Monteverde Cloud Forest
I felt so sick. Throwing up between 2-4am, supplemented by the lack of sleep, had me feeling like death.
Breakfast was provided in the hotel. The owners actually cooked us breakfast in their kitchen. They slept in the same location as their business. They seemed like honest, hardworking people just trying to get by in this mountain. I felt bad declining their offers to take us on bird watching tours. Neither my parents nor I were interested.
After struggling to consume the breakfast from lack of appetite, we began the day.
First, we walked nearly one mile back to the hotel from the previous night. Our car was still there, and we were to check in and leave our belongings there.
The road conditions within the town were not so bad. Our luggage tolerated the gravel, while we fought strong headwinds.
We then drove to one of many entrances of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Along the way was 30 more minutes of monstrous driving conditions. Compared to last night, driving was a breeze. We weren’t in a rush, the sun was out, and Google Maps on the iPad led us effortlessly.
We walked a two mile trail around the rain forest. I felt nauseous the whole time and didn’t enjoy it, and my parents were worried about me.
Knowing my tendency to project emotions, I tried my best to contain my discomfort so my parents would enjoy the view. Both of them love nature dearly. This trip was for them, and I didn’t want to ruin their day.
Here’s my dad attempting to look candid. He knew the camera was pointed at him. It was nice seeing how happy they were.
This rain forest is called a cloud forest because the ground is level with the clouds. Visibility up ahead, or into the skies, was just bright white.
At the conclusion of the two-mile hike, I had to call it quits. I offered to nap in the car while my parents walked another trail. Knowing they would never visit this place again, they happily obliged.
I napped for over an hour in the car. Rejuvenation complete.
When they came back, both were ecstatic and shared how different the second trail was. They saw more-colorful foliage and different types of plants. Stupid nausea, causing me to miss out.
We were back in town by early afternoon. I rested in the lounge of the hostel and guiltily answered some work emails. My parents continued to walk around town.
Lots of people were speaking English. Some sounded Australian/British (I cannot tell the difference), others sounded American. Great to see other adventurous Westerners in such a unique place!
My stomach was feeling better, and I was hungry. When my parents came back, I took a walk with my mom to a couple of grocery stores.
My mom, being the most frugal of frugal, was struggling to spend exact amounts our Costa Rican Colón. She failed from transaction to transaction, seeing that 1 USD = ~550 Colónes. She ignored my remarks that she was trying to efficiently spend pennies on the dollar. We bought bananas and mango.
We didn’t do much going into the evening. My parents told me to recuperate due to the stressors from the previous night. I felt disappointed, having wanted to take them to sky bridges and do other adventurous activities. They cared about my health more than anything else, so we spent the evening drinking tea and relaxing in the hostel.
On the third morning, we ate breakfast in the hostel and took our time checking out.
The “backyard” of the hostel. Looked so relaxing.
Our flight was at 5pm in the afternoon. We were to drive south to a tiny peninsula overseeing the Pacific, eat lunch, walk around the beach, then drive back to the capital.
Driving down the mountain, even in the atrocious road conditions, was a helluva lot easier than scaling up. After 30 minutes of bumpiness, we were back on paved asphalt at 60 mph. Some parts of the drive reminded me of Gilroy, CA, but during autumn. There were lots of farmland, but with many hints of orange foliage.
Before we knew it, we arrived at the beach town. It was almost completely empty. There were hardly any people in sight!
View of Western Costa Rica with the islands: Isla San Lucas, Isla Caballo, and Isla Bejuco.
View to the north.
We ate very-mediocre lunch comprising of seafood fried rice, french fries, and boiled vegetables. The restaurant was chosen at random. We stopped at the first restaurant that had people seated inside — that was my attempt of validating a safe and reputable place.
After that, we drove back to the city to return our car. Anxiety built up a bit as we rushed to stay on schedule. I still remember the beautiful valleys we drove through. Shame we didn’t stop to take any pictures.
After some drama of inaccurate GPS information, we filled up our gas tank, returned the car, and were taken by the car rental company back to the airport.
That was the end of our vacation!
For the whole five days, I spent approximately $2,227.
Airfare from Texas to Belize, to Panama and Costas Rica, and to El Salvador back to the US, would have cost $2,200. I spent only $781, paying for the majority of the flights via frequent flier miles earned through Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP).
Car rental and GPS cost $260. Saved around $50 by using the one complimentary car insurance offered by CSP. Costing only $95/yr, it’s a really strong travel card that matches the perks of many other cards that cost $450/yr.
The Belize tour & private driver cost $264. I recommend the shuttle driver and guide Teddy.
Hotels cost $642. I compared hotels on Expedia, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor, and chose places based on a combination of uniqueness, affordability, and location. I recommend Hotel Posada Canal Grande in San Jose, the Parrot Nest Lodge in San Ignacio, and the Pension Santa Elena in Monteverde.
Food cost $153.
Uber to and from LAX cost $127, which I was quite annoyed with. From our home to LAX cost $23.26, discounted 20% from a promotion the Capital One Quicksilver used to offer. LAX did not offer UberX out of the airport, so I chose Uber Select, thinking the premium would be 2x at most. Turned out driving in a Lincoln Towncar would cost $104 total.