Cloud Forest, Monteverde.
After following the coast road west (again, for me) we took a sharp turn north to the old port city of Puntarenas to head north and east for about an hour and a half. Suddenly the paved road stops and the last twenty-some miles is over rocks and dirt to reach the outskirts of the main little village up here, Santa Elena. Then the road is paved again until it literally stops a few meters beyond the site of our school. Our apartment, about a five minute walk up hill to get to campus, is on a “traditional, natural” road: dirt and boulders.
It’s a wonderfully mixed area, with some super fancy hotels and restaurants catering to rich international travelers, more modest local homes, and some way more modest than that. We are about mile from the edge of the Monteverde Reserve, and will go into it the first time this weekend. Meanwhile, we are awed by how beautiful it is here: from our road we can look over ranges of hills, green with magical skies everywhere, and when it’s clear enough to the west, see the huge Gulf of Nicoya. Behind us, of course, is the mountain with its famous clouds, and the lush rain forest with its burst of flowers, high winds, rain, and sunshine, sometimes all at once.
Our school, Centro Panamericano des Idiomas (CPI) is set on a gorgeous, spacious campus, with gardens, fountains, vistas, hammocks for the convenience of those inclined toward siestas, and, ahem, an outdoor enclosure with jacuzzi. They did advertise this place as close to heaven.
We had a half-day to organize ourselves in our lovely little apartment, Casa del Toro, which also has a small garden, patio, and fountains, and to walk to town and get supplies to wash and cook. Then classes started at 7:00 Monday morning, and it’s been intense Spanish for the week and what seems a very good program. More of that anon, when I can actually put together a sentence without tripping over myself. But lots of studying has also been interpersed with activities, such as a movie (Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Jim Carey dubbed in Spanish — I went for it), cooking class — Doug went for it, and salsa lessons. We both loved that one. I also have got a tutoring gig with a local girl from the village. She’s 12, and her English is even worse than my Spanish, so it’s a go!
Tomorrow we walk into town early for the farmer’s market, then to the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest,about which I hope to write a piece, and then Sunday a walk in the forest canopy, a thing I’ve always wanted to do.