We travelled from Bejuco to Quepos on the bus, and went to Alamo to see if we could rent our car a day early. Not only could we get it early (with no hastle - Love Alamo!) but they upgraded us to a 4x4 that actually will fit Keith when he arrives and our packs. And off we went. Marty and Caleb immediately felt better being able to choose our route. We headed up into the hills, on the smallest road we could find. Made a few mistakes, then Marty drank a beer outside a small grocery with some older cowboys and asked if we could drive through to San Marcos on the little road. Of course! Take a right, another right, through the river, another right and derecho (straight ahead). It was like driving up 9mile. Except people were farming and living everywhere. When the road couldn't get any steeper, it did. They just put a bit of concrete down for extra traction. Driving through this area which is heavily farmed, or growing coffee or cacoa on 80 degree slopes, I appreciate the National Parks of Costa Rica even more. We made it to San Marcos just as the sun was going down, with no indication of where we were going to stay. We drove around for about an hour, following people's tips, and finally settled in at $40 per night in a local place. We all slept, except Marty, but that is not so unusual anyways.
We headed off good and early with some pan dulce that had dulce de leche in it instead of brown sugar (sweet bread). Off onto another track, that might be a road. Stopped to let some cows go by, and jumped out to ask if they were for carne or leche. The herder took us to meet the owner, and she showed us how they made the cheese in their little two room factory. I can ask my questions in Spanish well enough, that I get a jumble of unintelligible Spanish in return. I know they make cheese!! It reminded me of talking to cheese makers in the alps. We made it to the highway, and travelled over the La Muerte pass, which is at 3500m, on a little two lane paved road which is the main connector between San Jose and the south. It took us almost 2 hours to decend 60 km with all the other traffic down to 1100m. San Isidro is a city that has been around for 100 years, and it fed us, and then we headed up to San Gerardo de Rivas, again without a place to stay, but at least earlier. All the online bookings were full, but we figured there might be something.
And sure enough, we drove to the end of the road to Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, and they had a cabin open for two nights. Tada! Its beautiful, quiet, and cool (we used blankets for the first time in 3 weeks) and in the cloud forest , and borders onto Chiripo National Park. That may be an adventure for another time, as the peak is the highest in Costa Rica and the trail is 42 km. Jorja did impress us with her hiking today as we were out for 6 hours in the secondary and primary cloud forest. We decended through the boulder strewn creek for our decent. There are waterfalls and massive granite boulders throughout the creeks. Apparently Costa Rica is only 5 million years old, and was actually glaciated 10,000 years ago. Who would have guessed!!! A couple bought this property in 2002, when it was ranching land, and over the years have aquired 700 acres that has been reforested. It is now used as a research and education center. A great treat to stay here. We hope Hazelton folks that you are excited to be on your March break!!! Talk to you soon. Read more