Cloud forests, hummingbird gallery, Melvin Rockwell

Monteverde Travel Blog

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El Establo hotel...looked a lot like a ski resort to me.
    Somehow, we managed to make it from Ocotal to Monteverde in under 4 hours, even though the road was dirt, loose gravel and potholes for about 2/3 of the trip. It's pretty funny how bad the roads are, no matter where you go in Costa Rica, although Monteverde's were some of the worst we had seen yet. During the second day of our stay, however, work was being done to fix up the road outside our hotel...they were adding more loose gravel...haha.
    When we got to Monteverde, it was beautiful weather, which Liza said was not normal at all. She said that, due to the geography with all the high mountains and the moisture being blown inland off the water, it usually rains in Monteverde.
The beautiful inside of the hotel, El Establo.
This geography is also the cause of the cloud forests like the one we were going to visit after we all got settled in.
    The hotel we were staying in is called El Establo, and reminds me a lot (by its looks) of a ski resort. It had that same kind of style...except, of course, there was no snow, although it was considerable cooler than anywhere else we'd been so far in Costa Rica. El Establo is situated on a hill and looks out over a valley with great views of the sunset. There is a pool outside, about halfway up the hill, but it was a bit too chilly for any of us to even consider going for a swim. The inside of the hotel is beautiful, all wood, very natural looking. You can tell they paid very close attention to details...even in the artistically carved lamps and wall decorations.
Stella's Bakery & Coffee Shop in Monteverde where you can choose anything you want and make your own sandwiches.
As soon as I walked in, I liked it better than the generic hotel room look we found at the Ocotal Resort.

    After settling in, we were off to take a hike in the cloud forest. On the way, we stopped at Stella's Bakery for lunch. It's a pretty cool little place to eat. When you walk in, there are "menus" that are laminated and everyone gets a dry erase marker. You pick what type of bread, deli meats, condiments, etc. that you want on your sandwich by just putting a mark next to it on the menu. It's a pretty efficient way to work a bakery/deli. They had free tea, water and coffee and the food wasn't bad either. (A lot of their baked goods are very good.)
    Across the street from Stella's is a co-op and a market with a lot of snacks, fruits and vegetables (I of course, found a Costa Rican guave.
We were lucky enough to see a endangered bird that hundreds of people travel to Monteverde to see. (It has beautiful long, blue tail feathers that were cut off in the telescope.)
..actually, I ended up buying two of them). I also got a pack of these amazing coconut cookies that I had become almost addicted to while living in Kekoldi. The co-op has some nice handmade souvenirs, but I didn't want to have to carry them when we were walking through the cloud forest.

    When we got to the cloud forest, we were split into groups of 6-8 people and paired with guides that would walk us around, pointing things out to us. The hike wasn't the type of hike I had been expecting, but was more like a nature walk on pathways laid out throughout the forest. It was still a great experience. Our guide was very strange...haha. He even left us at one point so he could go show another group the Quetzal we had found earlier.
Playing Tarzan in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
The Quetzal is endangered and is one of the reasons people flock to Monteverde (haha...flock...get it?) every year. It's really a very beautiful bird, mainly a turquoise-ish blue, with a red chest, and amazingly long, bright blue tail feathers. We probably spent around 1/2 hour taking turns looking at it through the telescope our guide had been carrying.
    Our guide explained to us that at one point in time, Monteverde had been a forest overrun with golden toads. Visitors to the cloud forest would have to watch where they stepped not to land on the gold amphibians, but the toads began to disappear, and by 1989, the species was labeled extinct. It's really a shame that something so terrible would happen to such a beautiful creature...but that's the world we live in, where so few care that the environmental changes humans are inducing, even if they're small, are destroying others who share this planet with us.
A beautiful hummingbird.

    After wandering around the cloud forest a bit more, playing Tarzan, and getting stuck in a cavity left by a tree that was surrounded and smothered by vines, we headed out to look at the hummingbird garden just outside the cloud forest entrance. Even though I had seen many hummingbirds at Kekoldi (that would fly into our mist nets), this was amazing. There were so many, all of different sizes and colors. You could just sit there and listen to them hum by on their way to get some sugar water from the many feeders around the courtyard.
    When everyone was out of the cloud forest, and done looking at the hummingbirds, we went back to the hotel. After a quick rest, it was time for the guest speaker, one of the men who founded Monteverde.
One of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
Monteverde was founded by a group of Quakers in the early 1950s and Melvin Rockwell, the man who was speaking to us, was the one who got the idea to move to Costa Rica to begin with. He and three others had been put in prison for refusing to join the army. Their decision not to fight makes sense, seeing as they are Quakers. When they were released from prison, they decided to leave the US, and after looking into Canada and a few other options, they chose Costa Rica. They got the land in Monteverde for a very cheap price, and then made their way there. He said they went something like 12 miles in one month...because they had to make the road themselves. They did what they knew how to do, which was run a dairy farm. Monteverde cheese is some of the best in Costa Rica, and many who visit the town take a guided tour of the cheese factory there.
    Melvin told us a very cute story about a group of children in Sweden who decided to raise money to help preserve the cloud forests. They got their money matched and donated everything to buying more cloud forest and named the area "The Swedish Children Forest" or something like that. Soon, children all around the world were collecting money to help the cloud forest preservation. Acres and acres of land was bought for preservation and named "Eternal Forest of the Children" which I think is wonderful.
    I must admit, that I wasn't looking forward to an educational talk (which was the same for just about everyone in the group), but it turned out to be very interesting...besides the fact that the man who talked to us was probably one of the cutest and most interesting old men I have ever met. After the speaker, some of us went out to dinner, others stayed in and watched movies on TV. It was a pretty early night because the next day, we were going horseback riding and ziplining...
Jelly says:
The speaker and last living founders' name is Marvin. :-)
Posted on: Jan 11, 2010
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El Establo hotel...looked a lot li…
El Establo hotel...looked a lot l…
The beautiful inside of the hotel,…
The beautiful inside of the hotel…
Stellas Bakery & Coffee Shop in M…
Stella's Bakery & Coffee Shop in …
We were lucky enough to see a Quet…
We were lucky enough to see a Que…
Playing Tarzan in the Monteverde C…
Playing Tarzan in the Monteverde …
A beautiful hummingbird.
A beautiful hummingbird.
One of the most amazing sunsets I …
One of the most amazing sunsets I…
photo by: smhirsch