa Elena and Monteverde

On Jan. 14th (day 75), Jaylor and I briefly separated as I headed back to Liberia Airport to pick up the returning Danielle and they headed to our next destination: Monteverde and Santa Elena.

Navigating from Santa Teresa to Liberia Airport was a bit of an adventure, as I was using three different navigation devices and all three suggested different routes. I ended up doing a bit of a combination of all three, but the route I went was quite an adventure involving many dirt roads, and three or four river crossings. Despite the worry that the duct tape fix wasn't going to make it the whole way, it held, and I arrived at the airport a few hours early.

Unfortunately, there's not much to do at Liberia Airport, so I spent my time reading my Kindle and watching people. Finally, Danielle arrived and we made our way towards Santa Elena.

Driving to Santa Elena was fairly easy as we'd done most of the drive before when we drove from La Fortuna to Liberia. However, it did take some time and we arrived in Santa Elena after the sun had set. Luckily, we found the hostel that Jaylor had a reservation at without much trouble, and after some time organizing with the reception, Danielle and I were able to get a room. That first night the only room available was a deluxe family sized room that was very nice, and so Danielle and I lived in luxury.

We spent the evening checking out the town and grabbing some pizza, as well as damn near freezing to death given the higher elevation's lower temperature. After dinner, I opened some Christmas gifts from family back in Canada that Danielle had brought with her.

On Jan. 15th (day 76), Jaylor, Danielle, and I went for a bit of a stroll around the town, stopping first at the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Founded by American Quakers in the 1950s the factory is well known in Costa Rica. Interestingly, one of Danielle's father's friends is a direct descendent of the founders and photos of him can be found at the factory. Sadly, the original family has since sold the factory, but nonetheless we stopped in to take a quick look, buy some cheese, and enjoy some icecream.

After the Cheese Factory, we checked out the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, one of the many attractions around town. At the gardens we toured through the four butterfly houses as well as admired a leaf-cutter ant colony as well as were shown some of the other creatures on display such as bark scorpions, tarantulas, stick insects, etc. The guides we had were pretty funny as well, with one remarking that the Blue Morpho butterflies essentially go their entire adult lives living off high-sugar, fermenting fruit, “it's basically like living off of whisky and Mars bars” he said, “it would be fun but wouldn't last very long”.

After the gardens we strolled through town and booked ourselves a ziplining tour for the following morning.

The next day (Jan. 16th/day 77), Jaylor and Danielle and I rose early in order to catch the shuttle to the ziplines at 100% Aventura. We picked them on recommendation from the guys at the hostel and I'm glad we did. This was my first time ziplining and it was very fun. Included in the 'tour' was a number of conventional ziplines as well as two 'superman lines' and a 'Tarzan swing'. The swing was easily all of our favourite parts, as the 3 second or so free fall before the swing catches is terrifyingly fun. My only complaint about the so-called tour, is how fast one is rushed through the production line. We all agreed that it was a blast, but if we'd been able to chat with each other a bit more between platforms, the experience would have been even better.

After zipling, we spent the rest of the day chilling out before departing to back to Playa del Coco the next day.

Monteverde Cheese Factory

A bit of the history of the factory, Danielle's father's friend is pictured in some of the photos.

Some Factory product.

The Butterfly Gardens.

Not a great photo but these transparent butterflies were super cool.

The gardens also featured a leafcutter ant colony. Here is pictured a warrior ant amongst the workers.

Also on exhibit at the gardens was a variety of other creatures.

These are a cricket, I believe, that resemble leaves in order to camouflage.

A blue Morpho I believe.

Blue Morphos dining.

Feeding Frenzy.

And now for some photos taken from our ziplining adventure. These were taken by employees of the company and haven't been edited.