Keith Stokes' Costa Rica Trip
January 13, 2008
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Santa Elena, gateway to Monteverde
About 1/3 of downtown  Santa Elena. The hill in the back is the Hotel Arco Isis grounds.

Santa Elena, the community at Monteverde, is much smaller than Fortuna, but the shops were less tacky and I liked it better. It reminded me of mountain resort communities in the US. There was perhaps a half mile of paved streets and the heart of the town is a small triangle of one way streets. Hotel Arco Isis, is just above the triangle.

Arriving a 1PM, I was able to check in right away. Isis was the last hotel that I booked, only about 3 weeks before the trip, and the only room available was one of the rustic room. The room was small, but I have had smaller rooms in Europe. The room was fine for my purposes, and a bargain at $22 for the night.

There was a computer with internet access at the office, and the rooms near the office had free wifi.

Hotel Arco Isis at Monteverde
My room is the one on the left. Just a narrow hallway leading back to a space a little larger than the bed.

Hotel Arco Isis bedroom.

Hotel Arco Isis cat sleeping near my room. The hotel has several dogs and cats.

After unpacking, I explored the downtown triangle. I had lunch at Boemios, a smaller restaurant adjacent to the better known Tree House Restaurant. Their strawberry shake was OK, though made without ice-cream. The pizza was odd. Never had seafood pizza before with shells, both crab and clam still in the shell and small pieces of shell throughout the sauce where you couldn't find them until biting into them.

Boemios Restaurant dining room.
Boemios Restaurant

Seafood pizza at Boemios Restaurant
Seafood pizza. Notice the clam and crab shells.

I returned to the hotel, watched birds for a while, caught up on email, and then lay down - not exactly a nap, but I stayed quiet with my eyes closed for a couple of hours.

In the evening, I was picked up at the hotel by Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde. Their guided night tour was the bargain of the trip at only $17 including transportation. There were 6 people on my tour, including a nice couple from Fort Lauderdale.

An armadillo crossed the road in front of us on the way up to the reserve.

Our tour began with a 15 minute video, then we met our guide, a young woman with excellent English, named Dulce. She has a passion for the cloudforest. Dulce asked if we had flashlights, and gave out lights to those who did not. The 2 cell AA flashlight that I had brought proved too dim to be a real help in locating mammals, and I wish I had brought something bigger.

As we started up one of the trails, bats zipped past us, eating the flies attracted to our lights. We walked single file, all looking for insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles, but Dulce was the one that spotted almost everything.

We saw three species of tiny, homely frogs, which Dulce would only let us look at with LCD flashlights. She said that regular flashlight was too warm and would injure the frogs. We saw insects (mostly species of flying roach), and the reflected eyes of one small mammal - either a Kinkajou or Olingo. The moon was bright this night, and Dulce said that the mammals are more cautious on those nights.

We saw two female tarantulas in their dens, but the single picture I took didn't turn out well. I was the only one on the tour taking photos and didn't want to be rude and use my flash too many times.

The tour concluded with our lights out, walking with our hands on the shoulder of the person in front of us looking for glowing plants and insects. We saw mostly glow worms. Dulce said that we would have seen more things glow in the rainy season.

Although we saw less than I expected, I enjoyed this night tour thoroughly, and would have considered booking one of the other night tours if my stay near Monteverde was longer.

On the ride back into town, we stopped twice and got out of the van. The first time to see a barred owl, and the second time for a two toed sloth.

Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

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copyright 2008 by Keith Stokes.