La Fortuna to Monteverde on Horseback
24. April: We were mistakenly woken at 5:30 by our hotel owner lady (I guess she had not understood the time correctly). We set our alarm clock for 6:30 and doze another hour, and then set off for a coffee at our usual, the thatched roof restaurant. The trip to Monteverde would consist of a trip by jeep, a boat ride, the actual horse-ride and a final trip by jeep, quite a complicated undertaking. The jeep (a red one) awaits us at our hotel at 7:30 and it's great to start on time. We drive to Arenal Lake. A small boat whisks us across and on the other side is our cowboy already waiting with a number of horses. We leave our luggage in the boat, it will be transferred by 4WD to Monteverde. The cowboy, who is quite a young guy (he says 'Pura Vida', the typical Costa Rican catch-all greeting, when no-one in our group understands his welcome greeting)
I mount my horse called 'Mosco' and when everyone has mounted, we set loose. The riding instructions we get are minimal but he says the horses know their way and they'll need very few signals. We begin three hours of horse-riding through deep, wet slushy mud, sleep slopes, idyllic streams (at which my horse always stopped and drank generous amounts of water), forest paths. There were very nice elevated views of the landscape at times and at the end we landed on a hilltop with a small restaurant. Here we would change to a jeep for the last leg to Monteverde. Wow, what a wonderful trip! I was glad I survived it without injury, there were times when the horse would suddenly make some quick steps and I narrowly escaped such a bolt when passing under a tree trunk. At other times I was losing my grip and might have fallen off, but on the whole I could often hold on with just one hand and film with my camera with the other.
Arenal could be seen once again from the restaurant and after a long wait we start in the direction of Monteverde. We get the back emergency seats of the 4WD and the road is, as usual, unpaved. At Monteverde, our backpacks have already arrived and we set off to find a room. It's hot and dusty and there and there no roads only dirt trails. We're both very exhausted from the long trip. We look into four hotels and settle for Hotel Colibri, which has a wooden-cabin room with an excessively kitschy interior (toy-bears and read hearts sewn unto cushions, frilly curtains and toilet seat and what have you) for 20$ a night. I lie on the bed and am very thirsty, am tired and sleep a bit and feel sick. We go for lunch at a restaurant on the first floor, it has a sickly smell of wood and paint, reggae music playing (which I don't overly like, especially if it's Bob Marley's Greatest Hits for the millionth time) and the spaghetti served are just bad. I must have been green in the face by then. I felt completely miserable.
I'm back in bed and sleep for some hours and feel better after that. I believe that I had suffered from a bout of heat, thirst and motion-sickness. We then check out some 'tourist information' centres (travel agents) and decide to go to the famous 'Monteverde Cloud Reserve' on the next day on our own.
We have dinner at restaurant 'Daiquiri' on main street and then return to bed, since the bus to Monteverde would leave at 6:15 so we'd need to get up early. I slept very badly, we had checked our mail and my deputy had not answered my urgent mail but had written that new problems had cropped up. I was furious at my boss and also at my deputy, whom I believed just could not cope with the situation.
I was also anxious about not having high boots for walking through the slush inside Monteverde park as was recommended in the tourist guides. The wind during the night was extremely strong and since or cabin was out of wood and on stilts the whole structure shook with every strong gust. I was concerned that the room would collapse or the roof would fly off any moment.