Thursday, December 04, 2008

Drive to Monteverde

Thursday, 11/27

Morning in San Jose is very pleasant--probably about 70 degrees F and pretty dry. Left the hotel at 8 AM and headed Northwest on the Pan American Highway (CR Route 1). Four lane, limited access highway as we leave San Jose, as we get further from San Jose, the road becomes two lanes with very limited shoulders (but still a very good paved road). Down to the Pacific Lowlands of Costa Rica. Made a quick rest top. got out and hit with

After about 2.5 hours we turn off onto a fair but narrow (just barely two lanes) gravel road. Quickly we come to a screeching stop. The driver saw a band of howler monkeys. Just about everyone got out of the bus with cameras. Pretty good but not great pictures.

About a half hour later, screeching stop again. More howler monkeys. Better pictures. Nancy, one of our naturalist/guides got out the spotting scope. Mom and baby howler in the tree.

One more screeching stop (this time not really screeching, the condition of the road now only allows 15 to 20 mph). A turquoise motmot (medium green bird with a forked tail that only lives in the northwestern lowlands of Costa Rica.

The last 15 miles takes about an hour. The poor road quality is deliberate. A lot of people in the Monteverde want to keep development under control and figure a very poor road will reduce development pressure. (We saw a similar tactic on the north shore of Kuai, Hawaii. The town of Hanalei has kept the last bridge before the town limited to one lane and weight restricted to keep major development out.) Even with the bad road, lots of development is happening and two of the towns are pushing for paving major sections of the road.

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