From Monteverde back to Las Juntas – Elise Enslin & Morgan Tietz

The morning was off to a great start because we got to sleep in… 15 WHOLE MINUTES! At El Desarrollo, the windows in are room are huge, so the sun usually wakes us up. It was weird not having the sunshine but having to rely on alarms since our rooms at Monteverde have blinds on the windows. Take a look at the beautiful view from our rooms of the Monteverde cloud forest!!

View from Rancho Makena in Monteverde

After breakfast, Oscar, our tour guide, took us up the hill because he said that there might be a sloth in one of the trees near the road. Shortly after parking the bus Oscar set his telescope up and we were able to see a sloth sleeping in a tree hanging right over the sidewalk. Fun fact: Oscar said he only sees sloths once or twice a month!

With the excitement running through us, it was off to another adrenaline filled adventure… coffee. Once we arrived at the coffee shop, we were able to try the five different coffees that are made using Monteverde grown coffee beans. The options were light, medium, and dark roast and then honey roast and natural blend. After everyone tried their coffee and picked their favorite flavor, we headed into the Women’s Co-op.

The Women’s Co-op is filled with everything you could think of, all designed by different women. It was a great feeling knowing that we were purchasing authentic Costa Rican items while also supporting the craft of these women.

Lastly, we attended a local community park and was able toboggan down a steep hill, even more fun in the rain. Some people had a successful trip down… while others had a little pre-lunch of grass. After a short hike back to eat lunch we were stuffed and headed back to Las Juntas.

Now, on our return back to Las Juntas, we are reflecting on our time in Monteverde. Despite the fact that the drive to Monteverde was just over an hour, the culture there was incredibly different than that of Las Juntas. Many people’s jobs in Monteverde revolve around ecotourism and consequently, many people there were able to speak English. Also, the food in Monteverde was much different than the food in Las Juntas. There were more options than… you guessed it… rice and beans. The culture in Monteverde has definitely been influenced by tourism and the diverse people that it brings in. Las Juntas is a small town that has not been influenced by outside cultural influences on the extent that Monteverde has been. This comes to show how unique of an experience we are truly getting. As we continue to conduct research, we are able to compare and contrast our experiences with those that we have seen not only in Las Juntas but Monteverde as well and we are extremely grateful.  

To Monteverde – Jennifer Sanchez and Caroline Eby

We started our day with rice, beans, avocadoes, and eggs at Chayito’s and ended it with a game of trivia at a pizzeria

The day began with sticky heat as we piled onto a bus set to take us to the green mountains of Monteverde. The ride was short but filled with excitement. Many had to refrain from looking at the steep drop surrounding us. A few stops along the way provided us with comfort. We enjoyed the views of the Gulf of Nicoya while we pet a kitten and learned interesting facts about the avocado tree.

We were all relieved when we arrived to Monteverde. Once we settled into our new home away from home, our next stop was lunch. There we met our guide for the day, Oscar. Once we were well fed we entered Monteverde’s cloud forest.

We huddled into a small room to escape the heavy rain while Oscar gave us a presentation about the Monteverde cloud reserve. He informed us about the history of the cloud forest, the species we would see, and the unique nature of the reserve. From there we went to the hummingbird house, where we were swarmed with dozens of brightly colored hummingbirds.

Once the rain slowed down, we finally entered the forest. Quickly we ran into the Quetzal, a bird only found in the Monteverde cloud forest. Oscar’s excitement was infectious as we gathered around the telescope to get a better look at this beautifully colored bird. We still had several other animals to look for in the forest as we continued on the trail. We noticed rustling in the trees above us and saw a family of spider monkeys. We watched for a few minutes as they swung from tree to tree.  Oscar led us to a waterfall deep within the forest. There we took many photos, some more creative than others.

After several hours, we decided it was time to head back, but we were interrupted by an Anteater. Oscar has been working as a guide for many years and this was his first Anteater spotting. It was a wonderful experience to share that moment with Oscar.

The next stop on our adventure, was a delicious Costa Rican dinner. It was a dinner filled with conversations that made us all closer. Then it was time for Costa Rican trivia! Everyone was a winner! -Caroline and Jenny

Cloud Forest, Monkeys, Lightening, and a Return to Documentary Work – Emmia Newman

Emmia & Sade in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Though the clouds hung low, our smiles rose high as we spent a lovely day in Monteverde and Santa Elena. The bus ride to the gorgeous hilly town was along back roads which graced our eyes with some of the most breathtaking views of clouds hugging the trees and slopes. The temperature dropped dramatically which was a nice break from sticky Las Juntas!  While hiking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, we manage to spot a group of white face monkeys, a quetzal, and a Toucan feeding it’s young.

To revitalise ourselves post-hike we visited a women’s artisan co-op  (CASEM) and The Monteverde Coffee Center where we were able to indulge in some delicious coffee. The mocha was DEVINE! The rain poured relentlessly for the rest of the night which made it impossible to do the night hike we were excited about. But after seeing the lightening illuminate the black sky, we all agreed that we’d be better off staying inside!

Though it is nice to have a break, I am looking forward to continuing our documentary project over the week back in Las Juntas. We so far have had three successful interviews with women involved in government and small businesses. I am very appreciative of their openness to our questions and our camera and I am excited to share our final project with all of the people involved! Hopefully we are able to exchange something valuable for their generosity and time!
Cheers!  Emmia Newman