Driving to Monteverde

Day three we woke up and called Wild Rider to check on our rental car which was to arrive at the hotel at 10:00. I hadn’t gotten an email from them since they’d confirmed my reservation for a  small 2016 SUV in October.  My brother talked since my voice was still questionable from my cold.

“Yes the car will be here at 10:00,” he said as he shut down his cell phone.  We packed and went downstairs to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  While we ate we watched the traffic go by honking as they went through the intersection where they had the right of way.  The crossing cars did not stop for the stop sign but just slowed down and rolled through checking both ways.

At 9:30 I talked to the receptionist and asked for help getting the bags down.  Since I had clothes for Japan and Australia in addition to Costa Rica, there was a lot of luggage.  A young man piled the luggage on a cart for us and wheeled it down.  No sooner did I get down there than a little white SUV pulled up in front of the hotel.  It looked just like my Geo-Tracker at home only it had a hardtop and no rust. We wheeled out the huge pile of luggage and the young man from Wild Rider managed to fit it all in the back of the SUV.

IMG_3473 Then he took out a map, “Where are you planning on going what would you like to do? Have you been to Costa Rica before? he asked in perfect English with a slight German accent.

“No this is our first visit. We are visiting cousins in Monteverde and hope to go to some other places too. “

“You have the car for 35 days so you can see a lot of Costa Rica.”  He circled places on the map that he would recommend and then showed us the cell phone that went with the car and how to use the car.  Together we carefully checked out and marks scratches on the car.  “Be sure to lock the car and not leave anything in the car, or the windows or doors will get broken,” he said as he pointed out places where a crowbar had been used to get into the car.

We looked at our luggage piled up totally blocking the back windows. ” We’re headed straight to our Airbnb which is on a dairy farm in San Luis. near Monteverde,” I said confidently although I had no idea where I was going with all that stuff.

“If you stop at a restaurant be sure to park where you can see the vehicle and back in so you can watch the back,” he said as he hunched down behind the car demonstrating how someone could break in without being seen.

I gulped thinking of all the bars on the windows in the city here.  I come from a small town where the locals rarely lock their doors.

“Be sure not to drive through water more than knee-deep. If you’re crossing a stream follow the locals the crossing will probably not be a straight line.”

I had not planned on driving through any water.  My cousin had said there was a steep dirt road to Xenia’s place, and we needed a car with a high clearance, but nothing about driving through water.

I pulled out my credit card.

“You are supposed to pay in cash,” he said.

“Oh no I didn’t know that.  Could you help me go to a cash machine?” I said, worried that we’d miss out on this wonderful little car.

He helped me go to a cash machine, but I was unable to pull out that amount.  I ended up using my credit card and paying a 20% fee, but it still was reasonable.

We plugged in the cell phone and turned on WAZE for the gps and started out driving through the busy San Jose traffic.  We took a few wrong turned but the WAZE redirected us.  We finally got to the highway which was a toll road.  He hadn’t mentioned that, but luckily I had Colones to pay the tolls along the way.  The scenery kept getting more and more beautiful.    Following WAZE we went first towards the ocean and then turned off the tollway and started to go uphill.  The hills got bigger and the road got smaller.


The view from the edge of the road

The view had us gasping for breath as the road dropped off into a deep valley beside the car.  We were still on a paved road when the WAZE indicated we’d arrived.  We were looking for a cafe La Bella Tica which was across the road from the farm.  We turned into a very nice restaurant.


But then WAZE changed to 12 kilmeters still to go.  My brother parked and I went in to ask for directions “Is this La Bella Cafe Tica?” I asked.

“No Hablo Ingles,” was the dreaded answer.

I showed her the very limited directions I had on my Airbub reservation.  She looked at them closely and then asked a customer.  “Donde La Bella Tica?”

“12 kilometers en San Luis,” he said, which was the same as WAZE was now saying.

We were exhausted so we stopped for a very nice late lunch.  I was already 2:00pm, we’d left San Jose at 10:30 am.  After lunch we continued on.  The road got steeper and narrower.  Suddenly there was a herd of cows coming down the road straight at us.  We slowed down and they passed on our left. The cowboy on a horse herding them gave us a friendly wave.

Finally we reached Monteverde, as small town with lots of shops and signs.  Hostel here, Hotel, there, restaurant, take our tour.  WAZE told us to continue on and we did.  But then WAZE stopped working.  We pulled over to bring in up again to no avail.  I pulled out my directions and read them over again. ” We need to find the road to San Luis,” I said to my brother.

There a very few road signs in Costa Rica, but finally we saw a pile of signs with an arrow pointing right “San Luis”, on the bottom.  We turned and started to decend steeply.  My cousin said it was down the road from Monteverde.  This road went down more than any other road I’d ever been on.  It was paved only in part, the gravel consistent of large rocks that our little Suzuki SUV bounced over.  I held on to the door and my breath as we slowly decended.  Still we did not see any Cafe La Bella Tica.  Just small houses off in the forest.  We saw a very nice sign in English for an art gallery.  “Let’s ask for directions there artists are always nice,” I said.

I went in, they spoke English and said further down the road.  At least we were on the right road.  Only one more stop for directions and we arrived at Xenia’s farm.





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