Our day began and ended with beautiful scenes of the Gulf of Nicoya. On the way to San Luis, we found a safe place to park as mist flew through valleys and over the gulf. As the photographers picked their way over a volcanic rock quarry, our professor Bill Allen quipped, “We’ll find out who’s a human, and who’s a billy goat.” About that time, Benjamin’s face popped up from behind a rock.
Just before 9 a.m., we arrived at a paper co-op called Eco-Bambú, where women greeted us from behind paper bags and bright paints. They recycle paper and other fibers to make paper products. The way they incorporate color and material from their surroundings inspired me. The beautiful scenery and creative energy around and in the workshop were contagious, and we left the place in high spirits.
Good thing, too. After nearly a minute in our van, we heard a different, banging sound and our driver, Odilio, stopped. He walked around the vehicle once, hopped back in the car, and drove forward 10 feet. We stopped again. Same thing. On the third time, our group piled out. Pura vida!
Trekking up the road gave us a good sense of what some residents of these towns experience. Not everyone has a car, so they must hike slopes that seem to defy gravity. So instead of bracing our neck muscles against the rocky bumps of motorized travel, we got to work our calves, core and strength of character.
The walk was beautiful, except for the pelting mist, which felt like a volley of acorn tips hitting our skin. We saw cows, leafcutter ants and lovely, obscure footpaths leading back to some houses. After we arrived at our destination, we picked coffee at La Bella Tica, ate lunch at the farmer’s house and learned how coffee goes from fruit to bagged bean.
In the evening, we visited the house of Martha Campbell, a daughter of one of Monteverde’s original Quaker settlers.She showed us slides dating back to the 1950s, told us some personal stories and then directed us outside for a stunning view of the sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya.
By that time, our driver, Odilio, had fixed his van and rejoined the team. We hopped back in with many enthusiastic “holas” and drove to dinner. We took a “night off” from the blog to see live music in Santa Elena, although you’ll still find 2 posts tonight. I’m not sure what to blame for this work ethic, but it’s probably a healthy mix of the journalism school and our own drive to share with you our adventures.