After a few straight months in Coco, it was time to head up into the mountains for a break from the stifling heat. My destination? The Monteverde cloud forest, home to the most famous cloud forests in the sky. Alicia and I packed up her car and headed out. She’d been there once as a kid, but I had no idea what to expect. About an hour in, the paved road gave way, and we started the long climb up the mountain. We literally drove straight up into the cloud cover, higher and higher, on rock-covered roads crumbling down into nothing about a foot past our tires. I couldn’t imagine a bustling pueblo residing at the end, but after our three-hour drive, it dramatically appeared. Wide-eyed, we drove through town. Shops! A restaurant in a tree! We certainly weren’t in little Coco anymore. We checked into the Hotel Heliconia and drove even higher up the mountain to our humongous room. (The bathroom alone was bigger than my house in Coco.) I threw down my bags and jumped up on the bed. The door was still wide open, and I couldn’t believe it when I looked out. I was eye-level with the clouds! This was definitely a different side of Costa Rica.
We decided to save the hiking for the next day and drove into town. Our first stop: Luna Azul, an adorable boutique packed with jewelry and clothes. Since we have exactly zero comparable clothing stores in Coco, this was a hit. We took photos, piled racks of clothing over our arms… we were in retail heaven. After a few hours (no joke) in the one-room store, we finally pulled ourselves away, but not before chatting up the woman who worked there. She made dresses and often bartered for jewelry with some of the other local artists. We left with shopping bags and a list of local art galleries. Monteverde turned out to be such a creative community. Restaurants were packed with one-of-a-kind pieces, and we passed many paintings and projects drying in the sun.
The next morning, we rose bright and early to hit the bosque nuboso. Beach bums from Coco, we didn’t really have appropriate attire for a hike. But we put on what we had and had the guide map out a two-hour climb for us. He vaguely pointed to the park entrance, and we were off. We passed a lovely little house and scientific laboratory, climbed over trees that had fallen on the mud-drenched path… and then reached a few oversized prohibido signs. If any of this clues you in that we were on the wrong path, you’re about 30-40 minutes sharper than we were.
In the end, we had an amazing three and a half hour hike through the Monteverde cloud forest. We decided to forgo a guide (insert we-got-lost ribbing here), and when we passed the first two stopped groups, we knew we’d made the right decision. The first was intently looking at a walking stick, the second a bat. Living in Coco, that’s about a normal evening in our backyard! We had stunning cloud cover in Monteverde, literally hiking through a mist and gazing out into nothing at the lookout points. When it’s extra-humid in Coco, I will have to stop saying, “I feel like I’m walking through a cloud,” because now I know what that feels like. (That was for dramatic effect; I’m not going to stop saying that.)
Ok, ok, I admit it: we stopped by Luna Azul again on the way out of town. Deal with it!
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