Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hidden Gem in Costa Rica

Ty and I in front of the cloud forest
After a pretty cold, wet ride through a cloud forest, Ty and I finally reached the restaurant that Alexis and Andres were going to meet us at.  We walked in, ordered some hot chocolates and pancakes and warmed up until they arrived.  Immediately we headed off on a rocky dirt road through even more beautiful landscape towards Providencia.  Unfortunately, it got dark about halfway through the ride so even though we could hear a roaring river next to us we weren’t able to see it.  After an hour or so of riding, we arrived at the house that Alexis and Andres have been building for the last three years with the help of some Providencia locals.  It is a very cool undertaking and they have put a lot of effort into it.  They used local materials, such as bamboo and mud, to build their home and it gives it great character.  Alexis made dinner and after some beers and good conversation, we went to bed.
The Costa Rican getaway that Alexis and Andres built.
The view was not too shabby!
Alexis warned us that they have a house wren that likes to come in and wake everyone up around 5:30.  It appeared right on time and we woke up to have breakfast.  She cooked for us again (I could really get used to that!) and we hung out most of the early morning chatting.  It was amazing how many mutual acquaintances she and I had and we had a lot to talk about.  She is an eighth grade teacher at a Kansas City school so I had lots of questions for her about her job since I am interested in becoming a teacher too.  Andres and Ty are both handymen, so they spent most of the morning talking about tools and fixing stuff. 

Andres proudly showing Ty his gas-powered drill

They wanted to take us on an off road trip to a National Park nearby, so we hopped in their Isuzu Trooper 4x4 and made our way down the crazy road that takes you to the trailhead.  There were some pretty dramatic drops, sharp curves and river crossings so it was an exhilarating drive.   

One of the river crossings

We started the walk up the trail with Andres and his machete leading the way and ended up at an abandoned house on a cliff overlooking a beautiful river.  The house used to be occupied by a German family for several years back in the 1970’s and it was kind of creepy seeing the house in its dilapidated state.  There was a new metal suspension bridge hanging across the river; it was built to replace the old one that had been washed away.  We explored for a bit, refueled with granola bars and water and headed back down the trailhead.   

Creepy abandoned house in the middle of nowhere...very cool!

New suspension bridge over the river

Right as we were going down the homestretch it started pouring down rain and we just barely made it to the car before getting completely soaked.  When we got back to the house, Alexis whipped up some delicious homemade mac and cheese with broccoli for dinner and we watched the clouds roll in through the forest.  We listened to music, drank a few more beers and talked late into the night. 

The next day we woke up early as we planned on crossing into Panama.  We loaded up the bike and started the ride back up the dirt and gravel road.  Alexis and Andres were meeting up with a land surveyor so we followed them part of the way.  They pulled over and pointed out something in an avocado tree that very few tourists get to see, especially this time of year: two quetzal birds sitting up in the tree.  We were ecstatic that we were able to see them because I thought it was a lost cause.   
Beautiful and rare quetzal eating avocados

We sadly said our goodbyes to Alexis and Andres and made plans to meet up in Kansas City when we return home.  We really can’t thank them enough for putting us up and for their amazing hospitality and are so happy to have made such great new friends!