Wednesday, January 5, 2011
To Monteverde: Relocating the Kidneys
After leaving coastal Tortuguero, my family and I headed via bus and van to our next destination, Monteverde. After passing a road sign reading only 30 kilometers (20 miles or so) to go I felt relieved, knowing that a long day of travel was almost over. When the driver announced there was still an hour left to our hotel as we moved from tarmac to dirt road I wondered how the road could be that bad. The Costa Ricans behind the wheel of previous rides had never been scared to drive fast and aggressively and our current pilot was no exception. I was quickly educated as to the source of the problem.
There are two roads to Monteverde, both of which I had the opportunity to bounce up and down upon. They are without doubt the worst paths I have ever experienced. The ground was more often a pot hole than flat earth. The way was winding and steep, the shocks on the van had been rendered useless by the relentless pounding. There were no lights and at times the fall off the side of the road was hundreds of feet with no guard rail present to correct a driver's error. At one point our vehicle had to pass a Mack truck around a corner, with only inches to spare between us and the long plunge to the valley bottom.
As for my poor body, the internal organs were spinning like the numbers in a slot machine, shuffling into disorder. There were no seat belts in the back of the van (a common feature I noticed throughout the week) and had there been I probably would have suffered from whiplash anyway, as the auto bounced from pothole to pothole like a whack-a-mole trying to escape the hammer wielder's death-blow.
After a beating Rocky (aka a boxer who does not use his hands to protect his face) would be proud of, the visibly shaken driver (who had to go back that same night on those hellish roads to his family in San Jose!) parked at the Cloud Forest Lodge on the outskirts of Monteverde. He got the biggest tip my grateful family dispersed to a driver that week for managing not to kill us all despite plenty of opportunities to do so.
In summary the roads to and from Monteverde are not recommended for those with heart conditions, loose teeth, or a will to live. However, as in Tortuguero, Monteverde was worth the adversity and the terrible terrain proved a smart bit of protection for the area. From what I found the next day, if the place was easy to reach everyone would want to live there.
Next: In Monteverde